Popular 90s Anime Movies list

15 Best 90s Anime Movies | 1990s Classic Anime Movies List

The saying “old is gold” holds true when it comes to the aesthetics and visual style of 90s anime movies. There is a unique vibe that these films carry, which has captivated anime enthusiasts for decades. The hand-drawn animation, distinct character designs, and attention to detail in the backgrounds all contribute to an unforgettable visual experience. While newer anime productions have advanced technologically but we still want that 90s anime art style. Let’s look at the world of the best retro 90s anime and explore why their aesthetic is still so sought after today.

Top 10 Best 90s Anime Movies

In the 90s, anime movies had a huge impact, retro anime movies became increasingly popular during these years, both in Japan and globally. These films contributed to anime’s growing appeal to Western audiences. Overall, the importance of anime films in the 1990s cannot be understated because they served to establish anime as a respectable and genuine art form and laid the foundation for the anime industry’s future success.

1. Grave of the Fireflies

grave of the fireflies 90s sad anime movie

This 1990s anime movie is the most beautiful and heart-wrenching movie to watch. Grave of the Fireflies is released in 1988. The story is about two brothers who try to live after a battle in Japan during World War II.

Although Grave of the Fireflies was not a commercial success upon its initial release, it has since become a beloved best 90s anime film now. Its influence on subsequent anime productions is significant, particularly in how it dealt with serious and mature themes.

  • Plot: Two brothers struggling to survive after WWII bombing in Japan
  • Theme: Anti-war, tragedy, survival
  • Rating: PG

2. Princess Mononoke

princess mononoke retro anime movie

Princess Mononoke is the most popular 90s anime and hands down one of my favorite r-rated anime movies. The story is about a prince named Ashitaka, who gets cursed while defending his village from a demon. In his search for a cure, he gets caught in a battle between humans and forest spirits.

This movie shows issues including the environment, industrialization, and our relationship with the natural world. One of Hayao Miyazaki’s greatest movies. Princess Mononoke’s art style is extremely amazing, with beautifully drawn settings with excellent character animation, and I highly recommend you watch it!

  • Plot: Prince cursed while defending village gets caught in human/forest spirit battle
  • Theme: Fantasy, mythology, nature vs industrialization
  • Rating: PG-13

3. Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie

street fighter II the animated 90s anime movie

Gamer boys and girls, we’re all familiar with Street Fighter as a retro 90s anime. Once upon a time, we used to play this game, but now as an otaku. This 90 retro anime movie’s plot is about the Street Fighter warriors as they face off against the evil M. Bison and his Shadaloo organization. With intense fight scenes and classic characters we played as a teenager, this movie will take you on a trip down memory lane. If you want to watch more there are five movies out there.

  • Plot: Street Fighter characters battle evil dictator M. Bison and his organization
  • Theme: Martial arts, action
  • Rating: PG-13

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4. Porco Rosso

porco rosso war 90s anime movie

Porco Rosso is one of the best 90s anime movies, with its retro aesthetic art style. Director Hayao Miyazaki’s love of aviation shines through in the film This 90s anime film tells the story of a former Italian World War I fighter pilot, Marco Pagot, who has been transformed into a pig as a result of a curse. Now known as Porco Rosso, he lives as a bounty hunter, chasing down air pirates in his red seaplane. Overall, “Porco Rosso” is a must-watch for anyone looking for a classic anime film that combines adventure, romance, and a touch of magic.

  • Plot: Italian WWI fighter pilot turned into a pig works as bounty hunter
  • Theme: Adventure, aviation, romance
  • Rating: PG

5. Samurai X: The Movie

samurai x the movie action 90 anime movie

Samurai X or Rurouni Kenshin this movie holds a special place in my list and there are live adaptation movies too I loved each and every one of them, the character Kenshin Himura has vowed that he will never kill again and now he travels the countryside as an adventurer. The theme of redemption, justice, and friendship provide depth to the story, while the animation and fight scenes are amazing. The movie is a perfect expression of the “Rurouni Kenshin” series and will certainly entertain both veterans and newcomers to the series. It is a must-see for everyone looking for the top anime films from the retro 90s animes.

  • Plot: Samurai vows to never kill again and travels as an adventurer
  • Theme: Action, redemption, friendship
  • Rating: R

6. Ushiro No Shoumen Daare

ushiro no shoumen daare sad 90s anime movie

Here we go another sad 90s war anime movie about a young first-grade girl named Kayoko family. The movie’s first half appears to be a slice-of-life anime that shows the daily activities of a normal Japanese home.

When the story becomes more and more focused on what is going to occur and how soon their peace will be disturbed, the sense of suspense increases. This is the time when you start to connect with the characters. The atmosphere then gradually begins to become darker. And yes there will be death but it never becomes overly graphic. This is one of the most underrated anime movies in my opinion.

  • Plot: Slice of life of a Japanese family disturbed by impending wartime tragedy
  • Theme: Family, tragedy, war drama
  • Rating: PG-13

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7. Spriggan (1998)

spriggan best 90 anime flim

Spriggan is the best 90s action anime movie created by Hiroshi Takashige and Ryoji Minagawa. The story follows the adventures of Yu Ominae, a young Spriggan agent who works for the ARCAM Corporation, a secret organization dedicated to protecting ancient artifacts from falling into the wrong hands. For me, the story is kinda mid but the fighting scenes and the art style are what carried this R-rated movie it is worth watching for one time.

  • Plot: Young agent protects ancient artifacts from falling into the wrong hands
  • Theme: Action, sci-fi
  • Rating: PG-13

8. Jungle Emperor Leo

jungle emperor leo 90s anime movie

Is this movie like Lion King? Yes, this is a family-friendly Japanese version of Lion King, Jungle Emperor Leo is a children’s movie if you are looking for some kind of action then this one is not for you, but it is a good 90s anime movie that you can enjoy.

Leo is a white lion cub, the son of the jungle emperor Panja. Leo is kind to other animals, a bad hunter, and afraid of jumping over crevices. This causes the prey and other animals to ridicule him and his father who likes humans. Koko, a female bird, is the only one who believes in Leo. Leo and all the other animals live on a fake island created by humans to save nature.

  • Plot: Lion cub shunned for kindness and lack of hunting skill
  • Theme: Family, friendship
  • Rating: G

9. Ghost in the Shell (1995)

ghost in the shell (1995)

One of the most popular classic anime movies which shows why it is one of the best. The film follows Major Motoko Kusanagi and her crew as they look into a legendary hacker known as the Puppet Master in a future world where cyborgs and hackers are common. It is a must-watch for any anime lover because of its art style, animation which is too good, and iconic music. It is a classic that shaped the Sci-Fi genre.

  • Plot: Cyborg agent investigates legendary hacker Puppet Master
  • Theme: Sci-fi, cyberpunk, action
  • Rating: R

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10. Prince Of Light – The Legend Of Ramayana

prince of light the legend of ramayana

This movie holds a special place because I am from a Hindu family living in India so when I was young I used to watch this movie on the tv channel, Prince of Light based on Indian history captures the heart of each and every character and the lovely bond of every character like Lord Rama and Lord Lakshmana brotherhood and the devotion of Hanuman ji for Rama, and the pure love and bonding between mother Sita and Rama is just perfect. It captures the saga beautifully and still no new generation animated movie matched the animation the connection and the simplicity of this movie. I highly suggest you watch this best 90s anime movie once.

The creative thinking, effect, and cultural significance of 90s Japanese anime movies and their lasting legacy. These films explored important topics that are still relevant today, improved anime as an art form, and introduced it to new audiences.

  • Plot: Mythological story of Lord Rama and his devotion to good
  • Theme: Fantasy, mythology, adventure
  • Rating: PG

Top 5 Best 90s Anime Movies: Honourable Mention

1. Slam Dunk

best 90s anime movies

Slam Dunk is an old 90s anime movie about the Shohoku High School basketball squad. Takehiko Inoue, the creator of the Slam Dunk manga, directed and wrote the film. The plot is based on Hanamichi Sakuragi, a troublemaker who joins the squad in order to impress a girl.

The story is relevant and interesting, combining comedy, drama, and intense on-court action. The animation is excellent, with fun action moments that will keep you hooked. The film stays loyal to the source material and maintains its roots. Overall, Slam Dunk is a must-see for sports anime and manga fans.

  • Plot: Troublemaking student joins basketball team to impress girl
  • Theme: Sports, comedy, drama
  • Rating: PG-13

2. Only Yesterday

old anime movies 90s

“Only Yesterday” is a beautiful Studio Ghibli 90s anime film that few people are aware of. It’s directed by Isao Takahata and isn’t like their other fantasy movies. It instead focuses on real-life scenarios. Taeko Okajima, a 27-year-old lady from Tokyo, travels on a vacation to the countryside.

During her journey, she reflects on her childhood hopes and memories. The movie shows how our past experiences shape who we are and the difficulties we face when attempting to move on. It’s a touching story about self-discovery and nostalgia that people of all ages can identify with.

  • Plot: Woman reflects on childhood memories during countryside vacation
  • Theme: Slice of life, drama, nostalgia
  • Rating: G

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3. Akira

90's anime movies

Akira, a 90s classic anime film, has left a long-lasting impression on the industry. The story follows Kaneda and Tetsuo, members of a biker gang, as they explore a world of psychic abilities and political games in a post-apocalyptic Neo-Tokyo following World War III. Even today, the amazing animation with rich backdrops and dynamic action scenes is outstanding. Power, corruption, and the consequences of ambition are all discussed in Akira.

It goes into the psychological and cultural effects of war and nuclear weapons, making it interesting for everyone. Its impact extends to following anime and Hollywood films, paving the path for the success of Japanese animation in the West. Akira is still relevant and impactful after 30 years. In summation, it is a timeless masterpiece that has captivated audiences all around the world.

  • Plot: Biker gang members get caught up in psychic abilities experiments
  • Theme: Sci-fi, action, psychological
  • Rating: R

4. Ninja Scroll

90s anime films

Ninja Scroll is a must-see anime movie from the 90s for fans of action and samurai. The plot revolves around Jubei, a talented traveling swordsman who battles terrible supernatural demon warriors. The animation is fantastic, with strong action that never stops being stunning.

It brought mature-themed animation to a larger audience and is a must-see for fans of history and gore. The impact of Ninja Scroll extends to succeeding in its position in anime history. Overall, with its magnificent animation and wonderful action, this securing and timeless classic continues to fascinate audiences.

  • Plot: Talented swordsman battles supernatural demon warriors
  • Theme: Action, samurai, horror
  • Rating: R

5. City Hunter: Bay City Wars

90s japanese anime movies

City Hunter: Bay City Wars is the best 90s anime movie that fans of the franchise will enjoy. It’s jam-packed with excitement and enjoyment, making it ideal for a good time! While it can’t match the brilliance of the TV series, it is still a great experience. The plot centers on a wealthy man’s new island resort in Tokyo Bay.

However, problems occur when terrorists gain power. Ryo Saeba and his companion Kaori come to the rescue! The animation is well-done, with unique character designs. Ryo Saeba is a likable character. This film is a must-see addition to City Hunter, bringing both fun action and comedy.

  • Plot: Ryo and Kaori fight terrorists taking over resort island
  • Theme: Action, comedy
  • Rating: PG-13

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