Many modern anime are deeply indebted to the past, but some series take it a step further, actively acting as nostalgic time capsules – looking to the past to mine it for narrative ideas. As a result, the public has a surprising number of options when it comes to a new anime that either goes straight back to the 1990s or simply indulges in ideas and iconography from the decade.
While there is an endless array of anime series produced in the 90s, it is equally important to recognize current series that penetrate the depths of the past. It’s also worth noting that many of the new wave are great, not just picking on the audience’s nostalgic yearnings.
10/10 Hi Score Girl is a love letter to 90s gaming culture and young romance
Hello Score Girl is an anime praised for its accurate portrayal of gamer culture and the competitive arcade ecosystem that thrived in the 1990s. Hello Score Girl is clearly intended to appeal to gamers, or at least someone who has at least been to an arcade.
There is, however, a tender, innocent romance between awkward introverts at the heart of Hello Score Girl. Watching Haruo and Akira come out of their shells with iconic 90s gaming touchstones like Street Fighter II and splash house act as matchmakers.
9/10 Lupine The 3rd: Part 6 echoes classic stories and nostalgic ideas
Monkey Punch’s iconic thief series, Lupine the 3rd, has built up an impressive legacy over the course of more than 50 years. The latest chapter of the franchise, Lupine the 3rd: Part 6, his clock doesn’t literally turn back to the 1990s. However, the style of the stories told this season are very representative of the era gone by.
Lupine the 3rd prioritizes hard-boiled detective work and thrilling heists, but there’s a classic element that brings the vibe of Part 6. Some of the creative staff gathered for Lupine the 3rd: Part 6like Mamoru Oshii, are icons from the 90s and retain those sensibilities.
8/10 Erased travels back in time to stop a serial killer in his tracks
deleted is a compelling combination of a thrilling murder mystery and a supernatural tale of time travel. Satoru Fujinuma is endowed with a unique “Revival” ability that allows him to go back in time to avoid accidents.
This force takes unprecedented steps to rectify the past when the death of Satoru’s mother sends him 18 years back to 1988 to stop the work of a budding serial killer with ties to his mother. The stakes of Satoru’s mission are so tense that he often doesn’t get a chance to appreciate the nostalgic bliss of the late ’80s and early ’90s. deleted effectively immerses the audience in the time period.
7/10 Fruit basket is 90s bliss wrapped in a modern package
fruit basket fans have finally been able to properly experience this celebrated story with the 2019 anime reboot that appropriately adapts the entire manga. There is a playful quality in it fruit basket that feels like it belongs more in the simpler time period of the 1990s.
There’s nothing wrong with anime where characters turn into quirks under unusual circumstances, but it feels like the medium has more to say now. Tohru’s plight and her growing relationship with the Sohma family feels like a classic ’90s Shojo story, but fruit basket also literally takes place at the end of the nineties when it starts.
6/10 Uncle From Another World Undermines Isekai Anime With a Sega Fan Lost in the 90s
Uncle from another world is a postmodern twist on the isekai genre that recounts its fantastic adventures through YouTube videos in summary style. Takafumi picks up his uncle after waking up from a 17-year coma, but he discovers that this time was actually spent in a magical world.
Takafumi’s uncle moves in with him as he tries to acclimate to modern times and treat his cousin to stories from his other life. One of the nicest aspects of the series is that the uncle was a diehard Sega fan who is now saddened to see their failure as a first-party developer. He yearns for a Sega Saturn renaissance.
5/10 Tatami Time Machine Blues applies a retro slice of life’s aesthetic to decades-jumping sci-fi
Set within the same universe as The Tatami Galaxy and The night is short, keep walking girl, Tatami Time Machine Blues is a six-episode OVA that applies a comedic take on the complicated nature of time travel. When the air conditioner remote control breaks during a blistering heat wave, a confused time traveler from the future arrives.
These sweaty college students plan to use the time machine to repair their remote, but the team travels through time. Tatami Time Machine Blues doesn’t exclusively travel back to the 90s, but his traditional sense of humor and real-life antics feel in tune with the decade.
4/10 The 1990s are alive and kicking in Urusei Yatsura’s slapstick comedy and sexuality
Rumiko Takahashi’s alien harem slapstick comedy, Urusei Yassura, had a prolific run in the 1980s, but has since made a modern comeback in 2022 courtesy of David Production. It’s exciting for a whole new generation of audiences to fall in love with the rousing antics of extraterrestrial Lum as her “darling”, Ataru, awkwardly hits every woman in sight.
However, real chemistry develops between Lum and Ataru. While it’s not specifically a 90’s product, Urusei Yassura feels steeped in the past – like many of Rumiko Takahashi’s series – and there’s much of the DNA of the decade in comedy and fan service from Urusei Yassura.
3/10 JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean Embraces ’90s Iconography and Aesthetics
Hirohiko Araki’s JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is one of the most ambitious series of all time, and there’s still no end in sight, even after more than three decades of consistent storytelling. Stone Ocean heads to Florida with the series’ first female lead, Jolyne Cujoh. It is somewhat fitting that the very first issue of Stone OceanThe manga was set to be released on January 1, 2000, and would be Araki’s first post-90s series.
That said, the 90s are still alive and kicking in Stone Ocean‘s color palette, character designs and even his preoccupation with space. Stone Ocean‘s anime adaptation, although made in 2022, keeps these ’90s touchstones alive.
2/10 Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch From Mercury Reinvents Gundam for a New Era by Looking to the Past
There are dozens of eclectic mecha series that offer unique parts of the gundam universe. There is more focus on Universal Century stories, but Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury is the first main line gundam series in nearly a decade. The Witch of Mercury intentionally sheds the baggage of the prolific franchise with a new story intended to appeal to a younger audience.
The Witch of Mercury is a rarity gundam series to have a female protagonist, and the school-based setting also harks back to the 1990s. It almost feels like the Gundam version of Revolutionary Girl Utena, which is as 90s as you can get.
1/10 Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon is a modern Shonen series lost in the past
Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon is the modern sequel series to Rumiko Takahashi’s celebrated Shonen series, InuYasha. Yashahime follows Towa, Setsuna and Moroha, the descendants of InuYasha’s main characters, as they follow in their parents’ footsteps to fight demons and prevent the destruction of humanity.
InuYasha was from the 2000s, but the classic structure and emphasis on romance made it feel like a 90s anime. This energy is transferred in Yashahimewhich also feels atypical compared to other modern shonen series, but has much more in common with the episodic tales of the 90s.
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