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It is an undeniable fact that the 90s were a golden era for martial arts anime series. From the cult classic Dragon Ball to the shonen hit Yuu Yuu Hakusho, all of the best titles in the genre were released in the 1990s.
In today’s article, we will be taking a look at ten such amazing animes from the 1990s that have a martial arts theme.
The titles are ranked according to their MyAnimeList rating, from the lowest rated to the highest rated. However, rest assured, each and every one of the shows on this list is definitely worth watching. So without further ado, here is a list of the best 90s martial arts anime:
10. Shadow Skill: Eigi
Shadow Skill is one of the best martial arts anime from the 90s featuring a female lead. The show is about our girl named Elle Ragu, who becomes the Sevaar in the land of Kuruda, and her stepbrother Gau.
The title of Sevaar is the highest honor any warrior could have, as it symbolizes the strongest fighter in all of Kuruda.
However, her life wasn’t easy after she obtained the title. As a matter of fact, it just became more troubling for her. She has to fight assassins from other countries and pass down her martial arts skills to her adoptive younger brother.
9. Tekken Chinmi
Tekken Chinmi is a 90s action-adventure anime series filled with martial arts goodness. The show is about Chinmi, a young boy who is known for his fighting skills.
One day, he gets an invitation from the Kung-fu masters of the temple, asking him to become their apprentice.
Chinmi joins the temple and soon rises as the greatest pupil they’ve ever had. Once his basic training was finished, he was tasked with going on a pilgrimage, where his adventures truly started.
He comes across various people, both good and bad, and experiences the world. However, on his return to the temple, he learns that the Mongols are about to attack, and he must use everything he has learned to fend them off.
Note: The anime itself was released in the late 80s, but the manga ran deep into the 90s, so it has been included since it is too good to pass up!
8. Recca no Honoo
Recca no Honoo is an action-packed martial arts anime from the 90s featuring ninjas.
The anime tells the story of Recca, a boy aspiring to become a ninja.
However, in modern times, ninjas are a thing of the past. They do not exist anymore.
Regardless, that doesn’t stop Recca.
He starts fighting with everyone, claiming that he will become their slave if anyone can defeat him. This shows how serious he actually is.
But the real twist starts when he meets a girl with a supernatural ability to heal any wound.
Together, they find out that Recca actually comes from a legendary ninja family.
Things get even more tense when he finds out that he has the ability to manipulate fire. With his newfound powers, he has to fend off mysterious people who are pursuing him.
7. Dragon Quest: Dai no Daibouken
The hero of this anime is a young kid named Dai who was raised by a monster. As a matter of fact, the island where he grew up had no humans other than him. Therefore, all he knew were the monsters.
However, he aims to become a great hero and goes on an adventure to realize his dream. This is when the previous hero, Avan, notices Dai and takes him as his apprentice.
While things seem to be going great, the previous demon lord gets resurrected and engages in a fight with Avan. This ends in Avan’s defeat, and his students Dai and Pop are in a dire situation.
This is when Dai unlocks a superpower and fends off the demon lord. Now, the duo has to travel through lands and defeat the demon lord for good.
6. Fushigi Yuugi
Fushigi Yuugi stands apart from the rest of the anime on this list because it is a shoujo anime that mixes martial arts, romance and isekai themes together.
This anime has a main female lead, Miaka Yuuki, who, along with her friend, gets teleported into a fantasy world when they come across an ancient book in a library.
In the unknown land, the duo instantly gets into trouble as some slave traders try to capture them. However, thanks to a mysterious young martial artist, they manage to escape the slave traders.
But their joy does not last long as Miaka’s friend is once again transported back to their original world. Together with the young martial artist, Miaka has to find a way to return to her world, all the while taking part in the fantasy world’s exciting events.
5. Fist of the North Star
While Fist of the North Star is from the 1980s and not the 90s, it is still easily one of the most popular martial arts anime series on this list.
The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic world and centers around our hero, Kenshirou.
Kenshiro was backstabbed and abandoned in the wasteland, while his rival Shin had kidnapped Ken’s fiancee.
In order to rescue her, Kenshiro has to adventure through the harsh lands, full of gangsters and other evil people.
But luckily, Kenshiro is the successor of Hokuto Shinken, a deadly martial arts technique.
The show is about how our hero defeats several bad guys who were tormenting innocent people and how he saves his own fiancée.
4. Rurouni Kenshin
At number 4, we have the greatest anime series out there featuring katana and sword-fighting themes.
This anime follows the story of Kenshin Himura, a nomad samurai with a blunt blade. Ten years ago, he was a feared warrior who had killed hundreds of people in the war, earning him the title “Hitokiri Battousai.”
However, he got sick of that bloody lifestyle and now lives as a simple man, atoning for his sins.
But when his enemies from the past find him and endanger the people he loves, he has no choice but to fight again.
Rurouni Kenshin tells the epic tale of this legendary samurai fighting to protect the people he loves.
3. Ranma ½
Ranma 1/2 is one of the most unique 90s anime with a martial arts theme, where the main character turns into a girl.
One day, Ranma, the main character of this series, falls into a cursed hot spring and gets a curse that cold water will turn him into a woman.
The only way to reverse it is to splash hot water on himself. With such a disposition, Ranma, a well-trained martial artist, has to navigate his life.
To make matters even more interesting, he is also about to get married to a girl who hates men.
With these two interesting characters at play, Ranma 1/2 is easily the most entertaining series on this list.
2. Yuu Yuu Hakusho
Next up at number 2, we have Yuu Yuu Hakusho. This is a legendary shonen anime series that mixes up martial arts and fantasy and creates an amusing world.
The main character of the series, Yuusuke, sacrifices his life in order to save a kid’s life. Because of his untimely but heroic death, he gets a second chance at life after going through a trial.
But there is a catch. He has to become the spirit detective and deal with any supernatural threats that harm the world.
One thing leads to another, and the MC has to participate in a deadly tournament and fight demons and devils in order to save the world.
1. Dragon Ball
It must be no surprise that the number one spot on this list of the best 90s martial arts anime goes to the legendary Dragon Ball series.
Dragon Ball is a perfect anime filled with action, comedy, and adventure, making it an unforgettable watch.
The story follows a young boy named Son Goku, who lives alone in a forest after the death of his grandfather. The only thing that his grandpa left behind is an orange ball with stars in it.
However, an ambitious girl named Bulma arrives at Goku’s place looking to take the orange ball. Apparently, it is one of the legendary dragon balls that will grant any wish to the person who collects all seven balls.
Thus begin the hilarious adventures of Goku and Bulma, who eventually meet other martial artists, fight in tournaments, and, at one point, fight to save the world.
That’s it for this post. These were the top 10 greatest martial arts anime from the 90s. Thank you for reading, and we’ll see you in the next article!