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14 Best Anime of the 1990s

February 21, 2019
14 min read

The 90s were a great time for anime. It laid the groundwork for the future anime of the 21st century. Also, since it was a time of transition from the 20th century to the 21st century we see elements from both the times. It was also during these times that the anime industry started becoming more popular worldwide. So, why not take a trip down the memory lane and catch up with of the top 90s anime shows that we go back to again and again.

14. Elf wo Karu Mono-tachi (1997)

Let’s start with a funny isekai anime from the 90s. Don’t watch this anime if you are looking for great plot structure or relatable characters. This is something which is funny because of its ridiculousness. Three high school students viz. an actor, a martial artist, and a gun-lover are transported to another world filled with magic and elves. But the spell to return home is botched and the magical fragments are imprinted on the skins. Now, the group explores this new world trying to find elves to get the magical fragments. Also, they have a tank which was transported along with them.

13. Akazukin Chacha (1994)

‘Akazukin Chacha’ is fun magical anime. Chacha is a young magical girl who lives on the mochi-mochi mountain. Her guardian along with her teacher Seravi live with her at a cottage in the mountain. Seravi is the greatest magician in this fictional world. But still, Chacha is not great at magic. Most of the time her spells fail. Thankfully, though whenever she and her friends are in trouble she is able to get her spells to work which ends up saving them. Riiya is a boy who lives on the same mountain and hails from a family of werewolves. He is physically quite strong. Then there’s another mountain by the name Urizuri which is far away from mochi-mochi. Here lives Dorothy, a famous magician along with her student shows great talent for magic.

12. Slam Dunk (1993)

‘Slam Dunk’ is a sports anime and as the name suggests it revolves around the basketball sport. Sports dramas are quite popular among anime fans. It makes you feel the thrill of the sport and adds certain fictional elements to enhance the experience. ‘Slam Dunk’ is a decent sports drama and if you enjoy watching sports anime then you must give ‘Slam Dunk’ a try. Hanamichi Sakuragi is the protagonist of the anime. He was rejected by 50 girls in his middle school. He wants a girlfriend desperately but his reputation precedes him and here too people start avoiding him. After a certain incident, he starts hating basketball but is much more desperate for a girlfriend now. When a girl asks him if he loves basketball he ends up giving an affirmative answer. But when she asks him to perform a slam dunk he jumps too high injuring himself. The girl is however impressed by his inhuman physical ability and informs the basketball team. This starts Hanamichi’s journey in the sport he used to resent.

11. Hime-chan no Ribbon (1992)

‘Hime-chan no Ribbon’ is a magical, fantasy anime. It is also a romantic comedy. There were lots of fun anime during the 90s and this anime reflects that. There are a total of 61 episodes in the anime but none of the episodes are serious. The series starts, continues, and ends on a fun note. Sometimes I like watching these kinds of anime. The story revolves around a magical ribbon which gives the girl who wears it the power to transform into anyone whom she sees. This ribbon was given to her by Erika who is the princess of the Magic Kingdom. She comes to Earth in search of the girl who looks like her. Turns out that girl is Himeko Nonohara who is too much of a tomboy. She needs to use the ribbon to see if it is worthy enough for Erika to be the successor to the crown. The anime follows the Himeko’s adventures as she uses the magical ribbon in various situations.

10. Romeo no Aoi Sora (1995)

Let’s now dial down the fun a bit. ‘Romeo no Aoi Sora’ is not a comedy anime rather it is a slice of life anime which showcases hardship and struggle. It is also an inspirational story which shows us how hard work, dedication, and courage can make us overcome our obstacles. Romeo is an ordinary boy with a big heart. He lives in a village in Switzerland along with his family. Luini is a shady character who indulges in the selling of children’s to sweep chimnies. Romeo interests him and to get to him he burns his family’s cornfields. His father who tries to put the fire off gets injured in his head. To help the family pay for medical care Romeo sells himself to Luini and becomes a chimney sweep. En route to Milan, he meets a boy by the name of Alfredo and they swear friendship promising to meet each other again. Romeo faces lots of hardships as a chimney sweep and has to go through lots of abuse. Then there’s the threat of a gang by the name of Wolf Pack. when Romeo finally meets Alfredo they decide to form a fraternity consisting of the sweeps to fight against Wolf Pack and support each other when the situation demands.

9. Uchuu no Kishi Tekkaman Blade (1992)

Now, it is time for a mecha anime. Mecha genre was a hugely popular genre in the 90s. The genre was at the pinnacle of its popularity at that time. Though still the genre is kind of popular and there are some nice anime like ‘Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann’ which his still trying to keep the throttle of this genre the popularity has suffered significant decrease over the years. The premise of the anime is the same as that of multiple other anime in the genre that became popular in the 90s. Big robots fighting aliens who are invading Earth. The anime is set in the year 2030. Bug-like monsters, Radam, and armored warriors, Tekkaman, begin attacking Earth and our only line of defense is the space knights. Then a man by the name of Takaya shows up who can transform into a Tekkaman and helps the holy knights in their fight against the radams. But there are a lot of things about his past which he is not telling either.

8. Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995)

Staying in the mecha genre let’s look at one of the most popular mecha anime, ‘Neon Genesis Evangelion’. The premise of the anime is the same and includes giant robots fighting off aliens who are dead set on destroying Earth for some reason. But ‘Neon Genesis Evangelion’ is much more than just that. It is a story of self-discovery and finding self-worth. Many themes of the anime are quite mature and only an adult can comprehend it. Shinji Ikari is the protagonist of the anime. His father is the head of the organization by the name of Nerv which is our last line of defense and offense against aliens who are invading Earth. Nerv has the latest technology which they for some reason use to create powerful mechas which need teenagers as a pilot. Shinji has not met his father for long. He thinks that his life is average and he will not amount to anything. But when he somehow ends up into Nerv to pilot a mecha. He thinks of this as a sign of his father’s love for him but soon realizes that it is not so. But then Shinji is given the responsibility to fend off the aliens to protect Earth. He needs to shoulder the responsibility of mankind’s survival. Has he finally figured out his life’s purpose?

7. Trigun (1998)

‘Trigun’ is one of the best anime if you are looking for entertaining space adventures. The anime is set in the future and takes place on a different planet. Vash the Stampede is the protagonist of this anime. He has the nickname of the Human Typhoon since whichever plays he goes through he ends up leaving it in ruins. He has a 60 billion dollars of bounty on his head and rumors say that if you are on the wrong side of his list you are as good as dead. Vash also destroys cities just for fun. But the reality seems to be a lot different. Vash is quite a softie and claims to have never killed anyone and stays away from violence. Follow him on his adventures on a planet by the name of Gunsmoke where two insurance agents follow him in the hopes of minimizing the damage he leaves the cities, he visits, in. But soon the trio finds themselves in a life or death situation when a group of assassins is sent to take them out. It seems that Vash’s past will need some unraveling as his moral boundaries will be tested.

6. Hunter x Hunter (1999)

Yup, many of you might not know this but ‘Hunter x Hunter’ first came out in the year 1999. This version of the anime is quite good too but if you have not seen the 2011 version then I will suggest you go for that since the story is more or less same but with much better graphics and execution. But for the rest, you can watch it to take a trip down memory lane. Gon, the protagonist of the anime takes inspirations from his father who is a hunter. Hunter is a profession which has high respect and makes the person quite rich too. But most often their jobs require a high amount of skills. Gon’s father leaves him with his sister to pursue his own adventures and Gon wants to become a hunter and find his father. But first, he needs to take a tough test to become a hunter. In his adventures, he meets various interesting people among which is Killua, a boy hailing from a family of assassins. He becomes Gon’s best friend and accompanies him on his adventures. The anime is high on action and adventure.

5. Rurouni Kenshin (1996)

If you love watching sword fights and enjoy anime shows having samurai themes then ‘Rurouni Kenshin’ is one of the best shows out there that can give you the fulfillment. It is an immensely popular anime which came out in the 90s. The art and animation of the anime are quite decent and give it a nice quality. The characters are pretty entertaining too. Bakumatsu era was a time of war and upheaval. In the final years of it, a swordsman became legendary for his manslaying abilities earning him the name Battousai the manslayer. But after the war, no one knows where Battousai went. Rurouni Kenshin the man formerly known as Battousai is now a wanderer who has taken a vow to never slay another human being ever again. He even wields a reverse-blade sword which makes it harder to land a killing blow. Kenshin wishes to help others in need and protect them. He feels that this is the only way he can repent for his sins. After an incident in which he protects a girl, by the name of Kaoru, and her dojo from a man claiming to be Battousai, Kenshin makes her dojo his temporary abode. He does household chores there and plays with the children. But almost every day it seems that his past catches up with him.

4. Cowboy Bebop (1998)

‘Cowboy Bebop’ is one of the best anime ever and I will fight anyone who says otherwise. People with shady past, crazy space adventures, characters with depth all put together in a western-styled setting is what makes the show so entertaining. This anime has some of the best arrays of characters that you will ever find in an anime. ‘Cowboy Bebop’ takes place in the vast stretch of space. Humans have colonized various planets but more the area you cover, harder is to maintain law and order. To help the law are the bounty hunters who pick a name from the list of bounties that the government releases. They then catch that particular bounty and deliver them to the respective authority and collect the rewards. The anime follows a ragtag team of people who ride the spaceship named Bebop and look for bounties. But their adventures are never so simple and often they end up getting into something much more serious and different than they originally intended to. The series has a total of 26 episodes with each episode being 24 minutes in length. Believe me, you will wish for more episodes by the time you finish it and if you find yourself in that dilemma then check out the ‘Cowboy Bebop’ movie.

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3. Pokemon (1997)

We all knew this from the start that ‘Pokemon’ was bound to be in this list. It is one of the most popular animated shows of all time. It is the show which almost all saw regularly as a kid. The concept of Pokemon is really great and resonates with kids. The show is also quite inspirational for kids as it teaches them that hard work and determination allows us to overcome any obstacle in life. The show basically revolves around peculiar creatures by the name of Pokemon who have vastly different appearances and abilities. Humans catch and tame these creatures and train them to fight in Pokemon Battles which is a hugely popular sport. Satoshi, or as we know him as Ash Ketchum, wants to be the best pokemon trainer in the world. But for that, he needs to defeat various pokemon gym leaders and win in the top tournaments. Joining him are his various pokemon especially Pikachu who is his best friend. Join them on their crazy adventures as they train hard and move from one place to another in the hopes of winning various gym badges and tournaments.

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2. Crayon Shin-chan (1992)

‘Crayon Shin-chan’ is an anime which I still watch to this day. It is one of the funniest anime shows of all time. Though now due to various reasons the content of the show is much milder the earlier episodes are superb. They are really funny and is sure to provide you with fits of laughter (remember the elephant gag?). The anime follows the adventures of a boy by the name of Shin-chan who is 5 years old and his eccentric group of friends. It is fun to watch these kids trying to get through their daily lives as they get into various situations whose outcomes end up being quite funny. The show tells us to enjoy our lives as much as possible. It also shows us the experience of growing up albeit in a very crude and funny way.

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1. Dragon Ball Z (1989)

Look, technically ‘Dragon Ball Z’ came out in the year 1989 but most of its episodes aired in the 90s so let this one slide, please. It is one of the favorite anime shows from my childhood. It got my testosterone pumping and made me all fired up as Goku kicked some alien asses trying to destroy our precious planet. ‘Dragon Ball Z’ is the second installment in the ‘Dragon Ball’ franchise and is the one where we get to see Goku finally attain the Super Saiyan form. It took one entire episode for him to get there but when he did it was really satisfying. This installment is my personal favorite of all the ‘Dragon Ball’ installments. The show follows an adult Goku training har as he faces an entirely new array of enemies threatening to decimate Earth and its beings.

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