I find myself in lots of retro phases, retro games, retro comics, and now retro manga and anime; coincidentally, I picked up all of these habits for the same reason, because they're as good as what we've got now, and at times better. Now it's 2013, animation's crisper, budgets are bigger, and manga covers things people wouldn't dream of back then, so what makes 80's worth revisiting?
I wasn't alive in the 80's, I don't I could've even been conceived back then, and yet due to the availability of media over the web, the past is closer than it's ever been, and when I'm browsing I often unintentionally end up reading an old manga, or watching an old anime, and this isn't a bad thing, it's just interesting that the old is still so popular, and easy to come across, whereas in American comics you have to work a little harder for the old. Moving on, many of you probably know manga and anime are from Japan, and as such releasing them in America is a little difficult, and in the 80's the market for manga and anime in Japan was a fraction of what it is today, and so America never got to see some really fantastic stuff, and while a lot of it is around now, it's still not even close to all of the manga and anime released around that period, which is a huge shame, because the manga and anime America got ended up essentially creating it's own market, and many of the series we hail as classics come from this time.
Ready for the manga equivalent of an all star team? The 80's brought many of the franchises we take for granted into the world, and this period was crucial in establishing a western fanbase of Japanese entertainment, and luckily the title's didn't disappoint. Stop if you've heard of one of these: Dragon Ball, Akira, Jojo's Bizarre Adventure, Ranma 1/2, Fist of the North Star, Ghost in the Shell, Dr Slump, Captain Tsubasa, Saint Seiya, and Berserk! And that's off the top of my head! Not to mention I haven't talked about anime, which had big things coming circa 1980, clearly something happened here that set the framework for the stuff read and watched today. Think of where manga and anime would be today without Dragon Ball, I cant even begin to think about it. But I'm not here to preach about how great these manga are, because none of these are close to perfect, and are all shounen action manga, AKA my favorite genre, and I'm probably a little biased; however what I can say, is a lot of the series launched here set tones that have been resonating for decades, whether it's the Dragon Ball timelapse, or the Saint Seiya tournament fighter, lots of what happens today was being coined back in 1980.
Ah the 80's, a time when Krillin only died once...
Moving on,I don't want to be so broad with this, and It's time to cover individual things that need to be seen
I've already covered Touch in an article I wrote awhile ago, but I feel like I didn't really do the series justice, because Touch may be the greatest sports manga ever written, bar none. Touch is the brainchild of Adachi Mitsuru, and is a baseball manga covering twins Uesugi Katsuya, and Uesugi Tatsuya, the former a star athlete and student, the latter a lazy good-for-nothing (or so it seems,) and both have a crush on the same girl, their neighbor, Minami. The world knows about this potential romance as well, at least on Katsuya's side, and the whole world thinks they'll be married, after Katsuya pitches the school baseball team into nationals. As the story moves on people see more and more talent in Tatsuya, but he continues to refuse to take up the sport, even joining the boxing team instead, which is another sport he has a knack for; eventually a tragic event thrusts Tatsuya into the limelight, and thus begins the tale of a boy, his brother, and a girl, in this fantastic baseball romantic comedy (bear with me). Adachi Mitsuru is a champion of minimalistic art and clever writing, and his spirit shines throughout the whole series, the drama is TOUCHing, the baseball is good, the characters are funny and well realized, and the art shines in a weird way. All in all Touch forms a baseball manga unlike any other, and it's effects can be seen on anime today, all you have to do is look (Area No Kishi for one.)
Where to Find It Oddly enough, Touch hasn't gone stateside to my knowledge, and you'll have to resort to scans or something, just send Mitsuru a check.
Minimalist is the only word i can really come up with for the art
Laputa: Castle in the Sky The first actual Studio Ghibli movie also happens to be my favorite. Laputa successfully blends a steampunk style world with compelling characters and incredible setpieces, a sight for the eyes, and ears to behold (although the dub sucks). I worship at Hayao Miyazaki's feet, lets get that out of the way before I get into detail about this classic. Laputa covers Pattsu and Shita, one a princess, the other a boy who dreams of finding a castle in the sky to redeem his dead father, they meet when Shita's airship gets attacked by pirates, and she falls out, and yet mysteriously floats down safe, as if by magic. This turn of events leads Pattsu and Shita into a national conspiracy involving magic, airships, and robots, stop if you've heard something like this before. Plot aside, the real thing I love about Laputa is the action, insane chases, robots blowing everything up, soldiers falling off flying castles, oh and sky pirates! The movie is just an incredible ride, and deserves to be seen by everyone, oh and the soundtrack is incredible too.
Almost as good as the Spirited Away soundtrack
Where to Find It Amazon.
Magic Kaito Hey Kids! Heard of Detective Conan? Maybe Case Closed rings more of a bell. Anyways, before we had Shinichi Kudo's murder adventures, Aoyama Gosho wrote Magic Kaito a manga about thievery that's been irregularly serialized until today, but even more important is the impact Magic Kaito had on Detective Conan, in that protagonist Kaito Kid is a recurring antagonist in Detective Conan and as such Magic Kaito is an interesting series to read, as you can see a lot of Gosho Aoyama's love for mystery; the manga covers brilliant thief and magician Kaito Kid and his exploits in stealing from the rich, or the evil etc, etc... And while in reality, Magic Kaito won't be winning any awards or anything, I've included it over Gosho's other work (Yaiba) due to how much I find this manga's existence interesting, and entertaining.
Not a classic, but a curio.
Where to find it Online maybe?
Ushio and Tora
Launching in late 1989 Ushio and Tora covers the adventures of the son of a priest who comes into contact with a mystical weapon, which unseals a monster named Tora, whose goal is to kill our protagonist; Tora is whooped pretty fast, because Ushio's magic spear bestows great power and fighting skills, while lengthening his hair, and this makes him a target for the surrounding demons everywhere, initiating magical monster battles. Ushio is interesting mainly due to the characterization, namely Ushio's relationship with his bakemono traveling companion Tora, and their constant attempts to murder each other, even in battles against other monsters. The manga's arcs are on a massive scale, and Ushio's countrywide antics make for great reading. The manga also has some unique Berserk style art, in terms of amounts of toner and ink, and it makes for an image somewhat unique to shounen manga, which is a nice touch. Another thing I like about Ushio is that it's arc's are really seamless, and his travels transition from one to another very well, with various aspects continuing throughout the manga, and all in all Ushio feels like a pretty complete package.
Where to find it There's a fairly available anime, otherwise read it online.
Honorable Mentions Hajime No Ippo Berserk Dr Slump High School and Shoujo Manga
In closing, any series I missed? Anything Else Worth Checking out? Are the 90's more relevant? Drop me a comment!
And Until Next time
About CharismaJustice One of us since 7:05 PM on 09.30.2012
Hi I'm Hamilton and I have opinions on things! I'm from the south (lets keep that on the down low), I read lots of manga, and watch anime (less than I read manga), I also play way too much video games and like RPGs and Shooters.
Follow Me on Twitter @Im_Hamilton if you wish
Stuff I Like:
Some of my favorite manga(s?) I've read are(in no particular order): Berserk, Zetman, Fullmetal Alchemist, Soul Eater, Gantz, Blood Lad, Air Gear, Black Jack, Naruto, the first few Bleach arcs, One Piece, Gintama, Hunter X Hunter, Ratman, Black Cat, Gamaran, Shingeki no Kyojin, Cage of Eden, Fairy Tail, Magi, Slam Dunk, Akira, History's strongest Disciple Kenichi (I've Read way more but this list is getting long)
I like anime too!: Most Ghibli works, Eureka Seven, [C], Samurai 7, Casshern Sins, Gurren Lagann, Trigun, Hellsing, Durarara, Dragon Ball(and Z)
Music I like: Arcade Fire, Radiohead, Oberhofer, Modest Mouse, the XX, Matt and Kim, Crystal Castles, No Age, Pavement, Neutral Milk Hotel.
Games I Like: Fallout 3, Chrono Trigger, Dark Souls, Skyrim, Minecraft, Day Z, Portal 1&2, Counter Strike, Street Fighter, Marvel Vs Capcom, Assorted final fantasies.