Hello fellow kids and otakus! Uhm actually otaku just refers to Japanese people interested in anime, games, and other niches of that kind. Yeah yeah yeah, but you get the point.
If you’ve only watched new releases in your journey into anime, maybe you’re getting jaded with all the shows that have come out in this era and want something different. Well, you might want to give old anime a shot.
I know maybe it’s not your thing and the animation isn’t as refined as today’s standards but if you haven’t given it a shot yet, I highly recommend you give some of these classics a watch and they may surprise you. I mean, the fact that you clicked on the article must mean you’re at least somewhat interested right?
10. Dragon Ball Z (1989)
One of the OGs. Follow the pure-hearted Saiyan Goku and the rest of the Z fighters on their many battles to protect the earth and later on, the universe. This is a must-watch for any anime fan or at least fans of the Shonen genre as it defines a lot of the tropes and styles a lot of action anime still use today.
I know what you’re thinking. How dare I put Dragon Ball Z in the lowest spot on the list. Well, to be completely fair, it’s not even supposed to be on this list. Dragon Ball Z was released in 1989 so I just thought it fair to put it on the bottom to give the other anime which actually started in the 90s the spotlight.
I couldn’t just not include Dragon Ball Z though. Most of the show still aired in the 90s and it’s just such an iconic addition to the anime scene.
9. Rurouni Kenshin (1996)
Rurouni Kenshin follows the adventures of a legendary swordsman known as the Hitokiri Battousai (Hitokiri literally meaning “person slasher”). Well, a retired legendary swordsman to be more accurate.
Know going by the name Kenshin Himura, this deadly assassin has changed his ways and is trying to distance himself from his bloody past as much as he can. Kenshin even has a vow never to take a life again. Of course, a past like Kenshin’s is hard to run away from as he’ll soon come to learn.
This is a really deep and dark show and something I probably shouldn’t have been watching as a kid unsupervised. But meh, it’s great and I haven’t turned into a vicious killer yet so give this classic a try.
8. Initial D (1998)
As a guy who isn’t interested in cars (I guess they exist?), Takumi Fujiwara feels out of place whenever his friends talk in length about them. The reason for his disinterest in the subject is that he works as a delivery boy and so the subject of cars reminds him of his boring daily grind.
Unknown to everyone including Takumi however is that his years of driving have given him excellent driving skills. He’s even capable of keeping up and even beating a racer unintentionally with his out-of-date Toyota AE86 and earning himself the nickname of the White Ghost of Akina.
And thus his racing career begins.
Even if you’re unfamiliar with 90s anime, if you’re a frequent internet goer, you’ve probably encountered several Initial D memes where its soundtracks like “Deja Vu” or “Gas Gas Gas” have been placed on hilarious videos of things drifting or going fast. If you like the over-the-top and adrenaline-fueled vibes those songs bring, you’d love Initial D.
7. Slam Dunk (1994)
After being rejected by girls he liked 50 times in a row, the delinquent Hanamichi Sakuragi makes it his goal in high school to finally find himself a girlfriend.
An opportunity presents itself when a girl Haruko Akagi approaches him and asks him if he likes playing basketball. Simple-minded and desperate, Sakuragi says yes in the hopes of impressing the girl and making her like him. One little issue though: he hates basketball because the last girl who rejected him did so because she was in love with a basketball player.
Nonetheless, he gives basketball a shot and soon finds himself liking it and the bonds he makes with the sport.
Fans of modern sports anime like Haikyu!!, Kuroko’s Basketball and Free! should definitely watch this as it’s one of the anime that pioneered the genre and led it into what it is today.
Here’s some more info on the show if you find it interesting.
6. Hunter x Hunter (1999)
So, one day a father tells his son that he’s going out for some milk but never comes back. A tale as old as time as I’m sure you know.
Jokes aside, that is similar to how Hunter x Hunter goes. Gon Freecss’s father abandons him and Gon sets out to be a Hunter and figure out what led his father to do so. He teams up with other aspiring Hunters as they go on a journey that leads to their own personal goals.
Hunter x Hunter fans are actually pretty divided on whether or not a new viewer should watch either the 1999 or the 2011 version. Both of them have aspects that they do better than the other (such as the 1999 version having a better 1st arc while the 2011 version has superior animation and music). But it’s generally agreed upon that both are good shows and you should watch the other if you find one of them to be your jam.
5. Sailor Moon (1992)
Imagine Power Rangers but it’s girls with magical powers. If you can see it in your mind’s eye, you have a pretty good idea of what Sailor Moon is all about. Interested? Read on.
Usagi Tsukino is just your average middle school student going through life. That is until she rescues a mysterious cat from some boys who were harassing it.
The cat turns out to be a sentient cat who can talk and calls herself Luna. Luna reveals that evil forces from the Dark Kingdom are assaulting Earth and she gives Usagi a magical brooch that enables her to turn into Sailor Moon! The Pretty Guardian who Fights for Love and for Justice.
This is just the type of cheesy yet lovable kind of vibes that 90s anime had in spades. And if that’s what you’re into, Sailor Moon is what you’re looking for. The show also has a 2014 remake that might strike your fancy.
4. Mobile Suit Gundam Wing (1995)
The big papa of all mech anime. The show follows Heero Yuy, a young yet hardened Gundam pilot as he fights to take down OZ, a cruel organization responsible for the excessive abuse of the space colonies.
The plot is surprisingly complicated, you may think that it’s just about cool, flashy robots fighting themselves (don’t worry though, it has a lot of that). It has a lot of details about the rich lore of the Gundam universe as well as the complexities of its internal politics.
Maybe you’re not familiar with the anime, but I’ll be damned if you haven’t seen the numerous toys, games, and other products the franchise has put out. Not to mention the countless mech anime and manga that have risen in the show’s wake. This isn’t the first Gundam show, but it’s definitely responsible for its fame skyrocketing in the 90s anime scene up to today.
3. One Piece (1999)
Meet Monkey D. Luffy, a 17-year-old boy with dreams of fancy. And by that, I mean he wants to be a sea-fairing pirate in search of fame and fortune. Tell me you’ve never had that same exact dream one time in your life.
Luffy’s dream may not sound as crazy as far-fetched in his world as it seems though. The recent Pirate King’s death has revealed the existence of the greatest hidden treasure the world has yet to see: the One Piece and causes the spark that leads to the Grand Age of Pirates!
Generally considered as one of the greatest anime of all time, you’d have to travel far and wide to find an anime fan who hasn’t at least heard of One Piece. If such a person even exists… Hmm.
2. Cowboy Bebop (1998)
Cowboy Bebop is set in the year 2071 and centers around Spike Spiegel, a bounty hunter, and his ragtag group of friends aboard the Bebop (some of the members of his group initially being wanted criminals themselves).
Together they’ll travel across the stars while tracking down and catching an assorted cast of criminals in clever and unexpected ways.
The show’s iconic cast and plot have a really great significance to the anime community in that it was actually the bridge that introduced a lot of the west to the world of Japanese animations.
1. Pokémon (1997)
Okay, do I really have to explain this one? You MUST have heard of Pokémon right? The most successful anime franchise in existence, having over $110 billion in earnings, ring any bells?
Well, just in case people from parallel universes start coming over and getting into anime (I hope you come in peace btw), Pokémon is about finding and catching creatures called Pokémon. They’re basically the animals of that world (though there have been appearances of normal, non-Pokémon animals like fish in the earlier episodes).
These Pokémon can assist their owners in a number of ways but Ash Ketchum, the show’s protagonist, wants to become a Pokémon trainer who trains his Pokémon for battle. Yes, the premise does sound darker than it actually is. The show is very kid-friendly and fun and there’s just something really magical about it.
Curious about more 90s anime? Here’s another good one you can check out: Yu Yu Hakusho, an anime released in 1992.