The 1990s was a phenomenal era for anime that gifted the community many iconic classics, capable of astonishing even the modern fans. Even with the current rise in popularity, quality, and quantity of Japanese animation, the older generation of anime watchers remains nostalgic for the shows that introduced them to the medium.
’90s anime maintained a distinctive charm unique to the decade while possessing a lot of cultural and historical importance to the industry. The trends of the past influenced the direction in which the medium was going by creating unconventional timeless classics, like Neon Genesis Evangelion and Trigun. The ’90s pushed the boundaries of the industry with their outstanding creativity, which explains why the decade is still dearly missed and fondly remembered.
10 The Unique And Memorable Character Designs
The ’90s grated the anime industry with myriads of well-rounded, complex, and striking iconic heroes. Not only did the characters of the decade feel real, but they also looked distinctively stylish. The ’90s anime was attentive to its aesthetic and stripd to represent the characters’ personalities through their clothes, hairstyles, and accessories.
Many classic anime protagonists were also older, and their age contributed to the detailed, unique, and well-developed look. Just one glance at the ’90s anime heroes’ costumes, like Spike Spiegel’s dapper suit from Cowboy Bebop or the intricate outfit of Lina Inverse from Slayerscan tell the audience a great deal about their personalities.
9 The Rise Of The Real Robots Genre
Giant robots were an iconic staple of the 90s anime landscape, and mecha fans still reminisce on the genre’s golden days. The super robot adventures were around for decades before the 90s, but only after the astounding success of the 1995’s Neon Genesis Evangelion did the mecha genre fully embrace its grimmer, more mature side.
The real or “organic” mecha shows followed more complex and sinister plots and focused on psychological themes instead of the jovial antics of their predecessors. The decade gifted mecha fans such fantastic shows as RahXephon and Mobile Fighter G Gundamwhich combined military science fiction with psychological drama.
8 The Birth Of Iconic Shows That Never Lost Their Relevance
The ’90s saw the emergence of many shows that were instantly considered timeless cult classics. And the sentiment only proved to be right over time, as the community members continue to praise and discuss shows like Sailor Moon and Rurouni Kenshin to this day.
The decade produced many memorable series that pushed the boundaries of entertainment and shaped the taste of current anime fans. Iconic shows from the ’90s are still regarded as essential to watch, as their masterful stories have the power to appeal to fans of every generation.
7 The Fans Didn’t Have To Wait For New Seasons
While the ’90s had their fair share of long-running shonen classics, such as Dragon Ball Z and Pokémon, the most beloved shows of the decade were self-contained, finished stories with concise plot lines. The currently popularized seasonal format wasn’t common back then, so most shows adapted a self-sufficient section of their source material or opted to create something completely original, like Cowboy Bebop and The Vision of Escaflowne.
The fans of ’90s anime knew that they’d have closure on their favorite stories and see the outcome of every adventure without waiting for the second season.
6 The Era Of Avant-Garde Original Video Animations
OVAs, or original video animations, thrived throughout the early ’90s, only to disappear into obscurity by the end of the decade. The short, self-contained anime format skyrocketed in popularity during the home video era, serving as a perfect middle ground between family-friendly TV anime and high-budget theatrical releases.
The OVAs didn’t have to please any audience or pursue a financial goal, which allows the creators to run wild with unique, experimental ideas. Unrestricted by censorship, the ’90s OVAs were violent and mature, gripping the fans with their gory imagery and controversial themes.
5 The Last Decade Of Cel Animation Produced Shows With Stunning Visuals
The distinctive ’90s aesthetic is an aspect of older anime that appeals to all generations of fans. Most current shows are animated digitally, which helps them achieve a cleaner look and produce thrilling action scenes with ease. Yet, the ’90s were the last decade when most series were animated by hand using cels.
The limitations of traditional animation inspired the artists to utilize unconventional techniques, like bold outlines and creative usage of lighting and shading in shows like Outlaw Star and Yu Yu Hakusho. The tasking and time-consuming process contributed to striking, distinguishing visuals that digital animation cannot replicate.
4 Repetitive Tropes Weren’t As Common
Many older anime fans dislike the current industry trends for their repetitive tropes, predictable plots, and recurrent themes. The most oversaturated modern genres, such as the popular isekai trend, have become formulaic and struggle to surprise the fans with original twists.
Even the character designers reuse the same unimaginative template to create all of their new heroes. Older classics never failed to innovate, tackling nonconformist ideas with passion and enthusiasm. The willingness to think out of the box could even turn a seemingly overdone plot into a unique masterpiece.
3 Late Night Series Experimented With Obscure Ideas
The overall interest in exploring darker, more mature themes led to the boom of experimental anime in the ’90s. The obscure, philosophical shows found their platform on late-night TV, where the censorship restrictions and the race for ratings were not prominent. The fans praised late-night shows for their unorthodox art styles and riveting themes, previously unseen in mainstream anime.
The weirdest shows of the decade, such as the surreal cyberpunk classic Serial Experiments Linepushed the boundaries of what was considered the norm at the time and even predicted future trends.
2 The Tender Closeness Of The Niche Community
Nowadays, the anime is at the peak of its popularity, and the number of new releases increases each year. Current high-budget hits, such as My Hero Academy and Attack on Titanare enjoyed even by people outside the community with no preexisting interest in anime.
With such an enormous choice of shows to watch, anyone can find a series that suits their specific taste. Yet, the vastness and variety of the current anime landscape makes the older fans nostalgic for the sense of a smaller, more intimate community, united by their interest in the exhilarating world of Japanese media.
1 ’90s Classics Will Always Be Special
For many, ’90s anime was groundbreaking for very personal, emotional reasons. It has a magical ability to capture grounded, mature struggles and soul-stirring sentiments that change its viewers’ outlook on life. The creators like Hideaki Anno of Evangelion and Satoshi Kon of Perfect Blue poured their hearts and souls into their works of art, raising timeless questions that stuck with their audience forever.
No matter how much one rewatches those eternal classics, they find something different and striking each time. And while every period has something unique to offer the audience, ’90s anime will always remain special to its fans.
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