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Halex

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Best Animes From 1997 to 1999

These are the years when Anime start to explode and the classics, some still ongoing, were born. There has been good anime sporadically but now it starts to get consistently good every year. I only included the animes I have watched from over these years. I'm not including Sequels when quality declines or when the story started in previous years. I am including Sequels where it makes sense to keep watching, in order to complete the story.
1 One Piece

One Piece

One Piece - Watching Guide

This is an epic story of gigantic proportions that makes Lord of the Rings trilogy look like a short story in comparison, even so, you can watch the first 516 episodes in a flash and still feels fresh. A masterpiece in its own right!

What sets One Piece apart from other anime?

For me, the fact that each arc has something to say other than the regular fights & comedic relief, it talks about friendship, freedom, standing up for yourself. The level of emotion is intense, taking some of the characters to insanity due to despair. It talks even about the importance of history and the fact that is written by the victors. It makes an emphasis on the fact that you have to figure out things for yourself. This may also be a reason why some people don't like this anime as they cannot see what's beyond what is presented in front of their eyes. There are many layers and comparisons to our history and different cultures that you'll have to figure out on your own. Judging this show by its wacky characters and goofy powers is like judging a book by its cover!

Another reason is the way some seemingly unimportant characters and events come back again in later arcs, taking on a new light and explaining things at a different level. For example, a character that appears early for only a few seconds in an episode may be revealed to have a larger relevance to the story in further Arcs. I guess you'll have to experience it for yourself and decide on your own if you want to keep watching. I recommend you to watch at least to episode 43 before you make up your mind, as the anime starts slowly, but you can't really skip anything as it will be of importance in the future. In my opinion, it keeps getting better and better at least up to the time skip.

Follow the One Piece - Watching Guide

There are several dubs, some with heavy censorship, so it's better to watch the subs for the best experience, which is also superior in the quality of the voice actors. The Funimation & Netflix dubs are ok. See more information about this on the Watching Guide above.

2 Trigun

Trigun

Don't let Vash the Stampede fool you, because that is what he'll try to do for the first 4 episodes or so, you'll have to keep watching at least to episode 5 to realize is more to the story than what is being presented to you and I promise that this is a compelling story with contrasting values and opposing views of life. This anime tests your wits and will make you think about life as much as it has comedy and lots of action. This is definitely a must watch for all, especially sci-fi fans. The dub is ok, not great.

You may also want to follow with the movie Trigun: Badlands Rumble, this is an extra story and a stand-alone episode, better enjoyed at the end of the series.

The dub is great.

3 Now and Then, Here and There

Now and Then, Here and There

In my opinion, this is a masterpiece! Although is set in a sci-fi alternative dystopian world, the story is mostly about survival, defending your values and the ability to maintain hope, as long as your alive. In just 13th episodes the story unfolds with a great pace depicting the dark side of humanity in the time of war. This story is harsh. 

The dub is ok.

4 Berserk

Berserk

This may be the best Dark Fantasy Anime of all Time! It has 2 settings, a supernatural fantasy world depicted on the first episode and a Medieval Setting in the middle of a war, which is the setting of this Arc. 

Why should you watch? The story of this arc contrasts the best of humanity with the worst and it's not afraid to push the events to the extreme. How much would you be able to give in order to reach your dreams? is one of the main themes.

The manga is well known for its high-quality drawings & storytelling, making it impossible to adapt the anime with this high-quality drawings, even so, this anime is probably the best adaptation to date. 

There are also the Movies, which retell the story of this anime with better graphics but condenses the story due to time constraints missing some important events. I care more about the story than the graphics, so I rather recommend this anime over the movies, which you can watch later if you want.

Being Dark, Violent & Gory, this anime may not be for everyone, but you should give it a try.

"After finishing Berserk, I had to take a moment and reflect on what I had just experienced. To put it bluntly, this series is deep and complex, which is something that surprised me. I didn't expect that at all going into it. I suppose I wasn't sure what I expected. But subtle layers with timeless messages?

Without offering spoilers, the method in which this tragic tale is unfolded is itself a testament to storytelling. It is executed carefully and methodically, as is the development of the characters, whose motivations are easily real enough to draw empathy from any viewer. In fact, that's probably the aspect that astounded me the most; each character had solid reasoning for who they were and that made the tragedy's finality all the more sobering.

If you're hoping to watch Berserk to experience copious amounts of gore, you're missing the point. This is a story with a message. In fact, several messages. And the messages are as poignant as they are sobering.

tl;dr - Berserk is one of the best anime series ever made." -Phaxuji

The dub is excellent!

5 Berserk (2016)

Berserk (2016)

This is the continuation of the story, this time taking place in the supernatural setting. 

This anime has some of the worst graphics that you'll ever want to see, but unfortunately, this is the only adaptation of Berserk in 19 years. Even so, the story comes through and you'll forget the graphics soon enough.

The dub is good.

6 Berserk (2017)

Berserk (2017)

Continuation of the story.

7 Hunter x Hunter

Hunter x Hunter

There are many intelligent series out there, most of them portray smart characters and clever strategies that showcase their talents, but there are very few that attempt to make 'you' smarter and this anime succeeds as I have never seen in any other works, anime or other media. Right from the beginning, it gives you incredible insights into the way of thinking of each character and their observational skills that let them figure out what's going on around them, furthermore, it makes you interested in learning more yourself and in all circumstances it gives you a chance to figure out things for yourself, before giving you the answers, showing you how you can learn on your own just by carefully observing and thoroughly thinking out of the box.

While each arc has a clear goal to achieve, the overall theme of the series seems to be 'living life to the fullest', as it goes without aim just solving things as they are thrown in life, dealing with issues like how the people who love us are sometimes an impediment to reach our goals, natural vs. acquire abilities, the ability to make money and how that should not be an obstacle for living your life in your own terms, friendship, loyalty, etc, etc. In short, this is anime like no other and everyone can gain something valuable by watching this story.

Furthermore, the antagonists are very complex as even the 'good guys' would let a kid take the hunter exam, despite the fact they'll be risking their lives at every moment, some antagonists can be very likable, and you wouldn't believe the atrocities that have made in their past. So this is not an anime for kids as it depicts a cruel wild world as you see in nature, almost like you are either the hunter or the prey.

The 1999 version has more detail of the earlier events and it's better at giving you an insight into the character's observation skills and way of thinking, it focuses more in the puzzles and critical thinking, it also has a darker tone than the 2011 version which focuses more on the action, fun, and it's more kid-friendly. The 2011 version quickly recaps the first arcs, missing crucial insights that make the story shine, so I recommend you start with the 1999 version and subsequent OVAs, then jump to the 2011 version at Episode 75 (or Episode 54 if you skip the OVAs or you are watching the Dub). You won't be missing any major events if you decide just to watch the 2011 version and if you are not into dark animes then you may prefer this version (not that there is more gore or violence but rather the way the story is told).

The dub is great!

8 Hunter x Hunter OVA

Hunter x Hunter OVA

Sequel following Kurapika's story.

This anime deserves a Dub!

9 Hunter x Hunter OVA 2: Greed Island

Hunter x Hunter OVA 2: Greed Island

Continuation of the story.

10 Hunter x Hunter OVA 3: Greed Island Final

Hunter x Hunter OVA 3: Greed Island Final

Continuation of the story.

11 Hunter x Hunter (2011)

Hunter x Hunter (2011)

Continuation of the story. You should start watching from Episode 75.

However, both animes censor different things (contains spoilers) and present events slightly different, so you if you like the anime you may want to watch both in full.

12 Blue Gender

Blue Gender

This is an amazing story of survival within the 'wake up in a new world' theme. It contrasts our humanity with the feelings and actions of those who have grown up in the middle of a war and the ability we as humans have to adapt and survive.

The dub is ok, but it may be censored. I'm not sure if there is more than one dub. So I recommend you watch the sub.

13 Princess Mononoke

Princess Mononoke

Another great Studio Ghibli environmental movie. It's not the typical tale of good and evil, but rather it contrasts the need for growth and development with the need to preserve natural resources, in a way even a kid will understand. its a must watch for everyone.

The dub is excellent!

14 Great Teacher Onizuka

Great Teacher Onizuka

This is a fun and satirical anime that criticizes the teachers and the world of adults for labeling students and discarding them as 'bad apples'. 

Onizuka itself used to be the leader of a biker gang, his exploits are shown on Shonan Junai Gumi (although that OVA is not as good as this series), now he has become a teacher and is given the task to reform the worst class in school.

The Dub is ok, but I recommend you watch the Sub, which is better.

15 Infinite Ryvius

Infinite Ryvius

Another great survival anime, this time the protagonists are kids drifting in space and they'll have to survive without any guidance from adults. The anime is great at depicting what happens when we are thrown into situations like this. It reminds me of Lord of the Flies.

The Dub is ok, but I recommend you watch the Sub, which is better.

16 Crest of the Stars

Crest of the Stars

There are very few works of fiction that successfully portray human advancement instead of a post-apocalyptic world or some kind of dystopian future. This is such a work where the world and human advancement take center stage and most of the plot is maintaining the peace, fighting against resistance to change, all while comparing how we live now and how the future could be.

The Dub is good.

17 Banner of the Stars

Banner of the Stars

This is the continuation of Crest of the Stars

18 Banner of the Stars II

Banner of the Stars II

Continuation of the Series

19 Banner of the Stars III

Banner of the Stars III

Another story

20 Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy Bebop

This is a classic, an anime that people say it changed the industry. Even today is one of the highest ranking animes of its time. It has a mix of genres with Sci-Fi being the base for all.

The Dub is excellent!

21 Cowboy Bebop: The Movie

Cowboy Bebop: The Movie

Takes place between episodes 22 and 23 of the anime. Its an independent story or you could say another episode.

22 Kite

Kite

One of the best and earliest hardcore gore & violence anime. Great gun fighting scenes, strong violence, and adult themes.

However, I'm talking about the 'censored' version which in this case focuses on the plot, while the uncut is not as good as the pacing is messed up by the unneeded sex scenes.

The Dub is good.

23 Initial D

Initial D

The classic street racing anime with lots action at every curve. Its also more than that, as it does it best to contrast a loser's mentality, limiting themselves even before they try, vs. a winner's mentality, that focuses on improving themselves. And it also shows the tendency of people to measure 'your' skills, based on what they think they can accomplish for themselves. This shows not just in racing but also in their relationships.

The Dub is ok, but I recommend you watch the Sub, which is better.

24 Initial D Second Stage

Initial D Second Stage

Continuation of the story

25 Initial D Third Stage

Initial D Third Stage

Continuation of the story

26 Initial D Fourth Stage

Initial D Fourth Stage

Continuation of the story

27 Initial D Fifth Stage

Initial D Fifth Stage

Continuation of the story.

28 Initial D Final Stage

Initial D Final Stage

Continuation of the story

29 Serial Experiments Lain

Serial Experiments Lain

The word 'experimental' is usually used to refer to an artistic work with innovative ideas and tries to convey them in an unusual way. This is the case with Lain and it's a show way ahead of its time. But the execution is not perfect as the ideas can be really hard to understand.

'There are anime in this world that will make you tilt your head to the side so hard you get a crick in your neck for a week. Lain is probably one of the best examples of this genre. There will be times while watching Lain where you need to stop and try to wrap your mind around what just happened.' -hamletsmage

'The entire style of the show is experimental, presenting tons of metaphors both through the animation and the dialogue. It shows some sections in a very dry, lifeless way while others become psychedelic Beatles music videos. There are long stretches of quiet and moments of nothing but noise. There are so many intricate layers to Lain that I feel like it’d take multiple viewings before catching even half of the meaning.' -Anubischan

The Dub is ok, but I recommend you watch the Sub, which is better.

30 Outlaw Star

Outlaw Star

This is a good sci-fi anime, similar setting to Cowboy Bebop, but with much more lighter tone and kid-friendly. It was great for its time and still ranks high on this site. You can give it a try and see if you like.

The Dub is ok.

31 Spriggan

Spriggan

The animation looks closer to the 2000s with great action scenes and the story has notable influences from Akira.

32 Golgo 13: Queen Bee

Golgo 13: Queen Bee

This assassin story may not have the most action, nor the best graphics, but where it shines is in the contrasting emotions, or perhaps, the lack of emotion that an assassin must have in order to be a professional and carry his job to the end.

The Dub is ok, but I recommend you watch the Sub, which is better.

33 Master Keaton

Master Keaton

Another smart anime where wit and knowledge take center stage to solve any kind of situations the main character encounters. It's episodic, so you should watch a couple of episodes to see if you like, it won't change format afterward.

The Dub is ok.

34 Master Keaton OVA

Master Keaton OVA

Continuation of the story.

35 Perfect Blue

Perfect Blue

For me, this is not "perfect" and while it has an uncommon theme for an anime, it's a popular theme in many Hollywood movies, so I found it kind of average and a little outdated.

"While a thriller at heart, Perfect Blue also is very highly centered around character development and general paranoia, which makes for an interesting ride. In the beginning it feels like you are just watching a case of a stalker-gone-bad, but as the story progresses, the actual focus of the story becomes far more confusing and complex. We see things through the eyes and mind of Mima, and watch not only what is actually happening, but her own perceptions of what is happening, which sometimes is conflicting to say the least. I can't say much without spoiling, so I'll just say that the ending will surprise you, and you'll encounter a great deal of twists and turns along the way.

Something worth mentioning is that there are some fairly extreme scenes in the movie, including an acted-out rape scene (as she's an actress, and all). Regardless of if it was supposed to be fake, as a female, watching any rape in any capacity tends to make me feel uncomfortable and slightly ill. There are several very violent scenes as well, due to the nature of the movie in the first place." -sothis

The Dub is ok, but I recommend you watch the Sub, which is better. Some versions of the dub are censored.

36 My Neighbors The Yamadas

My Neighbors The Yamadas

This is a series of comic strips from the daily life of a typical family. Very funny and original indeed. It's quite a depart from traditional anime and themes. Give it a try.

The dub is good.

37 DT Eightron

DT Eightron

This underrated anime, with influences of THX 1138 will present you with great sci-fi ideas and a good story, however animation & sound are outdated and the execution is not optimal, which is probably the cause of low rankings, but if you can get past this it will be worth the journey. I must warn you too that the ending is not complete, it seems to have been cut short.

This anime deserves a Dub!

38 Orphen

Orphen

This is a light-hearted adventure, even if it is predictable, you still want to know how they get there. The characters are very likable.

'I love this show. It has a really nice feel to it and pulls at your emotions well. The light hearted emotions they have in it only help keep the show from becoming to dark. Though the artwork is rather vintage and has small hiccups sometimes, it is still a very good series of anime.I love how Orphen acts even though he can be pretty much a jerk. He doesn’t take a lot of things seriously except what he actually deams worth his time. He’s shrud and stand-offish though he really does care about the other characters. Magik is pretty much like a cluts though he is a ladies man even when he doesn’t try. He’s gentle and sweet, always caring about others. Cleo is well… mostly a brat, though she does grow the most in the show. She first starts out rather like a spoiled brat and then slowly warms up to Orphen. I do like her pushy attitude and her go get ‘um personality but sometimes I think she is way too hard of Orphen.The storyline is a bit odd though and feels a bit like they have a lot of filler. For a lot of the time, it seemed like only side quests even though we already knew the story line and what it would lead up to. I like when it leads up to giving us the bigger picture instead of telling us all at once.' -angelsreviews

I don't recommend the sequel, the quality drops a lot both in animation and storywise. It's a waste of time.

The dub is ok.

39 Arc the Lad

Arc the Lad

This underrated anime may not have the best graphics, dialog and its execution is not perfect, but where it shines is in the story. Fighting against corruption, the characters encounter several hardships and not everything goes well for them. I think the main theme is that they must overcome their own failures and find a reason to keep fighting.

The dub is ok.

40 The Big O

The Big O

This show has animation ahead of its time with great character designs in classic mecha style in a setting from 1950-1960. Even the intro music is reminiscent of that time period. It has great use of color, which plays an important role in the mood of the stories. However, is mostly episodic with the monster of the week format, and although it has an interesting setting & mystery, it never gets fully developed, like the writers hit a roadblock and didn't know what to do finish the story properly.

The show is great if you don't take it too seriously, is in part a parody of mecha shows, paying tribute to many classic shows.

This may be one of the few that is better in the dub.

41 The Big O II

The Big O II

Continuation of the story.

Comments

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ZurakoDesu May 1, 2021

I like your list 

ScorpioVelvet Aug 2, 2018

Another awesome list on the best of the '90s anime... Cowboy Bebop, Princess Mononoke, Outlaw Star, Trigun, & Blue Gender are my personal favorites I see on there.