A Detailed Guide to the Fascinating 90s Anime Aesthetic

7 mins read
90s anime aesthetic
By: Claire Backhouse/Flickr @All Rights Reserved 2021

‘Anime’ has become a term that almost everybody is familiar with, even if they don’t watch it personally. The 90s anime aesthetic is amongst some of the most popular ones in anime history. Most of the animes are adapted from various manga, basically a comic book or graphic novel produced in Japan.

90s anime aesthetic
By: theoracle5/Flickr @All Rights Reserved 2021

Anime is a style of animation that originates from Japan and has become popular worldwide attributed to its captivating animations and gripping storylines.

Anime is incredibly popular worldwide now.

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By: Antonio Tajuelo/Flickr @All Rights Reserved 2021

Some of the mainstream anime names that people are familiar with are ‘Naruto,’ ‘Dragon Ball-Z,’ ‘Haikyuu,’ ‘Death Note,’ ‘Pokemon,’ and many more. Anime has changed significantly with time as technology progressed, and it’s easy to see the stark difference between the anime today and the anime from the past decades.

One of the most famous anime aesthetics is from the animes of the 90s, which many arguably debate being better than the current styles. The 90s was the beginning of the rise of anime’s popularity worldwide, and many of the best animes came to be during this decade.

The 90s anime aesthetic: An era of timeless animes

The main factor people will attach to the 90s anime aesthetic is the nostalgia it ignites when you watch them. There’s a distinctive quality about them that the high production animes of the current generation can’t capture.

So, which animes encapsulate the 90s anime aesthetic in the best way and are still prevalent in this day and age?

Various genres were popularized in the 90s, especially the rise of cyberpunk, mecha, and space-oriented worlds. Many memorable characters, movies, and stories hold a special place even after the emergence of the fresh, polished anime of the current generation.

Sailor Moon (1992)

If you know anime, you’ll know Sailor Moon. It’s one of the most prominent names in the history of anime. It came out in the early 90s, and now more than 21 years later, it’s still enjoyed by many generations of anime lovers.

On the first look, this fantasy action-superheroine anime might give you the impression that it’s simply about cute girls dressed up in costumes, using their powers, and looking magically stunning while saving people.

Although upon watching the anime, you’ll realize how it highlights those female protagonists can be brave and strong without losing touch with their femininity.

It’s one of the timeless classics, and the anime background colors are in a gorgeous tinted pink, purple, and blues throughout the series. Sailor Moon captures the soft dreamy 90s anime aesthetic perfectly.

Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995)


This anime had a significant impact in the anime industry and has become a cult classic that many deem to be the best anime in existence.

It’s a story like no other before it. Neon Genesis Evangelion is filled with complex character arcs, giant robots, thrilling fight scenes, and an apocalyptic war atmosphere.

It’s one of the most popular mecha genre anime of the 90s, with thrilling action sequences and in-depth imagery of the brutal futuristic world. No other series can live up to its dark psychological nature.

Mobile Suit Gundam Wing (1995)

This groundbreaking anime series gave rise to the immense popularity of the Gundam franchise in the west and simultaneously the world. This is yet another mecha anime that is a part of the Gundam series.

Gundam Wing series became extremely popular in Japan upon its release. It’s set in a future century and features giant robots, which is a must in the mecha universe, and it focuses heavily on the war between earth and space colonies.

Dragon Ball (1995)

This anime has some of the most famous battle scenes of all time. It’s one of the longest-running franchises ever with many fascinating characters, epic battle showdowns, and a memorable protagonist.

If anybody’s new to anime and searches for the term on the internet, Dragon Ball will show up around the top. There have been many adaptations of the original series years after the original due to its immense popularity.

Dragon Ball undoubtedly consists of some of the best distinct character designs, excellent transformation arcs from the heroes, and pure nostalgia of the action-packed side of the 90s anime aesthetic.

Cowboy Bebop (1998)

A science-fiction anime combined with neo-noir, set in the distinct future with jazzy background tones and aesthetically pleasing work put into the animation, is nothing more than genius.

Cowboy Bebop is a 90s anime like no other that consists of bounty hunters who are just as funny as they are badass and a remarkable soundtrack. It’s one of the best in quality for story writing and art style.

Detective Conan [Case Closed] (1996)

This series is one of the most beloved ones from the 90s. The love for Detective Conan is shared by kids and adults alike.

Detective Conan is one of the most nostalgic 90s anime as it provides a perfect classic mystery-oriented detective anime. We follow an intelligent protagonist in solving many cases that are fast-paced and fun to track.

It’s one of the longest-running animes of all time, and it’s still ongoing!

The animation has changed since the beginning, but it still carries the remnants of a classic 90s anime aesthetic as it tries to stick to the original art style of the manga.

Pokémon (1997)

This is yet another timeless classic that many grew up watching through their childhood into adulthood.

Pokémon (short for pocket monsters) is an adventure fantasy anime and one of its kind with a fun, exciting plot and a bunch of incredible characters and pocket monsters to hold your attention.

Pokémon is another classic anime that is still ongoing with improved animation that tries to hold on to the 90s anime aesthetic while simultaneously incorporating modern viewers.

Throughout the series, we follow the life of a kid named Ash Ketchum towards his journey to becoming a Pokémon master.

Mixed genres, fresh stories, and a little something for everyone

Many current-generation viewers would skip out of watching old generation animes since they prefer higher quality animation.

While anime transformed a lot after the 00s, the 90s delivered some of the finest anime productions of all time based on the technology they had back then.

There was content available for everyone from new anime shows and movies for kids and adults despite what types of themes they preferred.

For when you’re looking for something light, fun, dreamy, and exciting

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By: Kanesue/Flickr @All Rights Reserved 2021

Do you sometimes feel like escaping into another world just for a couple of minutes?

A single episode of Pokémon, Sailor Moon, Digimon, and Detective Conan have you covered. If you’ve never given 90s anime a chance and you’re looking for something light-hearted, then these are some of the best options.

Digimon is often suspected to be a Pokémon-rip off. But save for similar themes, they’re both different in their own aspects.

Both Pokémon and Detective Conan are long-running series that held on for so long because of their fun, easy-going writing style and indefinite goal that keeps the narrative going for years and years without looking like a drag.

That’s also one of the things about 90s anime and the anime of this generation. The unique storylines gave room for such an opportunity to grow, which are rarely found currently.

For when you’re looking for something dark, heavily story-ridden, and action-focused

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By: Christian H./Flickr @All Rights Reserved 2021

There are so many categories to choose from, as the 90s were one of the best times for the growth of anime around the world.

The rise of cyberpunk, space-themed, apocalyptic world animes showed how quickly technology was developing worldwide.

You could spend hours browsing through episodes of Dragon Ball Z, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Gundam Wing, Cowboy bebop, Experimental Lain, and many others. These 90s anime were high in quality in their narrative and direction with unpredictable plots and incredible twists.

Imperfectness of the 90s anime aesthetic

If you start looking through the list of successful animes that came out in the 90s, it’ll take you a long time to go through all of that. The animes listed here are only some of the best ones that you’ll see throughout anime production since its beginning in the 1960s.

The 80s and 90s have similar art styles and aesthetics when we compare them, especially those in the late 80s and the early 90s.

The light saturation with toned-down colors, distinctive and constantly evolving art style, and something about the ‘imperfectness’ makes people love it so much even now. The hard work that went into every hand-drawn anime work of the 90s often makes people appreciate the shows and movies more.

People often believe that more work was put into the animes from the 90s than the work produced now. That’s a personal opinion, as some people always prefer the vintage classics over the new ones.

In conclusion, the 90s was a wild time for anime’s growth

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By: Amal FM/Flickr @All Rights Reserved 2021

Many other memorable animes were produced during that decade, such as Yu Yu Hakusho, Slam Dunk, One Piece, Rurouni Kenshin, and many more. Many of these series had a breakthrough in the west which introduced a wide variety of audiences to anime and manga.

Since many people prefer checking out the manga before watching an anime based on it, you can check out some of the fantastic bookstores in NYC and Columbia, where you might find some old mangas for sale in the comics section.

Some of the incredible anime movies produced during that period were Perfect Blue, Ocean Waves, Ghost in the Shell, and Princess Mononoke.

The imperfect yet gorgeous visuals and careful art style of the 90s anime aesthetic bring comfort like none other, and that’s why it’s still so popular in this day and age.

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