Like I usually do, I ranted on reddit a lot yesterday. Except this time, it was suggesting a lot of classic anime to some dude who wanted classic anime suggestions. Since I couldn't just let that fall into the aether of reddit, like everything does, I wanted to post it here. And since I have no pretense of professionalism, it's fine with me. Even if I did have a pretense of professionalism, it's since gone from my old and poorly written posts.
Without further ado:
I've been down this road myself, and I've found quite a few anime that are worth watching, or are in my queue to watch. Revolutionary Girl Utena flies under your radar, since you said pre-1995. But it's one of the seminal titles of the 90s.
Armored Trooper Votoms was a compelling and complex story about politics and robots that can't fly. That's right, they can only slide really fast with their wheel things.
Galaxy Express 999 and its sequel Adieu Galaxy Express 999, I've been told, are among the best space opera shows of the 70s and 80s. The series is streaming on Crunchyroll. All glorious 113 episodes of it (I call it glorious because I've heard it is).
A bit of an obscure one (but just because us in the west didn't get much into sports anime) is Aim for the Ace. If you've heard of Osamu Dezaki, he helmed the series about a girl playing tennis. It's never going to be licensed, so I torrented it and that's going to be the only way to get it.
Speaking of Dezaki, he's got quite a few things worth checking out. First off, the Black Jack OVAs from 1993. I'll basically give anything that has Tezuka's name on it somewhere a look. Unrelated, Anime Sols is streaming the 2004series. I watched the first episode and threw money at Anime Sols like a parent buying Christmas gifts.
The aforementioned Rose of Versailles was also helmed by Dezaki. He took over in episode 19, according to Anime News Network.
The third, and only, Dezaki work I've watched myself is the Space Adventure Cobra film and I couldn't recommend it highly enough. If any film represented anime in the 1980s, it is probably Space Adventure Cobra.
And I can't believe no one's mentioned Legend of the Galactic Heroes yet! Do I need to explain this one? Because I haven't seen it yet and honestly can't.
For the ridiculousnes, you must do Fist of the North Star. When Right Stuf had their Discotek sale, I didn't pick it up. I regret it to this day and definitely will during their next Discotek sale or when I want to.
The Ghibli's you definitely need to see (if you haven't yet; you didn't list them at least) are: Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (not technically Ghibli, shut up), Castle in the Sky, Kiki's Delivery Service, and My Neighbor Totoro.
I'll reiterate Mobile Suit Gundam and vouch for the film trilogy, which ends with Char's Counterattack. The film is technically a follow up to the Zeta Gundam and Double Zeta series, but I had no problem understanding what went on without slogging through all that Zeta.
I'll also add the OTHER mecha show of the decade, Macross: Do You Remember Love?. Campy songs aside, it is a great film worth looking at for any anime anthropologist.
Moving on to the early 90s, check out Memories if you haven't. It's another one by Katsuhiro Otomo and features early works of Satoshi Kon, Tensai Okamura, and Yoko Kanno.
Speaking of Satoshi Kon, again falling under (or over?) your wire is Perfect Blue. A 1997 film that started his career and he, in my opinion, never made anything better. Not to say that I didn't absolutely love Tokyo Godfathers, Millennium Actress, and Paprika. But Perfect Blue was the pinnacle.
More Macross in the 90s (because it's fucking Macross) is Macross Plus featuring some guy named Bryan Cranston. I hear he's in some bullshit nowadays.
I'm counting it because I'm a total cheater, but The Vision of Escaflowne has got only praise from those I've heard from. I watched a few episodes about 5 years ago and wasn't impressed, but I'm going to have to go back. It's 1996, which is why I say I'm a cheater.
Neon Genesis Evangelion if you haven't watched that for some reason.
Last but not least is Touch. I said we were out of the 80s, but I LIED. I lied to your face and I have no regrets about it because Touch is perhaps my favorite series that I've listed thus far (Utena may beat it out though; I'm halfway through Utena). Touch is a baseball anime that is so endearing and so (haha) touching that you can't help but put on the next episode when you finish one.
Oh, by the way, anime may be referred to as going through a golden age in the 1980s because that was around the bubble for anime in Japan when money was freely flowing and OVAs were pushed out like hotcakes. Most sucked, but some were awesome.
By the way, I cannot recommend highly enough the Mamoru Oshii film Patlabor 2, which I forgot about since someone else mentioned it. That movie was so precedent to Japanese audiences that when the Sarin gas attacks hit Tokyo, the news outlets interviewed Mamoru Oshii. And yes, I totally stole that quote from ANNCast.