There are some that believe that the 90’s were the golden age of anime. While I’m not quite of that camp, many good series did emerge from the 90’s. DBZ, Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, Digimon, Pokemon, Evangelion, Yu Yu Hakusho, ect. It was the childhood of many anime fans as Japanese anime came westward with increasing vigor. However, much of what rose to the top was perhaps just what was widely visual at the time, leaving a number of underrated shows that we just as good waiting to be discovered.
Irresponsible Captain Tylor
Why this show never got the love it deserves, I may never know. However, Tylor takes on a similar comedy/cool sort of tone akin to a lighter version of Cowboy Bebop. It angles to make you laugh often, but it still has quite a few cool moments to it as well as you follow this mis-promoted ship captain.
Record of Lodoss War
For as steeped in fantasy and fiction as anime can be, it lacks a lot of classic fantasy settings and elements. However, Record of Lodoss War does fantasy well and perhaps the best of any anime series. War, drama, love, and politics are all present as you follow your classic adventurer party through its trials and tribulations.
This series gets off to a rough beginning. This is a shame because it thrives in its later episodes. However, some find it hard to get past the potential for a clichéd plot and the fact that it manifests early on in the series as a monster of the week sort of affair. However, there are deeper waters among the lengthy shallows.
His and Her Circumstances
A school romance between two rivals that eventually fall in love isn’t exactly the more original plot. Even in modern romance anime it is a well-beaten dead horse. However, what makes this otherwise clichéd anime well and truly a gem is that it goes beyond just high school. It gives you a glimpse at the life and love beyond it. Furthermore, you find that some of the characters are much different than what they seem. Emotionally wounded love interests are pretty standard, but it is rare to have one with a legit dark side, which was enjoyable.
Blue Gender is one of those series that people like once they watch, but forget about because it is getting quite old. It is one of those action series where it’s not quite shounen, but it packs a lot of action. It centers around humanity’s fight to take back Earth after being run off it by a race of insect-like aliens. It’s not as brutal as it could be, but it is not a “power of friendship” sort of action show either.
School drama anime series are a dime a dozen these days, and not many of them are actually very good. But this one, well, this one is what you want from a drama series. It follows a girl that goes to a prestigious all-girls school. However, she does not thrive there. Instead it is an onslaught of lies, jealousy, and deceit from those bitches. However, even among the bullying, dark family secrets start to come out as well, creating a perfect storm of drama. The story as a whole is told through letters to an old teacher that the main character refers to a as “Big Brother”. This one is a hell of a fun ride for those that like soap opera levels of drama.
There was a time in the 90’s when Escaflowne was actually somewhat popular. Although, during that time, it was also often confused with Evangelion. However, unlike Evangelion, this series has kind of faded from the memory of the anime hive mind. While it tried to meld mech and fantasy to varying effect, there are two things that Escaflowne excels in – building its world and its characters. The 90s were filled with boring worlds and clichéd characters with Escaflowne breaking the mold in each respect.
Now and Then, Here and Now
At a glance, this series doesn’t look like anything special. You imagine a boy fighting against the odds, perhaps for a girl he has some sort of immature crush on. However, what you get is much different. What you get is a world you can truly wallow in. The world created in this series is filled with horrors, much of them very depressing. That’s the real reason to watch.
Please Save My Earth
Like Gunbuster, sometimes the best anime series come in only six episodes. That is the case with Please Save My Earth, an anime that is perhaps the best sci-fi tragedy you will ever see. It tells the story of reincarnated researchers, now school kids, but once they were tasked with watching over Earth. You want to know what happened to them, but that doesn’t make it hit any less hard.
Fan service is looked upon very poorly these days, but it has always been in anime. However, it wasn’t so much fan service as it was just raunchy comedy. Golden Boy was the ultimate raunchy comedy of the 90’s, with almost all of its plot hinging on those jokes and situations.
Slayers has always had quite the cult following, but you don’t really even hear casual mention of it these days. As a mix of comedy and adventure, it has the potential to be great. Furthermore, it is a tale about sorcerers, though not as action-packed as other series like Fairy Tail. Slayers shows its age, but it is one of those series that can take you away on a fun adventure with it.
Flame of Recca
Think of Flame of Recca like Naruto before Naruto. It is a shounen series about unique ninjas where it follows the typical formula of fighting enemies and winning them over as friends in order to uncover your true power. In a different world, perhaps if it wasn’t overshadowed by Yu Yu Hakusho and other late 90’s series, this could have been a classic.
Are you a 90’s connoisseur and have more underrated gems from the age? Well, educate the younglings in the comments section below.