They were the first U.S. manga publisher who published a lot of unflipped, read-it-right-to-left manga in English.note This had been done before, but extremely seldom. We're talking a total of less than ten manga books, tops, and most of them were too obscure for either comics fans or manga lovers to have heard of them.
The affordable ten-dollar digest editions that pretty much all U.S. manga publishers use nowadays was their idea. Before Tokyopop started publishing those, the norm had been to publish translated manga flipped left-to-right, in single-issue comic books with a chapter or two in each issue, which were then collected in trade paperbacks, just like American comic books.
Nowadays, almost all U.S. manga editions leave the original SFX in, but Tokyopop were the first ones to make it standard procedure. Nowadays, people will simply be annoyed by how there's no translation of the SFX at all in the Tokyopop editions, so that you'll have to figure out what it's supposed to sound like on your own.
Another idea of theirs was the concept of having your manga sold in bookstores instead of in comic book stores. This really helped increase their potential customer-base. This is also because a lot of bookstores may be placed in area(s) of the town where kids without cars can access them — i.e. the mall. Not to mention, comic book stores don't even exist in some towns in Flyover Country — but bookstores themselves do.
And content-wise, they were the first ones to publish high school romance shoujo manga. Pretty much all of what little shoujo had been published in the USA up until that point had featured some element of adventure or fantasy that the publishers hoped would appeal to male readers, but Tokyopop published high-school romances like Kare Kano and Marmalade Boy, that had no supernatural or adventure elements and were clearly intended for girls (but good enough to be read by anyone regardless of gender). In short, Tokyopop was the first American manga publisher to fully accept that manga didn't have to pretend to be American comic books. Nowadays every publisher does this, so Tokyopop's editions come off as cheap-looking compared to, say, Viz's and Kodansha's manga. Especially the early Tokyopop releases. The translations of Sailor Moon and Magic Knight Rayearth were absolutely painful with spelling and character name inconsistencies galore. And the fact that it's unflipped is just Asbestos-Free Cereal now that it goes without saying that you don't flip your manga.
This also happens a lot with dubbing. Since the standards for anime dub voice acting have improved so much in recent years, many dubs that were considered huge steps forward in quality for their time have become increasingly unpopular among modern viewers. Examples include Ranma ½ and Neon Genesis Evangelion. An even better example would be the Tenchi Muyo! franchise. Back in the day (around 1994, to be exact), the use of union actors combined with clever dub scripts was considered a groundbreaking development in the world of anime dubbing. While many people still look back fondly on the dub even now, more level-headed viewers without a Nostalgia Filter will notice the dubs' miscast actors and actresses, awkward delivery, and overall poor acting quality in comparison to modern dubs for anime like Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann and Fullmetal Alchemist.
Cutey Honey will make you cringe, until you realize it created the template for anime fanservice, for the Warrior Magical Girl achetype and possibly featured the first Action Girl main character. If you don't remember it from the early 70s, you'll think it's just another typical high-schooler gone superhero story.
Doki Doki School Hours got hit by this hard. The manga is one of the early examples of the "Wacky Homeroom"-format, up to and including a childish teacher, and likely formed the inspiration for other works like Azumanga Daioh and Lucky Star. Alas, the anime got released after those other series, which made a lot of viewers cringe at the "tired and old" jokes.
Dragon Ball for that matter. It seems horribly cliché now (even more so than Fist Of The North Star, if only because it was copied more, or at least more directly) but it was refreshing at the time. One of the big ones is the Idiot Hero, which has been done to death in Shonen, but Goku was one of the first, though predated by the title character of Kinnikuman (and besides that Goku is more naive than stupid. That's The Theme Park Version for you - the real version will take forever to read.)
Fist of the North Star seems like horribly cliché shonen, but keep in mind it more or less helped create many of the shonen tropes that exist today. Along with Dragon Ball, many people cite it as a Gateway Series or an inspiration for other Shonen creations.
Love Hina. Yes, if you just started reading or watching it today, it just seems like another cliché harem anime. This mainly comes from the fact that the show redefined nearly every rule of modern anime romance/harem comedy, and has been copied relentlessly since.
Magical Girls. If you're not an old-school, die-hard fan, you'll probably think that everything in the genre is a ripoff of Sailor Moon.
Sailor Moon itself gets this as well, as it created a sub-genre, and in many countries also contributed to make Anime popular in the first place. When compared tosomemoremodernshows, it can look overly cheesy, Filler-ridden, and low-budget.
Another magical girl series to suffer from this and which predates Sailor Moon is Majokko Meg-chan, from 1974. It introduced many now-common elements to the genre and was groundbreaking as far as the genre was concerned. Nowadays, since the tropes it introduced have been done repeatedly since, it isn't highly regarded.
Maria-sama ga Miteru is gradually getting there; the series has been copied and especially parodied mercilessly, to the point where viewers suspect it to be a parody itself. Admittedly, the romantic entanglements between the girls of the depicted all-girl school do get rather fluffy and melodramatic at times, but it mostly kept in check by the tight storytelling and outstanding voice-acting in the anime.
Mazinger Z, the Trope Codifier for Super Robot shows, never got that much love outside of Japan, due to the fact that it was usually picked up sometime after successive shows, such as Voltron and even Grendizer got popular, leading to Mazinger often being called a ripoff of its own derivatives.
Similarly, while Mazinger Z and Getter Robo were hugely influential and are often seen as the grandfathers of the Super Robot genre, the shows themselves often get criticized by modern fans for being really repetitive and boring by modern standards. The treatment of women, while par for the course in the 70's, also comes under fire from many modern anime fans.
Neon Genesis Evangelion has single-handedly popularized the concept of Deconstruction for formulaic, beaten genres, as well as demonstrating just what circumstances would realistically result in a token teenage action protagonists having to save the world, and how much pain, isolation and psychological pressure would they have to endure in the process.
The series has also become so ingrained in Japanese pop culture that the sequel/remake series doesn't even try to retain some of the elements that were treated as Shocking Swerves or Driving Questions in the original show. There's just an assumption that thanks to Pop-Cultural Osmosis, the audience already knows stuff like Kaworu being an angel or Lilith being locked up underneath the NERV base, and the producers instead preferred to concentrate on the original's other strong side: unique designs of the Evangelions, Angels and locations, as well as Visual Effects of Awesome. The public was impressed, but those who debated the original were quite uncertain as to what message do the new movies try to convey, or whether there even is one.
Partially due to the above reasons, the third film in the Rebuild saga was rewritten from the grounds up to outdo the original series in the Shoot the Shaggy Dog department. The end result wasn't as well received as the previous two. New viewers were dismayed by the blatancy and shoehorning of drama, while the hardcore fanbase had an outcry over the misaimed shock value. Like the sequels to The Matrix, 3.33 played up the aspects that were supposed to surprise and shock the viewer as if they were just as groundbreaking as when the original was released in 1995. However, due to various anime series that responded to everything that the original Evangelion stated, or refuted the original show's cynicism, the third film didn't have the expected emotional impact, and when analyzed, turned out not to actually be all that thoughtful due to the rushed plot and so many The End of the World as We Know It situations the viewers won't be surprised by anymore.
Osamu Tezuka falls victim to this in the American market. His characters look much closer to Disney and Fleischer cartoons than modern anime and manga, making his art look quaint to modern manga readers. Additionally, it's hard to spot the sheer innovation in his page layouts and stylized pacing when they've more or less become the norm after around fifty years.
Astro Boy is THE Anime and Manga. It was the first truly popular piece in not only Japan, but also in the States, where it was one of the first Anime it and other foreign audiences had ever received. It's hard to articulate how much Astro Boy means to the medium; it's on par with Mickey Mouse in how important of an animated work it is.
New Treasure Island, Tezuka's breakout work and often incorrectly referred to as his debutnote He had been drawing for a few years already; this was simply his first long-form adventure work, as opposed to the simple gag comics he'd been doing previously, has been most widely cited for its first two pages, depicting its lead character driving a car. Manga creators such as Fujiko Fujio have praised these pages' cinematic qualities and then-unparalleled sense of excitement, and they were highly influential to a generation of authors, but after 70 years of ever more dynamic manga art, the pages seem rather flat and slow.
To the modern-day reader, The Mysterious Underground Men is just another relatively obscure Osamu Tezuka manga from his early days. No masterpiece, but still a fun book to spend half an hour or so reading. But to the people that read it when it first came out in 1948, it was shocking to see a manga with some genuinely tragic moments. Not only was Tezuka bringing tragedy to manga, he was doing it by using plots where main characters died in a medium where this was unheard of until now.
Robotech. With its dramatic tone and unvarnished depictions of the death and destruction caused by war, it was the first localized anime to really display Japanese animation's capacity for weighty, dramatic stories to a western audience. With uncut translations of space opera now a dime a dozen, and with the series' multiple flaws now harder to forgive, many now ignore the series' achievements and instead focus on the compromises made in the franchise's creation—namely, the stitching together of three distinct and unrelated anime series into one narrative, necessary for the series to get a syndication deal. The Macekre page goes into greater detail about the significance of Robotech, despite the title being a Take That! to Carl Macek for said compromises.
The Expanded Robotech Universe, particularly Sentinels, blew the marriage of Rick and Lisa out of proportion by modern standards. The wedding took two comic book issues to tell and that was after about ten issues of "anticipation" leading up to the big day. Sentimental fans might be to blame. New fans were wondering when they were going to just launch the mission.
Saint Seiya suffers from this quite badly if one were to watch if after seeing more recent Shōnen series, especially during the Gold Saint arc. It pretty much created the Rescue Arc, and if not, it certainly was what popularized it.
Most Schoolgirl Series from the zero years suffer from this, especially K-On!, Azumanga Daioh, and Lucky Star. In our time, it is very difficult to believe that these works, intentionally dedicated to the most common things in the life of ordinary high school students, could become such huge cult successes that they got TV series with more than 20 episodes. This is partly due to the fact that these works were the first big successes in this genre and they were copied many times during the distribution trend of Moe anime, especially the adaptations from Kyoto Animation. Most of these series now seem boring by comparison, and so almost never get more than 13 episodes and try to depict as many unusual situations as possible, which makes the popularity of K-On and Lucky Star somewhat incomprehensible to modern viewers. Azumanga Daioh is sill fondly remembered for its jokes still holding up and is considered a classic comedy anime, but many have difficulty believing that back when it came out, a show about schoolgirls going about their daily lives was an unusual concept.
When Three Leaves, Three Colors received an anime adaptation, it was generally bashed for being a cliche series that heavily copied the aforementioned works, as well as being aimless with no overarching plot to speak of, but the manga first started publishing in 2003, a good half-decade before K-On! and its ilk. In fact, it's likely that many other manga including the former take inspiration from it whether intentionally or not.
Harem Genre has a lot of this among its settings, since the huge popularity of the genre has translated many of his cliches into this genre.
At one time the idea of Childhood Friend Romance as One True Love was very popular and was considered sweet for the majority of the audience because of the sweet romantic charm. However, subsequently, a great many authors began to use this as a cliché and lazy justification for the central romantic line, for which it is now considered very boring and to the point of stupidity an obvious moment in a lot of romance.
Ordinary High-School Student or Unlucky Everydude used to be 90% of the protagonists of all such works, as it helped to make the main character closer to the audience. However, over the years, these tropes have so often been abused and used to indulge the fantasies of the audience that now it will be perceived as an obvious Pandering to the Base even in old works.
As well as the two examples above, Chick Magnet was originally a popular element of Sweet Dreams Fuel in similar works. Now it will be perceived as a lazy attempt for ill-founded erotica and artificial romance due to the excessive use of this element as the basis of most harems as such. Especially if in combination with the previous paragraph, the protagonist is too simple and unremarkable to attract so many charming and popular girls.
And finally, most of the old straight Harem Genre works (especially the adaptation of Visual Novels like SHUFFLE! or Da Capo) will now be perceived as silly, unrealistic and indulging the audience, since, due to the years of Cliché Storm, most modern harems are firmly in the Supporting Harem zone in an attempt to depict the story more adequately.
Furthermore, while the Action Girl is common in both eastern and western works today, both Jun the Swan and Sayaka Yumi (Mazinger Z) are contenders for the first action girl in anime.
To one who grew up in the 2000s and the new tens, The Vision of Escaflowne may come of as one big Cliché Storm - especially since a lot of people (Despite its initial run in Japan not faring so well) have actually used it as an influence.
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure has been homaged, parodied, referenced, and exposed to so much Memetic Mutation from various other anime and video games that it can sometimes come off as a bit predictable, and some of the most infamous moments have become less shocking (especially when you Watch It for the Meme). It's important to remember the manga started in 1986, and a lot of the Shonen Jump series that share elements with it, such as Yu-Gi-Oh! and YuYu Hakusho were inspired by it, not the other way around.
Ironically, the 2012 anime adaptation helped revitalize attention to it. With modern production values and no fillers, good soundtrack and voice actors, JoJo seems fresher now than a lot of more recent anime and manga that it likely inspired in the first place.
The cover of the manga anthology book Four Shôjo Stories boasts that it contains "Japanese comics from a uniquely female perspective." In other words, the manga in it is shôjo made by women. When it was first published, this was pretty much unique for a manga published in the USA. Nowadays, the American manga market is brimming over with shôjo manga that women made, and it's hard to understand just how unique this book was when it was first released.
The Tsundere archetype as a whole is slowly starting to go down this path. There are several reasons for this. The tsundere archetype was originally created to make certain female characters different from the usual submissive-styled Japanese female characters in not just anime, but traditional Japanese stories as well. Originally, the character itself was just someone that had a harsh outer personality with a soft happy center, but was usually never outwardly violent. However, by the Early 2000s the aforementioned Love Hina took this concept to the point where people associate with them calling someone they were secretly in love with names, becoming increasingly jealous at any other female contact, and paired with an Idiot Hero who would never notice her feelings, making her even more aggressive. This in turn, caused many, many authors to copy this formula in both Harem and other series that had some form of romance, and run it into the ground. It also contributed to the creation of the Shana Clone; a sub-type of tsundere comprised of mainly short and flat-chested girls which was popularized by Shakugan no Shana, and has spawned numerous imitators ever since, but even this is fading out of appeal by many fans. Nowadays, this style of female tsundere is seen as tired and unoriginal (If not written well). Only deconstructions like Toradora! seem to be the sole exceptions today, where they tone down on the tsundere personality to make the female lead less harsh through character development.
Little Sister Heroine and Brother–Sister Incest in general, have also been subjected to this recently. Originally, visual novels like Yosuga no Sora and Kana: Little Sister that are dedicated to this were considered to be something exceptional and unusual, and the "little sisters" were considered to be very cute and likable heroines that receive loads of focus and development. By now, however, there have been so many manga and light novels in this genre published that imouto-titles are, at best, considered extremely cliche because of endless copying of the same plot elements, and at worst, disgusting pervert fantasies on par with lolicon and the like. It doesn't help that thanks to little sisters becoming one of the most common Fetish Fuel elements in light novels, they end up showing up even in almost every series, even ones that ostensibly have nothing to do with them; a common joke is that every single Stock Light Novel Hero will have a little sister regardless of who he's actually interested in, or even if the series isn't about romance at all. The series are even harder to find fans of outside of Japan due to Values Dissonance and it doesn't help that many such heroines are often Tsunderes (again, Oreimo is to blame for this), which itself, as seen above, is yet another reason why these series aren't as fondly looked at today as when they debuted.
The Reincarnate In Another World trope ends up becoming this especially when one looks back at the one that helped popularized it with Mushoku Tensei. When the series first came out as a web novel, it ended up being the one of the most viewed web novel at Shousetsu Ka ni Narou because the premise is that a 30+ year old otaku dies and reincarnates to a different world retaining his mindset was at the time revolutionary and barely anyone has done it before. Contrast to today's standards and a lot of web novels ended up copying the premise that looking back at Mushoku Tensei, it looks dull and uninspired.
To viewers in the modern day, Devilman looks like yet another so gory it'shilarious dark shonen manga that's hard to take seriously, until you realize it was one of the first manga to even contain such dark themes in the first place, and convince the public that all manga didn't have to be for kids and could tackle serious issues too. Unfortunately, anime and manga dealing with mature topics is so commonplace today that the series just comes off as looking cheesy and edgy in comparison to other dark works.
Lucky Star and Oreimo were the first to deliberately make its characters and plots about Otaku life, which got them loads of fans because manga and light novels that actually discussed the anime fandom were rare and fans loved being able to relate to the characters because they shared their own interests. Now, however, meta elements are so common in anime and manga that those series are likely to be far less warmly received by current readers, especially among those who view Otaku elements in stories as lazy Pandering to the Base.
In Yu-Gi-Oh!, Yugi using Exodia to win an otherwise unwinnable duel against Kaiba was suspenseful at the time the relevant chapters/episodes were released. Since it became a Signature Scene of the franchise and Exodia became one of the most popular, recognizable monsters, most of the tension is lost as a result.
It also helped that in the manga and Toei anime, it was the climax to the longest and most dire arc in the story thus far, with Yugi thinking one of his friends was dead and the others held hostage. In the second anime, it was the very first episode and didn't have all of the arc leading up to it, leaving out the laser tag game with real lasers, the fight to the death with a serial killer, and more.
Wizarding School light novels (and usually the harem hijinks they feature, were a major critical whipping boy during the first half of The New '10s (and notwithout reason). Because of such a major backlash, A Certain Magical Index and Infinite Stratos look awfully tired today, when they were some of the first to even establish that genre as a cash cow in the first place. Index, while it does love its harem shenanigans, is an action series first and foremost and largely drops the Fanservice when it's time to get serious, and its "school" part is largely window dressing as most non-Filler arcs don't even take place in school. IS, on the other hand, is a largely light-hearted ecchi harem, with the titular Mecha really only used as window dressing; therefore, all the Fanservice fits with its tone and doesn't seem out of place. However, both, due to the Critical Backlash, have fallen victim to the same "hate on principle" as their predecessors, even though they were the ones that all the others copied in the first place.