The Best Old School Anime From 1999 And Before

Over 54.9K Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The Best Old School Anime From 1999 And Before
Voting Rules
Only anime that premiered before 2000.

Young kids today don't know how good '80s anime and '90s anime really were. With the abundance of new anime that is available these days, sometimes it's nice to kick your feet back and check out some nostalgic classics. Here is our list of the best old school anime of all time, consisting of anime from 1999 and before.

What was anime like in the 1980s and 1990s? Although the animation was a lot grainier and less crisp, series like Cowboy Bebop and Yu Yu Hakusho evoke that retro anime aesthetic and style that everyone loves. Plus, the stories were just as good as today's anime. Cyberpunk anime like Ghost in the Shell and Neon Genesis Evangelion are regarded as some of the best anime of all time, proving that memorable characters and a great plot are always superior over fancy animation.

Have you seen all of these early classics below? We want you to vote for the top series you love the most, but this list is also a great guide if you're looking to find some great vintage anime shows to watch. A few of these are movies and not TV series, such as Akira and Grave of the Fireflies. If you're a fan of Dragon Ball Z, definitely check out Fist of the North Star. The series was very influential in modern day fighting anime. You should also check out classics like Astro Boy which is considered one of the oldest anime series in the industry.

Most divisive: Vampire Princess Miyu
Ranked by
  • Yu Yu Hakusho
    17,051 votes

    Yusuke Urameshi seemed like your average street punk, but a selfless act leads to his death and another shot at life as a Spirit Detective. Teaming up with allies Kuwabara, Kurama and Hiei, Yusuke takes on demons and supernatural foes in deadly tournaments, foiling sinister plots threatening humanity through a mix of action, humor and heart. From Spirit Gun shots to bonding during training, Yu Yu Hakusho remains a supernatural battle classic.

  • Dragon Ball Z
    19,876 votes

    Dragon Ball Z cranks up the action as Goku discovers his alien Saiyan origins and defends Earth alongside his friends against imposing villains. Fierce battles drive the epic narrative forward as heroes and villains alike pursue greater power, with the fate of the universe hanging in the balance. Whether it's Vegeta's pride, Gohan's hidden potential, or Goku's ever-rising strength, Dragon Ball Z's pulse-pounding fights and sense of adventure captivated a generation.

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  • Rurouni Kenshin
    13,475 votes

    In Japan's Meiji era, a swordsman wielding a blade that cannot kill must protect the innocent without violating his vow. Enter Himura Kenshin, once an assassin who now rights wrongs as a lone wanderer. With his quick wit, compassion, and reverse-blade sword, he defends the downtrodden from those who would prey upon them. However, Kenshin's past still haunts him. Can he overcome his inner darkness? Experience this poignant redemption story in the beloved classic Rurouni Kenshin.

  • Hunter x Hunter
    2,197 votes

    Energetic Gon Freecss aspires to follow in his father's footsteps as an elite Hunter, gaining access to restricted locales and missions. During his daunting quest, Gon befriends a doctor, assassin, and liar. This group encounters creatures both wondrous and grotesque while confronting the criminality of the Phantom Troupe and greed of Greed Island. Hunter x Hunter thrives on its endearing characters, riveting action, and engrossing world.

  • Great Teacher Onizuka
    2,045 votes

    Becoming a teacher is usually an honorable profession, unless you’re former biker gang member Eikichi Onizuka! Unorthodox, wild, and wholly unique, Onizuka uses shocking methods to connect with troubled students, protect them from harm, and inspire their potential. Sure he causes endless trouble for the school establishment, but his dedication makes him legendary. For an outrageously fun rollercoaster of crude comedy, moving drama, and old-school cool, enroll in Great Teacher Onizuka’s class!

  • Princess Mononoke
    11,893 votes

    When industrialization threatens nature, can there be reconciliation between man and the spirits of the forest? Witness humanity's corruption through Lady Eboshi, along with the retaliatory bloodlust of Princess Mononoke and wolf god Moro in this philosophical, stunningly animated tale. Ashitaka aims for harmony, but this conflict seems destined for tragedy. Princess Mononoke tackles themes of environmentalism and humanity’s relationship with nature through its morally complex characters in this anime masterpiece.

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