I have been writing the Throwback Thursday series for two years now. It is about time that I share a few tips and tricks on how to enjoy old anime, movies, games, and such. If you have been itching to watch the OG Mobile Suit Gundam, or play the first Katamari Damacy but aren’t sure whether or not you should start, I’m hoping I can encourage you to take the plunge. Or at least to get you to dip your toes. The tips are geared for enjoying different media; be it drama series, movies, games, and manga. Some of them will be more applicable to select media than others.
Do not mind the technology
This is the most obvious one so let us get this out of the way first. With the advancement of technology, the newer stuff will generally look, sound, feel, and play better. You are curious about Neon Genesis Evangelion not because of the 4:3 screen ratio. Gamers play NES games not because of its graphics but for the gameplay. Simply be mindful that the oldies were once the best people could produce, given the time, budget, and scope of the projects. You may be surprised there are movies or games that still look great and are holding up after 20 or 30 years.
Focus on content
Masterpieces last forever, figuratively speaking. There are many works that are valued because they are simply amazing regardless of age. For example, the first Ghost in the Shell movie is often heralded as a defining movie for the mainstream Japanese cyberpunk genre. The combination of cinematography, pacing, philosophical concepts, and entertainment value outshine the fact that it was made in 1995. The animation still looks fluid and the soundtrack is timeless. It has inspired many filmmakers and animators in different ways.
Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon still makes people scratch their heads, despite being released in the 1950s. The mystery of the disturbing murder and the different motivations of the characters still puzzle first-time viewers. Sure, the acting may be too dramatic and stage-like compared to what we are used to, but it was a chosen artistic direction.
Watch or play for the nostalgia value
There are many reasons why you want to revisit the old goodies. Maybe you played a game and would love to play it on newer platforms. Or you lost your save files and gave up before the last arc on that famous JRPG. Perhaps your friends have been bugging you to give certain games a chance because you skipped it back when. With many digital game stores now selling old games, you can own and play them years after they were released. Do not forget that you can also visit used games stores and buy old game consoles and CDs/cartridges for cheap.
Oh, how about that feel-good comedy anime that you loved ten years ago? Maybe it is now available on one of the many streaming services.
Do it for the prequels
Sometimes, you have hopped onto an anime train in the middle of the route. If you happen to like the show, you may want to revisit the old episodes; sometimes, even if you joined in at episode 327. Why go back? The old episodes will have bits of stories that are going to be referenced in later ones. If going through 300 episodes is a no-go for you, at least read some summary of them at the show’s Wikia.
For shows that have both anime and manga such as One Piece or Detective Conan (Case Closed) you have different choices of how you want to catch up. Reading the manga is definitely a much faster way of doing so. If you have the time, watching the hundreds of anime episodes is also a way to go. However, please be wary of the next point I am going to make.
Be wary (or not) of fillers
Yes, anime shows, especially longer ones like Naruto and Bleach, will have many filler episodes. Use websites like Anime Filler List to guide your viewing schedule. I know there are different preferences when it comes to watching filler. Given the apocryphal nature of those episodes, you can safely omit them. On the other hand, there are viewers who like watching filler episodes because they can contain different flavors from the usual main story.
Look for historical importance
This is similar to a point I made about content above. Movie buffs or critics usually look for and recognize the importance of certain films. Perhaps the movie has a gripping and roasting commentary about a social issue that was pertinent during the release. For an example, Okami was the first that used sumi-e or Japanese brush ink rendering technology for a 3D game. Aside from being an amazing and beautiful game, it also holds the significance of being the swan song of the now-defunct Clover Studio. Another example is the Minky Momo collective series (which I had written about here) that is often cited as one of the pioneers of the moe aesthetic.
Research about them
This is a tip following up the point I made above. There is a good chance that there are people who have written or made videos about the old games you play and the shows you watch. The content could range from why they love/hate them to more analytical one exploring themes, commentaries, artistic choices, messages, easter eggs, and more. I loveed Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away (Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi) the first time I saw it. After reading more about the underlying themes, references, and untranslated motifs spread throughout the film, I gained a renewed appreciation for the movie. Or, read about a game like Shadow of the Colossus (which I also wrote about here) that has been praised and analyzed many times.
Be mindful of the jokes
With each era, societal values change. Jokes and comedic styles evolve with trends, time, and the effect of globalization. Writers and creators care more about what jokes are appropriate and can withstand the test of time. Older shows are more prone to have one-off cheap humor that may involve sexist, fanservice, and childish remarks. What may be funny or acceptable then can often be less hilarious and tolerated now. Plus, if you are revisiting your childhood favorite, you probably have developed a different and more mature sense of humor. It is okay to laugh at the joke and move onto reliving your memories. Please do not let them deter you from watching the anime or playing the games. Simply be aware of them and do your best to not pay much attention.
Be open and as non-judgmental as possible
In the end, it is the culmination of all above: be open, and be willing to enjoy the oldies without judging too hard. With so many new anime, TV dramas, games, and movies out now, why would one choose to consume the old stuff? Once you are ready to enjoy a couple of episodes, two hours of gameplay, or an old movie, do it with a relaxed and positive attitude. After all, you want the experience to be a positive one, right?
There you have it. These are my personal tips that I often use when I want to look at older materials. What are some of your own tips? Voice them out in the comments section below!