Are you into anime and/or manga? Sweet, then you’ll either find some new things to watch, or at least take a short jog down Memory Lane. Hell, maybe you’ll even decide to re-watch some of these classics (I know I will). Now, in the SUB vs DUB, I always choose subtitles, but I won’t judge you for liking English, or your local, dub. Each and every of these anime series deserved their spot on this list for various reasons, some of which will be my personal preferences, but don’t worry, you’ll love most of them still.
So, start up that DeLorean, kids, ’cause you’re about to see some top-shelf 90’s anime!
1. Yu Yu Hakusho (1992-95)
Enter spirit-detective Yusuke and his friends (or frenemies)! It’s been a while since I watched YuYu Hakusho, but from what I remember it all starts with the main character kicking the bucket in episode 1. It’s classic shounen anime with amazing supernatural battles, and a cast of great characters. I like to think of it as proto-Bleach, because that somehow makes sense to me. Go figure.
2. Pokemon (1997-)
Of course there would be Pokemon on this list! They’re everywhere these days, and you can only imagine how big their presence was in late 90’s. Everyone either hated or loved these little buggers, and who can blame them? The kids all wanted to be the very best, like no-one ever was, so they memorized all the names and attacks to look cool in school. Totally not me, though, nope, that was entirely someone else. Currently the franchise still stands strong, with 7 generations of Pokemon, different regions, a plethora of games, and, of course, hundreds of anime episodes. BTW, the most recent series is called “Pokemon Sun and Moon” in case you’d want to catch up at least on the new stuff.
3. Trigun (1998)
I remember my first Trigun episode (or 12, actually) like it was yesterday. My friend gave me a whole pack of CD’s filled with anime, and on one of them there was Trigun. “Man this kinda looks like crap” I thought to myself, but after the first episode I couldn’t wait to see more of Vash’s gun-slinging adventures! When you look at this goof, it’s hard to believe that someone like that has such a huge bounty on his head, but when he gets serious… oh boy. I literally just got goosebumps while. BRB, gonna watch me some Trigun (it’s on YouTube BTW, so, you’re welcome)!
4. Cowboy Bebop (1998-2003)
Another one of my favorites from my early weeb days. This anime is so good, it’ll make you forget you need to eat and sleep. All that stuff can wait, because if you hear the intro song “Tank!”, you as good as done doing productive stuff for today! Might as well get in the groove and watch your favorite crew of space bounty hunters be awesome again. And that iconic “See You Space Cowboy”, hnnng. Good times, good times!
5. Berserk (1997-98)
How about a dark fantasy anime with blood, gore and Guts? See what I did there? Yeah, the main protagonist’s name is Guts. It’s got outstanding fights with neat 90’s-looking animation, and if you asked me what it’s about, I wouldn’t be able to give you a short answer. And since I’ve never continued reading the manga after the anime was finished, I don’t know if the whole show was just a small taste of what’s to come, or something else. All I know is the anime freaking rocks and is worth watching if you’re okay with rivers of blood and mutilated bodies of people and demons. Give it a shot!
6. Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995-96)
Gotta be honest, I was hesitating about including NGE into this list, but it IS a classic, and a real visual treat for sure. You know what they say “you don’t watch Evangelion. You live it.” I couldn’t “live it”, and it became somewhat of a Justin Bieber of anime titles in early 2000’s, along with Elfen Lied, and Naruto. The truth is, there are too many different opinions on this show, and you should always form your own opinion, and not listen to some old fart on the Internet. Maybe NGE will become your favorite mecha title! All I can say is there’s no smoke without fire, so maybe I just don’t really get it, but Evangelion can definitely be called a 90’s masterpiece.
7. Dragon Ball Z (1989-96)
What’s there to say about Dragon Ball Z, except that it’s light-hearted when it needs to be, serious when things are going off-track, and inspiring, when Son Goku and his friends defeat seemingly the most invulnerable opponents in the whole Universe with the power scream! If it wasn’t for those filler episodes and intentionally dragged out scenes, due to the anime catching up to the source material (manga), DBZ would’ve been even better. And all these years later we got Dragon Ball Super, which start out slowly, but holy shit it’s good!
8. One Piece (1999-?)
Finally, my #1 pick, and coincidentally my most favorite anime of all time – One Piece. First of all, yes, I know it started kinda late in Japan (October ’99), and didn’t reach the States till 2002, but screw it, it’s technically still a 90’s anime! Also it’s not every day that I can talk about one of the crazies, most inspirational, action-packed, and tear-jerking masterpieces of all time. At this point the adventures of Luffy, Zoro, Nami and their Nakamas have been going on for 16 years and 800-something episodes! Yet with every arc, Eichiro Oda, this mad genius, somehow manages to outdo his past self. Pretty much all the characters are goofy, yet relatable; in fact, every single villain so far has gotten themselves a short flashback arc, making even the bloodthirstiest of bad guys more relatable; the bond of the Straw Hats’ friendship is something none of us will ever experience in real life; and holy shit, the world-building that Oda has done in these 16 years is just mind-numbing. In short, One Piece is one of those rare stories that you don’t want to stop, ever, and I freaking love it. Sorry for rambling. Now go watch some good anime!