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10 Underrated Anime Movies From the 80's

Harry has read and watched an unhealthy amount of comic books and movies.

In 2015, a wise Terminator says, "I'm old, not obsolete". I believe that is the perfect description for these fine selection of Anime movies that were made during the time Michael Jackson reigns supreme.

For this list, I want to focus more on the ones that are rarely mentioned online. Gems that have been forgotten and overshadowed by other classics made during the same decade like Nausicaa of The Valley of The Wind (1984), Grave of The Fireflies (1988), and of course, Akira (1988).

Ordered by their release date, these are the underrated anime movies from the 80s that you should watch before you die.

1. Phoenix 2772 (1980)

To save the rapidly dying earth, a man who was raised in a lab to be a superior pilot journeyed into the edge of the universe in search of the mythical Phoenix.

This legendary firebird is prophesized to hold unlimited power that could save the planet.

This movie is an adaptation from the manga created by the God of Manga himself, Osamu Tezuka.

It's a story of love, life, death, and mankind's unrelenting search of immortality.

2. Barefoot Gen (1983)

Before the influential Grave of The Fireflies (1988) comes along, there is Barefoot Gen.

Loosely adapted from a manga with the same name, Barefoot Gen tells the story before, during, and after the atom bomb hit Hiroshima through the eyes of a child.

Barefoot Gen didn't hold back at all in depicting and describing the horror of the bomb to the innocent citizen who just trying to get by with their life.

The scream, the tears, the frustration, and the overall feeling of helplessness will grab you by the throat and won't let go until the end.

3. Golgo 13: The Professional (1983)

Golgo 13 is the codename for the world's most lethal assassin who could kill any living being, bang any beautiful women, and shown the emotional range of a Moai from the Easter Island.

Anyway, in this story the legendary hitman finds himself being the target of a mysterious organization. The hunter has finally become the prey.

Golgo 13 is an adaptation of the oldest manga series that still on publication and the third-highest volumes count ever.

It began in late 1968 and 197 volumes later, it still going strong and only took a brief hiatus because of the 2020 pandemic. How amazing is that?

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4. Angel's Egg (1985)

There's not much that could be said about the story of Angel's egg. It could be described as either philosophical or confusing, depending on who's watching it.

The visual, on the other hand, is a feast for your eyes. The constant drizzle that spills over the abandoned cityscape gives an ominous yet lonely feeling that will persist throughout the movie.

Somebody once said that Angel's Egg is "an animated art rather than a story", and I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment.

5. Night on The Galactic Railroad (1985)

Adapted from a novel by the same name, Night on The Galactic Railroad tells the story of Giovanni and his best friend, Campanella, as they journey through time and space with a mysterious steam locomotive.

Describing the story of this movie is a more difficult task than I thought it would be. Hell, I don't even know what it's really about until more than halfway through the story.

But when it finally hit me, it hit me so damn hard. Don't be fooled by its playful tones and vibrant appearances, this is a slow descent into the abyss of human emotion.

6. Laputa: Castle in The Sky (1986)

In this underrated and seemingly forgotten epic from Studio Ghibli's vault, a pair of children embark on an adventure to find the mythical flying cities of Laputa.

Castle in the sky is a part coming-of-age story, part a hunt for an ancient civilization, part military exploitation, and part environmental commentary. So you know, a Ghibli flick at its best.

How this one flew under the radar of so many people for so long is beyond me.

7. Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise (1987)

Amidst a cold war with its neighboring country, a small military unit from the Kingdom of Honneamise decide to pursue a dream of space travel despite not being able to launch a simple satellite to the orbit.

This was one of the movies that try to break all kinds of rules and barriers only to be outshined by a little something called Akira that was released the following year.

The production design, the world-building, the vibrant color schemes, and especially the climatic rocket launched in the end, all of them deserved appreciation of the highest order.

8. Wicked City (1987)

One of the earliest scenes in the movie is of the main character having sex with a woman who slowly morphs into a spider-like creature. And that's not even the weirdest thing happening in this movie.

The story itself is quite interesting. In a world where humans and demons are about to renew a pact to coexistent with each other, a pair of man and demon are task to guard an important figure against the possible threat of assassination from both camps.

The presentation, however, is where this movie distinguished itself. There are violence, blood, gore, nudity, and sex happening at every scene, though not always all at the same time.

9. Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack (1988)

After hundreds of episodes from the previous Gundam series, this movie served as the epic finale of the rivalry between the first Gundam pilot, Amuro Ray, and the Red Comet, Char Aznable.

Having given up on the people of the earth The Neo Zeon decided to drop a colossal asteroid on the earth.

This movie is something special not only because of its grand story and mind-blowing animation but also because it gives closure to some of the most iconic and beloved characters that ever grace this vast franchise.

10. Patlabor: The Movie (1989)

In 1991, people of Japan use a man-controlled robot called "Labor", kinda like Gundam but way smaller, for various purposes like construction, military, and even for research.

The story is about a division of Tokyo police force who specialize in using such robot for public safety. They are investigating a possible threat of something that could make the Labors suddenly goes berserk.

Although the movie is told in a lighthearted manner, It is a truly suspenseful story weaved with multiple twists and turn and eye-popping action sequences.

Well, that's it, folks.

From the edge of the universe to Japan at the end of World War II, from avant-garde animated art to a WTF-fest, I believe this list has covered all the basics needed for your viewing pleasure.

If you're more interested in contemporary movies, then I suggest you read my list of ten one-actor movies, or maybe you're more interested in graphic novels, then check out my article on ten greatest heist stories in comics.

Did I left some movies that you think deserve a spot on this list? Leave a comment down below.


Cheryl E Preston from Roanoke on August 28, 2020:

I had forgotten about these. I’m more familiar with the 90’s and up. Thanks for a great article.

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