Anime today is awful. Everything airing is crap, and fans have horrible taste. Why can’t we go back to the good old days of anime?
Oh right, because they never existed.
I like to say that the “good old days of anime” are approximately five years before the complainer became an anime fan. When you’re just getting into the genre, you’ve got the entirety of anime at your disposal, and can choose to watch your top 1% and nothing else. As Scamp said, it’s as if all your favorite shows came out in a year.
The problem is when you expect everything to be that good. Because if you think of it, the modern classics—Evangelion, Cowboy Bebop, pretty much everything on Bob’s list—only makes up the tiniest fraction of what was airing at the time. There’s always been terrible anime on TV—it’s only that we’ve forgotten it in the shadow of what was actually good.
Actually, I think we’re more fortunate than ever now that everything is at our fingertips. In the ‘90s and early ‘00s, Western anime distributors had to pick and choose only the few shows they thought had the likeliest chance of doing well. They were right for the most part given that many of us remember that period as a kind of Golden Age of anime, but think about what we missed. For example, it’s a crime Turn A Gundam isn’t in the west yet.
Because one thing people forget about when they say “modern anime is crap” is that what’s good and what isn’t is personal preference. I thought Free! Eternal Summer deserved an A; you may think I’m utterly blind for thinking so. And that’s fine—the point of the matter is we all have the opportunity to try it out and see for ourselves.
For my husband, John, it’s always the good old days of anime. He’s married to an anime reviewer who watches roughly eight shows a season. Out of those, I recommend maybe one for him to watch, and he loves it. I am an anime oyster, filtering out the crap. You have anime oysters too—reviewers.
So my suggestion, if you’re sick of watching anime you don’t like: start following the recommendations of somebody you trust. Read anime reviews. Don’t be me, be John. Follow the three-episode rule. And only watch what you love.
Print by Ben Huber