“Humankind cannot gain something without first giving something in return. To obtain, something of equal value must be lost. This is Alchemy’s First Law of Equivalent Exchange. In those days, we really believed that to be the world’s one, and only, truth.”

Hiromu Arakawa, Fullmetal Alchemist, Vol. 1

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 ” memory lane ” and catch up with Some of the top 90s anime shows, Some Personal Favorites Others Community Voted around the Web.

Top 15 Anime of the 90s

The Big O (1999)

BIG O was a unique show, with a decent concept.

Having everyone in the worlds memory erased and no one knows what happened, but there are clues within everyones mind was pretty interesting. It reminds me a little of the movie DARK CITY. It had a nice twist on the Giant Robot anime, instead focusing on the characters and story. The story was great, you couldn’t stop watching. All the twists and turns along the way in search of the what happened forty years ago. The story and characters were the best part of the show.

[Synopsis] Paradigm City, a city of amnesia and a place of belonging. It remains populated by forgotten pasts and the ruins of their labors due to a calamity 40 years ago. Shrouded in a fog-like mystery, it is up to people like Roger Smith to shine a light through the mist. Acting as a professional negotiator and suave agent, Roger is a self-tailored ladies man whose only love is for funeral black. However, as he gets deeply involved with his clients, what often starts as a simple negotiation evolves into Roger saving Paradigm from crime and peril.

In the process, Roger stumbles even deeper into the untold folds of the city. As a rule, things are hardly ever as they appear. Serving as gray knight in a gray world, Roger is not without allies. By his side are Norman, a loyal and widely skilled butler, and Dorothy, a human-like android with deadpan snark. Together with the relic Big O, a jet-black mecha of gargantuan size and weight, they help Roger serve iron justice to Paradigm’s lurking villains as he discovers the truth about 40 years ago.

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.

Slayers (1995)

Powerful, avaricious sorceress Lina Inverse travels around the world, stealing treasures from bandits who cross her path. Her latest victims, a band of thieves, wait in ambush in a forest, thirsting for revenge. When Lina is about to effortlessly pummel her would-be attackers, the swordsman Gourry Gabriev suddenly announces his presence. Assuming Lina to be a damsel in distress, the foolish yet magnanimous man confronts the brigands in order to rescue her. After defeating them posthaste, the oblivious cavalier decides to escort Lina to Atlas City. Though not very keen on this idea, she ends up accepting his offer.

However, without realizing it, Lina has chanced upon a mighty magical item among her most recent spoils. Now two mysterious men are hunting the young magician and her self-proclaimed guardian to obtain this powerful object for apparently nefarious purposes. This way they begin their adventure, one where the fate of the world itself may be at stake.

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.

Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995)

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?

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 60 billion dollar 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 in 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.

Hunter x Hunter (1999)

“1999 x 2011”

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.

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.

Cowboy Bebop (1998)

‘Cowboy Bebop’ is one of the best anime ever. Characters with shady pasts, 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.

Yu Yu Hakusho (1992)

Probably one of the greatest Anime’s ever made in my personal opinion. It is a timeless classic that really stands out. This was the second anime I ever watched back in the day thanks to Toonami. Here is my thoughts and opinions on Yu Yu Hakusho. Yu Yu Hakusho’s setting is in Japan. It tells the story of Yusuke Urameshi who was hit by a car while trying to save a child’s life. Now Yusuke has to survive ordeals and investigate cases concerning apparitions and demons all while trying to get his life back. Yusuke gets new found powers and has to defend spirit world and human world from the demons. There are 4 arcs in total for the series.

One fateful day, Yuusuke Urameshi, a 14-year-old delinquent with a dim future, gets a miraculous chance to turn it all around when he throws himself in front of a moving car to save a young boy. His ultimate sacrifice is so out of character that the authorities of the spirit realm are not yet prepared to let him pass on. Koenma, heir to the throne of the spirit realm, offers Yuusuke an opportunity to regain his life through completion of a series of tasks. With the guidance of the death god Botan, he is to thwart evil presences on Earth as a Spirit Detective.

To help him on his venture, Yuusuke enlists ex-rival Kazuma Kuwabara, and two demons, Hiei and Kurama, who have criminal pasts. Together, they train and battle against enemies who would threaten humanity’s very existence.

Sailor Moon (1992)

Back in the 1990s, Sailor Moon was the queen bee of popular shoujo titles by helping to popularize the magical girl genre to international fans and being the first series within the genre to feature a magical girl fighting against the forces of evil instead of using her magic to do fun and mundane things that older titles like Creamy Mami did. I was a sucker for the series when I was a kid during that period as I watched the butchered American syndicated version of the series released by Dic during the mid-90s. Our heroine of focus here is klutzy and book-dumb middle schooler Usagi Tsukino, who is tasked by a talking cat named Luna to become the magical girl known as Sailor Moon to thwart the evil activity of the witch Queen Beryl and her forces among the Dark Kingdom. Along the way, Usagi gains several additional allies to assist her with four other middle school girls who can become Sailor Senshi and a mysterious tuxedo-clad man named Tuxedo Mask who often pops up as a walking plot device to save Usagi whenever she gets in trouble against the “monster of the day”.

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 everyone 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.

Mobile Suit Gundam Wing (1995)

Gundam Wing is One of those Mecha Fighter Anime, That You’ll wish you finished The first Time around, just to Have Those Bragging Rights as an OG Otaku. The Overall Story Line, Character Development, Action scenes is Pure Cosmic Gold. Top 20s in any 90s Anime Fans List. Gundam Wing Took The Franchise To a Much higher Height, The Franchise first Released in 1979, with tons of adaptions to the original: Gundam wing being The More polished version.

[Synopsis] The United Earth Sphere Alliance is a powerful military organization that has ruled over Earth and space colonies with an iron fist for several decades. When the colonies proclaimed their opposition to this, their leader was assassinated. Now, in the year After Colony 195, bitter colonial rebels have launched “Operation Meteor,” sending five powerful mobile suits to Earth for vengeance. Built out of virtually indestructible material called Gundanium Alloy, these “Gundams” begin an assault against the Alliance and its sub organization OZ.

One Gundam, whose pilot has taken the name of the slain colony leader Heero Yuy, is forced to make a crash landing into the ocean after an atmospheric battle against OZ’s ace pilot Zechs Marquise. Upon coming ashore, he is found by Relena Peacecraft, daughter of a peace-seeking politician, who witnesses Heero’s descent to Earth. Although neither of them realize it yet, this encounter will have a profound impact on both their lives, as well as those on Earth and in space colonies.

Gundam Wing enjoys a hefty helping of popularity in the eyes of western otaku alongside with its brother, Gundam SEED (whether this is a pro or not, is up to the viewer). Wing can owe its success to one of many things. It began its American broadcast just as anime was starting to peak to the next generation, a large and somewhat epic plot contrasting many simple episodic American cartoons or, Wing could simply owe its success to the bad assery of Wing Zero (say what you will – those wings trounce 90% of the Gundams made).

OutLaw Star (1998)

This anime is a rare piece of genius, across 26 episodes it ranges from light-hearted humour to dark philosophical questioning, with neither ever seeming out of place. The premise is a young man, Gene Starwind, and his friend and business partner Jim Hawking, who run a business best described as a jack-of-all-trades operation, including bounty hunting, bodyguard work, anything that will pay. At the arrival on their planet of Hilda, a mysterious outlaw who frees Melfina, an amnesiac girl, from the clutches of pirates, they get caught up in events far beyond their understanding, and Gene chooses to follow his dream of freedom as an outlaw, and to solve the mystery of Melfina and the Galactic Leyline that Hilda and the pirates were searching for.

The story itself moves at a decent pace, never too fast to keep up, yet in places does have the occaisional filler episode, which either serves to entertain in breaks in the serious plot, or to highlight a certain plot point. While the series would be no worse without them, they were entertaining and enjoyable, and the two that spring to mind both provide background information to the universe that wasn’t necessary, but still interesting to know. The universe is a wildly varied setting perfect for such an adventure, with a combination of science fiction technology and ancient eastern mysticism. The technology never gets in the way of the plot, and the mystic powers driving some events keep the show from becoming hardcore science fiction. Combined with Gene’s very down to earth way of dealing with the unknown, this mix keeps the plot moving rather than letting it get bogged down in pointless explanation. That’s not to say that nothing is explained, everything relevant to the plot is, but in an interesting way that doesn’t just becoming a drone of dull facts, technobabble and nonsense that can often be the downfall of science fiction.

Overall, this show is incredibly enjoyable and has something for everyone. It’s an adventure of the kind you used to dream of as a kid, yet it also asks what makes us human. It has it’s funny moments, and also it’s touching moments. It combines human (/alien/bio-mechanoid/machine/etc) drama with awesome space battles and gunfights, and even leaves this fan of explosions and lasers unsure which he enjoyed more. Watch it, you will not be disappointed.

Dragon Ball Z (1989)

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.

Brian Delaney

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