10 Best 80s Anime Movies That You Need Watching Update 06/2024

Best 80s Anime Movies

While the 1980s were a tremendous era for anime, there were some overlooked gems. You don’t want to miss out on these classics!

Over the past decade, anime has seen a significant surge in popularity. Only a small percentage of the series and films that were produced in Japan were made available in the United States in the 1990s. Many anime streaming services now exist, and the medium has been appropriately embraced.

It’s now a given that any major Japanese releases will be dubbed and released in the United States. The ’80s were a pivotal decade for anime, especially when it came to feature films, and there are a number of contemporary anime that are considered modern classics.

10. Doraemon: Nobita & The Steel Troops (1986)

Doraemon Nobita & The Steel Troops (1986)

The Doraemon franchise, which has been popular in Japan for decades, has struggled to get traction in the United States. This does not mean, however, that you should avoid this film. Since it’s a large take on mecha series like Gundam and Mazinger, Doraemon: Nobita and the Steel Troops is one of the most enjoyable Doraemon projects ever.

For the uninitiated, it’s a fun introduction to the characters, even if it’s an odd combination of sensibilities (including Santa Claus). The CG version of the film has been released recently, however the original has a lot more heart to it.

9. Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer (1984)

When it was released, Urusei Yatsura 2: The Beautiful Dreamer seemed like an odd experiment, but it has now developed a devoted following. Rumiko Takahashi, the mind behind Ranma 12, brings us Urusei Yatsura, a lighthearted fantasy comedy. In spite of this, Mamoru Oshii, who directed Ghost in the Shell, is the director of this film.

Oshii doesn’t hold back when it comes to complicated topics like time loops, reality distortion, and psychological concerns. If Christopher Nolan had directed a Harry Potter movie, it would be like this.

8. Space Adventure Cobra (1982)

Space Adventure Cobra (1982)

Science fiction anime and space episodes from the 1980s are overflowing, but features like Space Adventure Cobra helped define many of the present conventions in this genre. In Space Adventure Cobra, bounty hunters and space travel are intertwined with apocalyptic hazards, but the action is carried out with a cocky swagger.

In addition to Barbarella and Star Wars, this film would go on to influence other sci-fi anime, such as Outlaw Star, in the future.

7. Cyborg 009: Legend Of The Super Galaxy (1980)

To this day, new entries and crossovers with other properties like Devilman are constantly being made for Cyborg 009 because of its strong basis. The show revolves around a group of nine cyborgs, each with unique abilities.

Legend of the Super Galaxy, which helped usher in the decade of the 1980s, sends its colorful cast into space in pursuit of “The Vortex,” a strong energy source. Legend of the Super Galaxy, though not the first Cyborg 009 film, is notable because it was released in the wake of the cancellation of the original anime.

6. Demon City Shinjuku (1988)

Demon City Shinjuku (1988)

While the events of Demon City Shinjuku aren’t original, the film nonetheless achieves a lot with the premise and delivers some amazing cinematography and combat scenes. The plot revolves around the destruction of a neighborhood in Tokyo and the subsequent transformation into a haven for demons.

People who crave power and long-standing resentments help to ground the monster-slaying fury in a sense of reality.. Johnny Mnemonic, a 1990s sci-fi film starring Keanu Reeves, uses elements of the anime’s opening combat scene in its opening sequence.

5. Patlabor: The Movie (1989)

While Gundam is a household name, Patlabor is a notable anime that hasn’t received the same general recognition. Mamoru Oshii collaborated on Patlabor: The Movie, which finishes off the ’80s, and the film incorporates many of Oshii’s broader ideas, such as the concept of singularity.

Labor mechas begin to exhibit strange behavior in Patlabor: The Movie, which investigates this. The film fights man versus machine, but it also incorporates a slew of religious allegories to tell a story that is both grander and more profound than other mecha movies.

4. Robot Carnival (1987)

Robot Carnival (1987)

Short stories that wouldn’t fit in a feature film normally can shine in anthology films. Robot Carnival, a modern anthology of stories by difficult directors, has gained widespread recognition in the anime community.

A total of eight short stories are presented, all of which are odes to sci-fi and robotics. The picture is able to seamlessly switch between several genres, making it suitable for all audiences. The plot of Robot Carnival is excellent, but the film’s incredible animation and imaginative use of color really make it stand out. Watching it is an incredible experience.

3. Wicked City (1987)

However, although though Demon City Shinjuku is a year older, and the two movies cover similar ground, Wicked City comes out on top in terms of aesthetics and outlandishness.

There are humans and demons living together in the near future, even though most people are unaware of it. Wicked City has a specialist police force in place to keep the demon danger at bay, but it’s the fantastic animation that really makes the show stand out. This film has a lot of horrific body horror that is bound to cause nightmares.

2. Laputa: Castle In The Sky (1986)

Laputa Castle In The Sky (1986)

Hayao Miyazaki is one of the most recognizable names in the animation industry. Even though Laputa: Castle in the Sky is a Miyazaki masterpiece, it’s easy to overlook it due to Studio Ghibli’s exceptional output.

As the gold standard for steampunk animation, Castle in the Sky delivers a stirring story set in the nineteenth century that combines fantastical elements with oppressive government control. Castle in the Sky has a strong cast, great scenery, and a meaningful story that will resonate with its viewers.

1. Angel’s Egg (1985)

In addition to Angel’s Egg, Mamoru Oshii’s work in the 1980s is exemplified by this key piece of animation. Angel’s Egg has a simple plot: a little girl is dedicated to safeguarding a strange egg that may hold the key to the future of the human race. The images and themes of Angel’s Egg are what make it worth viewing, rather than a specific plot.


Arthouse animation at its finest, this is a really moving work of art. When Oshii lost his faith and felt a deep sense of existential dread, he made this film as a way of reflecting on that experience.