6. Memorable characters
There are a few anime characters that are in the 21st century that have some meat to them. Characters like the casts of Durarara!, Tiger and Bunny and Princess Jellyfish, are well-rounded, deep and, well, actual characters. Characters like K-On! are just...blah. I'm sorry, whoever reading this who loves K-On! It's just a terrible show. All they do is eat! They barely play their instruments!
We need a USA "Characters Welcome" approach to 21st century anime. Since I'm ragging on K-On! right now, let me just say that the one thing that the show has going for it is style. I'm going to talk to about style later on in this list, but style and character shorthand is no substitute for actual characterization. Even Yugi had more substance than Yui.
7. Better Shoujo
I might be a girl, but I gravitated more towards action/adventure shows than girly shows. However, I do have to say that the '90s seemed to have much better girl-centric anime than today (with, of course, the exception of Princess Jellyfish).
I realize how basic shoujo can exist; speaking in general terms, Japan's love of cutesiness makes it so that a show that is mostly just about uniforms, tea parties, sweets and sugary pop music can have legions of fans. But we've seen that shoujo can be awesome! Do I have to remind of shows like Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura? The girls on these shows also had boy troubles, loved eating sweets and dressed in cool clothes, but they also saved lives. SAVED LIVES! To me, kicking butt while indulging in the feminine is what makes a great shoujo, not just mindlessly eating junk food and being a cliché.
8. Substance Over Style
Plenty of '90s anime were stylish. In fact, style and flash is what attracted me to anime in the first place. But it seems like nowadays, production values are now gaining precedence over actual plot. This has been alluded to in this list, but the biggest annoyance about some of today's anime is that there's generally more of a focus on glossiness rather than a great story. I mean, we know we all eat with our eyes first, but we all know that sometimes, the ugliest dish can be the most delicious one. Ugh, now I'm turning into Yui!
Anyway, food analogies aside, let me give you a real example of a really stylish show that had nothing going for it: Immortal Grand Prix. You might think that I would love Toonami's first and only original program and, to some extent, I do have a soft spot for it. It was a good effort and, of course, it looked spectacular. But, even though the show has really high production values, the storyline doesn't live up to the spectacularly-produced racing scenes. Meanwhile, Trigun and some of the aforementioned shows like Cowboy Bebop and Outlaw Star have style for days while presenting compelling and entertaining stories. Unlike some shows, which are like the pretty airheads of the group, these shows are like the women who are smart and stylish, a great combination, if I do say so myself (pats self on the back).
9. More Heart
Another thing that I've hinted at but not really explicitly said is that it seems like too much of today's anime is lacking something simple - heart. There's enough style in the world; can there just be a show that has a cool story to tell? It seems like it's becoming rarer and rarer to find more shows like that, which is a shame. All I want is to be comfortable while watching a television show, not get irritated or bored. Just entertain me!
Back in the '90s, it seemed like almost every anime had heart at the center of its storytelling, like Rurouni Kenshin. Even though the show had plenty of action and drama, at the core of the show, there was a story about a group of people becoming a close-knit family. Is it just because shows take themselves too seriously now? Is there an earnestness that's been lost? Dare I bring up the idea that anime has gotten too commercialized? Even though Tiger and Bunny is awesome, it is also rife with product placement. I just need a show that makes me feel like the world is a better place full of nice people! Placate my soul!
10. '90s Anime Shows were Actual Shows
In order for my soul to be placated, I need an earnest show. A show that's full of laughs, real stakes, drama, you know, stuff that makes a show a hit.
I feel anime should be like a good bowl of chicken soup. It should make you feel warm and fuzzy, just like the feeling you get when you're in bed on a rainy day. Anime shows should be trying to please the viewer, not bashing them over the head with a plot they could care less about. Nobody likes a self-important person; the same definitely goes to self-important shows, especially when those shows are really stupid. Yes, I said it!
Enough with complications and stupid sword spirits and demons and magical soccer and whatever else that makes no sense at all! Just give me a show that knows what it's doing and what it's trying to accomplish and I'll be happy.