First off, many people with such an ideal are generally closed-minded to begin with – you wouldn’t label an anime unwatchable under the reasoning it is “old” if you were actually considering viable comparatives. The term “old” itself is vague and can go back until dinosaurs roamed the lands or it could be yesterday. One thing certain however; anime is art, and art is timeless.
“Old” anime is generally assumed as less appealing – alongside several other foolish beliefs such as it will be visually lacking with a dated story and essentially overall unenjoyable. Indeed what a terrible delusion that is.
Looking at older series in general, older being anything released before the current season and back to the start of animation, they have a higher probability of being original, avant-garde, and incredible – why? The further back you go on the timeline, the less competition there was – for example, there were less total anime series in existence overall last year than this year, thus if they came up with a story there’s a higher chance it’s unique and there’s nothing like it. That of course especially holds true when talking of series released many years ago.
Compare to modern times, right now, where there are shows that are no more than rehashed rip-offs of other series – entire plots being recycled and reused. Certain types of characters are easily seen through as they are no more than fetish-fillers – some themes are becoming so generic, they are no longer accepted by the fan-base. Take harem series for example, the concept is incredibly overused and dried out – many newer series generally fail to accomplish anything of interest with this theme.
It’s understandable that as you advance, to create something entirely new will require more and more effort, input, and imagination than ever before – however that is a simple cycle existent in life itself and we can only ask ourselves:
Where are the innovators?
The discussion of where new possibilities can take anime is something separate, but looking back on the past, shows like Mushishi, Last Exile, Galaxy Express, GTO, Slam Dunk, and Aria, just to name a few from a pool of elite animations – defined a new genre, they more or less put aside whatever nonsensical standards there were and went full throttle against a new unexplored realm of story, art, and otherwise.
For sake of example, Aria introduced a new story format that followed through on it’s 60 or so total episodes spread across three separate seasons – it rewrote the presentation of the slice of life genre as it combined aspects to focus not a typical person’s life, but an evolving, ever-changing life of a girl in an unreal environment. Keep in mind this is only going so far back as 2005 – even then Aria was amongst many not-so-great series and of course were you to travel further back you will find much more buried beneath a pile of perfection.
Not to mention, this is all still in reference to story – pages and pages can be written simply on the revolutionary artwork brought by unconventional series such as those aforementioned, alongside more recent cutting-edge entries like Bakemonogatari, Madoka Majika, Eden of the East, and Tatami Galaxy, which is once again a simple small mentioning of a grand group of few.
As anime becomes more mainstream, new series take less initiative and focus more upon driving ratings, sales, and filling timeslots – something which shamefully shows with the quality of the final product. As each new series is being created – directors, producers, and the entire staff behind the work simply start borrowing ideas and forming something no different than any other series as they are all working towards the same goal of sales without any fancier focus.
Simply stated, when you’re immediately looking for a great show – look no further than five years ago. As over time, the average profit-pusher series easily begin to outweigh the envision of artistic excellence.