Computers have changed pretty much everything over the last 30 years, including how anime looks and feels. These days, without the extra added expense of ink, paint and film, there is no limit to the amount of drawings one can pack into an episode, and anime moves more fluidly and smoothly as a result.
Prior to the proliferation of digital coloring and Cintiqs, Japanese animation studios could only afford a certain number of cels per second. It wasn’t uncommon back then for some scenes to have very little movement other than the flapping of mouths. Many of the best studios of the 80s and 90s worked around this limitation by packing their inanimate scenes with as much detail as possible.
It’s because of this that old anime has a certain LOOK that you just don’t see these days. It’s rendered impossible not just because of the tight schedules but because computer animation is spotlessly clean. In the 20th century’s last two decades, there were a lot of sci-fi series that tried to emulate Blade Runner, and the “grungy” settings were greatly enhanced by the dirty look of the cels, the intricate balance of light and heavy shadow, and the liberal use of pastel glow effects. The result was ART.
Imagine if “Star Wars” had come out around this time, not as a live-action movie but as an anime. Dmitry “Ahriman” Grozov tried to recreate that kind of feel with his “Animotion” trailer. Though you’ve probably already seen it, take a second look. Movement is intentionally frozen and choppy, but that just gives you more time to observe the work that went into each drawing.
I have yet to see a “recreation” of 20th century anime that could fool me into thinking it was real (filters still have a long way to go), but Grozov comes close.