We all love anime, and there are so many to choose from, but 80s anime and 90s anime were truly a golden generation. Many of us older folk grew up on these 90s anime and many of them paved the way for the newer anime we enjoy today. 90s anime made anime an international phenomenon and brought so many amazing shows to televisions around the world. So we thought we would compile a list of the 10 BEST 80s anime and 90s anime for your enjoyment. This list is in no particular order, but let us know what you think!
Trigun – トライガン (1998)
Trigun follows the story of a wacky outlaw, Vash the Stampede, and his adventures as they pertain to two Bernadelli Insurance Society sisters, Meryl Stryfe and Milly Thompson. They follow around Vash trying to minimize the damage he does and it always ends in hilarity. The show is set in the future, but strangely looks like the Wild West. If you want to play a Trigun drinking game, drink every time Meryl and Milly say “Bernadelli Insurance Society.” It’s a lot.
Cowboy Bebop – カウボーイビバップ (1998)
Cowboy Bepop is a fantastical show set in the year 2071 which follows around a group of bounty hunters. If you haven’t seen this series, you’re probably not a real anime fan. It’s a great entry series for fans new to anime and the music, the visuals, the storyline, it’s all there. It can get super existential at times as well. Just check out this clip to see what I mean.
Princess Mononoke – もののけ姫 (1997)
OK, so anyone who has ever watched anime knows about Princess Mononoke, but this list wouldn’t be complete without it! A cinematic masterpiece by renowned writer and director, Hayao Miyazaki. Since you’ve probably already seen this movie like 100 times, here is the original Japanese trailer. There are no subtitles, so you better pay close attention!
Outlaw Star – 星方武侠アウトロースター (1998)
Outlaw Star is another 90s gem that manages to find a great balance between comedy and drama. Though some of the animation can be a little over the top, for the most part it’s extremely well done and highly entertaining. If you’re a fan of the show, maybe you’ve never seen this pilot episode…I know I hadn’t!
Sailor Moon – 美少女戦士セーラームーン (1991)
I know, I know. Everyone knows about Sailor Moon and everyone’s seen it and it was on American TV in English. But one of the great things about Sailor Moon is how accessible it made anime all those years ago! Sailor Moon is one of the most recognizable heroines around the world, and we salute her for it! Here is a video of her original transformation into Sailor Moon because, IT’S AWESOME!
Tenchi Muyo! – 天地無用! (1995)
You know we couldn’t complete this list without mentioning Tenchi Muyo! Tenchi Muyo! is the creator of the harem/romance/comedy genre and 20 years later the show is still producing new series with another installment set to come out this year! The episode above is the first episode of Tenchi Universe, a series made for television that is loosely based on the original OVA. Enjoy!
Fist of the North Star – 北斗の拳 (1984)
Maybe a bit of a more guilty pleasure, Hokuto No Ken was adapted from manga and eventually turned into multiple TV series, multiple movies, a video game, and even some spin-off series. While not the deepest or most artistic series out there, it’s one of the most popular series of all time. Also, the manga, TV show, and movies are all full of epic fight scenes that give it a place on this list. Check out this video for a fun compilation of Kenshiro’s best moves.
Maison Ikkoku – めぞん一刻 (1986)
Maison Ikkoku is easily one of the best character-driven anime out there. Another anime adopted from manga (aren’t they all?) Maison Ikkoku follows the romantic trials and tribulations of Yusaku Godai and offers the perfect balance of romance, comedy, and the human condition. Above is the first episode in its entirety, BUT there are no subs so I hope you’ve been keeping up with your studies!
Neon Genesis Evangelion – 新世紀エヴァンゲリオン (1995)
Evangelion has ended up being one of the most important anime series in history. Reaching far beyond the action, comedy, and fantasy of your average series, Evangelion is rife with religious imagery and has been credited with the deconstruction (and revival) of the mecha genre. Evangelion is a series you can (easily) read a lot into and some even say it mirrors the psychological breakdown of its producer, Hideaki Anno. Whatever your opinions, Evangelion is not a beginner’s anime by any means. Try watching Cowboy Bebop first and come back when you’re good and ready. Since it’s such a complicated series, we’ve decided to show this compilation clip of Evangelion set to Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, with Spanish subtitles. You’re welcome.
Akira – アキラ (1988)
So we really tried to stick to TV shows, but two movies jumped out as TOO important not to mention on this list. The first was Princess Mononoke, and the second is Akira. They fall on opposite ends of the spectrum with Akira being one of the most bloody, violent anime movies out there. That being said, it’s visually stunning from start to finish and was another huge influence in the anime community around the world. Set in the far future world of 2019 (ha!) you can watch the original Japanese trailer here.