Netflix has uncovered a wealth of potential by giving obscure older anime shows a proper modern treatment. These reboots not only excite your nostalgia, they also “correct” it producing a show that matches your memories of its quality.
I’m no stranger to the effects of nostalgia, and yeah, many times, the reality just doesn’t match the memories.
The continuing success of Voltron, the dive into Castlevania, and the recently announced Saint Seiya reboot also prove that this is an outlet that the company wouldn’t mind exploring a little bit more.
So naturally, uncovering this potential should lead the way for lots of quality reboots and potential sequels to your old favorite shows. With proper production, direction, and funding, there are a wealth of classics that could benefit from Netflix’s latest gold rush.
What are some classic shows you’d love to see revamped through Netflix? And when I mean classics, I’m talking 60s, 70s, and primarily the 80s… maybe 90s if there’s something you’d really like to see again that hasn’t been on the airwaves in years.
Science Ninja Team Gatchaman
Gatchaman, or Battle of the Planets in the English-speaking world, is about as prime of a nominee as you can get. It’s a wildly nostalgic show on both sides of the Pacific, still celebrated in Japan today and remembered as a pioneer of violent cartoons for North American audiences, but that’s not all it has going for it. Even more importantly, the original content was butchered and torn to pieces for North American audiences.
Much like Robotech and Voltron, Battle of the Planets removed a lot of questionable content and added its own characters to better appeal to North American children. The results are different memories for Japanese and North American kids. This old-school picking and tearing apart creates the potential for new stories that would never have the opportunity to exist if such interference had never occurred.
As for the show itself, it has a team of badass and iconic characters, a flashy animation style that animators actually want to recreate, and a well-developed complex setting with conflicts, relationships, and social issues that could easily be made to reflect the modern world.
No question, this is the next show you want Netflix to give a proper revision to.
This Shotaro Ishinomori classic from the 60s is one of those shows that can be readjusted and manipulated to infinite ends. One, that timeless 60s anime style is still brilliant to look at, bringing a fun, cartoonish side to the show’s violence. Every time this show gets a reboot, the character designs are the first thing to be scrutinized by longtime fans.
Two, the characters are all just a ton of fun, bringing in unique superpowers and personalities to back up those superpowers. With a proper writer, a modern anime could twist out a mountain’s worth of inner turmoil here while still keeping in line with the fun action adventure plots of the original.
Cyborg 009 is also famous for bringing down international borders to recreate its squad of heroes, each of the titular androids hailing from a different part of the globe. Dated Japanese stereotypes aside, the world could benefit from a high profile group cooperating with one another once again.
This is a slick manga and anime that was way ahead of its time, and we’re still catching up to it.
GeGeGe no Kitaro
There’s no other way to put it… Japanese ghost stories are *@$!ed up. The grotesque and horrific images you have to dig through to get a solid scary story in Japan is overwhelming at times. In GeGeGe no Kitaro, the main character loses an eyeball and his dead grandfather’s spirit inhabits it, becoming something of his “Obi Wan” guide through life.
Yeah, that’s messed up… and this is supposed to be a kids show!
Even to this day, you can watch GeGeGe no Kitaro on Saturday or Sunday mornings in Japan, but he’s quite far removed from his horror roots, now nothing more than a typical Shonen action manga with supernatural elements.
Netflix should ditch all pretension about aiming its GeGeGe no Kitaro towards children and bring him back to his early roots. Really dig through the original manga and find some genuinely freaky horror stories. The horror comedy genre in anime is worth exploring, and using one of the most iconic anime from the genre would be a wise move.
We’re dipping a bit too far into the future with this one, but Outlaw Star is a bit too perfect not to mention. This show became a cult favorite thanks to its timely run early in the days of Toonami, and there is a generation of anime fans who just adore every minute of it. We got 26 episodes of Gene Starwind and his friends, and we end with them taking off into the stars and finding new adventures…
Simply put, I want to know what those adventures are! Outlaw Star is about as a pure “escapism” as a sci-fi anime gets with a shallow, exciting story and fun characters, and there is plenty of room to expand here. A solid writer could dive deep into each personality in the crew, or they could make fun episodic filler adventures for Gene to take part on.
No reboot necessary! Just a sequel, please!
The Littl’ Bits
Not all of these have to be aimed at man-children looking to relive their nostalgic memories. Anime has a lot of great selection for young kid shows too, the best of which is The Littl’ Bits. This show, known as Mori no Yōki na Kobitotachi: Berufi to Rirubitto in Japan, aired on Nick Jr. when I was a kid, and I tuned in to watch it every day!
I remember noticing the huge jump in the quality of animation between it and the other shows around it, and that’s because The Littl’ Bits was actually produced by the legendary anime studio Tatsunoko, also of Gatchaman and Speed Racer fame.
And there’s just a lot to like about it too. A group of dwarves lives in the forest, and the alpha female of the group keeps all of her dummy boyfriends in line when they start to adventure together. Plenty for kids to enjoy here and lots of room for fun adventure, and even those nostalgic man-children who watched it when they were five-years-old can dig it too.
Astro Boy is a bit too easy of a selection, so instead, I would opt for this Osamu Tezuka cult-classic. Not only did he never actually finish the manga, he also never dabbled too much in samurai stories either, making this one kind of special.
Dororo tells a brutal tale of a wandering cursed swordsman named Hyakkimaru who had all of his body parts stolen by a demon. Every time he kills a servant of this demon, he reclaims a part of his body and his humanity as well. On his adventures, he teams up with a youngster named Dororo who helps keep him grounded in the human world.
There’s lots of potential for a story, and indeed, it’s been adapted a few times throughout history. Most adaptations don’t turn out properly though, minimizing the Tezuka art style or delivering an unsatisfactory ending. I would like to see a proper ending, something that no anime, manga, or movie has ever delivered.
Plus, the setup for this story is just hardcore. The soft, 60s anime look clashes perfectly with the heartbreaking depths that this manga occasionally sinks to.