It’s safe to say that the 80s was a decade of great anime. Is there anything better than a good anime? Probably not. But if you’re looking for an old-school, classic anime to watch, the 80s are where it’s at. So put on your best “80s attire” and get ready to have some fun!
It’s hard to believe it has been 30 years since the 80s. But what a decade it was! It gave us some of our favorite childhood memories and introduced us to some of our favorite cartoons, movies, and TV shows. The 80s was an excellent time for animes, and I will rank the 75 best ones from that era. I’ll also provide you with synopses of each anime, so if you don’t know what to watch next, this list is perfect.
Best Animes From The 80s You Need To Watch (RANKED)
The 80s was a decade of innovation and creativity, introducing iconic anime such as Swan Lake and Princess Sara. It also introduced animes such as Little Nemo. Here are 75 best animes from the 80s you need to watch. I’ll start with number 75 and work my way up to number one.
75. Neo Tokyo
Neo Tokyo is a Sci-Fi anime released in 1987 based on the story of Meikyū Monogatari by Taku Mayumura. Studio Madhouse produced this film. The story divides into three levels where a man relies on advanced technology to solve his and others’ problems. Still, he keeps running into another every time, and the new situation is more complicated each time.
He learns his lesson and uses his technology for people’s good and not to avoid the issues that he has to face in some way or another.
74. Robot Carnival
Robot Carnival is a mecha anime released in 1987 by 8 Japanese filmmakers to present a new idea of how we see and how they see different situations. We know how an evil powerhouse has sprung up to destroy the World, and our gang has to use their robots to save the World from this evil entity.
Jumping is an experimental short film released in 1984 and directed by Osamu Tezuka. The story follows an unnamed protagonist who jumps around cities, towns, and oceans. It is a 7 minutes film that has that shows the first-person perspective of our energetic main character.
72. Swan Lake
Swan Lake is an action-adventure-based anime film released in 1981 produced by Chiaki Imada. This film adapts from the novel Swan Lake. In the story, a prince spies on a swan wearing a crown and gets enchanted by it. The plot twist is that he is not cursed, but his friend does, who becomes a stone. When followed by the swan, it later gets revealed that the swan is a beautiful woman.
71. Honoo No Alpen Rose
Honoo No Alpen Rose is a 1985 series based on MichiyoAkaishi’s manga and adapted by Tatsunoko Productions. The story starts with a guy who, while walking, finds out a crash site where surprisingly, a small kid survived. It then creates the main plot of the series that continued till 20 episodes.
71. Princess Sara
Princess Sara is a slice of life anime released in 1985 and directed by Fumio Kurokawa. Princess Sara is a young rich girl from India admitted into a boarding school in London to learn the proper ways of life and how a woman should act. The shocks come when she hits with the trauma of becoming an orphan.
70. Sherlock Hound
Sherlock Hound is an action-comedy series released in 1984 produced by RAI. It is a mockup of ‘Sherlock Holmes’ in which a Hound turns into a brilliant detective solving the case with ease. It became a popular series among kids who can’t process too much information about Sherlock Holmes at once.
69. Little Nemo
Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland is 1989 produced by Yutaka Fujioka. The storyline is about a boy named Nemo who sees many nightmares and wants to escape them. He finds that there’s a circus he can go to and take those nightmares out of his mind.
For its time, Little Nemo has excellent animations that stand out from others. He then goes on a fun adventure and lives his best life, and makes new friends.
Ulysses is a fantasy anime released in 1981 and produced by AXsiZ. This anime is written by Mikage Kasuga and illustrated by Tomari Meron. Ulysses follows a boy who is a son of a nobleman. Ulysses dunks himself in the study of magic and alchemy to do something about a war that has lasted for a century. With his skills and powers, he ends the long-lasting war and finally brings peace to the World.
67. The Mysterious Cities of Gold
The Mysterious Cities of Gold is an adventure-fantasy anime released in 1982 and adapted from The King’s Fifth. Studio Pierrot and D.I.C. Audiovisuel produced this great anime series. The story follows a guy who decides to join a group that journeys to find lost cities and cities surrounded by many mysteries.
66. Legend Of The Forest
Legend Of The Forest is a 30 min short film released in 1987 directed and produced by Takashi Ui, Osamu Tezuka, and Takayuki Matsutani. The short film is about an innocent squirrel who lives in a forest untouched by human chaos, but one day they realize that they are now in danger because a human is about to destroy their homes.
They have to work out a way to solve this situation, whether to lure him out, force him away or sadly retreat and look for a new home leaving everything behind.
Unico is a kids anime film released in 1981. The storyline is about a young unicorn who evil gods have abducted. Unico will have to get stronger, work smartly, deceive them, and finally defeat them with some help from family and friends to find a way out of this mess.
64. Night On The Galactic Railroad
Night On The Galactic Railroad is a fantasy movie based on a novel night on the galactic road released in 1985 and produced by Group TAC. Children majorly watch this movie, but its story is definitely what an adult can enjoy. It’s a story focused on a boy who takes a train ride to the heavens and Earth.
He discovers the secrets that lie beneath our World and how we should see it. Keeping a light theme but giving a solid message may keep the adults occupied with their children.
63. Barefoot Gen
Barefoot Gen is a war-themed movie based on the manga by Keiji Nakazawa. The movie was released in 1983, showing the horrors of a city affected by a nuclear bomb. The film perfectly sends the message what the author was trying to convey. The film produced by studio Madhouse had another part that got released in 1986.
62. Barefoot Gen 2
Barefoot Gen 2 continues our protagonist’s life, who has now grown a little, but the situation is still the same as they were three years ago when the bomb dropped in Hiroshima. They still live in poverty and face the same problems, and it seems that hell is a never-ending cycle. The trauma our main character faces is excruciating to see—the movie releases in 1986.
Akira is an action film released in 1988 and directed by Katsuhiro Otomo. Akira is about a post-apocalyptic world where the protagonist’s friend gets assigned a secret military mission that needs to get completed no matter what it takes. To protect his friend, he goes to unimaginable lengths and, after much difficulty, manages to see it through the end.
60. They Were Eleven
“They Were Eleven” is a sci-fi mystery film released in 1986, based on the manga of Moto Hagio. The film is about ten applicants who got tasked with a test to survive two months in space, but upon arrival, they find out that there is a traitor among them who will not let them stay and do anything good for the World.
59. City Hunter
City Hunter is an anime released in 1987 and produced by studio Sunrise. City hunters are a group who are determined to clean the city of Tokyo from any bad guy around. The only condition they put in front of contractors is that there must be a woman involved. Other than that, they fight without any fear and take on more powerful guys than them.
58. Kiki’s Delivery Service
Kiki’s Delivery is an adventure movie released in 1989 and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. The story revolves around a little girl. She moves to the seaside to spend time alone with her and talking and finding the true power that lies in her.
The power of magic is in her, but she loses it when she doubts herself, but when there’s a will, there will be a help as she storms her way out of the problem and succeeds in becoming a good witch.
57. Grave Of The Fireflies
Grave Of The Fireflies is a heartbreaking war-themed movie released in 1989 and directed by Isao Takahata. The film is about a boy who is in the midst of war and has to protect her little sister and survive. We see how ugly war can get and how many innocent lives get lost for diplomatic reasons that ordinary people have nothing to do with these wars.
56. My Neighbor Totoro
My Neighbor Totoro is a 1988 release by director Hayao Miyazaki. Two girls move to a town close to where their mother is hospitalized and find themselves become friends with a giant rabbit Totoro who is cute, innocent, and humble.
55. Castle In The Sky
Castle In The Sky is a fantasy film released in 1986 and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. The film is about a girl who meets orphans like her when attacked on a plane by air pirates.
54. Gauche The Cellist
Gauche The Cellist is a 1982 movie directed by Isao Takahata. The film is about a boy inspired by a musician who dreams of performing in an orchestra. Despite having a difficult upbringing, he doesn’t lose hope and strives forward to achieve his goal.
Yuki is a fantasy anime released in 1981. The show is about a girl sent from the heavens by her parents to save a village facing significant problems. She saves them and helps in every way possible but is left stunned and scared when she faces a demon god who wants to destroy everything in his path.
52. Ginga Hyouryuu Vifam
It is an action-adventure Mecha anime series released in 1983. The story is about a planet far away from Earth that an alien invasion has destroyed. Amid the chaos, their children are lost and have to find a way to survive independently.
Bocchan is a comedy movie released in 1980. The anime is about a new teacher constantly set up by his students, sometimes betrayed by friends and school staff. It’s a comedy movie which shows us how he gets over it.
50. Vampire Hunter D
Vampire Hunter D is a horror movie released in 1985 and produced by Production Reed. Vampires rule the World, and a badass vampire hunter has emerged to save a girl and kill the vampire boss and all his subordinates to bring stability to the World.
49. Ganbare Genki
Ganbare Genki is a sports anime released in 1980 and produced by studio Toei Animation. A young boy who aims to become like his dead father. His father was a renowned boxer, and he wants to follow in his footsteps despite his grandparents opposing this idea.
Patlabor is a drama-mystery anime released in 1989 and produced by Production IG, Studio Deen. Laborers are dying, and the manager of a construction project commits suicide. The main character is assigned to solve this mystery and find the truth and catch any culprit responsible.
Armor Hunter Mellowlink is a mystery anime released in 1988 and produced by studio Sunrise. A sole survivor of a squad that got sacrificed for the sake of peace seeks revenge against everyone involved in it.
46. Shiroi Kiba: White Fang Monogatari
Shiroi Kiba: White Fang Monogatari is an action-adventure anime released in 1985 by studio Sunrise. A half-wolf half-dog lives in there when some loving humans decide to adopt them and give them a happy life, away from the cold climate of Alaska.
45. Giant Gorg
Giant Gorg is a 1984 anime produced by studio Sunrise. It is a mecha anime that follows a story of a young boy who sents to the US after his father’s death. Upon reaching there, he faces many problems and survives assaults by evil organizations.
44. Shouwa Ahozoushi Akanuke Ichiban
Shouwa Ahozoushi Akanuke Ichiban is a comedy anime series released in 1985 by studio Tatsunoko production. A boy who has moved towns is gifted a power of miracles to bring peace in this wretched World. The child decides to impress a girl with it but later on learns his lesson.
43. Bemubemu Hunter Kotengu Tenmaru
Bemubemu Hunter Kotengu Tenmaru is an action anime series released in 983 by Toei animation. Demon slayers, whose job is to defeat demons threatening the survival of humans. A great story that people can’t find today is one of the classics of its time.
42. Adieu Galaxy Express 999
“Adieu Galaxy Express 999” is a sci-fi movie released in 1981 and produced by studio Toei Animation and Studio World. The main character has lost his mother, who got killed by an evil mecha. The MC sets on a journey to get revenge on him without fail. He works hard even becomes a little bit of a psychopath—the story bases on manga.
41. Kimagure Orange Road
Kimagure Orange Road is a comedy, slice of life anime released in 1987 and produced by studio Perriot. It is a generic shounen anime where the protagonist likes another girl, while another different girl likes the protagonist, continuing until later in the story when it finally settles down. This story gets adapted from the manga.
40. Royal Space Force: The Wings Of Honneamise
Royal Space Force: The Wings Of Honneamise is an action-drama anime movie released in 1987 and produced by Studio Gainax. The MC failed to pursue his piloting dream and forced him to join the space program due to his bad grades. After some time, he realizes that even this job has its perks and starts taking an interest.
39. Lupin Iii: The Fuma Conspiracy
Lupin III: The Fuma Conspiracy is a conspiracy-drama anime released in 1987 by studio Tokyo Movie Shinsha. It is the third part of the lupin story in which the princess gets mysteriously kidnapped, and the main squad has to work hard to get her back no matter what with the added pressure of her being a nobility.
38. Saint Seiya
Saint Seiya is an action-adventure, fantasy anime released in 1986 by studio Toei. Seiya is the main character whose job, along with his teammates, is to protect the god of war and wisdom from making a good reputation. If he succeeds in this, he gets bigger and better things.
37. Armored Trooper Votoms
Armored Trooper Votoms is a mecha anime released in 1983 by studio Sunrise. The MC plays as an agent who has to steal secrets from an enemy that’s his own country. He starts to get confused, and a cloud of mist forms in his mind as he battles through it and finds a solution.
36. Hi No Ame Ga Furu
Hi No Ame Ga Furu is a drama, historical movie released in 1988 by Mushi productions. Bombs dropped here and there, and some people decided to do something against that and fight for peace and bring stability to this war-loving World.
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35. Chikyuu Monogatari Telepath 2500
Chikyuu Monogatari Telepath 2500 is a sci-fi movie released in 1984 by director Nakamura Mitsuki. A supercomputer set for hear 2050 finds the perfect marriage partner by scouting people and choosing it for them.
34. Sakigake!! Otokojuku
Sakigake Otokojuku is an action-comedy series aired in 1988 by studio Toei animation. Based on the manga, this story is about some people who got terminated from their school. They later joined a fighting school. They learn good techniques and implement them in their fights that make great action scenes.
33. Daicon III
Daicon III is a fantasy, fictional special episode released in 1981 by studio Gainax and directed by Yamaga Hiroyuki. A little girl who offered to have a glass of water to water it to a radish faces many difficulties in doing this task. Aliens, machines, robots, and many more fictional beings try to stop her while some even try to help her. What will she do? Will she succeed? In the end, she completed her mission alright.
32. Daicon IV
Daicon IV is a fantasy, fictional special episode released in 1981 by studio Gainax and directed by Yamaga Hiroyuki. The little girl in the last episode is now a grown, confident, assertive girl. She fights extraterrestrial beings with her lightsaber, helping humanity and making sure humans on Earth never have to face these aliens and threats ready to destroy the World anytime.
31. Space Runaway Ideon: Be Invoked
Space Runaway Ideon: Be Invoked is a sci-fi, mecha anime movie released in 1982 by Studio Sunrise. Another mecha anime adds to the list, and this one is about a crew in a spaceship struggling to stay alive. They can’t return and don’t have anything to get help with then.
The odds of their survival are extremely low, and something miraculous can only save them. Who will take control of the situation? Who will come out on top? Who will survive? These are all the questions you’re going to be constantly asking when watching the movie, as it is a nail-biting one that will stick you to your screen until the very end.
30. Arcadia Of My Youth
Arcadia Of My Youth is an action-mystery movie released in 1982 and produced by studio Toei animation. An alien empire has invaded EarthEarth to make their very own civilization on it is killing humans and taking their shelter. Some influential people decide to fight against them and show them what humans can do.
The battle is long, but before that, they smartly strategize the situation and plan every outcome possible to reduce the chances of failure to none. In the end, the firm resolve of these heroes defeats those evil aliens and pushes them out of Earth.
Touch is a shounen, romance anime released in 1985, based on the manga and produced by studio Gallop, Group TAC, and Studio Junio. Twin brothers are living their best lives. One of them is very successful. Meanwhile, the other doesn’t care much about work and stuff.
A girl comes into their lives but, surprisingly unlike most people, doesn’t judge them based on their success. It takes the lazy brother by surprise as he vows to work harder than before and takes inspiration from the girl he likes to become more successful than his brother and doesn’t lose to him in this battle.
28. Glass Mask
Glass Mask is a shoujo drama anime released initially in 1984 by studio Tokyo Movie Shinsha. 2 young actors are rivals who work extremely hard to get ahead. Still, every time they get close to taking over, the other catch up as well. They don’t have hatred for each other, have a level of respect, and know that they are arch-nemesis. The story continues, but something about to happen will add spice to the story, making it a mystery show.
Gunbuster is an action-comedy, shounen anime first aired in 1988 and produced by studio Gainax. A new species of aliens known as the space monsters have shown up and intend to destroy everything on planet EarthEarth. Earth has its defenders who have developed robots to fight back.
Out MC takes admission in a school to learn robot piloting and help Earth in defeating those monsters. She is not the most talented girl there is, but she fights with her heart, takes over many skilled professionals, and surprises everyone. Later in the story, she plays a significant role in the battle against aliens and announces herself to the planet as one of the best.
26. Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer
Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer is an action, mystery, sci-fi movie released in 1984 and produced by Studio Perriot. Based on the popular manga, the story takes place in a weird place where time and reality work so that even the viewers have a hard time understanding until later on in the story.
Kids are waiting for their school fair when they realize something’s up and doesn’t understand it at the same time. I won’t spoil you as it’s worth watching and going in the blank.
25. Mobile Suit Zera Gundam
Mobile Suit Zera Gundam is a sci-fi, mecha anime released in 1985 and produced by studio Sunrise. A long war has just ended, and Earth has won against the enemies. In the last attempt to annihilate the enemy, Earth forms a team and sends them to complete the mission.
Amid travel, another alliance formed against Earth known as the anti-Earth alliance. This alliance seeks revenge and the demise of Earth. It also takes the life out of every person on this planet.
24. Igano Kabamaru
Based on the manga, Igano Kabamaru is a shounen anime released in 1983 by studio group TAC. The protagonist, who has lost his parents, is adopted and lives a new life, supposedly a normal one. Things get stressful when he moves to Tokyo and finds the truth about the World and gets a reality check that the World is not a simple path that he can cross easily, but you have to fight for it to make a place for yourself and make a name for yourself.
Oshin is a drama movie released in 1984 and directed by Yamamoto Eiichi. A girl from a low-income family leaves her school to help her family that doesn’t even have food to eat. The little girl decides to work as a maid in a wealthy family’s house. There, she faces more difficulties than she or the viewers could ever imagine. It shows us the pain that poor people have to bear and live with it every single day without complaining.
22. Maison Ikkoku
Maison Ikkoku is a romance, slice of life anime series released in 1986 and produced by Studio Deen. A man who is about to leave his place due to the irritating actions of his neighbors decides against going and stays where he is when he meets a beautiful woman.
The woman is a widow whose husband died six months after marriage. The story is about how the protagonist makes the girl believe in love once again and live a happy life after it.
21. Dirty Pair
Dirty Pair is a comedy anime released in 1985 and produced by Norio Hatsukawa and Takayuki Yoshii. 2 young girls who go around the streets and tries to fix everyday things. The problem arises when you see that they mess more things up compared to something that they improve. These two are very clumsy and sort of non-cholent about almost everything.
20. Wicked City
Wicked City is an action horror film released in 1987, based on the manga and directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri. Demons and humans have been living without any conflicts for many years, but as the contract is about to run out, people fear that war will again break out, and guess what happens.
Both sides engage in a battle till the other’ side’s demise occurs. The World turns into a battlefield where nobody is safe, and something needs to get done to end this bloodshed.
19. Captain Tsubasa
Captain Tsubasa is a sports anime released in 1983. It was one of the most admired shows in the World, considering people didn’t have much acceptance for anime. It is a football/soccer anime in which a player who gets underestimated by everyone shocks everyone with his supreme playing skills and starts his underdog story. It was so popular in Japan that football’s popularity rose exponentially, and people gave the sports a chance.
18. Magical Princess Minky Momo
Magical Princess Minky Momo is a fantasy anime released in 1983 and produced by Ashi Productions. A princess from a dream world has come to our World to see if everything’s alright. She makes sure to try every possible job she can do to check on many people.
17. Attacker You
Attacker You is a sports anime released in 1984 and directed by Hiroshi Jinsenji. The volleyball anime follows the show’s protagonist, who sucks at volleyball but wants to improve. They become the best player with sheer hard work and determination, making everyone recognize their importance as a player and person.
16. Ranma ½
Ranma ½ is a popular anime released in 1987 and written by Rumiko Takahashi. The concept of the story is a bit childish, but that’s what the author intended to do. The protagonist is an excellent martial arts practitioner when he falls in the river one day and gets cursed. The curse is that he turns into a girl and can only turn back into a man is when he touches hot water.
Macross is a sci-fi anime that first aired in 1980. After ten years of discovering a mysterious alien spaceship, humankind has finally been able to rebuild it and use it for their own. It comes with a cost as an alien race plans to attack Earth when detecting the spaceship’s signal. They say that this spaceship belonged to their enemies, and you are one of them. A war has broken out, and everyone is on their toes to see what’ll happen next and where the story leads us to next.
14. Baoh, The Caller
Baoh, The Caller, is an action-adventure film released in 1987 and directed by Hiroyuki Yokoyama. A black organization conducting experiments to make Japan superior to other countries backfires when a parasite escapes them and starts living in hosts and becomes an assassin killing everybody without even the host realizing it.
13. Blood Reign: Curse Of The Yoma
Blood Reign: The Curse Of The Yoma is a war-themed anime released in 1986. A war had been going on for a very long, and people were tired of fighting each other, but the people in power were ready to sacrifice more and more soldiers for their cause. A ninja uses his ability to scare off the enemies, bring peace to the World, and become a hero who ends this long, tiring war.
Arion is a 1986 released anime. Arian finds himself hopeless when he realizes that this cruel war wretched World has no place for ordinary poor people like him. Every poor person dies early or becomes a sacrificial piece in wars and fights. The girl he loves is kidnapped by the oppressive gods when he decides to lead an army to end this long tyranny and end the cycle of hatred.
11. Amon Saga
Amon Saga is an action-adventure, fantasy anime released in 1986. A boy who seeks revenge against tyrant rulers who are responsible for his mother’s death. He joins a kingdom to climb their ranks and, when the chance comes, to take revenge. He gets close to the kingdom on his journey, and when the perfect opportunity for revenge arrives, he becomes hesitant.
10. Wrath Of The Ninja: The Rotoden Movie
Wrath Of The Ninja is a medieval anime released in 1989. A woman escapes the killings of a ruler who has sent his soldiers to kill every last person in Japan if they stand against them. She, along with two other companions, wields three legendary weapons that can defeat the ruler.
9. MD. Geist
MD. Geist is an action, fantasy anime released in 1989. Humankind has evolved very much and has successfully managed to colonize other planets. Every planet is in peace except one. M.D.G., a super soldier, accidentally crashes in that city and somehow stops the war going on for decades.
8. Violence Jack
The World is in pieces as several years of war have torn down Earth. The 1988 release shows the horrors of wars and how the most potent warrior violence Jack manages to avert another war that was about to take place. He uses all his might to protect what’s left on this planet.
7. Doraemon: The Winter
Another classic of the 80s, I’m pretty sure everyone has heard of this show. It was a special episode released in 1986.
As mentioned before, Doraemon is a household name that every parent and child knows. A cat who can give anything to his friend, a boy wants to fulfill his ultimate dreams and desires. To help him get out of all these difficult situations or to help his friends, this show is one to watch if you haven’t.
5. Silver Fang
Silver Fang is an action-adventure anime released in 1986 and produced by Toei animations. A bear who witnessed the murder of his father has sought revenge against them and gathers dogs to make his army.
4. Dragon Ball
One of the big franchises of all time; some might consider it the very best. Dragon Ball is truly an all-time classic that everyone knows. Released in 1986 and produced by Toei animation, this is nothing less than a power showdown between gods.
3. Ashita No Joe
Ashita No Joe is a sports anime produced by Mushi productions. A powerful guy who can easily beat up gang members on his own gets scouted by a boxing coach who offers him a career in it. After some back and forth, Ashita joins the sports and eventually becomes the best boxer in Japan.
2. Dragon Ball Z
A follow-up series of Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z continues to expand the universe as Goku grows stronger and stronger, now becoming the best fighter on EarthEarth and reaching to become the best of the universe, defeating gods after gods.
1. Legend Of The Galactic Heroes
It is in the first position due to the incredible story it has. There are minimum plot holes in the story, and it is set up very nicely by the writer. It was first aired in 1988 and produced by studio K-Factory, Kitty Film Mitaka Studio. Two geniuses stop a long war and decide to bring a one-ruler system for humanity. They face several difficulties but manage to see them through with their power and intellect.