15 Best 90s Japanese Anime Movies

Nothing ever will replace a good old classic, despite new improvements. 90s japanese anime movies added a touch of beauty that, if you ask me, still is super amazing. Whether they are the most popular or the cult classics, there is a big variety of 90’s Japanese anime movies worth checking out. 

Let’s dive right in! Here are some of the Best 90s Japanese Anime Movies – 

Throwback to the Best Japanese 90s Anime Movies

15. Pokémon: Pikachu’s Vacation

90’s Japanese anime movies - Pokemon

It’s funny how the Pokémon franchise always ends up making the list. Pikachu’s Vacation was an introduction movie before “Mewtwo Strikes Back” which was released in the theatres. The movie is dreamy, with a ‘90s soft colour palette and a couple of catchy songs for the English dub, ‘Vacation’ and ‘Catch Me If You Can.’

Pikachu’s Vacation is cute but not very memorable. The plot is plain, but the action is compelling—and viewers get to witness the grumpy Charizard show tender feelings for the first time ever!

14. My Neighbors the Yamadas

90’s Japanese anime movies - My neighbors the yamada

If you want to get that good old feeling of ‘home,’ this movie should be your choice. “My Neighbors the Yamadas” may not seem complicated at first. It tells a wonderful and touching story with such brilliant simplicity.

According to Hisaichi Ishii manga, the Yamada family is searching for the way and the process of family interaction. Sometimes, they fail to get along and do their daily routines. The Yamadas continue to love each other and try to make each other happy.

The movie has simple themes. Its watercolour cartoon brings its unique touch of serenity and sentimentality. When it comes to that kind of anime movie, it’s pretty relaxing and takes you back to the old days. “My Neighbors the Yamadas” is a must-see film.

13. Spriggan

90’s Japanese anime movies - Spriggan

“Spriggan” is an action movie of the 90s with a dose of sci-fi, supernatural conspiracy and highly addictive effects on the viewers. Furthermore, it goes beyond political conspiracies and deep into the history of industrialization.

The storyline revolves around Yu Ominae, a member of the ARCAM paramilitary entities known as the Spriggans. The primary role of guards would be to defend prized artifacts, thus avoiding their landing in the wrong hands. This duty is summarized by the mandate from an ancient race that had previously been wiped out due to technological advancements.

When Yu decides to go out and explore a new relic, he puts his life up against a high risk from foreign entities. It is a thrill ride! The movie has military spying, mythology, and supernatural war. Overall, “Spriggan” is fun and fascinating. 

12. Pom Poko

Pom Poko

For the anime scene of the 1990s, Studio Ghibli made its name with the period that many refer to as its Golden Period. Following the success of Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata in the 80s, the duo made anime films in the 90s. These films also shocked audiences with their features.

One remarkable fact about this period is “Pom Poko,” which came in 1994. This movie is a fusion of a Tanuki family and Japan’s rapid urbanization. As cities are growing. Animals, such as Tanuki or raccoons, are fighting to protect their forests and wildlife from human projects.

The narrative is a tale of the struggle questioning whether the raccoons will manage to defeat the humans’ plans and save their lands or not. This movie received accolades and awards, so it’s a must-watch in the 90s anime movie lineup

11. Ghost in the Shell

90’s Japanese anime movies - Ghost in the shell

Going to the dark part, we can distinguish the Ghost in the Shell. Filmed against the setting of a cyberpunk future, “Ghost in the Shell” is a film based on the manga work of Masamune Shirow. It is a fan of the anime.

This tale is focused on Major Motoko Kusanagi. Kusanagi works for a governmental organization called Section 9 that employs a team of cyborg agents. She looks for a criminal, the Puppet Master. She finds herself in a twisted web of cyber warfare, politics, and deep personal questions.

 “Ghost in the Shell” has a melancholic music soundtrack, dark air and wonderful animation. Several live-action and animated movies were inspired by this iconic movie.

10. Ninja Scroll

Ninja Scroll

It’s gonna be bloody… it’s gonna be scream-a-thon. Strap yourselves in and get ready to fly back to feudal Japan with the legendary anime, “Ninja Scroll”! Let’s meet Jubei Kibagami, a lone warrior who wandered, his past full of shadows, and his master was nowhere to be found.

All though he manages to run away from the chaos, he ends up rescuing a female ninja, Kagero. He is sucked right back into the mess he tried to avoid. They confront not only their adversaries but also the difficulties that come their way.

“Ninja Scroll” is a treat for your eyes as it features fantasy ninja powers and a wealth of action scenes. The director didn’t censor mature topics such as blood, sexuality, or horror, which makes it an iconic 90s anime film for the anime fan.

9. Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade

90’s Japanese anime movies - Jin roh

What do you think would have happened if Germany had won World War II? Well, Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade shows us the alternate version of the infamous War and society’s predators. The film revolves around a traumatized Kazuki, a member of the special police tactical unit, who develops affection for a woman, only to find out that she is the sister of the terrorist he had witnessed taking his life via bombing.

The Wolf Brigade stands out from most anime because it is a political drama that takes its time. This noir has a fascist dystopia aspect and, makes us contemplate. It is very much relatable to the world we live in today. 

8. Roujin Z

90’s Japanese anime movies - Roujin Z

In the early 90s, “Roujin Z” remains a jewel of the past but turns out to be surprisingly ahead of its time. It discusses controversial issues like AI and technology. The genius behind Roujin Z is Katsuhiro Otomo, who is the mastermind behind the famous “Akira. “

The story is set in a futuristic Japan where the program of Project Z has presented the Z-001 AI-embedded bed to care for the old ones. Though others consider it to be a good thing, Haruko believes it’s something of a fad.

A sinister turn takes place when the old man becomes the test subject, and worries start to unravel. The movie goes deep into the themes of morality and the risks of relying on AI.

7. Kayoko’s Diary (Who’s Left Behind?)

Kayoko's Diary

Prepare yourself with a box of tissues since this film definitely will induce tears. “Kayoko’s Diary” is a soul-piercing anime movie. It’s the story of a girl- Kayoko Ebina, who was a survivor of the air raids that happened during World War II. It reveals the harsh truths of war’s consequences on the lives of people who have nothing to do with the conflict.

Kayoko is a fun-loving little girl, ready to shed a tear at the slightest upset. She steps up on her big sister role whenever she has to. In time, she starts to feel the full burden of the war in a world where peace is a thing of the past.

Although Japan has its due share of war-themed anime, “Who’s Left Behind” is a devastating but touching segment of this category. Thanks to Kayoko Ebina, we would never feel her absence on our list.

6. Only Yesterday

90’s Japanese anime movies - Only yesterday

Unlike other Ghibli films, ‘Only Yesterday’ isn’t fantasy. It’s a rather realistic and core-centred movie from Takahata. His movies affect you with sincere feelings that are outspoken but still subtle. The story is simple: Rosie leaves the city and returns to the place she grew up in. She remembers her childhood in the countryside.

He affects the viewer by taking you back to your memories. The movie has a way with you. It makes you think about the relationship between the past and the present, and how time seems to move. It seems like it was yesterday.

5. The End of Evangelion

90’s Japanese anime movies - The End of Evagelion

Next on the 90’s Japanese anime movie list is The End of Evangelion. The End of Evangelion is like the final episode of the first Neon Genesis Evangelion series. The movie occurs at the same time as the final two episodes of the television series and takes place inside the mind of Shinji Ikari.

This movie is epic and it’s still relevant to this day. All in all, apart from the fact that the film will make you use a few extra brain cells to understand what is going on. It’s the perfect conclusion, delivering chills and thrill, with a dash of emotions on the side.

4. Porco Rosso

Porco Rosso

“Porco Rosso” is a 1990s anime film with a special and superb setting and theme. It is set in the Adriatic Sea in World War I. It introduces Marco-Pagot, a skilled pilot. Now, a mystery curse has turned him into a pig. Now, he is known as the red pig.

Although he became a different man, Marco is still a determined hunter of bounties; he still travels and finishes all his tasks. Besides, his life gets a new dimension when the well-known Donald Curtis shoots him down, rejoicing in his victory.

This movie portrays the theme of war and side by also exploring love, loss, and the personal consequences of battle. It creates feelings of nostalgia for the golden era of aviation, as both romance and adventure are mixed.

“Porco Rosso” is one of the best movies of all, without a doubt. I must confess Hayao Miyazaki has done it again. 

3. Perfect Blue

Perfect Blue

The idea is that the whole anime is based on the popular J-pop idol group CHAM. Perfect Blue was sent to the big screen by the renowned Satoshi Kon. He is an anime movies director who is known for his diversely-themed films, In my honest opinion, this movie is one of the most exemplary 90s Japanese anime movies.

The novel’s plotline revolves around Mima Kirigoe, who was a former pop star and is now struggling to get back to acting. With all its difficulties, Mima starts to lose herself, discovering the bitter truth of the industry.

“Perfect Blue” brings out complex themes like psychological exploration and identity crisis. It makes us think which side is fantasy and which side is reality. Satoshi Kon’s storytelling style takes you deep inside Mima’s world, letting you experience one’s struggles more profoundly.

Starting at the Montreal premiere, it has won countless prizes all around the world and has become a must-watch 90s japanese anime movie.

2. Whisper of the Heart

Whiper heart

There is Ghibli again; I am not exaggerating when I say that with  Studio Ghibli movies we are left “speechless”. The 80s or the 90s – it doesn’t matter. Their spell is still there.

“Whisper of the Heart” is a classic trait of Ghibli movies. The main character is a young and smart girl. She is the focus of these dreams. She is surrounded by the world of fantasy. Though she has problems and self-discovery in her life. The purest of girls who exist.

The storyline follows Shizuku, who finds that Seiji Amasawa, a mysterious boy, has checked out every book she has from the library. She is curious about herself. So, she undertakes a journey of self-discovery. She wants to realize her ambitions and find her artistic talents.

Shizuku’s dreams, which are the essence of the story, make this film the highest-grossing 90s Japanese anime movie of that year.

1. Princess Mononoke

Princess Mononoke

Studio Ghibli’s “Princess Mononoke” is the best 90s japanese anime movie from them, no doubt. One mystery we can never solve is the real key behind Miyazaki and his crew’s talent, but we can witness their incredible magic.

The plot revolves around a young prince named Ashitaka, who gets possessed by a boar demon when he goes to save his village from it. Ashitaka sets out to find a cure and finds himself in a conflict between greedy humans and forest spirits led by Princess Mononoke.

He is learning the harm done by clear-cutting forests. He is also fighting to support the spirits of the forest while trying to overcome his curse.

Despite its violence, “Princess Mononoke” won many awards. It won Best Japanese Movie, Best Animation, and Japanese Movie Fans’ Choice. It’s a lovely picture that talks about issues that are still relevant to us nowadays, and thus, it’s a timeless masterpiece.


And with that, we conclude our list of Best 90s Japanese Anime Movies. Even though the list is dominated by Studio Ghibli, we have other gems of the 90s. So which one will you be watching tonight? What’s your favourite 90s anime movie? Let us know in the comments below. Click here for more anime movies recommendation.


Where can I watch anime for free?

You can watch anime for free on Crunchyroll.

Why was 90s anime so gory?

The creators made these shows with grown-ups in mind because, in the West, animated series were seen as for kids.

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