Top 5 Retro Anime that were far ahead of their time

The best Retro Anime featuring The Wings of Honneamise, Akira, and Castle in the Sky

Anime has come a long way from where it started, with crispier animation and brilliant storytelling being the standard now. How about we talk a walk down the nostalgia lane, maybe not that far down, but to the 70s and 80s era we so often call Retro. These Retro anime have set countless precedences for the shows that we now watch, certain few that were so ahead of their time that they would fit right away in this generation.

On today’s list of our finely curated recommendations, we take this walk and list some of the finest animated movies of the 80s that you must watch. These shows were quite ahead of their time, one particularly so visionary that it set countless trends for the future anime to come by. Hop on and let’s get started.

Top 5 Best Retro Anime to Watch

5. The Wings of Honneamise

The Wings of Honneamise on the list of best retro anime
The Wings of Honneamise | Courtesy of Gainax
  • Aired: 1987
  • Studio: Gainax
  • Genre: Action, Drama, Sci-fi

Shiro is part of the Kingdom of Honneamise’s Royal Space Force, which is considered a failure of an organization by its kingdom. RSF has never been to space, not only that, no one in this world has ever been to space. Despite the advanced implications space travel holds for people, the citizens and the government are more tuned to engage in war with their neighboring nation. However, all of this changes when Shiro meets Riquinni, a girl who holds high admiration and curiosity for space exploration.

Her enthusiasm is infectious and Shiro soon decides to volunteer as a pilot for a rocket ship. As more people gather for this project, the government catches wind of it. With a different plan set in sight for the RSF by the government, will Shiro and Riquinni get to space?

4. Castle in the Sky

Castle in the Sky on the list of Best Retro Anime
Castle in the Sky | Courtesy of Studio Ghibli
  • Aired: 1986
  • Studio: Studio Ghibli
  • Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Romance, Sci-fi

Studio Ghibli‘s very first and most iconic movie, “Castle in the Sky“, tells the story of two young people trying to find the fabled flying castle [Laputa], in a journey where they come to understand what dreams are and what it means to truly follow them. The story starts with Sheeta, a young girl who is kidnapped by Government Agents seeking her mysterious amulet. Gives off a very The Mummy-esque vibe, the popular 90s movie.

She finds her escape when the Government aircraft is raided by pirates. Using the confusion to her advantage, she flees and meets a young man named Pazu, who dreams of finding Laputa. They venture into the world, watching each others’ backs, searching for the fabled castle in the sky, all while unbeknownst of the Government Agents who are on their trail seeking that very land for their evil intentions.

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3. Limitless Paradise

  • Aired: 1981
  • Creator: Hiroshi Harada
  • Genre: Slice-of-life

Hiroshi Harada, known for his most famous work Tsubaki Shoujocreated this movie on an 8mm film during his high school. It’s a 40-minute short movie about Japanese schools’ restrictive and fascist nature. A work filled with rage, Harada tried to express the frustration he felt in his teenage years for school. It mostly dealt with

  • how undermining the experience of studying in school was.
  • how restrictive an individual’s growth was when compared between two different settings of school and personal ventures.

For someone so young, this piece of work is one of the best animated pieces in the industry (personal claim) for this is the only movie that has truly grasped the emotional turmoil felt by a teenager in its most realistic form.

2. Akira

Akira on the list of the Best Retro Anime
Akira | Courtesy of Tokyo Movie Shinsha
  • Aired: 1988
  • Studio: Tokyo Movie Shinsha
  • Genre: Action, Adventure, Horror, Sci-fi, Supernatural

Set in 2019, Tetsuo is a part of the Capsules, a bike-riding gang, known for its notoriously known for their consistent conflict with another biker gang, the Clowns. One day, during one of their street battles, Tetsuo finds himself in an accident involving an esper who was imprisoned in a Government facility. After escaping from the scene, he realizes that he has slowly started to develop psychic abilities. This bizarre development in his abilities puts him at the risk of being hunted down by the government, which is wary of an esper incident that nearly destroyed Tokyo.

Akira is one of the most iconic anime in the community, which has set countless trends in both the dystopian and post-apocalyptic genres of the field. It has also influenced quite a number of bikers due to its incredible portrayal of the high-speed pursuit life of these communities.

1. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind on the list of the Best Retro Anime
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind | Courtesy of Topcraft
  • Aired: 1984
  • Studio: Topcraft
  • Genre: Adventure, Fantasy

Due to the disastrous nuclear war “Seven Days of Fire”, Earth and Humanity have been plunged altogether into a barren world filled with nature’s most vicious response to their detrimental treatment. The world is now filled with jungles sporing the most virulent toxins. Set apart from this havoc exists a peaceful farming kingdom, the Valley of the Wind, surrounded by seas that prevent the growth of the Jungle toxin.

However, one day, the Valley’s citizens find an airship from the Kingdom of Tolmekia crashing into their land. This incident was an omen of the dastardly invasion by the Tolmekia Kingdom in search of a weapon from the time of the war. The Valley’s Princess, Nausicaä, must protect her Kingdom, not only from the army hellbent on sending Earth back to the time of cataclysm but also from the vicious jungle that is itching to take over.


Every movie on the list is tremendously well executed and would still be a hit if released today. The messages in these movies were out of their time, so futuristic, that it is quite necessary that we revisit them again. All of the worries carried by our previous generations, expressed through these forms of art, have slowly but surely turned out to be true. This raises the question, have we been taking the wrong steps?

If you like our takes on such lists, surely let us know what other genre of anime you’d like to see. Comment down below and we’ll surely get that up next!!

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