Science fiction is one of the most important genres in anime. In fact, it could be said that anime as a whole wouldn’t exist were it not for certain landmark classic sci-fi anime. That said, not all sci-fi classics are destined to become timeless hits or age perfectly like Akira or Cowboy Bebop.
This doesn’t mean that these classics are bad or unwatchable. Rather, these anime are products of their time that couldn’t evolve beyond their original runs and time settings. While their influence on other anime, and lasting impact on the industry are irrefutable, these anime struggle to find modern viewers and relevance.
10/10 Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence Is Too Tedious For Most Viewers
Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence
There’s no anime movie as synonymous with sci-fi as Ghost in the Shell. However, the same can’t be said for its 2004 sequel, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence. If the 1995 original is an irreplaceable cyberpunk hallmark that balanced gritty action and in-depth philosophizing, Innocence was a feature-length philosophy lecture.
Despite shortcomings like its glacial pace and excessive pondering, Innocence is still a beautifully animated reflection on transhumanism and the first movie’s aftermath. Innocence is a respected cyberpunk gem, but it can be too slow and intimidating for most sci-fi fans, and even the first movie’s admirers.
9/10 Vandread’s Old-School Sensibilities Are Not For Everyone
It may be hard to remember now, but Vandread was the biggest mecha show of the early 2000s. In its prime, Vandread was seen as the perfect blend of mecha anime, space operas, and romantic-comedies about harems. That said, these traits aged Vandread a lot more than its nostalgic fans would want to admit.
To wit, Vandread’s predictable harem hijinks, generic worldbuilding, and awkward digital animation won’t sit well with modern audiences. This isn’t because these tropes are offensive; rather the sci-fi anime that debuted after Vandread improved on everything it did. Vandread has its charm, but it’s not as good as those it inspired.
8/10 The End Of Evangelion Can Be Too Nihilistic For Some
The End Of Evangelion
Though the Neon Genesis Evangelion franchise is an undisputed mecha and sci-fi classic, it’s still an acquired taste. No entry encapsulated this polarizing legacy as perfectly as The End of Evangelion. In brief, The End of Evangelion is an incredibly dark and violent movie that trapped Evangelion in infamy for decades.
While The End of Evangelion is one of anime’s best and most personal artistic expressions, it’s too pessimistic to be entertaining. The movie is also more of an abstract piece than a sci-fi anime’ finale. The End of Evangelion isn’t for everyone, and the fact that the Rebuild of Evangelion movies basically undid it says enough.
7/10 Super Dimension Fortress Macross Is Not As Good As Its Movie & Spin-Off
Super Dimension Fortress Macross (1982)
It goes without saying that Super Dimension Fortress Macross changed anime almost overnight. Despite this lasting legacy and influence, anime fans still have strong reservations about the original Macross. These include the show’s slow pace, inconsistent tone, and superior successors.
To most fans (including Macross diehards), the movie Do You Remember Love? and the legacy sequel Macross Frontier are the definitive Macross anime. Do You Remember Love? and Macross Frontier faithfully retold and improved Macross’ story and themes so well that they overshadowed their classic source material.
6/10 Mobile Suit Gundam Is Best Viewed As A First Draft
Mobile Suit Gundam
Mobile Suit Gundam (also known as First Gundam or Gundam 0079) isn’t just a sci-fi classic, but an institution as well. However, Gundam’s cultural impact is better remembered than its first series. In fact, the secret to the original Gundam’s timelessness isn’t its quality as an anime, but how many times it was retold and refined.
Gundam’s animation was clunky even in 1979, and its formula grew stale over time. Gundam learned from these mistakes, as seen in its better-received compilation movies, sequels like Zeta Gundam or Hathaway, and nostalgic spin-offs like Gundam Wing. In brief, the original Gundam is better remembered as its successors’ blueprint.
5/10 Space Battleship Yamato Is A Product Of The ’70s
Space Battleship Yamato
When it comes to war anime, Space Battleship Yamato is an undeniable classic. That said, this legacy belongs to Space Battleship Yamato’s 1977 compilation movie, not the 1974 anime. While the original show is still a landmark, it’s a time capsule of some of the most awkward traits a ’70s anime could have.
To wit, the anime’s outdated gender dynamics and nostalgia for World War II-era nationalism can alienate viewers. The Yamato barely has female crew members, and the eponymous ship is a glorified remnant of Japan’s imperial past. Most newcomers prefer the remake Star Blazers: Space Battleship Yamato 2199, since it addressed these issues.
4/10 Cutie Honey’s Camp & Fanservice Can Be Overwhelming
Cutie Honey (1973)
By modern standards, Cutie Honey and its many revivals are corny and needlessly raunchy magical girl shows. Worse, they’re infamous for their excessive fanservice. Those unfamiliar with the original anime and its history don’t realize that, in 1973, Cutie Honey was a groundbreaking and important trendsetter.
Honey Kisaragi is one of the first examples of the magical girl warrior archetype, and she all but wrote anime fanservice’s rules. Even ignoring the fanserivce — which was arguably empowering and liberating in Japan’s conservative ’70s — Cutie Honey is so dedicated to its campy style and formula that only a niche audience would like it.
3/10 Mazinger Z Pioneered Super Robot Clichés
Mazinger Z (1972)
Today, super robot anime are dismissed for being too childish and cringey. These issues can be traced back to the original Mazinger Z, the godfather of all super robot anime and the progenitor of the genre’s tropes. Even by ’70s anime standards, Mazinger Z is too archaic and formulaic.
For example, Mazinger Z codified the obligatory mecha fight that capped every episode. As a result, revisiting Mazinger Z is more tedious than fun. Add its boyish immaturity and juvenile understanding of women which, while somewhat passable in the ’70s, inspires more criticism than amusement under a modern lens.
2/10 Science Ninja Team Gatchaman Is Too Campy & Corny
Science Ninja Team Gatchaman
Science Ninja Team Gatchaman (better known as Battle of the Planets to Americans) is important for many reasons. For one, it popularized the combining super robot anime. However, so many anime copied or improved Science Ninja Team Gatchaman’s premise that it was gradually pushed into obscurity.
For example, most anime fans associate the combining super robot and its team of heroic pilots with Voltron, which came out a decade after Science Ninja Team Gatchaman. These days, few people remember Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, and those who do see it as a campy classic that can’t escape its ’70s trappings.
1/10 Astro Boy Is Remembered More For Its Historical Significance
Astro Boy (1963)
Without the classic kids’ show Astro Boy, anime as an artform and industry wouldn’t exist. But like the Walt Disney cartoons and characters that inspired Osamu Tezuka, Astro Boy and Astro himself are regarded more as respected figureheads than timeless icons. In brief, Astro Boy isn’t as groundbreaking or relevant as it was in 1963.
Astro Boy’s animation and storytelling were thrilling in the ’60s, but are slow and predictable by today’s standards. Even the most dedicated anime aficionados struggle to call the first Astro Boy entertaining or original. If given the choice, most modern audiences would prefer Astro Boy’s 1980 and 2003 remakes.
NEXT: 10 Classic Shonen Anime That Prove Old School Is Best