Old Vs New Anime: Here Are The Biggest Differences Worth Mentioning

Old Pokemon Vs New Pokemon
Avatar of Theo J Ellis

Don’t you just LOVE classic anime like:

  • Magic Knight Rayearth.
  • Monster.
  • Dragon Ball Z.
  • Sailor Moon.
  • Slayers.
  • Inuyasha.
  • You’re Under Arrest.
  • Death Note.

And dozens of others I haven’t mentioned?

There’s something about “old” anime shows that new anime aren’t able to pull off.

Maybe it’s just nostalgia and old anime is in fact inferior to new shows like Golden Kamuy.

But whatever it is – it’s one of the most curious topics we still debate in 2018.

And I understand why it’s debated so often. Because I agree that older shows have their advantages.

With that said, I’ll get into what the differences between old and new anime are. As well as the reason WHY it’s even the case.

Let’s start with the differences old anime has compared to newer shows.


What makes “old” anime different?


1. Minimal fan-service

faye valentine fan service e1535321615195

This is what FAN SERVICE looks like in Cowboy Bebop. 

A classic series made in the 1990’s. Despite the image, this is NOT what Cowboy Bebop is about.

That’s why even in 2018 it’s still considered a legendary anime in its own right.

cowboy bebop headline
2018 article for Cowboy Bebop.
cowboy bebop google search results e1535322462296
Google search results.

If you compare the fan service in Cowboy Bebop (and old school shows) to the fan service seen in modern-day shows…

Well, It’s basically:

  • Clean.
  • Less common.
  • And no way near as “over the top”.
Lucy Heartfilia in a bikini
Lucy Heartfilia fighting in a bikini.

The term “fan service” ironically became more popular from 2010 onwards, according to Google…

google trends fan service

And since around 2008-10, anime fan service has become more and more common every year.

To the point of ridiculous in a lot of cases.


2. Stories with more depth

Old school anime are at least 100 feet deeper than your average show in 2018 or earlier years.

If we look at an anime like Monster this becomes obvious.

Monster anime series

Monster is about a doctor named Tenma and a serial killer-child he accidentally saves through surgery.

“Accidentally” because this same kid turns out to be a serial killer as a young adult.

For a 70+ episode series, monster is one of the deepest animes of all time. 

Without exaggeration.

And it’s not just Monster, there are more like:

  • Death Note.
  • Nana.
  • Code Geass.
  • Full Metal Panic.
  • Kino’s Travels.
  • Clannad.

And too many to name that have a nice blend of storytelling, depth and meaningful characters.

The reason modern-shows lack depth is because:

  • Over-production is killing the quality of the average anime series.
  • Content quantity is at an all time high
  • Studio’s are “in a rush” to produce Junk to please anime fans.
  • There’s now less focus on quality storytelling than there ever was in the 90’s or 2000’s.

It’s also the reason old school classics are still more successful than newer shows in “most” cases.


3. Originality

Lelouch Lamperouge code geass gif

Code Geass began back in 2006, so it’s old by 2018 standards.

And yet it’s still one of the most successful shows of all time. And that’s true even if you’re not a fan.

There’s a reason old shows like Code Geass are classics:

  • They’re original.
  • They’re different.
  • The storytelling is unique, with “few” shows being comparable if at all.
  • The concepts old shows brought to the table were original from the get-go.
  • That’s why there’s no need to “copy” and “paste” like you tend to see with anime in 2018.

While I’m an optimist and I do believe anime is improving (there is evidence), it’s hard to compare the originality of new shows vs old shows.

Related: 7 Of The Least Cliche Anime Characters Ever Created


4. Each series was given more time and attention

Mio Akiyama focused K on

Anime started in the 1960’s.

Between the 1960’s and 2000’s, studios and creators spent more time producing anime series compared to nowadays.

You could put it down to “less demand”, which is true to an extent. Anime is much more famous and in-demand compared to 20 years ago.

But it’s undeniable that anime these days don’t get the time and attention they deserve to “become great”.

Darling In The Franxx probably suffered from this.

darling in the franxx zero two crying

It started out great, but it seems like they half-assed the 2nd half of the series.

Most likely it was rushed and that’s clear enough from the way it slipped up in later episodes.

That’s why so many old shows are still relevant (and referenced) in 2018. Because they got the time and attention they deserved in the creation process.

That’s not to say all shows are meant to be great just because more time is spent on it though.


What makes “new” anime different?


1. Beautiful animation

I can think of a few modern shows with beautiful animation:

  • Violet Evergarden.
  • God Eater.
  • Your Name.
  • Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid.
  • A Silent Voice.
  • Attack On Titan.
  • Fate Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works.
  • The Ancient Magus Bride.

And obviously there are even more.

Violet Evergarden takes the spotlight for gorgeous animation in 2018.

Violet Evergarden sleeping

Old anime just can’t compete for obvious reasons. Technology is more advanced than it ever was.

Making this one of the biggest differences between old vs new anime.


2. Fan-service is more EXTREME

This is obvious to any anime fan born in the 21st century. Or maybe not if you haven’t watched any old shows.

But the obvious examples that come to my mind are:


Food Wars

food wars anime girl e1589363353321


High School Of The Dead

high school of the dead fan service


Free! Eternal Summer

Free anime characters



anime girl touching ass fan service

And too many not worth mentioning.

Compare that to older shows (there are exceptions) and the differences are insane.

Of course shows like Food Wars are meant to have fan service, that’s what makes it appealing.

But these days even when it’s not necessary you’ll see fan service that spoils too many anime that have potential.

Related: How Fan Service Can Make Or Break An Anime Series


3. Lower quality on average

I won’t get into “animation” quality because most the time it’s 10X better than older shows.

To mention it would be nitpicking.

But where modern anime shows suffer the most (and more often) is with:

  • Typical stories that feel rehashed without any sign of creativity.
  • Copied and pasted elements taken from other series with NO effort to stand out.
  • Blatant fan-service thrown in to cover up for an anime’s shortcomings.
  • Rushed character development that destroys an anime with TONS of potential.
  • Lack of depth, differentiation, or even emotion.

It might seem unfair to compare the quality of an average anime today with older shows. Since older shows were few and far between in terms of quantity.

But it’s undeniable that fewer shows over the years seem to shine or stand out. Probably because of over production in recent years.

I’d say since 2017 and 2018 this is changing, and I do believe it’ll get to a point where the scales are tipped once again.

Then more studios (within reason) will give the anime shows they produce more time and attention, and anything else they’re not doing that will help.


4. Cute designs and CGI

You know the shows I’m talking about right?

Anime like:


Lucky Star

Lucky Star chibi characters


New Game!

new game anime characters happy


God Eater

God Eater anime characters


Batman Ninja

Batman Ninja CGI



K on anime characters cute

Newer shows have introduced a LOT of fresh designs and art styles to the mix.

By my count there’s at least 10 anime art styles and designs these days.

Where as back in the 1990’s (and so on) most productions leaned towards the realistic side of things when it came to animation.


What differences have you noticed between new vs old anime?

I’d say that about covers everything. If not – I’ll update this post with more.


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