During the 1970s, anime began to break away from its traditional stylized look and adopt a more detailed and lifelike style. This is truly when anime began to get noticed when Japanese animation was featured at the Montreal and Annecy International Animated Film Festivals. It was also during this time that Japanese animation was exported and distributed to the the U.S., which resulted in a decline in the quality of anime during the 1970s.
This is the first part of a series where I’ll be posting my thoughts on the best 1970s anime worth checking out. After doing some research in the past, I came to realize that the anime industry in the early days of television was just as hit-and-miss as it is today. Therefore, the best anime from that era are the ones that stand out as being not just good but timeless in their approach to the medium.
In the 1970s, Japanese anime became popular abroad, thanks to the work of Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki and others. It cemented itself as a genre, with its own style and rules. It was around this time that Hayao Miyazaki directed Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, which was a phenomenon.
If the internet has taught me anything, it’s that nostalgia is a great drug.
And if you watched the anime in the 70s, you can probably tell it’s come a long way since then.
So why not take a look at the old anime classics to see what it looks like decades later?
Whether it’s nostalgia or just an interest in old classics, we’ve compiled this list to help you find some great anime straight out of the 70s.
While this series doesn’t have the most impressive MAL rating, I have to tell you about it.
It was one of the first shows to introduce the trope of magical girl transformation – and perhaps even a pioneer of fan service.
It’s kind of a monster of the week show where all the monsters are women and a mix of humans and animals.
But what the series really excels at is its tone.
For the most part, Cutie Honey is innocent as hell and creates a Sailor Moon feel, as you would expect.
But once you get into the mood of the series, there is pure violence without contagion.
Ik kan me alleen maar voorstellen hoeveel ouders dat toen voor hun kinderen hebben geregeld, om ze een paar uur later te laten huilen toen iemands hoofd ontplofte.
The highest level of entertainment in my books.
14. Future Boy Conan
If one thing has remained constant over the past few decades, it’s that everything Miyazaki touches instantly turns to gold.
And the budding Conan is no exception.
Of course, the plot seems a bit typical of today’s standards: A boy lives completely outside of society and goes to the outside world to save a girl he just met.
But this is Miyazaki we’re talking about.
The art direction, story, soundtrack and even the animation itself are all top notch.
So if you’re not a fan of anime from the 70s because it’s visually lacking, this movie should allay your fears.
Candy Candy was the kind of shoujo we miss today.
That is, it was just helpful and inspiring.
The plot was as simple as possible:
The girl just lived her life and dealt with whatever life brought her. No magical powers or love pansies, just simple drama that we’ve all experienced at one time or another.
If you read back through the forums or reviews about this series, you’ll probably see a lot of praise from people who watched the series when they were younger and learned a lot about how to navigate everyday life.
And God knows these kids need something useful to teach them a lesson, stay off TikTok and get off my lawn!
12. Tiger mask
Although this anime is set in the Nice era in the 20th century. Although it was released in the early twentieth century, I’m including it because it was still very relevant in the 1970s.
The show revolved around wrestling. And this isn’t traditional WWE wrestling where you beat someone and then disappear until the next match. Oh no, we’ve seen some real character development here.
I mean, we had a protagonist constantly doubting himself and his powers, and a random killer thrown at his head.
I certainly don’t remember the Undertaker beating the Hitman with an anime-style iron chair, so this show comes out a winner.
11. Captain Future
If you want a simple space opera with the usual themes: intergalactic travel, immortality, robots, and so on….. but don’t want to take a chance on modern anime (with its surprisingly high likelihood of a fanservice story), then Captain Future might be for you.
Although not the most important space adventure of the 70s, but more on that later …..
Because this movie is still worth it if you want to indulge in high-level sci-fi.
However, don’t expect the animation to last. This is one of the many animes from that era that didn’t survive very well.
Although the first film adaptation of this series dates back to the 1970s, I think most people are familiar with it.
I say that because the 2018 version definitely turned our heads.
With lots of violence and limbs flying in all directions, it was pretty memorable.
The original also has some dark elements, and the beginning of the film managed to be even darker than the drug and rock club fiasco in the new version.
The 1970s version is essentially the villain of the week show, which can become a recurring program over time. But there are also unexpected comic elements in it, which occasionally lift the spirits.
9. Mobile Suit Gundam
Since we’re talking about TV series whose influence is still felt, we have to pay homage to the G.O.A.T. genre. Mech.
It’s no exaggeration to say that the Gundam series brought giant robots to the party, where they’ve remained ever since.
The plot is very solid, it’s a typical army series, with heavy themes – and lots of larger-than-life battles.
I’m not going to sit here and say that the show is totally fine. For most young anime fans, it probably doesn’t fit at all.
But if you like the more modern Furry series, this one might be quite intriguing.
Like reading about the Black Death in the 2020s.
8. UFO Robo Grendizer
Although I quickly tucked it away as one of the other Furry series, it definitely surprised me.
Not in terms of plot, because that’s pretty rare.
We live in a world where humans are invading the earth, and our main characters have to fight them. Not too bad.
But where the series really excelled was in the drawing of the characters.
There was none of that I’m bad crap.
And the series has really done wonders when it comes to creating its antagonists.
The main characters were also very likable, but for some reason they never really stood out among the villains in my eyes.
7. Anne of Green Gables
This is the kind of series that should have been taken as a golden example of life review.
The story revolves around a girl who is adopted and goes to live on a farm. That’s it.
Yet the attention to detail is evident, as nothing looks sloppy or casual. Rather, it is an authentic collection of various key moments in someone’s coming-of-age.
There are no abrupt time jumps in the film, no intrusive storylines that might never have happened in real life.
It’s just a good, well-intentioned cartoon series about a young girl who becomes a woman.
6. Treasure Island
If your parents or teachers forced you to read a book with this title, but your six-second attention span wasn’t enough, I have good news for you.
This animation doesn’t follow the book exactly, but it can give you an idea of the world and the characters.
Moreover, this is one of the few cases where a deviation from the starting material has resulted in a better end product.
And if you haven’t read this book and have no idea what I’m talking about, I’ll just say it:
It’s about pirates and the search for a mystical treasure. And it’s a great adventure that has survived well to this day.
5. Mazinger Z
Okay, this is the last fur show, I promise.
It’s just that people like giant robots fighting each other.
As for Mazinger Z, the concept is rather mediocre. You have a giant mecha, mostly controlled by teenagers, and a villain who wants to take over the world.
The villain sends one henchman after another to fight our main characters, and that’s it.
What he lacks in creativity, he makes up for in technique.
Some series are so gripping that it’s impossible to write them. And the show manages to use the same formula for 92 episodes without losing viewers, which is pretty impressive.
Don’t look at everything at once, because that will tire you out.
4. Versailles Pink
We are now distancing ourselves from all the futuristic robots and astronauts and going the other way – to the past.
The Rose of Versailles is the historical account of Marie Antoinette and her fateful meeting with Oscar François de Jarger.
This is a masterfully written drama about the fall of the French aristocracy and the story of two women forced into roles they don’t want.
I can’t help but praise the development of the characters, especially Oscar, as this series warms your heart one second and beats it the next.
A true classic, if I may say so.
3. Space pirate Captain Harlock
Until you see this show, you’ll never know how the words space and pirate coincide.
Or Treasure Planet, I guess.
But Captain Harlock actually embodies all the cool adventures of a great masterpiece, as you feel the influence of western, pirate and sci-fi elements in an anime.
We even have an iconic Byron-like protagonist, ready to be extremely cool and incredibly cute at the same time.
It’s not unreasonable to say that this series was monumental for its time – and richly deserving of being in the top 3 of this list.
2. Lupin III
Talk about monumental spectacles: Lupin entered the chat room.
This franchise has so many spin-offs that it feels like a lifetime investment.
It all started with this excellent product in 1971.
Outside of the manga, this is our first introduction to the methods of thieves in the Lupin universe, as the gang of young men go from one heist to another.
What’s particularly interesting about the first Lupin is that it’s much darker than some modern adaptations.
And while this can be a bit repulsive to children, adults can’t help but be fascinated by this phenomenon.
I knew Lupin was going through an emotional phase!
1. Tomorrow’s Joe
This is the Rocky series we all needed.
This is probably one of the best sports anime to date, and is definitely a favorite of anyone who loves boxing.
It starts with the classic formula: A man beats up gangsters, then is recognized by a former boxing trainer.
He soon takes him under his wing, and a bitter rivalry develops between our protagonist and the only man who has ever given Joe cards.
Every battle is tense. And the emotional accompaniment to each game more than makes up for the somewhat dated animation.
Overall, this series is iconic in every sense of the word. And it certainly deserves to be recognized as one of the best (if not the best) anime released in the 1970s.A list of the best 1970s anime is always a tough task, especially when you’re as picky as I am about what makes a good anime. So instead of giving you a list of what I’ve watched, I’m going to give you a list of what I haven’t, and you can decide whether to watch them yourself.. Read more about 70s anime list and let us know what you think.