5 Great Anime from the 90’s

Hey everyone, it’s Kernook here, from The Demented Ferrets, and I’m here to bring you another anime post. I’d hesitate to call this a “top list”. Frankly, I think that does a grave disservice to all of the amazing anime that you can find from this particular decade.

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 There should be more to the medium of anime than top lists of series that dominated the billboard charts. Honestly, a “top ten” list is difficult to make because the 90’s were a treasure trove of anime to discover and love. Therefore, these are merely the suggestions of a humble anime fan.

Those of you who happen to be older anime fans like myself have likely heard of most of these. For those who haven’t, or for those who missed out on that decade entirely, I hope this list finds you well. 

Very Honorable Mention: Cowboy Bebop

So, you may be wondering; why isn’t this number 1 on the list. You’d be right for asking about that. This list isn’t in any particular order. The genres involved are so varied you can’t force them to compete. If we were discussing the space opera genre particularly, this would top that list.

Frankly put, it would smash out the other contenders by such a wide and far margin it would be astronomical. Let’s be real honest with ourselves here. It wouldn’t even be fair to the other candidates in the list. This series is that good, and no, that’s not hyperbole.

Here is the thing, I should not have to tell you to go watch Cowboy Bebop. If you don’t know that you need to watch this series, I can’t help you. The only reason this isn’t taking the number 1 spot is because I want to save that one. There are plenty of anime that may be lesser known to someone. This anime will never have need to fear getting buried by time. It’s a classic and always will be.

For the rest of you connoisseurs out there, if you just spit your drinks at the screen, I’ve done my job and gotten your attention. While I have that attention, make sure to follow me here or on medium for more content.

5. Master Keaton

This amazing anime was adapted from its manga counterpart by studio Madhouse, so you know you’re going to get wonderful animation quality here. The anime has a sub and a dub. It can also be a little hard to find these days, but it is worth your time.

Truth be told, I really do enjoy watching Master Keaton every now and then. It doesn’t feel too dated. There’s a real charm to this compelling series. It isn’t so centrally focused Keaton, but rather he feels as though he belongs in this wider world of character focused narratives.

Moreover, this is an intelligent series, and prides itself on showing off Keaton’s many skill sets. You’ll get a little taste of everything in this show, a little romance, a tiny sense of adventure, and a feeling that will leave you satisfied after the show concludes.

4. Martian Successor Nadesico

Now this one is a true sci-fi classic. Like many anime of this genre, you’re going to get strong characters and an awesome setting. Any anime fan of the 90’s will truly want to have this on their shelves.

To simplify the plot in the best way that I can, in the year 2196 it seems that planet Earth is in the middle of waging war with a race of aliens. These notorious invaders are called “Jovian Lizards” and the people of Earth see them as a well and true threat to mankind.

A company called Nergal gets the bright idea to design a space battleship, lovingly called the ND-001 Nadesico. This ship is built for war, and it is a powerhouse. There’s just one problem. The crew consists of the top civilian experts in their fields, these characters are total screw-balls. There’s some humor to find in that. 

It isn’t all fun and games though. These characters will have to face down a decent level of hardship. Like most mecha out there, you’re going to get decent battles and compelling sci-fi action. You’re also going to get some drama too.

3. Serial Experiments Lain

Okay, so now it’s time for something darker, edgier, and profoundly more confusing. Serial Experiments Lain isn’t exactly for the average popcorn anime viewer. It isn’t mindless in the slightest and it will expect a fair bit from you, the viewer.

This series is packed with subversive symbolism and darker themes about how technology can directly and indirectly impact society. Like its name suggests, it feels like a largely experimental show, rife with physiological horror elements that are sure to leave you unsettled. 

I wouldn’t say that the show is for everyone, far from it. This is for the sort of viewer that enjoys physiologically bent series, and the study of unsound minds. 

2. Initial D

Okay, this one is kind of a sleeper. We all knew that it would end up on this list, because you just can’t talk about 90’s anime as an adult without bringing it up. It’s a bit clunky by today’s standards too, and I wouldn’t fault you for asking me why I would put this series on this list. I’ll be honest, the CGI is absolutely awful by today’s standards. 

That being said, Initial D is all about street racing and the underground counter-culture that you find within that particular community. It’s bombastic at times, very slow paced and thoughtful during others.

Car fanatics will love this series for one distinct reason; the show gives accurate explanations about how cars need to be handled. There’s a real technical element here that makes me want to place the series on the list. It hasn’t aged the most gracefully, no…

However, it still stands out to me as an iconic 90’s anime that is worth your time to watch. This is particularly true if you like faced paced drag-racing.

1. Yu Yu Hakusho

Okay, shounen fans listen up, this one is for you. I don’t think I’m overstating the matter when I say point blank; this is one of the best shounen anime from its time… and dare I say it, all time. You’ll be hard pressed to find one that’s better. On par perhaps, more innovate surely, but not done better. 

Even if you watch nothing else from this show, at the very least sit through enough of the series to complete Season 2’s black tournament arc. Trust me, you’ll be glad that you did. This holds especially true if you’re a Naruto fan who praises the chunin exam arc in that series. 

Do not bypass Yu Yu Hakusho, just don’t it… it’s too fundamental of a series for any hard core shounen fan to ignore.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.

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5 thoughts on “5 Great Anime from the 90’s

  1. Very fascinating picks. Lain and Initial D are classics. YYH is a fun shonen work. You’re also one of the few bloggers to actually mention Master Keaton! I actually mentioned that anime in my last Top 7 list if you’re curious: https://iridiumeye.wordpress.com/2022/05/03/top-7-anime-that-discotek-should-rescue/

    Great 90s anime? I’d also say other great series from that decade would be (in no particular order) Outlaw Star, Shinesman, Kurogane Communication, Tenchi Muyo, Key the Metal Idol, and the original Hunter X Hunter to name a few. That’s not even counting movies.


    1. Oh yeah, if I was doing a top list, I’d end up needing to do at least a “top 20” or “top 30”. There are so many great shows of that particular decade. Even when you slice and dice out the logical ones, you still have off beaten path gems like 1995’s Oniisama e (Dear Brother). Beyond that, don’t even get me started on the sports anime of that decade. Trying to narrow that list down just doesn’t cut it unless you go into niche genres. Movies alone add at least five or six 5 off the top of my head.

      Master Keaton is 100% a series that should be saved and brought back to the limelight. I will check out that post for sure, because I’d love to see what other properties you’d have in mind. Old gems need to be reallocated and brought back from the dead. Otherwise the industry essentially mandates the requirement of exorbitant collector prices or flat out piracy… neither are good for the industry at large. In the age of streaming there’s no excuse not to have these series on a platform someplace.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t blame you since you could make a strong case for either. I never heard of Oniisama E before. Yeah, movies alone would make a list even more difficult since there are some great choices like Perfect Blue or multiple Ghibli works.

        Sure thing. That’s something I should rewatch and do a review for. The industry has changed and I wish they would salvage more series or movies out there. Very good point about the age of streaming.


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