Best anime of the 1960s

Best anime of the 1960s

Getting into older anime can be difficult. These days, they look prehistoric next to the hi-def, smooth animation of modern releases. Even if people want to give them a chance, it can be difficult to track them down due to the lack of releases. The older they are, the harder they are to find.


However, older anime still has value as the earliest example of characters, tropes, and genres that still exist today. Just as simple and old as these classics Anime from the 1960s show is, they were pioneers in their field.

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10/10 Sabu & Ichi’s arrest warrant

Best 1960s Anime - Sabu and Ichi's Arrest Warrant

Before creating famous tokusatsu franchises such as Super Sentai and Kamen Rider, Shotaro Ishinomori created this Edo Period crime manga. Adapted into an anime by acclaimed director Rintaro, the series followed young thief Sabu and blind swordsman Ichi as they traveled from city to city to solve mysteries and fight crime.

While most anime at the time were seen as children’s stuff, Sabu and Ichi stood out for having dark themes such as murder and assault. It appealed to an older audience that grew out of the children’s food. The series also spawned two live-action adaptations: a television series in the early 1980s, and a film in 2015.

9/10 Golden bat

Best 1960s Anime - Golden Bat

Also known as Phantom Man or Phantoms, Golden bat started as a figure from kamishibai: a mobile theater where the story was told with slides. Some even consider him the first superhero, as he debuted nearly a decade before Superman in 1930. He shares the same abilities as the Last Son of Krypton, such as super strength, invulnerability, and flight. He also terrifies his enemies like Batman, albeit by cackling through his skull mask rather than brooding in the dark.

Golden Bat got his first anime series in 1967, where he was an ancient Atlantean who reappeared in modern times to fight crime out of his secret mountain lair. The show caught on in Europe and Latin America, but few of the English dubbed episodes survive today.

8/10 Princess Knight

Best 1960s Anime - Princess Knight

This is the first appearance on this list from anime and manga legend Osamu Tezuka, and it won’t be the last either. Princess Knight followed the adventures of Princess Sapphire, a girl raised as a boy who battles the evil Duke Duralumin under the guise of Prince Knight for control of Silverland.

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Its gender-bending premise was inspired by the Takarazuka Revue, an all-female theater troupe playing male, female and other roles. In turn, Princess Knight would inspire similar shojo stories with androgynous leads that The Rose of Versailles and Revolutionary girl Utena. For a 1960s product, having a female lead with masculine coding was a step forward for LGBTQ media at the time.

7/10 Attack no.1

Best 1960s Anime - Attack #1

Princess Knight was a popular early entry for women and young girls. But what about a shojo series created by a woman? Chikako Urano’s Attack no.1 began as a manga in 1968, and was animated in 1969. It was a life story as Kozue joins the Fujimi Academy volleyball team.

Kozue quickly rises through the ranks due to his talents, but soon discovers that great skill brings more complications. The anime was the first shojo sports series ever made, and would lead to a boom of similar athletic girl anime like the tennis-based Ace wo Nerae and judo theme Yawara!

6/10 Witch Sally

Best 1960s Anime - Sally the Witch

Of course, Attack no.1 was not the first shojo anime to exist. Witch Sally preceded it by 3 years, and even beat it Princess Knightits adaptation by one year, arrived in 1966. It was also the first magical girl anime, beating its manga predecessor Himitsu no Akko-san to the battle. Without Witch Sallyit would be no Card Catcher Sakura or Sailor Moon.

Sally, the princess of the magical kingdom, gets her wish to visit ‘Middle World’ (Earth) when she makes a mistake during a teleportation spell. She adapts to a normal life by keeping her powers a secret, although she does break them out occasionally to help people or have a little fun.

5/10 Shonen Ninja Kaze no Fujimaru

Best 1960s Anime- Shonen no Ninja Kaze Fujimaru

Based on the manga The Ishimaru of the Wind, Toei Animation changed the main character’s name to ‘Fujimaru’ to tie in with the show’s sponsor Fujisawa Pharmaceuticals. It was a bit of a rough deal for creator Sanpei Shirato; however, this decision was out of the hands of the director, future Studio Ghibli founder Hayao Miyazaki.

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The show followed a boy who was abandoned by his mother as a baby. He was adopted by a samurai named Sasuke, who trained him in ninjutsu. Fujimaru shows a talent for martial arts, specializing in wind magic. When he comes of age, he has two goals: to find the Book of Ryuen before his rival Japosai, and to find his long-lost mother.

4/10 Gigantor

Best 1960s Anime - Gigantor

If you make one of the first magical girl manga in the Witch Sally wasn’t enough, Mitsuteru Yokoyama also made the first proper mecha series with Tetsujin 28-gOh. The original manga was about Shotaro Kaneda, a young boy who uses his father’s giant robot, originally intended to fight for Japan in World War II, to fight crime and solve crises.

The anime first aired in 1963, although it was more light-hearted than the manga. Its English translation as Gigantor and the new names (like “Jimmy Sparks”) weren’t a huge departure from the Japanese series. Yet the themes resonated with a young Katsuhiro Otomo, whose series Akira was also about a weapon of war that reappeared in peacetime. As a tribute, he would go on to name his own protagonist after Yokoyama’s original robot-toting boy.

3/10 Dororo

Best 1960s Anime- Dororo

Fans today will be more familiar with Studio MAPPA’s 2019 adaptation, however Dororo is another Osamu Tezuka classic. Originally animated in 1969, the series was actually more about the wandering samurai Hyakkimaru than his sidekick Dororo. It was also quite dark in the sixties, with the producers lightening the tone a bit with a few edits, giving the duo a pet dog called Nota.

But even that couldn’t take away the heavy atmosphere. The anime was about a disabled man who killed demons to regain his missing body parts. Hyakkimaru was born without limbs and facial features because his father’s pact with the demons meant they would claim them. Abandoned by his parents, he was adopted by a medicine man who gave him prosthetic limbs. If he can kill all 48 demons, he will regain his missing functions bit by bit.

2/10 Speed ​​Racer

Best anime speed racer from the 1960s

Does this need an explanation? Tatsuo Yoshida’s original manga and series Mach GoGoGolocated as Speed ​​Racerwas synonymous with Japanese animation right up until the late 1980s then Akira and other cyberpunk adventures took it over. Still, its quirky intro theme (“He’s a demon on wheels!”), curious dub and animation have been enjoyed by generations of viewers.

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And anime wasn’t the only adaptation of Speed ​​Racer’s escapades. It received a sequel series in 1993, a Nickelodeon reboot in 1997 i Speed ​​Racer Xa spinoff with Speed ​​Racer: The Next Generationand the Wachowskis’ surreal and vibrant 2008 live-action film. In whatever form, Speed ​​Racer has been etched in people’s minds for over 50 years.

1/10 Astro boy

Best 1960s Anime - Astro Boy

It’s another appearance for Osamu Tezuka. Between Princess Knight, Dorothy, and Kimba the white lion, this list could have been Tezuka’s resume. But of all his work, his most iconic creation has to be Astro boy. Originally known as Mighty atom, the 1963 anime adaptation of Tezuka’s manga was the first to go overseas and define the anime look. The large eyes and other features can all trace another line Astro boy, therefore, Tezuka is known as the ‘Godfather of Anime.’

Astro boy also had different adaptations. Some were modernized versions of the same stories, such as the 1980 and 2003 series. Others, such as Naoki Urasawa’s detective manga Plutoextended Astro boyits themes with more mature storylines. That’s not counting the other works it inspired, like Capcom’s Mega man video game with its own robot boy hero. No matter how people look at it, Astro boyThe importance of anime as a whole cannot be understated.

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