Ever since the Three Tales aired in 1960, the world of Anime sprang to life anime shows and movies came a long way. The anime trend took the west by storm with their ever-popular and lovingly called 90s Anime.
Since then and are now characterized by flashy explosions, over-the-top character designs, and a broad array of topics that range from the tame ‘Slice of life’ to shiver-inducing horrors, and everything in between.
The ’90s Anime were the ‘golden middle’. The technology and artistic trends have advanced enough to be considered modern-day masterpieces, but not enough to compare to today’s flamboyant details. Some of the most iconic anime shows emerged during this time, and today we’ll talk about the top five, so let’s begin with:
1. One Piece
One Piece is among the most famous 90s anime shows of all time for a variety of reasons. First of all, the quirky animation style emphasized the characters while the background wasn’t as important, to say the least. After a few seasons, the graphics obviously improved, but the uniqueness of characters had already bought tens of thousands of fans.
Secondly, watching a One Piece marathon will amaze anime fans who enjoy watching multiple seasons in one sitting. It’s almost impossible to watch in a week; its total runtime exceeds 16 days given that 1,008 24-minute episodes have been released.
Thirdly, the level of depth in animation during fights is phenomenal for its time. Unlike some of its 90s anime peers, One Piece was not built on recycled scenes.
One Piece is a genuine blend of comedy sketches, dream-chasing, a hearty bit of drama, and a fairly long journey into the adventures of Luffy, Zoro, Nami, Sanji, Usopp, and hundreds of pirates they encounter along the way.
This is one of the 90s Anime that is still ongoing along with Pokemon.
Pokémon was met with a warm reception straight out of the gate, mainly for being familiar, yet different enough to feel excited about watching it.
This 90s Anime along with Dragon Ball Z is considered the gateway for western audiences into the Anime as well as Japanese culture.
The story about Ash and Pikachu, his main Pokémon and friend, spans 24 seasons. Along the way, the power duo meets dozens of new Pokémon trainers and types, fight in prominent arenas, laugh at Team Rocket’s attempts to snatch Pikachu, and get to catch a breather at Pokémon clinics.
Pokémon aren’t necessarily defined in terms of what they are, and that’s one of the reasons why the show is so popular. Even though they aren’t animals, most of them are inspired by them; for example, Pigeot is definitely a more aggressive pigeon while Psyduck is a duck with latent psychic powers.
Diving into this world, the fans are treated with in-depth explanations of various Pokémon types, counters, and most importantly, evolutions. When Pokémon train enough and encounter various emotional stimuli, they evolve into a stronger version of themselves. Ash’s Pikachu is an exception, as he didn’t want to evolve, wanting to show that he is strong enough already.
The world of Pokémon is exquisitely immersive. Dozens of Pokémon games have been released on various platforms; Pokémon trading cards are being restocked year after year around the globe, and Pokémon films are there for fans who’ve completed the series and want more fun. Various Pokémon trivia quizzes were made by the fans, so you can check those out too.
Also, Pokemon is one of the longest-running 90s Anime series.
3. Dragon Ball Z
From a child with a monkey’s tail riding a cloud to the savior of the universe whose power eclipses a nuclear blast, the story of Dragon Ball’s protagonist Goku is certainly a rich one.
The original Dragon Ball follows Goku through his childhood, as he ventures on to collect the Dragon Balls, which possess the power to grant any wish. During this period, Goku is training, making friendships, and fighting both friend and foe for the sake of getting stronger.
Dragon Ball Z begins with Goku as an adult, with his son Gohan and wife Chi-Chi. The anime is split into Sagas, all of which include new enemies, plot twists, and new powers being unlocked by Goku and the Earth’s Defenders. The show is 291 episodes long, which burn off pretty quickly considering how action-packed they are.
Dragon Ball Z and Pokemon are considered the gateway for 90s Anime into the west and its popularity.
4. Cowboy Bebop
The post-apocalyptic genre wasn’t new in anime, but during the ’90s Anime hype, there weren’t that many shows for fans to pick and choose from. Cowboy Bebop is fantastically written, the characters are both beautifully drawn and layered, and the storyline is so unique that it stands the test of time even today.
Cowboy Bebop is a squad of space bounty hunters that are housed in the space vessel called Bebop. The motley crew consists of a hacker child, an AI-powered Corgi, a con artist, an ex-hitman, and a former officer. Watching them interact can be hilarious, but at times, the show takes a deeply nostalgic tone.
This anime was genre-defying at the time it was launched, and its bite-sized collection of episodes is very easy to digest.
Berserk strayed from the typical 90s anime aesthetic by introducing waterfalls of blood, gore, and appropriately naming the main protagonist ‘Guts’. It’s a show of macabre and horror that will certainly appeal to the tastes of dark fantasy fans.
The show tells a story of restored faith, hope, and friendship before venturing over to the deep end with betrayals, curses, horrifying monsters, and unspeakable evil.
Both long-time fans of Berserk and newcomers know exactly what to expect of the show. Its fame precedes it as one of the bloodiest, goriest anime of its time, which is precisely the reason why it’s so popular even today.
Berserk was continued two decades later, picking up where its predecessor left and entering the scene with a much darker vibe. The reception of the sequel was mostly positive, mainly because fans of the hand-drawn animations weren’t too keen on the implementation of 3D effects into Berserk, despite the fact that it gave fights a completely different look.
Berserk is one of the top-ranked and also one of the most popular 90s anime shows within genres of horror and action. It also features a bit of romantic interest, a motif of defying one’s destiny, and tons of epic clashes between the Black Swordsman Guts and anything in front of his massive two-handed blade.
We hope you had fun reading this ‘90s anime rundown as much as we did making it. Make sure you are staying safe in these times we are all going through and have a good one, guys!