13 Best 90s Aesthetic Anime to Watch, Ranked

Best 90s Aesthetic Anime
Image via VIZ Media/Discotek Media

Although modern anime shows are driven by quality animation and visually stunning action sequences, 90s anime are nostalgic, and many prefer to watch them over the current ones. There is an apparent reason for this—most modern anime shows rely too much on elevating the experience rather than addressing the storyline and paying attention to detail to the aesthetics.

That being said, the development isn’t as bad since many also prefer to watch the modern animated series as they don’t feel comfortable with old ones. If you’re one of the few anime viewers who enjoy watching 90s aesthetic anime, here are some of the best recommendations for you.

13. Bubblegum Crisis (1987-1991)

Bubblegum Crisis - 90s Aesthetic Anime
Image via AnimeEigo

Despite being an anime released in the late 1980s and having the aesthetics of the ’90s anime, it is way ahead of its time both in terms of concept and execution. The story takes place in 2032, and Tokyo has turned into Mega Tokyo filled with android servants known as “Boomers.”

With the new servants of humanity getting too strong to control, even the military and police couldn’t stop them entirely. Just when the world is on the brink of these Boomers’ control, four girls wearing power suits stand as the last hope for humanity. Who are they, and what purpose do they have to go against these strong androids?

12. Magic Knight Rayearth (1994-1995)

Magic Knight Rayearth - 90s Aesthetic Anime
Image via Discotek Media

Isekai anime shows were already pretty popular in the 90s, thanks to anime like Magic Knight Rayearth. The story follows three girls, Shidou, Ryuuzaki, and Hououji, three complete strangers who are brought together by fate and are transported to a mysterious world where they meet Master Mage Clef.

Apparently, the world is in chaos, and Clef has summoned them to save it from the High Priest Zagato. Reluctantly accepting the mission that was put in front of them, the girls embark on a journey to save the world of Cephiro. The anime is a perfect binge if you fancy the early 90s retro aesthetic and some excellent mecha action scenes.

11. Sailor Moon (1992-1993)

Sailor Moon - 90s Aesthetic Anime
Image via VIZ Media

Sailor Moon is the epitome of 90s anime aesthetic not just because of its seemingly nostalgic fantasy theme but also because the animation and character objectives play a significant role in it. The story revolves around a young girl named Usagi Tsukino, whose life turns upside down when she saves a cat from danger.

However, it was a pre-destined meeting, and Usagi learns that she is a Sailor Moon, a planetary guardian who is tasked with protecting Earth from Queen Beryl and her minions from the Dark Kingdom. Will she be able to perform her duties without fail?

10. Nadia: Secret of Bluewater (1990-1991)

Nadia: Secret of Bluewater - 90s Aesthetic Anime
Image via Sentai Filmworks

Nadia: Secret of Bluewater is a tricky anime that neither highlights a futuristic world nor displays the 90s nostalgic ambiance. Instead, it features a historical theme with a blend of adventure and science fiction, and it can easily be considered one of the few undervalued classics that go unnoticed by many anime fans.

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The story takes place in 1889, an era where the discoveries of technology have been taking a huge step, but a sinister enemy known as Gargoyle is obsessed with restoring the ruined Atlantean empire. However, Nadia, Jean Roque Lartigue, and Captain Nemo stand in their way as the saviors of humanity, but it will not be easy to defeat the terrifying enemy who will use any means to achieve his ambitions.

9. You’re Under Arrest (1996-1997)

You're Under Arrest - 90s Aesthetic Anime
Image via AnimeEigo

You’re Under Arrest is one of the best 90s anime we’ve seen that offers everything a viewer needs, whether glittering water animation that adds the old-school aesthetic or incredibly well-written characters.

The story follows two policewomen, Miyuki and Natsumi, who get off on a bad start as the latter is busted by the former for reckless driving. However, it turns out that Natsumi broke the rules to arrive faster to work, and they eventually learn about each other personalities, getting closer and chasing the perpetrators together.

8. Record of Lodoss War (1990-1991)

Record of Lodoss War - 90s Aesthetic Anime
Image via Funimation/Central Park Media

Despite not being one of those quality 90s anime shows, Record of Lososs War boasts exceptional content that hooks you up one way or another. The anime’s strongest point lies in the character development, the chemistry between them, and the sinister atmosphere.

Lodoss and its kingdoms have seen war for thousands of years due to several evil beings trying to plunge the world into darkness. Even though it achieved peace at last, unifying the lands across the nation to create a world free of conflicts, the war once again arrives in the form of an ancient witch who hopes to bring nothing but destruction. We follow a group of young, determined warriors led by Parn as they try to save their country.

7. The Vision of Escaflowne (1996)

The Vision of Escaflowne - 90s Aesthetic Anime
Image via Funimation/Bandai Entertainment

The ’90s were truly an excellent time for mecha anime series because we’ve plenty of masterpieces released in that decade, and The Vision of Escaflowne is certainly one in our eyes. While it very much gives you a feel of a 90s aesthetic, it also ensures to deliver in the rest of the aspects, and that is precisely why it is a favorite anime for many anime enthusiasts.

The story follows Hitomi, who is unexpectedly transported to a different world where mechanized battle suits are a general sight, and with her unique talent of fortune telling, she accompanies a boy named Van Fanel, who unfortunately couldn’t save his kingdom from the evil empire of Zaibach. With some new allies along the way, the due try to stop Zaibach from reviving the ancient empire.

6. Serial Experiments Lain (1998)

Serial Experiments Lain - 90s Aesthetic Anime
Image via Geneon Entertainment USA

There are anime series that simply exist to entertain the viewers, and there are others that stretch the boundaries of human imagination to limits, and Serial Experiments Lain falls into the latter category.

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When Lain Iwakura, a technophobe, receives an email from her recently passed friend, she opens it out of curiosity, only to enter a virtual world that turns her life upside down. Can she make the right choices that influence both the virtual and real worlds?

5. Revolutionary Girl Utena (1997)

Revolutionary Utena - 90s Aesthetic Anime
Image via Nozomi Entertainment/Central Park Media

The 90s fantasy anime series are nothing like these days because they are full of three-dimensional characters who show the life of individuals in a different light, and that’s a kind of aesthetic we loved during that decade.

The Revolutionary Girl Utena is the perfect example of that, which follows the story of Utena, who, after losing her parents, is consoled by a mysterious prince. The interaction leaves a deep impression on her, and following his promise, she attends Ootori Academy, where she unexpectedly enters the world of Duelists, who fight to become the Rose Bride. Despite boasting a bit of a complex plot, it is a beautiful anime you must watch.

4. Akira (1988)

Akira - 90s Aesthetic Anime
Image via Geneon Entertainment USA

Akira is a controversial retro anime of the 90s that is loved by many viewers, and its animation is surprisingly stunning for its time. Unless you’re very picky in terms of anime choices, Akira is definitely one of the best 90s aesthetic anime shows.

After a devastating catastrophe tears through Tokyo due to the outburst of an individual who couldn’t control his psychic powers, the city slowly changed into Neo-Tokyo. Nearly 30 years later, the city is no longer the same, with gangs and terrorism sprouting in every corner, but when another psychic individual reappears, everything becomes the least of their concerns.

3. Yu Yu Hakusho (1992)

Yu Yu Hakusho - 90s Aesthetic Anime
Image via Funimation/Fuji TV

To this day, Yu Yu Hakusho remains the greatest battle shonen anime of the 90s, and it doesn’t lose even if you compare it to modern anime shows. It has a typical 90s ambiance with a gloomy setting and plenty of exhilarating battles.

Yusuke Urameshi, a 14-year-old delinquent, never expected to sacrifice himself for others, yet he died while saving a young boy from a car accident. Moved by his selfless personality, the heir of the spirit realm, Koenma, provided him with another life, but Yusuke had to work as a Spirit Detective. Joining him are his ex-rival Kuwabara and two criminal demons, Hiei and Kurama, and they try to stop the evil forces with their newfound powers.

2. Princess Mononoke (1997)

Princess Mononoke - 90s Aesthetic Anime
Image via GKIDS

When it is from Hayao Miyazaki, the anime ought to become either a masterpiece or an underrated masterpiece, and Princess Mononoke falls into the former as it is pretty popular. The anime is a staple of Japanese cinema, and with its beautiful visuals, despite being released in the late 1990s, it truly feels mesmerizing to your eyes.

When an evil boar attacks Emishi village, the young prince Ashitaka puts his life on the line to kill it. However, before dying, the boar places a curse on Ashitaka’s arm, which slowly eats his life away. With the instruction of village elders, he travels westward in search of a cure. What follows is fate as he battles against the humans who desire the destruction of a sacred forest that houses many incredible beings.

1. Ghost in the Shell (1995)

Ghost in the Shell - 90s Aesthetic Anime
Image via Manga Entertainment/Kodansha

Ghost in the Shell has always been a pinnacle of futuristic stories in the anime medium, and regardless of how many years pass, it continues to do so. The reason is it has a unique dark sci-fi aesthetic that immediately puts the viewers in a trance as if they’re transported into the setting, and everything you’ve heard about the anime is true.

Set in 2029, the story follows Major Kusanagi, who tracks down a notorious hacker named Puppet Master, who hacks into the brains of cyber humans and confidential networks, leaving a trail of bodies everywhere he steps in. However, what awaits her is a tragic past, and the answers can only be found with Puppet Master.

Posted by
Hanumanth Reddy

Hanumanth is an enthusiastic author who enjoys writing about anime, movies, and TV shows and aims to share his optimistic views with his readers. His favorite franchise is Star Wars, and he aspires to be a Jedi in the future, but he vows not to fall on the dark side.