Updated on April 4, 1:54 p.m. (GMT+8): Improved relevancy.

The 1990s was a golden era for anime where some of the most iconic and beloved series in anime history were aired.

When anime enthusiasts discuss the best 90s anime, they often reminisce about a time when the industry was flourishing, where unforgettable characters and groundbreaking stories were created.

These anime are a testament to the enduring quality and impact of the medium, and they will forever hold a special place in the hearts of fans, both young and old.

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Whether you’re a seasoned anime enthusiast or new to the genre, these classics are worth revisiting or discovering for the first time.

In this article, we’ll take a trip down memory lane and explore a shortlist of the best 90s anime, each of which holds a special place in the hearts of fans worldwide.

13 of the best 90s anime you should watch

Sailor Moon (1992)

Sailor Moon is considered as one of the best 90s anime
Credit: Toei Animation

Sailor Moon is undoubtedly one of the best anime of the 90s. This magical girl series, led by the charming yet clumsy Usagi Tsukino, left an indelible mark on the anime landscape.

Its enduring appeal lies in its ability to introduce an entire generation to the magical girl genre, championing themes of friendship, love, and empowerment.

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With a strong ensemble of Sailor Guardians, it not only showcased exciting battles but also resonated with viewers by emphasizing the importance of unity and self-discovery.

This timeless classic remains a beloved staple, as its enchanting narrative and relatable characters continue to captivate hearts worldwide, making it a shining gem of the 90s anime era.

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Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995)

Neon Genesis Evangelion
Credit: Gainax

Neon Genesis Evangelion is hailed as one of the best anime of its era, and for good reason.

This mecha series, helmed by creator Hideaki Anno, is a profound and thought-provoking journey that reshaped the mecha genre.

Neon Genesis Evangelion - Evangelion Production Model-02
Credit: Bandai
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At its core, the series delves deep into the psychological struggles of its characters as they pilot giant robots to protect Earth from enigmatic Angels.

You’ll Evangelion for its intricate exploration of complex philosophical themes, coupled with a mysterious plot, and a cast of unforgettable characters. Its ability to delve into the depths of the human psyche and address profound questions about existence and identity ensures that it remains an iconic work in the annals of anime history.

Gundam Wing (1995)

The 5 mobile suits in Gundam Wing
Credit: Sunrise

Gundam Wing is another remarkable mecha anime from the 90s.

This mecha series from the iconic Gundam franchise captivated audiences with its politically charged narrative and solid character development.

It introduced viewers to a complex and morally ambiguous world of war, where young pilots operated powerful Mobile Suits.

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Gundam Wing is celebrated for its thought-provoking exploration of the consequences of war and the grey areas between right and wrong.

It was a game-changer in the mecha genre, offering a fresh perspective, presenting a web of political intrigue that continues to resonate with fans, making it a timeless classic of 90s anime.

Wing Gundam Zero HGAC 1/144 Model Kit
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Pokemon (1997)

Ash, Pikachu, Brock, and Misty in the first Pokémon anime
Credit: OLM

Pokemon is a cultural phenomenon that began in the late 90s and continues to captivate audiences worldwide.

Ash Ketchum’s journey to become a Pokemon Master, accompanied by his loyal Pikachu, became an iconic part of late 90s pop culture.

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The title pulled an entire generation into the world of Pokemon, fostering a sense of adventure, friendship, and endless possibilities.

The show’s enduring appeal and continued success highlight its impact, as it not only entertained but also inspired countless of viewers to embark on their own Pokemon adventures, making it an irreplaceable gem in the treasure trove of 90s anime.

Great Teacher Onizuka (1999)

Onizuka Eikichi as shown in Great Teacher Onizuka
Credit: Studio Pierrot

Great Teacher Onizuka’s unique blend of comedy and drama centers around the unconventional Onizuka Eikichi, a former gang member who takes on the role of a high school teacher.

His unorthodox teaching methods and heartwarming interactions with students resonate deeply with audiences.

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What makes this anime special is its ability to seamlessly blend humor and touching moments, offering a refreshing and authentic look at the power of education and mentorship.

The series’ message about personal growth and second chances strikes a chord with viewers, making Great Teacher Onizuka one of the best 90s anime.

Berserk (1997)

Guts the Black Swordsman in Berserk
Credit: Nippon TV

This dark and gritty series, based on Kentaro Miura’s iconic manga, tells the story of Guts, a lone mercenary wielding a massive sword in a brutal and unforgiving medieval world.

What sets Berserk apart is its uncompromising storytelling, exploring themes of ambition, betrayal, and the human condition.

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The series is celebrated for its visceral and intense battles, complex characters, and a gripping narrative that delves deep into the darker aspects of humanity.

Berserk has left an indelible mark on the world of anime, captivating fans with its profound storytelling and unforgettable characters.

Hunter x Hunter (1999)

Hunter x Hunter Hunter Exam arc
Credit: Madhouse

Hunter x Hunter is an action-packed anime that follows Gon Freecss as he embarks on a perilous journey to become a Hunter and find his long-lost father.

With its vast world-building, multifaceted characters, and intense battles, Hunter x Hunter will definitely keep you on the edge of your seat.

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The storytelling is riveting, and the adventures are filled with surprises and challenges, making it a standout in the 90s anime landscape.

It’s worth noting that a 2011 reboot of the series aimed to adapt the manga more accurately, garnering immense praise from both longtime fans and newcomers.

Furthermore, the news that the creator, Yoshihiro Togashi, is poised to resume the manga after a year of hiatus has reignited excitement among the devoted fan base.

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Detective Conan (1996)

Detective Conan
Credit: TMS Entertainment

Detective Conan, also known as Case Closed, tells the tale of Shinichi Kudo, a brilliant high school detective who, after being transformed into a child, continues to solve mysteries in his new form.

Its unique premise and complex mysteries have captivated viewers for decades. In fact, the series is still running, with the final episode on the horizon.

Creator Gosho Aoyama has indicated that the conclusion is nearly complete, which has generated immense anticipation among fans who have followed the adventures of Conan Edogawa for so long.

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Detective Conan has maintained its place as a beloved classic, thrilling audiences with its clever storytelling and unwavering dedication to the art of deduction.

This long-running series is celebrated for its mind-bending cases, making it an essential entry on the best 90s anime list.

Dragon Ball Z (1989)

Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot
Credit: Bandai Namco

Dragon Ball Z is an action-packed sequel to the original Dragon Ball series and remains a 90s classic.

With iconic battles, memorable characters like Goku and Vegeta, and an exploration of themes like heroism and redemption, it’s no wonder that Dragon Ball Z is often cited as one of the best anime of its time.

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The franchise has not only given birth to several spin-offs like Dragon Ball Super and a host of movies — and therefore continues to inspire new generations of fans.

A spin-off of the series, Dragon Ball Daima, debuts in 2024, promising to expand the enduring legacy of the Dragon Ball universe, ensuring its place in the pantheon of iconic 90s anime.

Yu Yu Hakusho (1992)

Yu Yu Hakusho is considered to be one of the best 90s anime
Credit: Studio Pierrot

Yu Yu Hakusho is a supernatural action series that follows Yusuke Urameshi, a teenage delinquent who is given a second chance at life as a Spirit Detective. Its gripping battles, memorable characters, and exploration of moral dilemmas have solidified its place as a beloved classic.

Fans of the series have even more reason to celebrate — a Netflix live-action adaptation premieres in December 2023. This adaptation promises to reintroduce the world of Yu Yu Hakusho to both longtime fans and newcomers, underscoring the lasting appeal of this iconic 90s anime.

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Rurouni Kenshin (1996)

Kenshin Himura in Rurouni Kenshin
Credit: Studio Gallop

This historical action series tells the compelling story of Kenshin Himura, a wandering swordsman who has vowed never to kill again.

It beautifully combines the art of samurai action with a deep narrative and character development. The complex themes of redemption and atonement are central to its enduring appeal.

In addition to its anime success, Rurouni Kenshin also made a mark with five live-action films, starting with the 2012 release.

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These films, including Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno and Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends, adapt the manga’s Kyoto arc.

Live-action films, Rurouni Kenshin: The Final and Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning, which premiered in 2021, expands the story’s cinematic legacy.

In July 2023, a second anime television series premiered, rekindling the saga’s appeal and bring it to a new generation of fans.

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Slam Dunk (1993)

Slam Dunk anime ending song wallpaper
Credit: Toei Animation

Slam Dunk follows the story of Hanamichi Sakuragi, a high school delinquent who discovers a talent for basketball.

The series has become renowned for its exhilarating basketball matches and the profound personal growth of its characters. It has the ability to transform the seemingly ordinary into something extraordinary, making it a classic in the sports genre.

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During the original manga and TV series run, Toei Animation produced four anime films from 1994 to 1995. These films, containing mostly new material not found in the manga, were a treat for fans.

The franchise’s legacy continued with the 2022 anime film, The First Slam Dunk reigniting the passion of fans while introducing this classic to a new generation.

One Piece (1999)

Monkey D. Luffy wallpaper HD from One Piece anime
Credit: Toei Animation

This masterpiece of an anime that set sail in 1999 is unequivocally one of the best anime of its generation, known for its enduring impact on the world of anime and pop culture.

Monkey D. Luffy and his spirited crew’s quest for the One Piece treasure is a tale brimming with epic battles, camaraderie, and tear-jerking moments.

The series has captured the hearts of fans worldwide with its imaginative world-building and storytelling that combines action, humor, and profound emotional depth.

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Credit: Toei Animation
One Piece watch order: How to watch the anime, movies, and OVAs in chronological order

Remarkably, both the anime and manga continue to be ongoing, promising to culminate in an epic conclusion anticipated for 2024 or 2025, making One Piece a truly legendary and long-lasting series.

2023 also marks the release of the highly anticipated One Piece Netflix live-action adaptation, bringing the world of pirates and adventure to a new audience.

The enduring appeal of One Piece remains as robust as ever, making it an indisputable classic from the 90s that continues to thrive in the present day.

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