Hello from Japan! We hope you’re keeping safe, wherever you are in the world.
During these strange times, it can be fun to reminisce about simpler days when we could all focus on watching anime and plan for the upcoming summer anime and comic conventions without things being halted by frustrating viruses. I asked J-List’s awesome Twitter followers to show me their favorite nostalgic memories of anime from the 90s, and here are the results!
Post an image that will make us all feel nostalgic for the 90s. Anime is YuYu Hakusho. pic.twitter.com/IodFlxZ4Zx
— J-LIST (@jlist) April 19, 2020
The show that defined the 90s for many fans, including me, Evangelion was a bold story that blended cutting edge animation with dark psychological themes that echoed the depression creator Hideki Anno had been experiencing at the time. The 90s would never have been the same without Eva.
Besides calling millions of boys into the Mobile Suit Gundam universe, Gundam Wing can be credited with bringing many female fans into anime, thanks to its BL themes. Girls were debating whether between “Duo x Heero” or “Heero x Duo” for years afterward.
One of the most gorgeous anime series of the era, Cowboy Bebop is a legendary anime from the 90s.
More great moments from the original Ghost in the Shell: the origin of “bullet time” pic.twitter.com/hbnySL0Hy6
— J-LIST (@jlist) March 27, 2017
You know an anime is influential when it influences not only anime but mainstream Hollywood films as well. Mamoru Oishii’s dark reshaping of Shirow Masamune’s classic cyberpunk tale was absolutely amazing, and directly influenced The Matrix.
Being located “at the source” in Japan, J-List is usually well-positioned to take advantage of new trends in anime. But when Dragon Ball Z exploded in popularity around the world in the late 90s, it had already been off the air for several years in Japan, had its popularity had waned. As a result, there was no merchandise available for us to sell.
What if, instead of a Batmobile, Bruce Wayne had an awesome giant robot that was inspired by the terrifying monsters from H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu universe? And what if he had an android maid to help him? That’s what Big O basically is, and it’s awesome. It premiered in 1999, so it squeaks by in this list of anime from the 90s.
Where were you when you heard these words for the first time?
I had just gotten to Japan, teaching ESL. I had a student who was a closet otaku (you kept in the closet back then, in Japan). One day we both realized we loved Sailor Moon, and were happy to have found another fan. pic.twitter.com/7WfrHx0sdz
— Peter Payne (@JListPeter) August 29, 2019
Another anime series that changed the world, Sailor Moon managed to combine the magical girl and sentai fighting team genres into a series that both male and female fans could enjoy together. It also caused many girls to question their sexuality thanks to a certain pair of “cousins with benefits.”
Another long-running series we all love. Where did I put my old Gameboy?
The Slam Dunk manga and anime is so popular across Asia, there’s a famous train crossing in Kamakura that’s usually crowded with sightseers from South Korea, China, Taiwan and other countries. The show is arguably responsible for making basketball the most popular sport in China, where there are 300 million active players…a number equal to the entire population of the U.S.
When I first got to Gunma in 1991, I quickly learned the enjoyment of driving up to nearby Shibukawa, then taking the winding S-curves up to the top of Mt. Haruna, which were so much fun to drive. I learned later that this is what actual setting of Initial D.
I remember the first Christmas after Pokemon exploded in popularity, which was a very busy time for J-List, because we were the only shop on the Internet selling legitimate Pokemon plush toys, and not knockoffs from Taiwan.
While Cardcaptor Sakura would go on to become the more famous CLAMP anime, I personally loved Magical Knight Rayearth for being such a fun magical girl story. It also helped me raise my kids bilingually.
Another adorable anime from our past is Slayers!, which first aired in 1995. How old were you at the time?
While I’ll always be a fan of the original 1986 series, the Dirty Pair Flash reboot did have its moments.
Another big change to come from the 90s was the rise (heh) of hentai anime, which entered the mainstream with series like La Blue Girl. I remember stocking this on VHS in the early days of running J-List.
Bonus image: classic 90s arcades. If you miss these places, I’ve got good news for you: they still exist in Japan, and you can plan a visit next time you’re in Tokyo.
Want to brighten your room? We’ve got some outstanding new products for fans of Sei Shoujo, creator of Starless and Bible Black, and you can preorder them now. There’s nothing like “quarantine and chill” with one of these gorgeous ladies.