Has Anime Gotten WORSE Or Better Over The Years?

5/5 - (8 votes)
anime thinking wallpaper purple hair girl

It’s 2023 as I write this, and anime has been through a ridiculous amount of changes over the decades.

One of those changes many feel is that anime today is worse than it used to be.

That’s the idea. But is it true though?

Has anime REALLY gotten worse over the years, or are some fans biased toward the 1990s and old school anime over the newer, brighter and colourful looking anime series?

Let’s talk about it.

1. Fanservice and Manservice

Has fanservice or manservice gotten worse or better in anime? The answer is clear.

There are enough memes about it to know that fanservice has gotten more extreme, involved, cliche, and ridiculous since let’s say, the 2000s to some degree.

It ramped up in the 2010s and the train hasn’t stopped since for the types of anime that exploit it.

Anime like:

  • High School DxD.
  • High School Of The Dead.
  • Soul Eater (to some degree).
  • Fairy Tail.
  • One Piece.
  • My Hero Academia (small scale).
  • SAO.
  • No Game No Life.
  • Tensei Slime.
  • Saekano.
  • Ishuzoku Reviewers.
  • Rokudenashi.

And a select amount of anime shows that are modern prove that this aspect of anime has worsened over time.

But this is purely opinionated. Meaning some don’t mind, and some are crybabies only when it’s women and not men.

2. Art styles

old anime art style vs new

When comparing old art styles vs NEW art styles in anime, the quality hasn’t degraded. Yes, 1990s anime eyes for example are iconic and revered, but not to the extent that new art styles are mediocre.

In fact, new anime art styles when it comes to:

  • Colouring.
  • Aesthetics.
  • Visuals.

And some other details are nicer and better to look at. The anime movie Garden Of Words couldn’t have been made in the 1980s or 1990s for this reason, and its realism is incomparable.

Then you have anime like New Game, Land Of The Lustrous, and others that prove art styles haven’t worse and have gotten better in a lot of ways over time.

3. Storytelling

In the 1980s to 2000s, there were anime like:

  • Code Geass.
  • Death Note
  • NGE.
  • Dragon Ball Z.
  • Inuyasha.
  • Toradora.
  • Clannad.
  • Kanon.

And other shows that had some good storytelling. In fact, legendary storytelling for some of them.

Since the 2010s there have been anime like:

  • Psycho Pass.
  • Madoka Magica.
  • Black Lagoon.
  • Jormungand.
  • AOT.
  • Re:Zero.
  • Shadows House.
  • Promised Neverland (S1).

And too many others to name on both sides of the fence.

I’d say storytelling has improved in a lot of ways with fresh new ideas and angles. But in some ways, it has declined but only if you focus on the stupider anime that are basically “fanservice” advertisements and nothing more as far as depth.

So anime in this way hasn’t gotten worse since there is balance.

4. Characters

When I say characters I’m talking about how they’re written.

As well as:

  • Character development.
  • How well they’re fleshed out.
  • Their characteristics.
  • What makes them stand out.
  • Their role in the story.
  • The characters’ quality.

And stuff like that.

Has anime gotten worse with its characters since the 1980s or 2000s? 

I wouldn’t say so.

Many quality characters like:

  • Violet Evergarden.
  • Subaru Natsuki.
  • Attack On Titan’s characters.
  • Akame.
  • Deku (MHA).
  • Characters from the anime A Place Further Than The Universe.
  • Characters from Akiba Maid War.
  • Bakugo (MHA).
  • Akane Tsunemori (Psycho Pass).

And too many others have proven that character writing, quality, designs, and relevance have actually improved over time. But it all depends on which anime you focus on as far as quality or lack of it.

The balance is clear.

5. Cliches and stereotypes

anime cliches meme friendship power e1697217589456

In the cliche and stereotypes department, yes, anime has taken a tumble for the worst in some cases.

You now have:

  • Harems galore.
  • Ecchi is slightly on the rise.
  • Fanservice without context has increased.
  • Nonsensical stereotypes have gotten out of control.
  • Certain cliches are still being bashed over the head (the kind that people dislike).
  • Anime girls‘ boobies have gotten bigger in a sense (the same argument can be made for male characters’ bodies).

And the list goes on.

Anime HAS gotten worse with its stereotypes and cliches, which might contradict other points, but not literally.

1980s, 90s, and 2000s had it, but not to this extreme.

6. Animation and aesthetics

As pointed out earlier when talking about art styles, there are anime that have taken things to new levels with their aesthetics and animation quality.

Some anime that comes to mind since the ’90s and 2000s:

  • The Garden Of Words.
  • God Eater.
  • Land Of The Lustrous.
  • Demon Slayer.
  • The Garden Of Sinners.
  • Jujutsu Kaisen.
  • DB Super (in some cases).
  • Vivy Fluorite Eye’s Song.
  • The Royal Tutor.
  • The Eminence In Shadow.
  • Kino’s Journey: The Animated Series.
  • The Ancient Magus Bride.
  • Your Name.
  • The World In Colors.
  • Takt. Opt Destiny.

Nobody can debate the fact anime has gotten better over the years when it comes to ANIMATION and aesthetically pleasing visuals.

It’s too obvious so that’s a + for anime and the industry.

7. Fight scenes and choreography (old school vs new)

YouTube video

YouTube video

This is another thing that anime has gotten better with over time since it’s connected to animation, aesthetics, art style, and visuals.

How could fight scenes NOT improve over time given the fact the visual quality is superior?

Anime like:

  • Fate Zero.
  • Akame Ga Kill.
  • Eminence In Shadow.
  • A Certain Scientific Railgun (in some scenes).
  • Boruto (fans could argue).
  • Dragon Ball Super.
  • Fate Stay Night: Unlimited Bladeworks.
  • Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid.
  • Jujutsu Kaisen.
  • SAO: Alicization.
  • Vivy Fluorite Eye’s Song.

There are plenty of other anime you can mention of course, but these will do to make the point that anime has improved over time in this dimension with fighting, choreography, and style.


nge franchise

Let’s talk about some popular anime shows in the 1980s and 1990s.

We can judge whether anime has gotten better based on popularity.

Here’s a list.

  • Neon Genesis Evangelion.
  • Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu.
  • Cowboy Bebop.
  • Sailor Moon.
  • Mononoke Hime.
  • Serial Experiments Lain.
  • Dragon Ball (original).
  • Tonari no Totoro.
  • Trigun.
  • Akira.
  • Slam Dunk.
  • Ranma ½.
  • Saint Seiya.
  • Detective Conan.
  • Golden Boy.
  • Rurouni Kenshin.
  • Dragon Ball GT.
  • Perfect Blue.
  • Dragon Ball Z.
  • Fist Of The North Star.
  • Pokemon.
  • One Piece.
  • Yu Yu Hakusho.
  • Digimon.

If we’re talking about popular anime shows from the 1980s and 1990s, only some of these shows would be considered bad.

Shows like Dragon Ball GT, maybe Pokemon, maybe Sailor Moon (depending on who you ask), and Digimon.

But the majority of popular anime in this era are rated highly, praised highly, and are absolute classics.


monster anime 2004 2005

This is the time when more anime started releasing (popularity wise as well).

Here’s a long list.

  • Tengan Toppa Gurren Lagann.
  • Higurashi: When They Cry.
  • Clannad.
  • K-On.
  • Sekirei.
  • Eureka Seven,
  • Pandora Hearts.
  • Monster.
  • NANA.
  • Lovely★Complex.
  • Fruits Basket.
  • Hajime no Ippo.
  • Vampire Knight.
  • Higashi no Eden.
  • Paprika.
  • Yugioh.
  • Blood+.
  • Special A.
  • Gintama.
  • Kaze no Stigma.
  • Beyblade.
  • Full Metal Panic!
  • Death Note.
  • Code Geass.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist.
  • Soul Eater.
  • Elfen Lied.
  • Black Butler.
  • Samurai Champloo.
  • Howl no Ugoku Shiro.
  • Baccano.
  • Ouran Koukou Host Club.
  • FLCL.
  • Zero no Tsukaima.
  • A Certain Magical Index.
  • D. Gray Man.
  • Spice And Wolf.
  • Hellsing.
  • Claymore.
  • Rosario Vampire.
  • NHK ni Youkoso!.
  • To Love Ru.
  • Ergo Proxy.
  • Lucky☆Star.
  • School Days.
  • Mushishi.
  • Darker than Black: Kuro no Keiyakusha.
  • The Melancholy Of Haruhi Suzumiya.
  • Naruto.
  • Inuyasha.
  • One Piece.
  • Bleach.
  • Shakugan No Shana.
  • Great Teacher Onizuka.
  • A Certain Scientific Railgun.
  • Fate Stay Night.
  • Toradora.

Popular anime in the 2000s ramped up a lot and since this was the last golden era, I’d say this is why so many anime shows were rated highly while being popular at the same time.

Gurren Lagann speaks volumes. As does One Piece, Bleach, and influential shows like Shakugan No Shana which made the Tsundere trope extremely popular.

Claymore is a classic, as is Onizuka, and many more are mentioned here.

If anime got worse, it wasn’t because of anime from the 2000s in the popular category.

That’s safe to say.


sao cover

This set of popular anime released in the 2010s has such a high quantity that I can’t mention all of them here.

So I’ve only included a good portion of them.

  • Attack On Titan.
  • One Punch Man.
  • Sword Art Online.
  • Akame Ga Kill.
  • Hunter x Hunter (2011).
  • Boku no Hero Academia.
  • Demon Slayer.
  • Black Clover.
  • Rokudenashi.
  • Fairy Tail.
  • No Game No Life.
  • Tokyo Ghoul.
  • Madoka Magica.
  • Your Name.
  • Your Lie In April.
  • A Silent Voice.
  • Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu.
  • Angel Beats.
  • Boku dake ga Inai Machi.
  • Haikyuu.
  • Mob Psycho 100.
  • Nanatsu no Taizai.
  • Assassination Classroom.
  • Mirrai Nikki.
  • Blue Exorcist.
  • Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo!.
  • Kill La Kill.
  • Parasyte.
  • GoSick.
  • Death Parade.
  • Another.
  • Bunny Girl Senpai.
  • Psycho Pss.
  • Food Wars,
  • Darling In The Franxx.
  • JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken.
  • Anohana.
  • Overlord.
  • Shieled Hero.
  • Danmachi.
  • Hataraku Maou-sama!
  • Violet Evergarden.
  • Beelzebub.

With the dozens and dozens and more dozens of anime missing from this list that is popular, it’s safe to say that anime didn’t get worse in the 2010s and if anything, it got better.

But that depends on how you judge it.

If popular anime shows are how you measure it, then we can see this is not the case at all (unless you think popular 2010s anime are subpar and people’s tastes have worsened).

The 2010s also shows just how much anime was ramped up as far as production, and the amount being made per year.

2020 and beyond

horimiya 2021

And the last section for “Popular” anime shows, we have less anime but still a lot.

Here’s the list.

  • Jujutsu Kaisen.
  • Attack On Titan (Final Season).
  • Spy x Family.
  • Mushoku Tensei.
  • Horimiya.
  • My Hero Academia.
  • Re:Zero S2.
  • Demon Slayer S2.
  • Lycoris Recoil.
  • Rent A Girlfriend.
  • Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi wo Suru.
  • Redo Of Healer.
  • Kaguya Sama.
  • The God of High School.
  • Tower Of God.
  • Nagatoro.
  • To Your Eternity.
  • Eighty-Six.
  • Fire Force.
  • Wonder Egg Priority.
  • Oshi No Ko.
  • Tonikaku Kawaii.
  • Blue Lock.
  • Bleach: Thousand Year Bloodwar Arc.
  • SAO: Alicization.
  • Great Pretender.
  • Komi San Can’t Communicate.
  • Tokyo Revengers.
  • Ishuzoku Reviewers.

It’s important to keep in mind that many anime on this list only stretch to 2023, and the decade has only started.

Still, there are a good number of popular anime shows that may be considered VERY good shows as a general rule.

Of course, popularity is one metric to decide whether anime has worse or gotten better over the years.

Unpopular/Underground anime over the years:


slayers franchise

Underground, underrated, or unknown are the types of anime in this category.

Here’s a list.

  • Dirty Pair.
  • Gunsmith Cats.
  • Bubblegum Crisis.
  • You’re Under Arrest.
  • Magic Knight Rayearth.
  • Urusei Yatsura.
  • City Hunter: Ai to Shukumei no Magnum.
  • Waga Seishun no Arcadia: Mugen Kidou SSX.
  • Golgo 13.
  • Cat’s Eye.
  • Ninja Hattori-kun.
  • Dr. Slump.
  • Appleseed.
  • Touch.
  • Umi ga Kikoeru.
  • Tenchi Muyou!
  • Hana yori Dango.
  • Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou.
  • Kyuuketsuhime Miyu (TV).
  • Macross.
  • Vampire Hunter D.
  • Captain Tsubasa.
  • Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou.
  • Slayers.

This again is not a full list, but a relevant list with plenty of underground and underrated shows from the 1980s/1990s.

Many of them are liked and respected like Slayers, and some are just unknown to a lot of people.


School Rumble tv series

During the golden era, many underground, underrated, and anime that were influential went overlooked.

School Rumble is one of them.

  • .Hack Sign
  • Taishou Yakyuu Musume.
  • Kino’s Journey: The Beautiful World.
  • Scrapped Princess.
  • Chrono Crusade.
  • The Gokusen.
  • Skip Beat.
  • Black Cat.
  • Best Student Council.
  • Gantz.
  • Magical Girl: Lyrical Nanoha.
  • Pretty Cure.
  • Juuni Kokuki.
  • Princess Tutu.
  • Ef: A Tale Of Memories.
  • Hell Girl.
  • Aria the Animation.
  • School Rumble.
  • Tokyo Mew Mew.
  • Tenchi Muyou! Ryououki 3rd Season.
  • Slayers Revolution.
  • My Bride Is A Mermaid.
  • Ah My Goddess.
  • Air.
  • Daa! Daa! Daa!.
  • Junjou Romantica.
  • Utawarerumono.
  • Chicchana Yukitsukai Sugar.
  • Hikaru no Go.
  • Hayate The Combat Butler.
  • Boogiepop wa Warawanai.
  • Paradise Kiss.
  • Ga-Rei: Zero.
  • Canaan.
  • Shikabane Hime: Aka.
  • White Album.
  • Witchblade.
  • Gravitation.
  • Guardian Of The Spirit.
  • Speed Grapher.
  • Mai-HiME.
  • Noir.
  • Minami-Ke.
  • Strike Witches.
  • Kannagi.
  • Ghost Hunt.
  • Shugo Chara!
  • Strawberry Panic.
  • Maria Holic.
  • Gunslinger Girl.
  • Trinity Blood.

Pretty Cure, despite being unpopular to the masses, has built a successful following and has content to rival shows like OP or Naruto.

Many others on the list did well but didn’t pop to the mainstream level despite having more seasons, OVAs, etc.


no.6 anime series tv

In this timeline, there are even more underground and underrated series, plus many that never got much popularity.

The list:

  • Sket Dance.
  • Jormungand.
  • No.6
  • Radiant.
  • Rewrite.
  • Princess Principal.
  • Ookami-san to Shichinin no Nakama-tachi.
  • Isekai Shokudou.
  • Good Luck Girl.
  • Servamp.
  • Taboo Tattoo.
  • Rail Wars!
  • Working!!
  • Zero kara Hajimeru Mahou no Sho.
  • Flying Witch.
  • Sakura Trick.
  • Medaka Box.
  • High Score Girl.
  • New Game!
  • Golden Kamuy.
  • Gamers!
  • A Certain Magical Index S2 & 3.
  • Natsume Yuujinchou San.
  • Tiger & Bunny.
  • Pupa.
  • 3D Girlfriend.
  • Yuru Yuri.
  • Love Live Sunshine.
  • Nodame Cantabile.
  • A Certain Scientific Railgun S2.
  • Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko.
  • The Art Club Has A Problem.
  • Happy Sugar Life.
  • Mawaru Penguindrum.
  • Girls Und Panzer.
  • Handa-kun.
  • Little Busters.
  • Promare.
  • Hibike! Euphonium.
  • Servant x Service.
  • Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi.
  • Fate Grand Order.
  • A Certain Scientific Accelerator.
  • Hitoribocchi.
  • Kantai Collection: KanColle.
  • Robotics Notes.
  • The Royal Tutor.
  • Beautiful Bones.
  • Alice To Zoroku.
  • Mitsuboshi Colors.
  • Magical Girl: Spec Ops Asuka.

Sket Dance is a series that did well and had many episodes, but not a continuation series. Others like Mitsuboshi Colors had only 1 season as well.

Some like Kancolle (not surprising) and others weren’t at all popular.

In the end, these anime aren’t horrible, just underground or unpopular.

2020 and beyond

The Maid I Hired Recently Is Mysterious front cover tv series

And lastly, the 2020s have produced many underrated anime and unpopular ones.

This is in spite of the fact the decade is still going.

  • Akiba Meido Sensou.
  • Isekai Cheat Magician.
  • Bungou Stray Dogs S4 & S5.
  • Ao no Orchestra.
  • Magia Record.
  • Taishou Otome Otogibanashi.
  • Date A Live S5.
  • Otonari ni Ginga.
  • Shadows House.
  • The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten.
  • Shikimori’s Not Just A Cutie.
  • The Maid I Hired Recently Is Mysterious.
  • Assault Lily: Bouquet.
  • No Guns Life 2nd Season.
  • Ryman’s Club.
  • Niehime to Kemono no Ou.
  • Seiken Gakuin no Makentsukai.
  • Super Cub.
  • A Certain Scientific Railgun S3.
  • Kanojo ga Koushaku-tei ni Itta Riyuu.
  • My Home Hero.
  • Undead Girl Murder Farce.
  • Date A Bullet.
  • Kakegurui Twin.
  • Futoku no Guild.
  • Summer Ghost.
  • Summer Time Rendering.
  • Heavenly Delusion.
  • Dark Gathering.
  • Hikikomari Kyuuketsuki no Monmon.
  • My Happy Marriage.
  • The Girl I Like Forgot Her Glasses.
  • B: The Beginning Succession.
  • Yasuke.
  • Re-Main.
  • The Dangers In My Heart.
  • Sleepy Princess In The Demon Castle.
  • Mars Red.
  • Seijo no Maryoku wa Bannou desu Season 2.

Shadows House, Akiba Maid War, Sleepy Princess, and plenty of others have done well (Bungou Stray Dogs included).

I don’t think most people can say these anime are trash as a general rule.

Has anime gotten worse or better overall?

In the end, quality can’t be judged based on what’s popular or otherwise. You have to judge the whole picture, not part of it. Otherwise, you end up biasing your views towards a select few which is trivial in the grand scheme of things.

Anime has worsened in some aspects but improved in other areas so it balances out.

The list of anime shows from the 1980s to the 2020s in both popular and unpopular categories is diverse and full of content of all kinds.

Many of them are rated well, and many of them have built strong fanbases.

Many are also a pile of shit, but not enough to say that anime has worse over the years to the point of everything being disappointing.

That’s what I say.


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After: AnimeMotitavion