Best Anime Openings of the 90s

December 12, 2011
Anime is the Japanese word for animation in general, but it has since been known colloquially as a word to describe Japanese cartoons (don't deny it, anime is a type of cartoon) in general. Though it has been in the Americas since the 1950s-1960s (ex. Astro Boy), it only started to gained popularity in the west somewhere in the late 1980s, with shows like Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs and Adventures of the Little Koala, though many didn't realize they were anime. By the end of the 1990s, it had won the hearts of millions of viewers.

The 1990's was the time of a large anime popularity explosion, in which Japan invaded our television, ranging from Saturday Morning Cartoons, to late-night adult blocks.

Perhaps one of the most memorable moments of an anime (and cartoons in general) is the opening sequence. Here, I will show you some of the best anime theme songs of the 1990's.

(Note: This contains opinions and is unranked, but I'm sure many of you will agree with some of my choices)

Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water (1990)

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Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water is a science-fiction anime set in the late 1800's about a mysterious African woman named Nadia and her jewel.

Moomin (1990)

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Officially Moomin Family Fun in Japanese, Moomin is a children's cartoon based off the Finnish/Swedish franchise by Tove Jansson. This cartoon came under criticism from some old-time fans for apparently turning the deep-meaning franchise into a fun family show. Despite these concerns, the Jansson family even played a part in the production of this anime. The international theme song (outside of Japan) is a catchy country-style opening, while the Japanese theme song, in my opinion, has a more charming melody, and more fitting visuals. The international theme song uses random clips from the show itself, but it still has a good melody otherwise.

This anime helped fuel a surge of popularity in the franchise, giving Moomin international attention. Today, the Moomins are one of the staples of Finland, even having its own theme park which is an international tourist destination. Despite its popularity, the Jansson family has decided to be loyal and turn down some commercial offers like from the Walt Disney company. Despite this, nothing could save the franchise from a Rule 34 base. -_-

Yu Yu Hakusho (1992)

Yu Yu Hakusho is a show about 14-year old delinquent Yusuke Urameshi. Yusuke risked his life to save a little child from a car accident, and got killed in the process. His soul then met the grim reaper, who turned out to be a beautiful woman on a flying broom. Yusuke would be given an extra chance at life if he did a few good deeds, like fighting demons.

The theme song is an upbeat song, named Smile Bomb. Unlike many other long-lasting animes, this song was used for all of its 112 episodes, with 3 different video variations. Also unlike many other animes, Smile Bomb is one of the only Japanese theme songs that are used in practically all countries with its original melody.

Victory Gundam (1993)

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Victory Gundam is one of the darkest series in the Gundam line. It was the final series in the Universal Century arc before Gundam Wing. It follows the protagonist Uso, a 13 year old illegal immigrant on Earth, who ends up piloting a Gundam, which are gigantic piloted robots. It is known as the darkest Gundam series because of its "Kill em all" attitude. Despite this, the theme songs have a rather happy feel, which seems to deceive the viewer. However, the openings are extremely catchy, deserving a spot on this list. I chose the second opening, called Don't Stop Carry On. It is more fitting than the first, and just as good.

Macross 7 (1994)

According to Wikipedia, Macross 7 is best known for its music. It is a mecha space opera series that takes place 35 years after a catastrophic war between humans and an alien race called the Zentradi. Unfortunately, Macross 7 has not yet been released in English, due to the high costs it would take to bring it over. Here's hoping it comes out in English one day.

Gundam Wing (1995)

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Gundam Wing is the first Gundam series that was not a part of the Universal Century arc, and follows the protagonist Heero Yuy. It recieved a grand debut in the North America in 2000, and popularized the franchise in the English speaking world, despite the mediocre popularity in Japan.

The theme song is called Just Communication by Two-Mix.

Gunsmith Cats (1995)

It's only a 3 episode Original Video Animation, but it still has one of the most kickass theme songs. Gunsmith Cats is a series about young women fighting crime. It is based off the 1991 manga series of the same name, and gained enough popularity to be followed up by a sequel manga in 2004.
Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995)

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This definitely deserves mention on this list. Neon Genesis Evangelion is a deep philosophical show cleverly disguised as a form of entertainment. The show revolves around the protagonist Shinji Ikari and his efforts to pilot a gigantic robot-like machine called EVA-01, and defend the world against monsters codenamed Angels. While the show appears to have a sacreligious meaning (using many Christian symbols), it is intended only as a window dressing to give it a unique feel. This show is pretty much a complete mindfuck anime.

Dragon Ball GT (1996)

Named a "grand side story" buy the Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama, Dragon Ball GT is a follow-up to Dragon Ball Z. Unlike the previous two series, it is not based on the manga. Because of the lack of involvement of Toriyama, GT has been panned frequently by many viewers. Dragon Ball GT isn't actually that bad, but it is not as good as Z and the original. However, it did round up a large hate base. Despite this, as stated earlier, Akira Toriyama gave the series a thumbs up as a side story.

A redeeming quality of Dragon Ball GT is its soundtrack. It is also widely praised by its hate club as well. The opening used for the entire series is called Dan Dan Kokoro Hikareteku, written by the late (as of 2007) Izumi Sakai and performed by Field of View. It is a rock song, which was also released as a single around one month after GT came out. The same melody is used in most international versions. However, the American version used an inferior version called the GT Rap. There was however an English version of Dan Dan Kokoro Hikareteku used as the theme song for the DVD, sung by Vic Mignogna. The Canadian version, in which was the version I watched, uses the same Japanese melody, shortened significantly and with different lyrics.

Pokemon (1997)

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Anyone who even knows the word "anime" should have this show pop into their minds when they hear that word. Pokemon is a show, based off the 1996 Nintendo game, about a boy named Ash Ketchum and his adventures into the Pokemon world. Back in the late 90's, Pokemon was introduced to the international public, to a roar of praise, starting a large craze.

Unfortunately, some religious groups started making a fuss over this show, branding it "satanic", though the "satanic panic" wasn't as hard as the D&D scare back in the 1980's. Despite these concerns, the Vatican gave the show a thumbs up, saying it was a good show. Which was strange, as my Catholic mother bought into the satanic panic even after the Vatican approved it. I never bought into it and she lets me watch and play it now. :)

Aside from nostalgia purposes, the theme song is very memorable, drilling the show's plot and themes into the heads of millions with every line, like "I wanna be the very best, that no one ever was, to catch them is my real test, to train them is my cause". I believe this theme song is vastly superior to the Japanese theme song, which was basically another J-Pop theme song with a few Pokemon sounds thrown in.

Cowboy Bebop (1998)

Dubbed by Adult Swim as "the greatest series we have ever aired", Cowboy Bebop is a blend of crime fiction, science fiction, film noir and space western. The story centers around the Jewish protagonist Spike Spiegel, a bounty hunter who travels around space in the spaceship Bebop. The series was so well received that it continues to air in reruns today, despite only having 26 episodes.

Unlike other anime series, which usually use some type of J-pop or rock, Cowboy Bebop uses a western-style jazz piece, with no lyrics aside from a brief introduction monologue. The song is called Tank, and is performed by The Seatbelts. In 2006, IGN ranked the anime's sound track as the best anime soundtrack of all.

Trigun (1998)

A mysterious figure named Vash the Stampede has been going around a western-style desert planet, destroying entire towns. Miraculously, he did not have a single victim. Now, people are on the hunt for this mysterious figure, in exchange for a 60 million dollar reward. Two women come across a bumbling idiot who is surprisingly agile, surviving and winning against the strongest of gangs, without even having to do almost anything. They start to wonder if he is actually Vash the Stampede.

Unlike many other anime theme songs, this one has no singing at all. It is a hard rock song, coupled with a hint of western, effectively fitting for the Space Western style of Trigun.

One Piece (1999)


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English (FUNimation):

One of the most famous animes in the world, One Piece is a story about an independent pirate named Monkey D. Luffy and his quest to find the hidden treasure by legendary pirate Gold Rodger and become "The King of the Pirates". After its 1999 anime debut, it still continues to run today.

The intro is called We Are, and is a perfect way to start the series. One might remember the rap theme song made by 4Kids, which was a heavily panned dub, for editing out many things in an otherwise adult-oriented show. Funimation, another anime dubbing company, produced an alternate dub, which received universal praise. I believe the Funimation's English opening is also superior to the Japanese version, with lyrics that make much more sense and much more poetic, making you feel ready for the series to begin when you watch it. However, I felt that both sounded really good so I added both the English and Japanese versions.

Digimon (1999)
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