Gundam Wing appeared on Cartoon Network’s Toonami programming block in 2000, launching a mecha fandom that still enjoys watching, reading, and building Gundams to this day.Rurouni KenshinIf you’ve already read my super long analysis of the Rurouni Kenshin live action movie, you probably already know I’m a huge fan of the franchise. The anime is a true product of the 90s, with the gigantic mullet hair of all its characters swaying in the wind.The series tackles themes of redemption and friendship, all while set in Meiji era Japan. Although the series suffers from one too many filler episodes, the core of its story has real heart and repercussions for its characters. With 93 episodes of the TV series it’s a ton of anime to watch, but make sure not to miss out on the OVAs Rurouni Kenshin: Trust & Betrayal that deals with Kenshin’s origins. They are a real tear jerker.Although incredibly hard to get down to just this list, we know our readers will inevitably have more to add. Let us know your what your favorite nostalgic anime are the comments. As an early 90s’ anime fan, it is my god given duty to roll my eyes a little bit when people talk about their first exposure to anime. What was that again, youngin’s? Was it Naruto? Bleach?Don’t get me wrong, we love those series too. But for the 90s’ kids in the house it was all about the magic and mystery of anime appearing in our homes one day unannounced. Perhaps we turned on the TV at midnight and caught a glimpse of a heavily edited Ninja Scroll on Toonami. Or maybe we awoke at 6am and saw a troupe of magical girls in sailor uniforms.Our interactions with anime oftentimes came with surprise and delight. Of course, upon brief research at our local Suncoast Video (RIP), we could find the films that shaped not only our generation, but the history of anime as a whole.We present to you, in no particular order, the top 10 anime that shaped our 90s’ youth.Sailor MoonSailor Moon began airing in the US in 1996 in the wee hours of the morning before the east coast 14-year-old version of myself had to set out to school (yeah, yeah, do the math if you want). In that 30 minutes of morning magic, Sailor Moon brought anime to the mainstream for young girls.Portraying a group of close-knit teenagers who used their powers and friendship to overcome obstacles was revolutionary for this time in animation. Put in a pretty, sparkly package of soldiers from the 9 planets, this anime changed the course of many a fan’s life for years to come.Speed RacerOften overlooked by many anime fans as one of the very first anime to come to North America, Speed Racer created a genre all its own. A 50s classic in Japan, the series’ original title was Mach GoGoGo, and the titular character’s real name was actually Go Mifune. Haven’t you ever wondered about that big “G” on Speed’s shirt? Go also means “five” in Japanese, so there’s a lot of puns running around this thing from the beginning.Speed Racer was drastically rewritten and edited for its US release in 1967 by producer Peter Fernandez. He made famous the frantic “fast” dubbing done on the series, as well as edited the content to be more kid-friendly. In 1993 MTV began to rebroadcast the series in the early hours of the morning.Vampire Hunter D: BloodlustWe are talking about the 2000 film version here, okay? There are many iterations of D, but this one is the nostalgia bomb resting in our hearts. This film teeters at the end of the 90s, but good lord is it a keeper!One of the quintessential films produced by studio Madhouse, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust was one of the first Japanese animated films created specifically for US theatrical release. Most of us probably only remember seeing it on sweet, sweet VHS, huddled in our homes hoping our parents wouldn’t glance over and notice how gory it was. This beautifully animated film is a classic in the horror genre of anime, as well as a shining example of incredible animation work.Ninja ScrollThis classic anime film was released in 1993 in Japan, and made its way to the US in 1995. Most of us recall the film being chopped up into episodes for broadcast on MTV’s Liquid Television segment. This film was also created by studio Madhouse, boasting the heavy outlines and exaggerated body frames that mark their signature aesthetic.Ninja Scroll was very graphic for an animated feature at its time. Limbs, blood, and organs spewed about freely on screen, creating a grittiness in animation that Madhouse is renowned for. This is a true anime classic. If you haven’t seen it, you are really missing out on a piece of history.AkiraThe most famous anime film of all time, Akira debuted in 1988 in Japan and 1989 in the US. This film set a new standard for what anime films could achieve, with incredible story line, animation, and design. Akira is credited with having been the catalyst that brought Japanese animation to the eyes of the West, helping it to gain popularity and proving to studios that Western fans did indeed want to see more quality anime.The film itself is credited with having major influences on artists and filmmakers for many years after its release, most notably in The Matrix.Princess MononokeAll of Studio Ghibli’s films are masterpieces. It is as difficult to rank one above the other as it is to decide which family member you love the most. This iconic Ghibli film dealt not with the struggles of man against man, but man against nature.Unlike My Neighbor Totoro, this isn’t a flight of whimsy for the viewer, but a journey into the inevitable defeat of nature against man. The musical score in this movie still gives me goosebumps anytime I hear it.Ghost in the ShellIn the 1995 original film, Ghost in the Shell wowed viewers with its stunning visuals. Innovative in its use of combining traditional hand drawn cel animation with CG, this film also provided a story that none could forget.Ghost in the Shell explores the relationship between humans and technology, and how the synthesis of both creates a paradox of what it is to truly be alive and be oneself. An important film in both the anime medium and science fiction genre, Ghost in the Shell is a must-see for any lover of animation.Neon Genesis EvangelionGet in the frikkin’ robot, Shinji! This much loved anime franchise has been rebirthed many times over since the first iteration of the series in 1995. Set in a barren future where a bunch of unstable young kids have to jump into gigantic mechas to fight the alien invasion of “angels,” Eva gets real dark, real fast.The crowning achievement of anime studio Gainax, Eva is hailed as the epitome of the sci-fi genre in the 90s. However, the series’ infamous final two episodes left fans feeling betrayed and confused. Decide for yourself, and make sure you watch this series from tip to tail, taking a journey into the end of the world (spoilers?).Gundam WingTruly the anime franchise to overshadow all other franchises, Gundam has spawned multiple TV series, OVAs, movies, and thousands of figures. Seriously, thousands.The original Mobile Suit Gundam series was the introduction into this world of mecha madness, which debuted in Japan in 1979, but it was the Gundam Wing series that popularized the franchise here in the West.