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It is time for the ‘5 Best 90s Anime’ feature as Deshi Geek‘s ‘Top 5’ saga continues. The ‘Top 5’ segment saw a few articles on anime including 5 Best Upcoming Anime 2024, Best Upcoming Isekai Anime, and Best Upcoming Romance Anime. Now, I’m here to take you on a nostalgic journey to the era that both defined and popularized the anime industry.

90s Anime Traits That Reflect Cultural And Societal Trends Of The Era

90s anime often featured complex and multilayered storytelling that delved into deep philosophical, psychological, and existential themes. The 90s saw a wide range of genres and themes explored in anime, including mecha, magical girl, science fiction, and fantasy. My love for the very unique and diverse anime industry of that era prompted me to write about the ‘5 Best 90s Anime’.

Classic series like “Dragon Ball Z,” “Sailor Moon,” and “Ghost in the Shell” each offered a unique take on their respective genres. In comparison, contemporary anime continues to diversify with new genres emerging, such as Isekai and Slice-of-Life, catering to evolving audience preferences. In contrast, contemporary anime may focus more on straightforward storytelling and character development, catering to a wider audience.

Overall, while there are some differences in themes and storytelling between 90s anime and contemporary anime, both eras have produced a wealth of diverse and impactful series that continue to captivate audiences worldwide. Each era brings its own unique charm and innovation to the medium, contributing to the rich and dynamic landscape of anime storytelling. So, I saw fit to inform others about my picks of ‘5 Best 90s Anime’.

5 Best 90s Anime - Poster - Deshi Geek
5 Best 90s Anime – Poster – Deshi Geek

The Unique Aspects Of 90s Anime Shows

Gender Roles: In the 90s, a significant push was towards more progressive ideas about gender roles and female empowerment. This is reflected in many 90s anime series with strong female protagonists such as Usagi Tsukino from “Sailor Moon” and Motoko Kusanagi from “Ghost in the Shell.” These characters challenged traditional gender norms and embodied a sense of independence and agency that resonated with audiences.

Technology and Innovation: The 90s was a time of rapid technological advancements, and this is frequently reflected in anime and that’s why you should know about my picks of ‘5 Best 90s Anime’. Shows like “Neon Genesis Evangelion” and “Ghost in the Shell” explore themes of cybernetics, artificial intelligence, and the merging of humans with technology, reflecting society’s increasing reliance on and fascination with technology.

Urbanization and Modernization: As cities continued to grow and societies became more urbanized in the 90s, many anime depicted urban settings along with fantasy and futuristic themes which is evident in my ‘5 Best 90s Anime’ list. Shows like “Cowboy Bebop” and “Rurouni Kenshin” showcase a mix of modern and traditional elements, reflecting the tension between past and present, rural and urban lifestyles.

Cultural Identity and Globalization: In the 90s, there was a growing awareness of cultural diversity and greater exposure to global influences and I have highlighted that in my picks of the ‘5 Best 90s Anime’ list. Anime series like “Dragon Ball Z” and “Yu Yu Hakusho” incorporate elements of mythology and folklore from various cultures, reflecting a changing cultural landscape and a desire to explore diverse traditions and perspectives.

5 Best 90s Anime You Should Watch

Are you a fan of anime? If you’re looking for some great recommendations, I’ve got you covered. Today, I’m excited to share with you the 5 Best 90s Anime that you simply can’t miss. So, let’s dive right in and discover these amazing shows together!

Pokemon: The very first entry of the ‘5 Best 90s Anime’ is none other than Pokémon. The appeal of Pokémon lies in its engaging storytelling, memorable characters like Ash Ketchum, Pikachu, and Team Rocket, and the sense of adventure and discovery that comes with exploring the diverse Pokémon universe. The bond between trainers and their Pokémon, as well as themes of friendship, loyalty, and determination, resonate with fans of all ages.

Generations have fallen in love with Pokémon for its ability to spark imagination, foster a sense of community through trading and battling with friends, and offer endless opportunities for exploration and gameplay. The franchise’s iconic catchphrase “Gotta Catch ‘Em All” encapsulates the essence of the journey to collect and train different Pokémon species, appealing to completionists and collectors.

Whisper of the Heart: Whisper of the Heart takes the second spot on the ‘5 Best 90s Anime’ list. It is a charming and heartwarming coming-of-age anime film directed by Yoshifumi Kondo and produced by Studio Ghibli. The story follows a young girl named Shizuku Tsukishima, an aspiring writer who discovers a mysterious cat figurine at her local library. This discovery leads her on a journey of self-discovery, creativity, and first love.

The film beautifully captures the essence of adolescence, as Shizuku navigates the challenges of growing up, finding her passion, and pursuing her dreams. The gentle pacing and detailed character development make the viewer feel invested in Shizuku’s journey, rooting for her to overcome obstacles and reach her full potential.

Whisper of the Heart – Official Trailer

Princess Mononoke: The next title on the ‘5 Best 90s Anime’ list is another Studio Ghibli classic, Princess Mononoke. It follows the journey of Ashitaka, a young prince who becomes cursed. Seeking a cure, Ashitaka sets out on a quest that leads him to the heart of the conflict between the industrial town of Irontown, led by Lady Eboshi, and the guardians of the forest, including the enigmatic and fierce Princess Mononoke (San).

“Princess Mononoke” delves into complex and thought-provoking themes such as the relationship between humans and nature, the consequences of industrialization and greed, and the interconnectedness of all living beings. The film’s morally ambiguous characters, including Lady Eboshi and Jigo, challenge traditional notions of good and evil, presenting a nuanced portrayal of conflicting ideologies and motivations.

Princess Mononoke – Official Trailer

Dragon Ball Z: The fourth entry of the ‘5 Best 90s Anime’ list is arguably the most famous and most popular anime of all time. Dragon Ball Z is a groundbreaking anime series that has left a lasting impact on pop culture. Focusing on the adventures of Goku and his friends as they defend Earth from powerful foes, the show features intense battles, iconic transformations, and memorable characters that have resonated with viewers around the world.

The series combines elements of martial arts, science fiction, and fantasy to create a unique and engaging story that has stood the test of time. With its themes of friendship, determination, and the constant pursuit of strength, “Dragon Ball Z” has become a timeless classic that continues to inspire new generations of fans.

Berserk: Proudly taking the fifth spot on the ‘5 Best 90s Anime’ list is Berserk. Created by Kentaro Miura, it is a manga series known for its extreme violence, horror, and dark humor. It served as the source material for the popular anime adaptation. Not for the faint of heart or easily offended, Berserk is uncompromising in its depiction of brutality.

Berserk Original 1997 TV Trailer

The Timeless Classics Of The 90s

It was in the 1990s that anime reached its peak with several classics and iconic series that are still cherished by many fans even today. So, I had to include some more titles as honorable mentions apart from my list of ‘5 Best 90s Anime’. Among the best 90s Anime include:

1. “Neon Genesis Evangelion” (1995-1996) – A groundbreaking mecha series which explores psychological, identity, and existential themes. Sadly, this epic didn’t make it on my list of ‘5 Best 90s Anime’, but that doesn’t take anything away from it.

2. “Cowboy Bebop” (1998-1999) – A stylish space western series following the adventures of a group of bounty hunters in their spaceship Bebop. Another title that couldn’t get a spot in the ‘5 Best 90s Anime’ list but it’s a cult classic nonetheless.

3. “Slam Dunk” (1993-1996) – The pioneer of sports anime in my opinion. Some may disagree with Captain Tsubasa being the favorite of many.  However, the perfect blend of sports, drama, and cheeky humor in a Shonen setting is something that makes this anime stand apart from the rest of the genre. And, it is a shame Slam Dunk couldn’t take a spot on the ‘5 Best 90s Anime’ list.

4. “Sailor Moon” (1992-1997) – This is a magical girl show about Usagi Tsukino, who becomes Sailor Moon to fight evil forces as she goes on adventures. An epic for the ages but still didn’t get a spot on my list of ‘5 Best 90s Anime’.

5. “Ghost in the Shell” (1995)- A cyberpunk story revolving around artificial intelligence, consciousness, and identity in future times. This anime inspired the ‘Matrix’ trilogy and there can be no doubt about its impact on pop culture. Unfortunately, also not on the ‘5 Best 90s Anime’ list.

6. Yu Yu Hakusho (Yoshihiro Togashi, 92 – 95) – This supernatural action show features Yusuke Urameshi who used to be a bad schoolboy but later turned into a spirit detective. This classic recently got a live-action adaptation but I just couldn’t give it a spot on my ‘5 Best 90s Anime’ list.

7. Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Kenkaku Romantan (Watsuki Nobuhiro, 96 – 98) – This historical action follows Himura Kenshin’s life: he used to be an assassin and now he is roaming looking for redemption. I was torn apart for not including the most iconic anime of all time (arguably) on the ‘5 Best 90s Anime’ list but just couldn’t help it with the picked titles being the best for me.

These are but some examples of great anime from the 90s.

5 Best 90s Anime - Visual - Deshi Geek
5 Best 90s Anime – Visual – Deshi Geek

Inherent Qualities That Define The 5 Best 90s Anime

The art style of 90s anime typically featured hand-drawn animation with detailed backgrounds and intricate character designs which is evident in the titles of my ‘5 Best 90s Anime’ list. The use of vibrant colors and dynamic action sequences was also a hallmark of the era.

In contrast, contemporary anime often incorporates computer-generated imagery (CGI) and digital animation techniques, leading to smoother animation and more visually stunning effects. It creates an environment for a more eye-catching and mature experience. However, that rustic yet radiant touch of 90s anime is dearly missed.

Overall, characters in 90s anime series often embody the values, concerns, and aspirations of the time, offering a window into the cultural and societal trends of that era and I tried to feature that with my picks of ‘5 Best 90s Anime’. These characters continue to resonate with audiences today, serving as enduring symbols of a dynamic and transformative period in anime history.


Literature is a luxury; fiction is a necessity.

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