Anime from the 1980s

People who were lucky enough to be children, teens, or young adults in the 1980s will tell you without hesitation that 80s life was the best life. Not only was America enjoying an economic boom, but some of the best pop culture icons ever were launched in the 80s; popular movies, TV shows, and singers that are still cherished today. 

Somehow the movies, music, and television were just better in every way. Maybe it was because everything seemed so fresh and new, and we were just starting to see the tip of the ice burg when it came to rapid technological improvements in entertainment. People that enjoyed the 80s will fondly remember walkmen, MTV, trapper keepers, and the obsession with brightly colored fashion. 

Quietly, somewhat behind the scenes, a fandom was brewing. A fandom centered on Japanese animation and was rapidly growing in popularity with American audiences. While anime first arrived on the small screen in American in the 1960s with Astro Boy, it took a while for western audiences to catch on. 

We weren’t used to highly evolved animated stories that featured adult situations, complex characters, and even violence.  Back in the 60s, American audiences were accustomed to cartoons made for kids and featuring funny animals that lacked human features and emotions. Astro Boy flopped in America after just one year, but it planted a seed. 

Adult-focused animated series called anime and similar graphic novels called manga were both extremely popular in Japan. More and more of that style of entertainment started to find its way to America. However, the shows and movies were being reshaped for American audiences. Character names were changed, and some of the violent and suggestive scenes were removed. 

VHS imports straight from Japan became a popular underground movement in the US. Fans of anime would import anime services on VHS tapes and then do the work to translate them, add subtitles, redistribute them, or show them during anime clubs. Once these unedited versions found their way into the hearts of American anime lovers, there was no turning back. 

Around this time, full-length anime movies were starting to become more popular in Japan. Japanese directors battled with American directors over not making cuts or too many alterations to their work. Audiences were treated to many movies that came to have cult-like followings and whose characters are still part of our pop culture today, such as My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service. 

Anime series and movies are meant for adults and therefore have a vast genre pool that includes everything from comedy to horror. In the 80s, robots were trendy. Towards the end of the decade, a movie called Akira would shock and amaze American audiences who finally saw just how competitive anime could be with mainstream movies. While it was a bit of a financial flop in Japan, Americans enjoyed it so much that it ushered in a whole new generation of fans in the 90s. 

Here is a list of popular anime from the 1980s. If you missed any of these gems, make sure to check them out. Excluded are OVA’s.

1980 Anime Shows

1980 Anime Movies

1981 Anime Shows

1981 Anime Movies

1982 Anime Tv Shows

1982 Anime Movies

1983 Anime Tv Shows

1983 Anime Movies

1984 Anime Tv Shows

1984 Anime Movies

1985 Anime Tv Shows

1985 Anime Movies

1986 Anime Tv Shows

1986 Anime Movies

1987 Anime Tv Shows

1987 Anime Movies

1988 Anime Tv Shows

1988 Anime Movies

1989 Anime Tv Shows

1989 Anime Movies

Larthian & Syanka

Afar Anime is a co-managed site operated by a husband and wife anime-loving team. Since an early age, they have both shared a love for all things anime. Some of their favorite titles include Naruto, Sailor Moon, and Hunter X Hunter. Post are published weekly and old articles are updated accordingly. If you are interested in collaborations, feel free to reach out at

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