Anime got started back in the 1980s. 40 years ago! All that time ago many anime never left its home country of Japan. Or when it did get released in North America it was heavily edited – removing entire episodes and altering characters and stories – such as with the localization of Sailor Moon.
Sailor Moon was recently remade with Crystal, and an all new dub of the 90s version that was more faithful to the source material. This got me thinking… what long – almost forgotten – anime needs either a reboot – or just a release to DVD because it was never released or released and now impossible to find unless you’re willing to pay hundreds of dollars.
Here are my top 80s-90s retro anime I’d like to see make a return in 2020.
1.) Creamy Mami – I received the first box of Creamy Mami in a rightstuf blind box. I also was easily able to find the 2nd box on amazon. However, the 3rd and 4th boxes are impossible to find. The series is available to stream on amazon prime but I’d like to buy it for my collection. Rerelease please – or better yet, give it the Sailor Moon treatment – with an all new remake.
I do know we’re getting a new manga series focused on Ayase, so it’ll be interesting to see if it gets an anime adaption too. I wonder if she’s going to be a magical girl too – that would be interesting to see.
I avoided this anime for years because the name is very sexual sounding, and the artwork kinda looks sexual too like the lips remind me of a blowup doll. But once I did sit down and watch it, I loved it. I’m only like 15 episodes in so far. It is clear to see how it inspired future magical girl anime like Sailor Moon, Full Moon Wo Sagashite, and Card Captor Sakura, to name a few.
But Creamy Mami is especially similar to Sailor Moon. Here are the key similarities between Creamy Mami and Sailor Moon:
Both girls use a magic heart shaped wand. They have similar transformation sequences. They become older looking – this is less obvious in the Sailor Moon anime, but more obvious in the Sailor Moon Manga – still not as obvious as in Creamy Mami. Creamy ages from 7 to 16 – similar to Full Moon Wo Sagashite. But Sailor Moon supposedly ages up too which is why her enemies never recognize her.
Furthermore, both Sailor Moon and Creamy Mami have 2 talking cat side kicks, one male and one female, who slowly help the girls uncover their super powers.
Both girls are in love with older men.
Finally both girls grow and mature throughout the series, both in terms of coming of age, dealing with first love emotions, friendships, and finding confidence in themselves, as well as gradually acquiring new super powers throughout their series.
2.) Full Moon Wo Sagashite – Since I went ahead and mentioned it above, I’ll add it to our list. Viz released the dub and sub on DVD back in 2004, but it’s hit or miss to find it available now. Almost all volumes of the DVD are dirt cheap like under $5, except the last volume, number 7, which is over $200. That’s why it needs a rerelease. It’s one of my favorites. About a young girl who dreams of becoming a singer, but suffers from throat cancer that renders her unable to sing. Through magical guardian angels she is able to transform into an older version of herself and fulfil her dream of becoming a singer. It’s deeper than that too though as details about her family and friends and guardian angels are slowly revealed.
3.) Kodocha – Child’s Play is being rereleased by Diskotek Media in 2021. I’m very excited for this release. I had some of the older DVDs back in early 2k but never the full set. I don’t know how it ends. I made it about half way, to the orange juice kiss episode and that’s it. It’s about a young child star, who thinks her manager is her pimp, and has some ego issues. It’s a coming of age story, but it doesn’t take itself very seriously at all. It’s also largely a love story. She’s in love but doesn’t know it yet, with a boy in her class and at first they supposedly hate each other. They learn there’s a thin line between love and hate.
4.) Lady Lady!! and Hello Lady Lynn (Season 2 of Lady Lady!!) – This apparently was released in French, Arabic, and Japanese, at some point maybe back in the 80s under the title Gwendolyne, but never had an English dub or sub, or as far as I can tell at least. I started Fansubing the French Audio Version Myself. I don’t speak french but there were some machine translation automatic subs and I went through editing and timing those subs to actually make sense. Here’s the first episode I fansubbed. It is a great series. Or seems that way so far. Very sad. Episode 1:
5.) Aishiteruze Baby – This one was never translated into English – oddly. Because Viz (I think it was) decided to release the manga in English, but never brought over the anime. I haven’t read the manga yet, but the anime is one of my all time favorites. It’s about a highschool boy who suddenly finds himself taking care of a toddler and learning the real meaning of family.
6.) Lady Georgie – I don’t think this is the same as Lady Lady!! (because her name was Lynn, not Georgie) similar art style though. And both take place in London. I haven’t watched Lady Georgie yet. It seems interesting though. A young girl learns she is adopted and has only one clue to her birth family. She leaves to go to London to find her birth family, followed by two adopted brothers who are both in love with her but hiding their affections.
7.) Lady Oscar – So many ladies on our list tonight lol. This one was translated to German, and maybe French, but again, no English release. Based on The Rose of Versailles. Possibly maybe had an English release but it was limited and now goes for over $280 for part 1, and over $280 for part 2 – meaning to get them all you gotta spend $600. Boo. Lets rerelease it at a reasonable price – please? Thank you!
8.) Sally The Witch – This was supposedly the very first shoujo anime. It is black and white, and loosely based on, or inspired by the USA tv show “bewitched” which was apparently extremely popular in Japan. I’ve never watched it, but a few episodes apparently are floating around online with English subs, but not the entire series.
9.) Himitsu No Akko-Chan – Sally The Witch may have been the first shojo “anime” but Himitsu No Akko-Chan was the first shojo manga, and that manga even predates Sally The Witch – It is utterly impossible to find now and goes for over $1,000 for the DVD set – and no idea if that has English subs or not. There is a more recent live action version that’s pretty readily available, but not the anime from the 60s.
10.) Windaria – Once Upon A Time – I think this was heavily edited for US release. The original is from 1986. It’s violent, has sex, drugs, war, murder, all kinds of things. It was released twice in USA under two different names and by two different publishers. One is called Windaria, and one is Called Once Upon A Time – both are similar (possibly the same?).
It is difficult to find now either version brand new. And neither version are very true to the Japanese original – I suspect, but I dunno for sure. It’s one of my favorites though. So sad and beautiful. I just bought myself a used copy of Once Upon A Time – even though I’m pretty sure I have it somewhere – I think I had the VHS – I dunno.
After checking Wikipedia real quick, I am correct that the film has been butchered for North America – but I still love it. For some ungodly reason, they were not given any script and had “little insight” into the plot of the original Japanese version – And thus they “made up” an entirely new/different story for the US release. The uncut Japanese version has NEVER been released in America – can we get it released please? It’s only been almost 50 years already lol.
The anime is very popular in Japan with merchandise still being sold today. The American version cuts out about 15 minutes, and makes the movie more “kid friendly” (probably mostly removing the sex scenes) I think I saw this fansubbed some years ago, and was surprised at the threesomes and drugs and sex scenes.
Although even in the “official” release it’s pretty damn dark for USA kids or teens – one pair of lovers kill each other in epic Romeo and Juliette fashion since their parents forbid them of being together.
The other couple, who is probably the main couple, well, the man in that relationship is a giant douchebag dick, maybe less so in the USA release, but still pretty dickish. He leaves his wife to fight in a war, just to have a cool motorcycle, and later after the war ends he doesn’t want to go back to his wife because he has dozens of concubines, wealth, drugs, alcohol, and whatever else because he was now a famous war hero.
He promised his wife he would return, so she dies waiting for him to return instead of evacuating the village with the rest of the villagers when the war comes to their home town afraid he’d come back and not know where she went.
Later when the main character “suddenly remembers” he has a wife (wtf) he goes to the village crying out her name as he sees his whole town destroyed and deserted. Only to find her ghost. I think in the Japanese version he becomes a captain of a ghost ship to take souls across to the other side that were possibly trapped in this village, and it says something about how he will have to do that for eternity, or thousands of years, releasing the former ghost ship captain to finally go be with his own loved ones implying perhaps someday someone will release him too to be with his loved ones – not that he fricken deserves to go to heaven – or ever be reunited with them, amirite?
Well even though he’s a giant asshole, it’s still pretty sad. I don’t feel bad for him, but I feel bad for his wife. I felt bad for the other more Romeo/Juliette couple. I liked them better honestly than the main couple.
I think I did watch the fansubbed “supposedly uncut Japanese version” years ago before Kissanime went down, and honestly, for supposedly having no script at all, the USA version wasn’t that far off on plot details, although it says the USA version has a happy ending?
I don’t remember, I think in every version I’ve ever seen including my old crappy VHS, he forgets about his wife until she’s dead and a ghost – but maybe they tried to make it look like she was still alive? But I think even as a kid, I understood she was already dead, even in the heavily edited version, which isn’t a happy ending to me, lol.
Still, let’s get someone to release the real story the way the Japanese creators meant for it to be told, please? Thanks!
11.) Please Save My Earth – Another case where they butchered the USA release – and another case where it’s hard to find. I just bought the last copy on Amazon last week – it wasn’t very expensive, but is now sold out on Amazon thanks to me :P. It’s one of my favorites. Naoko has credited this series to inspiring Sailor Moon. It’s not a “magical girl” anime. It’s dark, and violent. BUT you can see some inspiration here. All of the cast members are reincarnated from life on the moon, into a new body on Earth with hope of a happy new life. But when they regain their memories, and powers (in some cases – not all of them have powers, but at least 1 or 2 do), they start to go a little crazy.
For example, a child remembers he was a lover of a much older woman, he stayed behind on the moon to help everyone else safely reincarnate, and then slowly went mad, and that madness is coming back into his new life. Another couple realizes they were opposite genders, and lovers, but now they are same gendered in this life and unsure what to do with their feelings (like Sailor Moon this was way ahead of its time for its mature relationships and gender roles). There is a messy love triangle, and some pretty violent super power fighting scenes. Great Anime – I believe it was butchered for release over here stateside, but have NEVER not to this DAY ever found the original Japanese version anywhere!
The English version says “Based on original screenplay” or “Based on Original story” – BASED ON? That’s not good…. It should just say “Screenplay by” or “Written by” Based On tells me they took way too many liberties bringing this one to North America. Shrugs, anyways I reviewed this and mentioned all of that already – but I desperately really want to see the original uncut whole story. I’m thinking about buying the manga, or kindle manga, which surprisingly is available in English, despite, not having a rerelease or even true-to-original release of the anime. Despite whatever butchering took place, I still love this anime. I’m glad I snagged that last DVD 🙂 Sorry if you’re looking for it – best of luck now.
12.) Yawara! – This is a manga and anime about all girl judo olympic sports. It was meant to be a comedy, but many readers found it very touching and took it more seriously. It debuted just 2 years before female judo became an official sport and 6 years before it made its olympic debut. So at the time they thought this would be a short lived series, but the popularity of female judo fighting (or wrestling whatever the correct term is sorry I don’t know), pushed the series to extreme popularity with its audience. It is over 140 episodes. Oddly, the series was picked up for US distribution, however, it was dropped after only 40 episodes and is now out of print. I have never watched this series – but in a way it reminds me at least from the synopsis of chihayafuru in a way, just more physical, and less of a mental, competition, right? I’d like to watch it but I don’t want to stop part way through. Can someone bring out the rest of the series. Also re-release the first 40 because it’s out of print now. I did find one reasonably priced dvd of the first 40 episodes. (under $40), but most are going for over $200 at time of this writing.
13.) They Were Eleven – I also just recently purchased this for my collection. It was a little pricey, but I had a giftcard that covered most of it. You can find it used for around $60. It’s one of my favorites. It is about a team of 10 space cadets who are given a test to live in a space simulator with a set amount of rations and duties to perform. They are all so focused on their own agendas that they don’t pay much attention to one another, until its discovered that they have an 11th crew member. Terror and mystery strike as they wonder which of the 11 members is the stowaway, and wonder what his intentions are. Once the used ones are out of stock, it’s gonna cost you over $100, so if you’re interested in owning this one, pick it up sooner, rather than later. I’m glad I ordered it for my dvd collection.
14.) Saint Tail – This one is hit or miss to find – and I don’t have any of them in my collection yet. Some are as low as $20 per dvd but other episodes are $130+ per dvd. Making it costly to get the whole set – can we see this one compiled and remastered and rereleased soon please? Saint Tail is a very cute anime about a female thief. It is a robinhood-esque story about a cat burglar who re-steals stolen treasures to return them to their rightful owners. Many people compare the main character to Sailor Moon or Card Captor Sakura because she is 14 and similarly magical girl in nature.
15.) Tokimeki Tonight (and Tokimeki Midnight, the sequel) – OK Japan, this one falls on you guys to get it right! The anime ended YEARS before the manga was completed and like 20 years before the sequel was even created – To make it worse, the anime was left with an open ending – The manga goes on and on and fleshes out the story and relationships and such much more. So I’d like to see Japan give this one the Sailor Moon treatment or Fruits Basket treatment, lets get something closer to the manga up in here, please. For those who don’t know, Tokimeki Tonight is about a girl who transforms into anything she bites and can only transform to human again by sneezing which naturally interferes in her normal teenage life and love life. She falls in love with a boy but her parents don’t approve until they discover he has some secrets of his own.
16.) The Kabocha Wine – Ok honestly, I have no fricken idea what this is about. But apparently it’s 95 episodes, and considered a “romance manga/anime” I’d like to know more about it, but Wikipedia is useless here. I know one way I can find out though, by having someone bring those 95 episodes over here Stateside. This is another one where it was picked up in France, but never brought to America, for some reason. A brief blurb I read about this said it’s about a huge girl who’s in love with a small boy. How huge? Like Gulliver Travels huge? or like Lovely Complex Huge? Or Like Pochimani huge? lol.
17.) Hello Sandy Bell – Ok, this is another one where Mexico and Italy got this but United States was left out AGAIN. It’s considered one of the best shojo anime of all time. Will we ever see an English sub or dub? I hope so. I don’t know much what it’s about. I see a girl and her dog (who looks like Lassie) and I see glowing reviews all over about this and I’m curious and want to watch this too.
18.) Maison Ikkoku – not that hard to find yet, I picked it up a few weeks ago on Bluray from Ebay. Not sure if its like legit or pirated, but whatever, at least its available – one way or another – more than I can say for others on this list. Overtime this one will become harder to find – and is very old – Seeing as its so old, it could stand for some reboot magic to bring its graphics to a new generation’s discriminating tastes.
It is a very long series (all of Rumiko’s shit is so long…. Ranma, Rinne, Inuyasha, and yes, this…) I feel she could cut about 80% of these episodes – true of all of her series. They drag on – a lot like A LOT lot lol – but out of all of Rumiko’s works, Maison Ikkoku is my favorite – it’s also the slowest – because it’s slice of life – without ANY fantasy stuff. It’s just about a guy sharing a house with his female landlord and their comedy cast of neighbors. Romance blooms between the tenant and his landlord, but he has a rival in the form of a very handsome professional tennis player.
I have actually not finished watching this. I started back in the 90s. And lost interest. Same as every other one of Rumiko’s series. After hundreds of episodes and not really going anywhere, I feel bored.
But still, this is probably one of, if not the, first slice of life anime, without combat (and very little comedy), focused almost entirely on drama and relationship stuff. I haven’t watched my bluray or this anime in over 20- close to 30 years probably – and for some reason what stands out most to me is the christmas episode where the landlord knits the tennant a scarf – or is it vice versa? maybe he knits her a scarf – I can’t remember – I don’t know why that stuck in my mind, but it did lol.
19. Aishite Knight – Actually this should be way higher up my list but it just popped into my head. It’s one of my favorite anime. About a young girl who falls in love with 2 band members. A love triangle ensues. It gets dark. Deals with death and other very mature sad issues. Has a total 80s almost Jem vibe to it. I also love Juliano the fat orange cat 🙂
20.) What’s Michael – Speaking of fat cats, lets finish out our blog post with a request to re-release What’s Michael on dvd. I have the manga, but have never seen the 45 episode anime and 2 OVAs. I would compare it quite closely to Chii’s New Address / Chii’s Sweet Home. It’s about a mischievous fat cat named Michael.
Honorable Mention: Nana – I love Nana and it’s hard to find now – out of print, and over $200 each box set, multiple box sets of 3 or 4 sets, making it around $800 to complete. You can find pirated copies for around $80. Still pretty pricey. I don’t think it’s time to rerelease Nana yet though – not until the creator can hopefully someday finish the Manga. Which is why I didn’t include it in my list above… I don’t know what happened to the creator. She “fell ill” although it was never discussed what she had, if it was physical, or mental, and she occasionally tweets or teases fans with small doodles, but has never returned to finish Nana, and honestly probably never will sadly. I know her health, be it physical or mental, is far more important, but at this point I wish someone would just do what anime always does, and “make shit up” for the ending whenever anime “gets ahead of” the manga. And technically, the manga is already way ahead of the anime…
Also similarly to Nana above, I want to see Skip Beat finish out the damn anime, which will probably never happen, but unlike Nana, at least the manga is finished – I will read it some day.
And my all time favorite anime Peach Girl – needs a remake although the original is very very easy to find and dirt cheap. There are a few versions but all the same, floating out there under $20. The manga has been going on and on, and is still going on – and the anime never explored those extra chapters. I need to read these new “Peach Girl Next” mangas but I hope someday they do “Peach Girl Next” anime.
Also after sleeping on it last night, I realized this morning, I forgot to mention Paradise Kiss. The anime is out of print now and going for a cool $300 for the complete set. I’m not going to pay that. I liked the series, but the ending always bothered me. Well I don’t know how it could have ended any other way because George was obviously gay, or at least bisexual. But it was so sad. The main character is a girl, who doesn’t have much self confidence but is discovered by a group of kids who run an underground fashion club. They think she’s the perfect model because of her being so tall. George begins making beautiful clothes for the main character (you can tell I forgot her name, sorry lol). And as they spend more time together, a friendship develops between them… and the main character always wants it to be more than friendship, she’s quite clearly in love with George. They sleep together at least one time. Whether they have sex, I can’t remember, but they definitely share a bed, and she lies there watching him sleep. Anyways in the end, George leaves to become a famous fashion designer. I don’t know/don’t remember if the girl decides to become a model, or just live a normal life, but I believe she stays in Japan, and George goes to Paris, and that’s the end. It left me feeling kinda like “Meh? That’s it?” But I mean, I don’t know what I expected. George has to be true to himself and his feelings. Maybe he’s trying it out with the main character to see if he really is gay? I mean they’re young highschool kids. So experimentation at that age is normal. But like I said George has to be true to himself. But then where does that leave our main character? I always felt she got the short end of the stick here. Yeah, she found her confidence and self esteem, and yadda yadda yadda… but no happy ending romance wise for her here. Maybe the manga is different. The manga has a special 20th anniversary omnibus edition for under $20. I guess I’ll eventually pick it up and satisfy myself with that instead of spending $300 to own the anime lol.
There are a lot of other well deserved well loved almost forgotten anime that’s hard or impossible to find now. (as well as games too that need digital editions and/or remastered).
Also I’d like to give a shoutout to all of the American 80s cartoons that I grew up with and wish to see released on DVD (some may already be available honestly haven’t looked lol):
- My Little Pony Tales
- Pirates of Dark Water
- The Littles
- Gummy Bears
- Fluppy Dogs
- Rainbow Bright
- Sheerah (the original 80s one – I haven’t watched the remake – I heard its good though, same goes for Rainbow Bright above too)
- David the Gnome
- Super Ted
- Thunder Cats
- Denver The Dinosaur
Probably lots of others I’m forgetting.
That’s enough nostalgia for tonight 🙂 Have fun tracking down these and other classic anime – happy hunting.
Leave me a comment below to tell me what your favorite 80s-90s anime or american cartoon is. 🙂