Top 10 Best Anime Series Of The 90s

Script Written by Briana Lawrence Dust off that VCR, because it’s time to go back to the 90s. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Anime Series of the 90s. For this list, we’ll be looking at the decade that really helped anime take off in the U.S. From network editing, to questionable dubs, and a certain robot named Tom, these are the hits that created a generation of fans. We’re basing our picks on Japanese release dates, as some of these didn’t make it overseas until after the 90s. We're also excluding One Piece, because it’s just too difficult to pinpoint when the series peaked. Special thanks to our user HockFin for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 Anime Series Of The 90s


Dust off that VCR, because it’s time to go back to the 90s. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Anime Series of the 90s.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the decade that really helped anime take off in the U.S. From network editing, to questionable dubs, and a certain robot named Tom, these are the hits that created a generation of fans. We’re basing our picks on Japanese release dates, as some of these didn’t make it overseas until after the 90s. We're also excluding One Piece, because it’s just too difficult to pinpoint when the series peaked.

#10: “Trigun” (1998)

There are two ways you were introduced to Johnny Yong Bosch in the 90s: him bemoaning the fact that he’s a frog in Power Rangers, or declaring Love and Peace as Vash the Stampede. Ah Vash, you loveable, doughnut eating goofball. It’s hard to believe that this guy has such a huge bounty on his head, especially since he always tries to take out his adversaries with non-lethal force. But we soon learn that when he does use force, you better move out of his way. We should’ve known that smile of his was hiding something.

#9: “Pokemon” (1997-)

There isn’t a single 90s kid who didn’t have the Pokemon theme memorized. The Pokerap, however, is another story. Technically, the adventure began on our Gameboys, but we were soon introduced to 10-year-old Ash Ketchum as he embarked on a journey to be the best...like no one ever was -- sorry, bad habit. The adventure is still going today, and we’ve far surpassed the 150 Pokemon that we were trying so desperately to capture. While it’s pretty safe to say this series peaked in the 90s, we still can’t help but come back to it from time to time.

#8: “Rurouni Kenshin” (1996-98)

Much like Vash the Stampede, Kenshin is a kind, loveable character who you really, really shouldn’t piss off. Behind that bright smile and calm demeanor, Kenshin is actually an infamous assassin who now wanders the countryside, protecting the innocents to make up for the murders he committed -- seriously, check out the OVAs if you wanna know how he got those scars. He’s so determined to not kill anyone that he uses a reverse-blade sword. Of course, there are people who try and test his patience, leading Kenshin to try and balance his new life with his old self.

#7: “Yu Yu Hakusho” (1992-95)

What do you do when your main character is killed after the opening credits? Get him to become a supernatural spirit-detective, of course. While Yusuke definitely isn’t detective material, he’s got a lot of heart and a rather interesting trick up his... finger? The series was a huge success in the states alongside the other popular titles of the time, and still manages to stand out with its charming, mismatched cast of characters, showstopping battles, and a few well-placed plot twists every now and then. Plus it’s a shonen jump series with no fillers! Go figure.

#6: “Sailor Moon” (1992-93)

In a time where female leads were scarce in our culture, Sailor Moon was one of the most influential ladies of the hour, and even came with an equally cool team of girls who kicked ass and wore heels while doing it. Arguably the most iconic magical girl series out there, this series paved the way for other magic anime ladies in the U.S. She could be a bit clumsy, but she always managed to work with her faults and stand tall to protect those she cared about. Whiny? Sure. But a damsel? Ha! You must have her mistaken for that tuxedo guy.

#5: “Great Teacher Onizuka” (1999-2000)

There’s no greater reward than teaching, after all, school girls are really cute. Disclaimer: WatchMojo does not agree with the views of certain anime protagonists. Case in point: Eikichi Onizuka, who decides to become a teacher because of the attractive high school girls. Much to our hero’s dismay, he gets stuck with a class of delinquents, but he ends up warming up to them. It also helps that he dislikes the condescending attitude of other school officials, which prompts him to try and be a good teacher. His methods may be questionable, but his big ol’ perverted heart is in the right place.

#4: “Berserk” (1997-98)

What looked to be your standard, violent, tough guy anime turned out to be one of the most gut-wrenching series of the 90s. The anime definitely gets points for the way it tells its story. We see how badass Guts is, then we flashback to see his development as a member of the band of the hawk. And then there’s...the ending. Let’s just say there’s a reason why Griffith is still one of the most hated anime characters out there. Though it’s been on a halt for decades, the 2016 continuation series will hopefully do this classic some justice.

#3: “Neon Genesis Evangelion” (1995-96)

You don’t watch Evangelion. You live it. Ask any anime fan and they’d tell you exactly when they experienced Eva. And if you happen to be part of the 1% who hasn’t gotten to know Shinji and why he needs to get in the damn robot, we’re pretty sure someone is going to strap you down and teach you the gospel of NGE. The series is a metaphor of sorts for Shinji growing up, complete with religious symbolism, a bunch of mecha, and that awkward teenage chemistry we all try our best to forget. Evangelion is an undisputed masterpiece.

#2: “Dragon Ball Z” (1989-96)

Sure, the series started in 89, but it really got going in the 90s. Let’s face it, this was THE action anime series of the 90s... even with its laughable edits. Even non-anime fans knew who Goku was, even if it was the generalization of him having a strong set of lungs from all that yelling. The series was less about finding the dragon balls, and more about rooting for your favorite Z-fighter, in earth shattering battles. Years later, we’re still rockin’ the dragon.

Before we get to our number one pick, here’s the honorable mentions we’d always rent out at the video store:

“Revolutionary Girl Utena” (1997)

“Slam Dunk” (1993-96)

“Golden Boy” (1995-96)

#1: “Cowboy Bebop” (1998-2003)

You always gotta start it off with Tank. Ah, Bebop, the perfect anime to introduce people to the medium and show them that anime was more than the mature rated stuff that aired on late night television. In a decade where anime was starting to make headway in the U.S., it was easy for people to label it as “weird,” but Bebop hit all the right notes with it’s fun characters, slick animation, phenomenal music, and a plot that was easy to get into. As stylish as it was entertaining, what else can we say but “See You Space Cowboy.”
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