There 1990s was a decade that left its mark on anime as a whole. It wasn’t just because of the peculiar art style from that time, the iconic anime, the themes they tackled and the way the stories were presented, all of it left a mark on how these 90s anime would be perceived in the future.
The decade saw some truly remarkable anime series being released, with Neon Genesis Evangelion, Cowboy Bebop, Berserk and others stealing the limelight.
However, there are also a lot of underrated anime which released in the 1990s and need more love from us watchers. Here, we have picked out the top 10 underrated 90s anime for you, so they get the recognition they deserve.
So, without any ado, let’s get started!
10. The Legend Of Zorro
No. of episodes: 52
Studio: Ashi Productions
Release Date: April 5, 1996
Starting off our list of underrated 90s anime is The Legend of Zorro Adventure, an action-packed anime that will get your adrenaline flowing. The story follows the adventures of Diego Vera, who returns home to find that it is currently under the dictatorial rule of the army.
In order to fight the oppression and the injustice he disguised himself as Zorro. There is also a romance plot brewing on the sides, as he tries to win the love of his sweetheart, Lolita.
The Legend of Zorro makes it to this list because there aren’t a lot of people who heard about it, making it one of the most underrated anime from the 1990s. On top of that, this anime is often assumed to be just another rip off.
However, you’ll realize that all your skepticism was for nothing. While it is not as good as the Evas and the Bebops, The Legend of Zorro still manages to spin to a good tale of adventure which builds up with each episode. The episodic narrative has an overarching plot.
The humor of the anime too stands out. The music and soundtrack are also a highlight, as it matches the tone of the series.
In short, you won’t be disappointed by this anime as Zorro is definitely one of those 90s anime which needs more recognition and love from the fans.
9. Ie Naki Ko Remy (Nobody’s Girl Remi)
No. of episodes: 23
Studio: Nippon Animation
Release Date: September 1, 1996
Nobody’s Girl Remy is an anime adaptation of the French novel Sans Famile written by Henry Malot. However, this was the second time the novel was adapted into an anime (the first being in late 70s by Madhouse).
The 90s version anime changes many things from the original, the most drastic one being the change in gender of the main character.
Some other storylines and character details from the book and the previous anime adaptation differ, and while fans in general are more familiar with the 1970s version, Nobody’s Girl Remy too is an adaptation that deserves recognition.
The plot follows Remy, a young girl who lives with her mother in a quaint French town. When her father returns back after a long trip, he tells that she is not his daughter and tries to sell her to an evil slave trader. However, she finds an unlikely ally in Vitalis, a kind-hearted performer, who takes her in and nurtures her talent for singing.
Remy joins his traveling troupe on a journey filled with adventure and self-discovery.
The story is more on the heartwarming side, as Remy discovers the meaning of family, of having a home, and what it really means to belong somewhere. You’ll find yourself rooting for the main character as she faces new challenges.
This is truly an anime that’ll melt your heart.
True, the characters could have been developed better, and more plot from the original could have been included in the anime had the staff not decided to fit everything into 26 episodes due to some production issues. However, Remy still is an anime that’ll leave a lasting impression on you and rightly makes it to our list of top underrated 90s anime.
8. Record Of Lodoss War
No. of episodes: 40
Release Date: June 30, 1990
First, allow me to clear some confusion surrounding The Record of Lodoss War anime. The 13 episode anime (OVA) which released in 1990 and the one that released in 1998 (chronicle of the Hero wars) are not sequels to each other.
The latter is more of a retelling of the OVAs with new characters (a LOT!) along with differing motives and scenarios.
I’d like to focus on the initial OVAs here, which follows Parn, Deedlit and their companions as they embark on a quest. The story’s timeline will come across as non-linear as you’ll find yourself jumping from one point to another as episodes pass. However, once you get a hang of the timeline and characters, you’ll be pretty invested in this 90s anime.
Record of Lodoss war is an anime that is carried by the interactions among the main cast, though they seem generic to a large extent. However, for a fantasy anime, this series boast a well written bad guy, Ashraf.
Deedlit is often typecast as a sexy sidekick at various points of the anime, be it for gag or some other reason, and that might disappoint some fans.
13 episodes seemed like too less for a high fantasy series, and it restricted the amount of world building Record of Lodoss could have got. The 1998 version was slightly longer, with 27 episodes, and creators once again did a good job of handling the characters.
In the end, Lodoss did set some trends in the high fantasy genre, captivating a cult fanbase. While I might have pointed out some bad points, the anime is still very enjoyable and earns a place in our list of top underrated anime from the 1990s.
7. Master Keaton
No. of episodes: 24
Release Date: April 2, 1996
Master Keaton is an anime from the 1990s that offers everything to a viewer. From mystery and action to heart warming slice-of-life moments, the Master Keaton just touches upon everything. And all of it is possible because of its episodic storyline.
Set in the late 20th century, the anime follows Taichi Keaton, an insurance investigator and former SAS member who travels the world cracking complex and dangerous cases. Keaton is the jack of all trades and he relies on his extensive arsenal of skills to solve the challenges in front of him.
Taichi would easily capture your attention, as he is not a typical anime hero. He’s a cultured, well-educated man who’s as comfortable in a museum as he is on the battlefield. He’s a character who’s fits anybody’s definition of a good guy and that makes him easy to like.
However, what sets Master Keaton truly apart is the level of detail put into each episode; thanks to the well researched historical and cultural references add depth to the narrative. It’s an exploration of the world, history, and human behavior.
Master Keaton will take you places, literally.
Each episode of the anime is a self-contained story. If you are someone who likes to sit back and watch anime at your own pace, then Master Keaton would be a perfect fit for you!
6. Fushigi Yuugi
Releasing in 1995, Fushigi Yuugi was one of the earliest Isekai anime, however, it failed to gain a massive fan following or cult status as opposed to Vision of Escaflowne. However, that in no way does justice to how good of an anime Fushigi Yuugi is.
The plot follows Miaka Yuuki who gets sucked into an unfamiliar world from the National Library with her friend. However, as her friend gets taken away, Yuuki sets out on a quest to find her along with a powerful young man Tamahome who she encounters there.
Together, they face the hostilities that this isekai world has in store for them.
The first point that comes to mind when I think about Fushigi Yuugi is the diverse cast. The characters are very well written and have a definitive impact on the story. You’ll easily find yourself invested their growth and its sure to keep you hooked till the end.
While you might find the story cliched in today’s day and age (it was unique for its time though), there is enough adventure and romance, supported by some amazing interactions that will make the time you sit through this anime worth it.
Fushigi Yuugi definitely has to be on your list of underrated 90s anime without a doubt! The ones who have watched this consider it a classic, so why not give it a try.
5. Outlaw Star
No. of episodes: 24
Release Date: January 9, 1998
Outlaw Star is an anime that is kinda famous both in Japan and in the west. But then, it often gets overlooked and is often termed a rip-off of Cowboy Bebop. However, that’s not true as both the anime have their own distinct style and themes.
The plot follows the story of Gene Starwind, who finally gets a chance to live his dream, i.e. piloting his own ship into the vast depths of the stars, when he and his partner James Hawking get hired by a smalltime treasure hunting outlaw, Rachel Sweet.
Let me get this out of the way, no matter what, the action-sequences of the anime are more than praiseworthy. Sunrise did not cut any corners when it came to the fights and it paid off well.
In addition to that, it has all the elements that a sci-fi lover would expect from such an anime, even aliens and inter-dimensional travels. While the story may not delve deep into any of these concepts, it still adds to the enjoyment factor overall.
Gene Starwind, who is portrayed as a complex character in the anime, also requires a special mention. True, he is a sleazy womanizer, but there is also a softer side to him. Sure, it sounds tropey, but there are moments when his outlook truly resonates with us, making him even more relatable.
However, character development is not a strong suit of Outlaw Star and you shouldn’t expect much there. Instead, focus on the action and adventure through the space as the crew try to figure out mysteries and reach their goals!
The anime’s pace doesn’t fall out, even when it comes to a standalone episodic phase of it.
If you were left star-eyed by the space adventure anime which defined the 1990s, then Outlaw Star is a series you definitely can’t miss!
4. Now and Then, Here and There
No. of episodes: 13
Release Date: October 14, 1999
Now and Then, Here and There is a 90s anime that will leave you feeling emotionally charged and inspired. This thought-provoking and heart-wrenching series takes you on an emotional journey through time and space. You’ll follow the journey of Shu, a young boy from Earth, as he’s transported to a war-torn world where he must navigate the harsh realities of war and survival.
The animation is top-notch, bringing to life a rich and detailed world filled with memorable characters. Despite its dark themes, “Now and Then, Here and There” is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, and will leave you inspired and moved by its powerful message of hope and perseverance.
This anime is a true masterpiece that is definitely worth watching. It explores mature themes such as war, child soldiers, and the consequences of violence, making it a more serious and adult-oriented anime. But, the emotions it brings are universal, and will resonate with viewers of all ages. Whether you’re a fan of action, drama, or science fiction, this anime has something for everyone.
If you’re looking for an anime that will challenge your thoughts, touch your heart, and leave a lasting impression, then “Now and Then, Here and There” is the perfect choice. Don’t miss out on this unforgettable classic of 90s anime.
3. Kyou Kara Ore Wa
No. of episodes: 10
Release Date: April 1, 1993
Kyou Kara Ore Wa is a classic anime series from the 90s that is remains criminally underrated and lesser known even to this day.
It follows the story of a high school student named Takashi who, after being bullied and ostracized, transforms into a delinquent to protect himself and gain respect from his peers.
One of the things that makes Kyou Kara Ore Wa so great is its ability to balance humour and heart. The show’s humor comes from Takashi’s antics and the situations he finds himself in, as well as the quirky and lovable cast of characters. The show also touches on serious topics such as bullying, friendship, and growing up, making it a surprisingly emotional and thought-provoking series.
The animation and soundtrack are also standout features of Kyou Kara Ore Wa. The animation has a classic, retro style that perfectly captures the 90s vibe, and the soundtrack features a mix of rock and pop music that will have you humming along.
Its ability to balance humor and heart, along with its fantastic animation and soundtrack, make it a timeless classic in the genre. So if you’re looking for an enjoyable and heartwarming anime series, add Kyou Kara Ore Wa to your list.
2. Romeo no Aoi Sora (Romeo and the Black Brothers)
No. of episodes: 33
Studio: Nippon Animation
Release Date: January 15, 1995
Romeo & The Black Brothers is a timeless classic from the 90s anime scene. This coming-of-age story follows the journey of a young boy named Romeo and his journey to finding his place in the world.
Romeo & The Black Brothers is a heartwarming anime set in Switzerland in the 90s that tells the story of a young boy named Romeo. Despite living in a small village with his loving family, Romeo’s life takes a turn for the worse when he becomes the target of the infamous “God of Death,” Luini.
In an effort to help his family, Romeo bravely sells himself to Luini and sets off for Milan.
On his journey, Romeo meets a new friend, Alfredo Martini, and the two quickly bond. Despite being separated when they arrive in Milan, Romeo and Alfredo make a vow to stay friends forever. As a chimney sweep, Romeo faces many challenges and obstacles, including mistreatment from his master’s family and a dangerous gang known as the Wolf Pack.
But with the help of his reunion with Alfredo, the two form a brotherhood of chimney sweeps, The Black Brothers, to fight against the Wolf Pack and support each other through their struggles. This anime is a must-watch for anyone who loves coming-of-age stories with themes of friendship, courage, and perseverance.
1. Golden Boy
No. of episodes: 06
Release Date: October 27, 1995
Golden Boy is a classic 90s anime that’s still loved by fans today. It’s got a good rating on MAL, so it would be safer to call is lesser known that strictly underrated. This six-episode series is a comedy anime that focuses on the learning experiences of a young man named Kintaro.
Kintaro, who’s a dropout from a prestigious law school, now travels around Japan, working odd jobs and experiencing things, ranging from politics and corruption to tender love, which can’t be learnt within the four walls of the classroom.
This episodic anime has no overarching story, as it just follows Kintaro as he goes from one job to another and keeps meeting beautiful ladies on his adventure.
Kintaro’s journey through Japan teaches him a lot about life, and the lessons he learns are interwoven with his various adventures. You’ll learn a little bit about everything as you watch the main character grow.
While the animation style might seem a bit dated, but the humor and the story is timeless, and the characters are lovable.
Golden Boy is a great representation of the creativity and diversity of 90s anime. The soundtrack is also fantastic, and the theme song will likely be stuck in your head for days after watching.