10 Best 90s Anime Characters That You Should Know Update 06/2024

The nineties, in my opinion, receive a bad rap.

For the most part I was a kid, so there’s a strong probability that I didn’t see all of the worst parts.

What I can tell with certainty is that the anime scene was fantastic back in the day. There were countless excellent anime series out there, each with a unique cast of distinctive and entertaining characters.

Today, we’re concentrating on some of the most memorable characters from the ’90s anime era. They’re all here for different reasons, but one thing they all have in common is that they used to be the most notable people.

15. Shin Chan

Crayon Shin-chan

Shin Chan: The Animated Series

Shin Chan is the show’s cheeky, upbeat, and perpetually naughty star.

A shining light in an otherwise excellent but occasionally bizarre animation, he was a pleasure to watch.

There was something for everyone at this location, including children and adults alike. Even with all of Shin Chan’s oddities, there was also a fair amount of blatant sexual innuendo or double entendre.

This all revolved on that utterly unlikable toddler, who by the standards of its English dub could utter sleazy one-liners that would make even the most hardened of sailors blush, as well as more typical juvenile antics.

14. Ash Ketchum

The Pokémon Anime

We’d be remiss if we didn’t name the dominant figure in all of 1990s anime.

Pallet Town’s hero, who left home at the ripe old age of 10, wasn’t exactly a role model for children.

That being said, there’s no doubting that Ash’s hero’s journey, and his sheer determination to overcome every hurdle, made for some fairly entertaining and inspirational television.

A few decent one-liners were sprinkled throughout, but I suppose Brock’s iconic quips would make anyone appear good by comparison, wouldn’t they??”

13. Sakura Kinomoto

Sakura Kinomoto, Cardcaptor Sakura (1998)

Cardcaptor Sakura: The Animated Series

When viewed side-by-side, Card Captor Sakura appears to be a rather apparent rip-off of Pokémon.

If you hadn’t viewed either anime in any depth previously, you may think that!

Although they debuted in the same year, it’s possible that Pokémon was a bigger hit. Sakura, on the other hand, has an undeniable allure and persistence.

Her spell-turned-mantra, “Everything will undoubtedly be alright,” is perfectly in line with her steely demeanor and steadfast temperament. When she had her mind set on a goal, nothing could stand in her way.

12. Misato Katsuragi

Animation: Neon Genesis Evangelion.

The Evangelion universe has many deserving characters, but I’ve decided to honor Misato because of the enormous impact she had on the show’s universe as a whole.

Shinji Ikari’s road to becoming a pilot was kicked into gear by the NERV operations director, who also had Shinji and Asuka reside with Misato at one point or another.

She’s a tough businesswoman with a tender side that’s rarely seen. For weaker-willed characters, her tragic past would have been enough to make them pathetic caricatures of evil.

Misato, on the other hand, prefers to focus solely on the task at hand.

11. Shinichi Kudou

Conan the Barbarian

In this case, the anime-eyes stereotype has been blown out of proportion.

One of the few ’90s characters that could benefit from those eyes is Shinichi Kudou, who plays an amateur detective.

Shinichi utilizes his strong senses and razor sharp brain to solve murders… for someone else after he gets poisoned with something that returns his physical form to how it was when he was six (don’t ask, this is anime logic at work).

He’s not aiming to become the greatest investigator in the world; he’s attempting to make his girlfriend’s dreck of a father into one.

When he had to work out of a first-body, grader’s the character’s cleverness is on full display.

10. Lain Iwakura

Lain Iwakura, Serial Experiments Lain (1998)

Experiments in Sex and the City

Imagine finding out that your best friend committed suicide, only to discover that you’re being tortured in a digital world while she chats to you about it.

In this series, Lain is definitely put through its paces. That much is certain.

Lain, a 14-year-old girl who could have been any other quiet kid, becomes an unstoppable badass in her quest to find out what happened to her best buddy.

…or does she?

Some speculate that her experience in the Wired universe may have left her less transformed and more of a unique individual… You’ll have to see it for yourself to form an opinion.

9. Heero Yuy

the Gundam Wing Animated Series

For a character named “Heero,” our MC is a bit of a jerk to begin with (yes, Mobile Suit Gundam as a franchise has some very on-the-nose naming conventions).

You can’t help but root for Heero at the conclusion of the game, even when he isn’t tearing up birthday cards and threatening the girl who sent them with death.

You can count on Heero to be a stand-up character and an excellent pilot as soon as you get him out of his annoying phase.

8. Hanamichi Sakuragi

It’s a Slam Dunk!

This may not be the first sports anime to follow its own rules, but Slam Dunk is certainly one of them.

Then then, it has one of the strongest central characters to support it.

Talentless Hanamichi has no inherent ability. Or, in the case of some sports anime, there is no magical ability.

He decides to take up the activity in order to impress a girl he is interested in.

And we get to experience the entire evolution of one of the best-written anime characters to date.

As a whole, it’s a fantastic presentation.

This is in large part due to Hanamichi Sakuragi.

7. Usagi Tsukino

Usagi Tsukino

Sailor Moon is an anime series.

As a cultural icon of the 1990s, Sailor Moon is a must-see.

In addition, Usagi Tsukino – better known as Sailor Moon – was debuted.

As a teenager, the Guardian of Love and Justice appeared to be a little immature. However, in the end, she proved to be more courageous, brave, and determined than any of her peers.

And, of course, there are times when that immaturity comes through.

For a heroine that could have been any other magical girl for the last 30 years, this is a refreshing change of pace.

6. Yusuke Urameshi

Yu Yu Hakusho is a Japanese anime series.

Yu Yu Hakusho is an exhilarating ride that I strongly recommend to everyone.

For my money, Yusuke Urameshi’s influence would have made it a lot less successful.

Despite being the ringleader of the group, Yusuke began his life as an immature kid who lacked self-control and direction.

The Spirit Detective, on the other hand, rose to the occasion and proved himself not only an asset to his squad but also a role model for others to aspire to.

5. Guts


Berserk is a popular anime series (1997)

You’d have known who was coming if I’d simply written “Berserk.”

Yes, the antihero is a fan favorite. In Guts, a new breed of anime character styles was created that could be both heartbreakingly sympathetic and bone-crushingly cruel from episode to episode, influencing a whole generation of anime fans.

It was also demonstrated that he may be defeated.

This is a character flaw that many more recent anime series are afraid to give the lead character.

As a result, he came across as more relatable. Then when he finally prevailed, he felt a lot more complete.

4. San

It’s a cartoon: Princess Mononoke

In many people’s minds, the no-nonsense Princess of the Forest was the first example of an anime badass.

And she’s not the worst place to begin your search.

When it comes to eco-warriors, wolf-bred eco-warriors aren’t to be played with either.

In terms of female characters, she’s up there with the best of them, and a welcome addition to any list honoring iconic figures from the decade that came before.

3. Goku

Goku and several other Saiyan

Zelda the Legendary Saiyan

I’d be ready to wager that if it wasn’t for Pokémon, it would have been Dragon Ball Z that first piqued your interest in anime.

What a logical conclusion, wasn’t it?

They call him the “Golden Warrior.” Goku was a role model for many young people in the 1990s, both in Japan and beyond.

His bravery and tenacity inspired us all. In times Goku felt legitimately at risk of being overpowered by the foe, and this helped to shape him into a very good character.

Of all the different characters in DBZ, Goku is the only one to make this list.

Theoretically at least, some of them could do it. I’ll save those ideas for another time.

2. Spike Spiegel

Bebop the Animated Series

If you were asked to explain what “cool” means, there’s no way you wouldn’t include a photo of Spike Spiegel someplace.

In the program, he’s far from the only character who has a flair for style.

You know what? There are more than a few characters in the show with a terrible history than there are protagonists.

Even if he’s impossible to dislike, there’s something about the man that makes him near-impossible to remove from any conversation about 1990s anime.

1. Motoko Kusanagi

Motoko Kusanagi - Ghost in the Shell

Ghost in the Shell is an anime that I highly recommend.

This character may be the most badass ever created for an anime series.

If you put Motoko Kusanagi into any predicament, she can fight, hack, or even love her way out.

Once again, the Major goes well above what is expected of him. And she looks great while doing it, much to the dismay of those close to her.

Even though she is the bane of everyone who loves her, her reckless disregard for her own safety is all in the name of safeguarding and serving the innocents around her.

To top our list, I couldn’t think of a greater character.