The 1990s was a great era for anime. From Sailor Moon to Ghost in the Shell, Dragon Ball Z to Neon Genesis Evangelion, Pokémon to Cowboy Bebop and beyond, many iconic anime favorites sprung from this decade and continue to resonate with fans today.
Unfortunately, not every anime to debut in the 1990s was a ground-breaking addition to the ever-expanding world of animated magic girls, child heroes, and mecha suits. Hindered by poor dubs, forgettable characters, dull storylines, and uninspired artwork, some anime is best left in the past. Here we look at the 10 anime which are far from the decade's finest offerings, according to IMDb ratings.
10 Ninja Resurrection (5.0)
This 1997 OVA could have provided an interesting insight into religion in Japanese society under the Tokugawa regime, based upon real historical events. Instead, history, plot, and characterization were dropped in favor of senseless violence and graphic gore which even the most hardcore lovers of bloody brutality may struggle to stomach.
When a man prophesized to become the next herald of Heaven turns to the forces of Hell, Jubei Yagyu sets off on a bloodthirsty rampage against good, evil, and everything in between. Despite initial appearances, this is definitely not a continuation of the beloved Ninja Scroll story, but instead an excuse to slaughter characters in every horrific swipe of the sword imaginable in an uninventive tale.
9 Eight Clouds Rising (4.9)
Despite being based on Natsumi Itsuki's award-winning shōjo manga, the anime adaptation of Eight Clouds Rising failed to recapture the series' magic. Following high school student and psychic, Kuraki Fuzuchi, and his friend, Takeo Nanachi, as they stumble into a supernatural world and uncover their past lives. Filled with mystic adventure, Japanese mythology, and shiny-eyed heroes, it had all of the ingredients for a winning anime.
However, the series feels very rushed, never giving us much time to get to know our heroes, and ends up feeling like an introduction to a wider world than a fulfilling, satisfying series. Combined with lackluster action sequences, it's a disappointing adaptation.
8 After School in the Teacher's Lounge (4.9)
Based upon Mieko Koide's romance manga, After School in the Teacher's Lounge explores the complicated budding relationship between two high school teachers: the hesitant Kawase Misuro and the adoring Kazama Toshiaki.
Everything about the series falls flat. The story is bland and predictable, following a mind-numbing plot filled with uninspired romantic clichés. The characters are shockingly boring with absolutely no development, and Kazama's persistent pursuing of Kawase feels uncomfortable at times. Topped off with unattractive artwork, questionable character designs, and a laughable score, the anime feels very dated, even for the 1990s. Fortunately, it's only a 2-episode series, which is more than long enough!
7 Akko's Secret (4.9)
Akko's Secret, or Himitsu no Akko-chan, is an incredibly influential franchise. Originally released as both a manga and an anime in the 1960s, it's a ground-breaking magic girl series that went on to inspire creators decades later. The young, childish Atsuko Kagami loves to collect mirrors. When she accidentally breaks her favorite mirror and buries it out of respect, the Queen of the Mirror Kingdom gifts her a magical mirror which gives Akko the power to transform into anything she wants.
The original '60s series was a phenomenal success in Japan, spawning various animated and live-action spin-offs. But this entry from 1998 failed to recapture the magic of the original, earning such a low rating.
6 Sailor Victory (4.8)
A follow-up to 1993's Graduation, Sailor Victory was an unusual return to the schoolgirl characters previously introduced at Seika Girls High School. Departing from the slice-of-life school drama, Sailor Victory is a mecha-inspired comedy-adventure.
When the small town of Mikado is disrupted by a crime wave led by the wicked Margarita, her army of robots, and disposable group of petty criminals, the five leading friends from Graduation unite as a superhero group, taking on the villains with the help of giant ninja robots. While it's an inventive approach to a sequel, there are far better superheroine groups with well-developed, more likeable heroes on offer from the 1990s.
5 Super Doll Licca-chan (4.6)
Looking at Super Doll Licca-chan's synopsis, it sounds like a fun idea filled with potential for adventure. Unfortunately, watching the series is a different tale. Licca discovers she is the princess of the Doll Kingdom, plunging her into a world of danger as the evil Dr Scarecrow tries to seize her throne. As means of protection, Licca's grandmother gifts her a set of dolls who transform into life-size Doll Knights when needed.
Unfortunately, Super Doll Licca-chan soon becomes formulaic. Combined with the dull, one-dimensional characters, interest quickly wanes. What could have been an inventive, family-friendly series offers nothing original, making it a forgettable addition to the '90s magic girl roster.
4 Ninja Cadets! (4.1)
When a war breaks out between the Byakuro clan and the Kabusu clan in Japan's feudal period, a powerful, loyal ninja escapes with the Byakuro clan's princess to protect her from the Kabusu. Years later, a group of young ninjas are tasked with infiltrating the Kabusu and retreiving a sacred scroll to complete their training, facing dark magic and deadly foes. Amongst these ninja cadets is the Byakuro princess.
Ninja Cadets! is a jarring amalgamation of adorable teenage ninjas and brutal violence, making it difficult to know who exactly this anime is aimed towards. Worst of all, it's a completely average series, easily lost amongst the much better offerings of the era.
3 Pia Carrot e Youkoso! 2 DX (3.6)
A more family-friendly retelling of hentai series, Pia Carrot e Youkoso!! and its sequel, this anime follows the same story as its predecessors, stripping out the overly sexualized content. Looking for a part-time job, Kouji applies to the restaurant Pia Carrot after seeing a cute girl outside.
He quickly learns that his annoying classmate Azusa also works there and struggles to come to terms with the fact they'll see each other almost every day. As the series progresses, it becomes clear that they might not hate each other as much as they originally thought. It's a very basic frenemies-turned-lover story with familiar beats and bland characters which makes it an instantly forgettable series.
2 Aah! Harimanada (3.2)
Based on a manga series, Aah! Harimanada grew into a popular franchise in Japan, even spawning a Sega video game. Entering the world of Sumo, Harimanada has little regard for tradition and the Sumo Association, delighting in causing a stir. Declaring that he will beat Futabayama's incredible run of 69 consecutive wins, vowing to retire if he fails, the arrogant wrestler must stand against the strongest Yokuzuna desperate to humiliate him.
There isn't much reasoning behind Harimanada's drive to achieve this goal or to antagonize the Sumo Association. Instead, the series features countless fight sequences, pitting flat characters against each other in predictable, repetitive matches, all drawn in an outdated art style.
1 Garzey's Wing (2.8)
Garzey's Wing is infamous for being one of the worst anime ever made, with the English dub being particularly painful viewing. With a nonsensical plot, the OVA sees a student named Chris Chiaki finding himself in a fantasy world, Byston Well, where he becomes a legendary warrior, despite having no skills or knowledge to make him a heroic warrior. All the while, another version of Chris lives on in the "real" world, and the two often have baffling discussions with each other.
While most entries in this list are best avoided, Garzey's Wing is worth watching with friends for the hilarious experience of watching this incoherent mess of an anime. It's almost impossible to believe that it came from the creative mind behind the Gundam series.