All anime fans can tell you what series converted them. Which of the many series out there finally brought them to the fold.
Anime has been around in Japan as far back as 1917. It wasn't what it is today by any means, but it started earlier than many fans realize. It was the 1970s when Japanese animation really took on a form that's more akin to what we recognize as anime today.
Starting in and around the 1980s, anime became available to regions outside of Japan. The 1990s saw the likes of Dragon Ball Z, Pokémon, and Sailor Moon becoming popular across the globe. No doubt anime fills us with sweet nostalgia, particularly when specific titles are mentioned. So, let's take a look back at ten other retro anime that speak to our childhoods.
After a mysterious teenage boy appears and then vanishes before her, a high school student named Hitomi is transported to a planet called Gaea. There, she meets the aforesaid boy, Van. He is the heir to the fallen kingdom of Fanelia, which was ravaged by the Zaibach Empire. Until she can return home, Hitomi is caught between the war between Fanelia and Zaibach.
In 2000, Fox Kids aired an edited English version of this classic fantasy anime before it was canceled after ten episodes. YTV in Canada aired it in its entirety, though. The English dub reduced Hitomi's role and focused more on the action.
9 Samurai Troopers
After trying to conquer the world, the Demon Sovereign Arago was banished to the Nether World by Chaos. Now, Arago and his minions have risen to repeat what they failed to do long ago. And the only ones who can stop them are four mystical, armored heroes called the Samurai Troopers.
In the west, this show is better known by its title of Ronin Warriors. But the series started as Samurai Troopers back in Japan, and it aired between 1988 and 1989. Originally airing in syndication in America, the English dub eventually reran on the USA Network and Cartoon Network.
8 Monster Rancher
Genki Sakura — an avid fan of the Monster Rancher video games — wins a tournament where the prize is a rare CD that can unlock a unique monster. In using the disk, though, Genki is transported into a world similar to the one in the Monster Rancher games. Now with his new friends, Genki must defeat the tyrant Moo.
Based on the Tecmo video game franchise Monster Rancher (Monster Farm in Japan), this 1999 anime spawned 73 episodes. An English dub aired on Fox Kids and YTV in the U.S. and Canada respectively. Monster Rancher was one of several notable Pokémon "rip-offs."
7 Grimm's Fairy Tale Classics
In this animated anthology, classic European fairy tales and fables are reimagined and shared. Most episodes were self-contained but some were split up in multiple parts. Also, the stories used weren't limited to works of the Brothers Grimm either.
Fans of this series may not realize the show is an anime. It was adapted from two different series — Grimm Masterpiece Theater and its sequel New Grimm Masterpiece Theater. Saban Entertainment's English version Grimm's Fairy Tale Classics was broadcast on Nickelodeon, with some episodes reaching various home video releases under different names.
6 Samurai Pizza Cats
Little Tokyo (a.k.a. Edoropolis) — a modern, mechanized city that combines elements of both modern and feudal Japan — is populated by android cats. The city is led by a shōgun and his council, and they are constantly fending off the dastardly Kitsunezuka Koon-no-Kami. The fox is out to seize Little Tokyo. So, the city enlists the help of three cat ninjas — Yattarou, Pururun, and Sukashii — to help thwart the enemy's advances.
Originally known as Cat Ninja Legend Teyandee in Japan, Samurai Pizza Cats aired in U.S. syndication starting in 1991. The beloved, pop-culture laden English dub was produced by Saban Entertainment (Power Rangers). Today, both the Japanese and English versions are available on home video.
5 The Big O
After a major event causes everyone in Paradigm City to lose all their memories in the future, the city becomes a virtual police state. And the city's top negotiator Roger Smith constantly combats Alex Rosewater, a chairman looking to become Paradigm City's "god." To help him keep Paradigm City safe, Roger pilots a giant mecha called Big O.
This highly stylized, film noir-esque anime found an audience in the west through its airing on Cartoon Network. It was originally intended to run for 26 episodes in Japan, but low viewership reduced the number by half. However, its popularity overseas led to a second season co-produced by Cartoon Network.
4 Ranma 1/2
The Tendos are visited by old friend Genma Saotome and his son Ranma, who have returned from a training journey in China. To the Tendos' surprise, Genma and Ranma aren't who they imagined them to be. When splashed with cold water, Genma and Ranma become a panda and a red-haired teenage girl respectively. Warm water temporarily reverses the transformations. And to complicate matters, the Tendos' youngest daughter is betrothed to Ranma.
Ranma 1/2 never aired on American television largely due to its content; humorously depicted nudity was common in episodes. However, anime fans all recognize Ranma, which was a staple in brick and mortar video shops throughout the nineties.
3 Digimon: Digital Monsters
A group of random kids are transported to a digital world where creatures called Digimon roam freely. Each kid adopts their own Digimon, who in turn becomes their guardian. In this new world as well as their own, the children — the "DigiDestined" — work together to battle various wicked Digimon.
Like Pokémon, Digimon is based on a popular series of video games. Its anime adaptation found success on Fox Kids, but it never matched the popularity of Pokémon. Due to their similarities, the fandoms consider Digimon and Pokémon to be direct rivals. Starting in 2015, a series of films called Digimon Adventure tri. was released.
2 Cowboy Bebop
In the year 2071, a group of space bounty hunters travel aboard the spaceship Bebop. The crew is led by Spike Spiegel, a cavalier martial artist born on Mars. He's joined by Jet Black — a former cop who quit his force because he despised the corruption — and Faye Valentine, a woman who spent fifty-four years in suspended animation. In addition, there's young hacker Ed and her pet corgi Ein. Together, they all hunt the most dangerous and elusive criminals in the galaxy.
Shinichirō Watanabe's heralded anime initially didn't air in its entirety in Japan; many episodes were skipped. In the U.S. in 2001, Cowboy Bebop became the first anime aired during Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block. A live-action adaptation was announced in 2017, and it's slated to be streamed on Netflix.
1 Gundam Wing
In the future where five space colonies are being controlled by an organization on Earth, the colonies launch a plan to regain their freedom. Each colony independently sends Gundams — giant mecha made of Gundanium alloy — to their home planet. Each of the Gundams is piloted by a young man, and their shared objective now is to overthrow the Alliance.
Gundam Wing was the sixth installment in the long-running Gundam franchise. It may come as a surprise, but this anime wasn't entirely popular in its home country. Yet it did incredibly well overseas. The English dub especially enjoyed great success on Cartoon Network.