When you see anime profile pictures or subtitled screenshots on social media, how do you know it’s from a 90s anime? You might have already noticed it yourself, but all it takes you is a single glance to recognize it. Here are the elements of 90s anime style that set it apart from earlier and later anime:
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90s Anime Character Design
When it comes to the 90s anime style, one thing that deserves special mention is the character designs. The characters are so diverse and cool that they hit you differently.
Just look at how the sailor guardians in Sailor Moon were designed. They use the charming fashion of the 90s, and it’s also a show where their casual outfits change.
However, their clothes still consistently stay true to their designs, not to mention their iconic sailor costumes!
Attention to Detail
The attention to detail in the 90s anime style is even more commendable. It’s no wonder why so many anime enthusiasts and otakus go crazy about the 90s backgrounds.
One example is Ghibli films. Ghibli Studio is one of the productions that create the most nostalgic and detailed art.
The retro color palette used in the 1990s creates such realistic animations that even simple actions like running appear elegant. This must be one of the reasons Slam Dunk is so popular, too. That is, aside from Hanamichi Sakuragi’s humor!
Hand Drawn Traditional Art
The attention to detail leads us to the next point: the anime style of the 1990s is traditional.
Yes, every frame of the 20-minute episode series and two-hour movies from the 90s was hand-drawn and hand-painted. Then, they use an analog to record it. This process is called cel animation.
One well-known example is Ghost in the Shell, where hand-drawn backgrounds are frequently used to create a setting and appear only briefly. However, all of the backdrops are, without a doubt, what you call true works of art.
Some of the Greatest 90s Anime Style
Even today, many 90s anime series are still popular. The majority of them were created during the peak of cel animation, and they have beautiful styles that make them well-deserving of their fame.
Here are some of the greatest anime series from the 90s:
One Piece (1999)
One Piece has more than a thousand episodes and it’s still ongoing. It follows Luffy and his pirate crew as they embark on adventures to follow their dreams.
It has come so far, and thanks to modern technology, we’re now served in high-definition quality. Furthermore, the animation has become smoother, and the character designs have improved significantly.
Trigun takes place on a fictitious planet where a “Humanoid Typhoon” named Vash the Stampede is constantly fleeing his bounty hunters. If you’ve been following the news about this anime, you’ve probably heard about its prequel series.
When comparing the styles of the same anime from different eras, you will notice a distinct difference. The first Trigun series has darker tones, reminiscent of the 1990s, whereas the new animation is brighter.
Cowboy Bebop (1998)
Cowboy Bebop is the best example of how to describe the “coolness” of the 90s anime style. Spike Spiegel, the main character who always manages to look cool no matter what, is a bounty hunter traveling in a spaceship with his crew.
The animation’s stronger contrasts did a good job of portraying his lazy and indifferent character.
Yu Yu Hakusho (1992)
Yu Yu Hakusho has a tournament trope that follows Yusuke and his team as they battle ghosts from another world. Even though this theme cut out adventures from the anime, it still became widely known.
It has a retro palette, dark tones, and genuine art that continues to captivate audiences today.
Princess Mononoke (1997)
As the anime that was supposed to be Miyazaki’s final work, Princess Mononoke definitely doesn’t disappoint. It’s an epic historical film with fantasy elements, as well as relevant characters, striking visuals, and a powerful message.
Considering that it’s a movie from Studio Ghibli, nothing is surprising about its top-notch animation.
You’ve probably heard of Yu-Gi-Oh before, either the game or the anime. It’s certainly one of the best card duel anime, but its animation isn’t that great.
Although the anime has its lore and the monsters were designed in a cool style, the series became even paler in comparison as animation design evolved.
Perfect Blue a Classic 90s Anime Style (1997)
Perfect Blue is a psychological thriller that has disturbing themes and graphic images that aren’t suitable for children. However, its storyline isn’t the only reason why it’s garnered so much attention.
The animation and characters are stunningly realistic, and it does an excellent job of depicting the scenes. It’s an especially important part of the anime because it tells the story of Mima, who’s suffering from paranoia.
Great Teacher Onizuka (1999)
Great Teacher Onizuka, abbreviated as GTO, follows the story of ex-gang member Onizuka and his teaching career. The protagonist has his philosophies and most often teaches life lessons to his students.
Aside from the moral and comedy of the anime, there are also the classic and unique expressions that Onizuka makes. Those are sure to crack you up!
Concluding 90s Anime Style
The 90s anime style is so distinct and appealing that it can be recognized at a glance. Regardless of how much anime has evolved and will continue to do so, it will always be iconic.
That is why so many series created during this time are still popular and well-liked today. It just has that nostalgic allure that will always entice you. If you’re in the mood for some more 90s TV or Movies info, why not check out our best 90s robot cartoons or