Best 90s Anime to Watch for Every Genre

Best 90s Anime to Watch for Every Genre

by Daichi on Jun 04, 2022

Anime has grown in popularity over the years, touching many aspects of diverse genres, thanks in part to the classics. There's something for everyone, from entertaining adventure to cute rom-coms, gore horror, and even sports. In this post, we'll be ranking the top retro anime for each genre. 

Without further ado, let's get right into it.

Sport: Slamdunk 

Slam Dunk is considered the pioneer of sports anime. It's a classic from the 90s, including everything from the 90s anime aesthetic to the sports portrayal. 

The plot revolves around Sakuragi Hanamichi, a 16-year-old delinquent who despises basketball yet tries to play it to impress a lady. Even though he fails horribly, he manages to make the basketball team. We now follow him on a quest to become a great basketball player and hopefully end up with his crush, Haroko. 

Mystery: Detective Conan

Nothing beats a good mystery, and Detective Conan is one of the most intriguing anime from the 90s. Detective Conan is popularly known as the animated version of Sherlock Holmes, which has lasted nearly 1000 episodes and spawned many feature films.

It's easy to see why this series is still going strong; the content keeps coming! What began as a simple idea of a great investigator being reverted to a child by an unknown organization has grown into almost a thousand episodes featuring crimes, clues, and other outrageous antics. With so much content produced, everything can't be perfect, yet a lot of Detective Conan still holds up today.

Adventure: One Piece  

Another 90s anime with over a thousand episodes and still airing till today. Without question, One Piece is one of the greatest anime. Who would have thought a show about pirates would become one of the most popular anime series of all time?!

One Piece tells the narrative of pirates sailing the mysterious seas, with powerful foes and even more powerful protagonists searching for a treasure known as "One Piece." We join Luffy and his Straw-hat Pirate crew on their epic quest to find the One Piece and become the next pirate king.

Sci-Fi:  Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy Bebop is widely regarded as the best sci-fi anime of all time. Set in 2071, the story follows the charming Spike Spiegel and his eccentric crew of bounty hunters as they sweep the universe seeking outlaws under the supervision of the Inter Solar System Police.

Cowboy Bebop is a timeless masterpiece famed for its soundtrack, 90s nostalgia, and magnificent action sequences. They combined all of the elements necessary for a good Space Western with romance, comedy, suspense, drama, and crime to create a really exciting genre-defying anime.

Mecha: Neon Genesis Evangelion

Neon Genesis Evangelion is far more than your regular mecha show; Evangelion delved deep and dark with its themes on humanity's view of itself while sprinkling in some gripping action. 

The series features high-octane conflicts between powerful Angels and human-controlled massive robots known as Evangelions. Beyond the mecha action and heroic storylines, there's a complicated subtext of psychological drama that frequently leaves viewers with more questions than solutions, which is exactly what makes it intriguing. 

Psychological: Serial Experiments Lain

This series is one of the most well-known psychological anime from the '90s. It's a compelling series that doesn't shy away from confronting modern life, delving deeply into the dark side of technology and the philosophical and psychological issues that comes with it.

The series revolves around Lain, a middle school girl who recently became involved with the Wired, a dark form of the Internet. The Wired is a virtual reality world where humans and machines can interact, and Lain's connection leads to her discovering the horrifying truth about her identity.

Romance: His and Her Circumstances

Kare Kano depicts the story of two high school students who lived a lie-filled life, trying to be the ideal person for their motives. Their initial friendship blossoms into love as they are able to truly open up to one other. Unfortunately, life isn't so easy for them, as they confront numerous obstacles to be together. 

Kare Kano is a love story at its core. It's not that it lacks any other aspects outside romance, but it's the type of show where you become more involved with the heart than the witty side comments. 

Drama: Grave of The Fireflies

Grave of the Fireflies is many things: a masterpiece, a narrative of sibling bonding, a survival story, a struggle against the nasty side of human nature, and the result of war. 

Grave of the fireflies portrays the story of a 14-year-old Seita and his younger sister battling to survive during WWII, with their mother killed and their father away fighting with the Navy. 

Horror: Berserk

There have been other berserk adaptations, but the 1997 version is still the best in capturing the anime's dark, gritty, and horrific theme.

Berserk is not for the faint of heart, as it is filled with cynical representations of human misery. It follows Guts, a rejected young man who learns that he must kill to survive. There's a lot of bloodshed, dead bodies, and berserk. 

Supernatural/Magic: Sailor Moon  

I couldn't decide between Cardcaptor Sakura and Sailor Moon at first, as they're both my favorites in this category. However, after much deliberation and consideration, I placed Sailor Moon first.  

Sailor moon is undoubtedly the best Mahou shoujo/magical girl anime ever made. Sailor Moon and her spectacular squad of magic-wielding young women are still as popular as ever, with a slew of games, sequels, toys, and remakes released each year. Sailor moon is popular for its 90s anime aesthetic, cute characters, genuine friendships, and witty humor. 

Fantasy: Inuyasha 

It's safe to say that Inuyasha was a forerunner in the isekai subgenre. Despite the fact that the term "isekai" was not widely used at the time.

Inuyasha tells the story of Kagome, a modern-day Japanese schoolgirl who transported back in time to medieval Japan. There, she learns she's the reincarnation of a deceased priestess and is tasked with assisting a half-demon (Inuyasha) in recovering the pieces of an ultimate power jewel and fighting the evil demon Naraku.

Comedy: Great Teacher Onizuka 

Great Teacher Onizuka (often called GTO) is a classic comedy anime that pushes limits and subverts expectations with over-the-top jokes, making it one of the funniest looks into the education system ever imagined. The series follows Eikichi Onizuka, an ex-member of a motorcycle gang who is hell-bent on becoming the best schoolteacher of all time, even if it means risking his life.

Action: Dragon Ball Z

We all know that this list would be incomplete without mentioning the legendary Dragon Ball Z. Without a doubt, the Dragon Ball franchise has pushed the boundaries of anime in general. Overall, the show is simply iconic. The fact that it's still getting adaptations and a committed audience after 30 years says a lot.

Dragon Ball Z follows Son Goku as an adult as he defends the Earth against various enemies such as aliens, gods, and robots. The anime also touches the life of his son, Gohan, and adversaries Piccolo and Vegeta.

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