The 1990s marked a significant turning point for the mecha, changing the genre forever.
In the decades prior, the focus was primarily on Real Robots, which encompass mecha designed according to real physics and used in human warfare.
And the first noteworthy aspect of mecha anime from the 1990s is indeed the revival of Super Robots, giant mecha employed to combat alien threats.
In addition, the 1990s introduced Mobile Fighter G Gundam, a series that had a transformative impact on the franchise.
So whether you’re a dedicated fan of the mecha genre, a casual enthusiast, or someone eager to explore it, you’re in the right place cause today, we’ll explore the best mecha anime from the 1990s.
Table of Contents
15. Zoids: Chaotic Century
Zoids: Chaotic Century is a 1999 anime series consisting of 67 episodes, and it is based on the Zoids toy line created by Takara Tomy.
The story is set on a remote island on the planet Zi, where a boy named Van discovers an abandoned structure containing a cocoon from which emerges a cybernetic dinosaur that he names Zeke.
Unbeknownst to Van, this discovery makes him the target of a group of bandits who operate Zoids, animal-like mechas.
Zoids can be likened to a more child-friendly version of Mobile Suite Gundam, sharing some similarities in dynamics and themes.
While both series explore themes of war and its consequences, Zoids takes a somewhat lighter and less intense approach compared to Gundam.
But it’s precisely this perspective that makes Zoids: Chaotic Century an interesting series for those seeking a different take on the genre.
14. Tekkaman Blade
Tekkaman Blade is a 1992 mecha anime with 49 episodes, and is the remake of the original series released in 1975. It encompasses the classic genres’ themes such as action, Sci-Fi, and mecha.
The plot unfolds as Earth comes under attack by an alien species known as Techno-Grancs, who are giant mechanized insectoids led by their overlord, Tenebra.
Earth’s defense is entrusted to the Space Knights, who receive assistance from an enigmatic figure known as Tekkaman Blade.
Tekkaman Blade is a great mecha anime from the 1990s that has a consistent dark tone, which contributes to its mysterious and almost creepy atmosphere.
The plot on the other hand follows a villain-of-the-week narrative, with increasingly strong enemies to overcome as the story progresses toward the final boss.
So, despite some issues with inconsistent pacing and a limited budget, the series manages to keep viewers engaged throughout its duration.
13. Giant Robo the Animation: The Day the Earth Stood Still
Giant Robo the Animation: The Day the Earth Stood Still is a fantastic vintage mecha anime released in 1992, consisting of 7 episodes.
Earth is under attack by a group of interstellar terrorists called Great Fire, led by the alien emperor Guillotine.
The main characters are Daisaku Kusama and Juro Minami, who become stranded on an island after surviving an enemy attack.
Little do they know that this will set off a series of events, leading Daisaku to command the Giant Robo, a huge mecha that he will use to defend Earth from invaders…
Giant Robo is an excellent addition to this list, featuring exceptionally well-animated action scenes for a ’90s anime and incredibly fleshed-out characters.
But at the same time, we admit that you may encounter some issues while watching, such as various subplots that are introduced but not always concluded.
Despite these minor flaws, this is a great pick for nostalgic anime fans.
12. Magic Knight Rayearth
Magic Knight Rayearth, released in 1994, follows the journey of three girls, Hikaru, Umi, and Fu, who are transported to the fantasy world of Cefiro during a school trip to Tokyo Tower.
The world is in peril and they are tasked with saving it as Magic Knights, using their newfound magical powers.
The girls form a magical guild and fight against the evil High Priest Zagato to rescue Princess Emeraude, the key to victory.
Magic Knight Rayearth remains an incredibly unique and captivating series to this day, thanks to its blend of mecha, fantasy, and majokko elements.
It’s also worth mentioning that it stands out as one of the few mecha anime with a strong focus on female protagonists.
This unique aspect adds an extra layer of distinctiveness, and it has also influenced many future works, such as Symphogear.
11. The Vision of Escaflowne
The Vision of Escaflowne is a unique and possibly inimitable anime released in 1996 in 26 episodes. If you enjoy series that break away from the usual mold, then this is a must-watch.
The protagonist, Hitomi Kanzaki, is a typical high school girl with two passions: running and tarot cards. One day, during her tarot readings, she experiences a vision of being transported to an unknown world.
Initially dismissing it as a mere dream, she soon realizes its reality when a dragon and a swordsman named Van Fanel appear before her during a training session.
Van rescues Hitomi by defeating the dragon, and they find themselves mysteriously transported to the war-torn planet Gaia, where a battle against the Zaibach empire rages.
Nearly 30 years have passed and to this day few, if any, anime have been able to replicate the magical blend of genres and themes that this series offers.
It’s not every day that you come across action, isekai, mecha, fantasy, war, and romance all in one series, right?
Not to mention its fantastic setting that blends fantasy, Sci-Fi, and a richly detailed political world. Do we need to say more?
10. The Brave Fighter Exkaiser
The Brave Fighter Exkaiser is an anime released between 1990 and 1991 that holds significant importance in the mecha genre.
This is because it introduced the now-famous Brave Series, an iconic mecha franchise in Japan that also includes King of Braves GaoGaiGar, another anime on this list.
Also what sets it apart is that it revitalized the super robot subgenre, which features giant mecha, during a period when the real robot genre, characterized by mecha with realistic attributes, was dominant.
In the story, when aliens plan to invade Earth, a young boy named Kouta must join forces with a giant robot from outer space, Exkaiser, to save the world and his friends.
The Brave Fighter Exkizer is an iconic and essential addition to your mecha anime collection.
It boasts an episodic storyline filled with comedy and action, making it a light and enjoyable series.
9. Mobile Fighter G Gundam
Mobile Fighter G-Gundam is a series in the Gundam universe that was released in 1994, and it marked a significant turning point for the franchise.
At the time of its release, the Gundam series was facing a decline in popularity.
To breathe new life into the franchise, a bold decision was made to create a fresh start by placing the new series in a different fictional universe than the Universal Century, the original one.
And this experiment proved to be a tremendous success, revitalizing the series and establishing a trend of setting future Gundam series in new fictional universes.
As previously mentioned, the story takes a fresh start and is set in a future where humanity has mostly abandoned Earth in favor of space colonies.
To prevent conflicts among these colonies, a tournament called the Gundam Fight is held every four years.
Nations compete by sending representatives to battle in Gundam, and the winner gains the right to rule over their country until the next tournament.
The series revolves around the character Domon Kasshu, a young man with a troubled past who is compelled to participate in the Gundam Fight.
But his involvement in the tournament uncovers various complex and intriguing plotlines that you’ll discover…
8. Martial Successor Nadesico
Mobile Battleship Nadesico is a 1996 series that, while slightly more niche than some of its counterparts, is a must-watch for fans of mecha and Sci-Fi.
The story takes place in the year 2196 when Earth is under attack by the Jupiter Lizards, an alien race.
To fight back against the invaders, the planet turns to Nergal Heavy Industries, a private company that has created a powerful armed spaceship called the ND-001 Nadesico.
But because the ship’s technology is incredibly advanced, finding people to pilot it is not an easy task.
This is how Akito Tenkawa, a talented young man who hates fighting and would rather stay at home watching anime, is hired for this duty. And here he’ll meet Yurika, Nadesico’s captain, his future love interest.
Nadesico remains enjoyable thanks to its blend of comedy, mecha action, and romance, with some serious drama interludes too.
It’s the perfect addition for mecha lovers who want to enjoy some bizarre satire of the genre, to mix things up a bit.
7. King of Braves GaoGaiGar
King of Braves GaoGaiGar is a 49-episode mecha and sci-fi series released in 1997, and it falls into a more niche category compared to other titles on this list, but hides an excellent product.
At the start of the 21st century, a mysterious alien life form crash-lands on Earth, absorbing numerous machines before departing.
Initially, this event seems to have no consequences but two years later, people around Tokyo begin falling victim to a mysterious extraterrestrial parasite.
In response to this threat, the secret organization GGG was established.
The best way to describe this series is as a classic mecha show with a simpler and more youth-oriented perspective.
You’ll encounter a blend of comedy and action, making it a perfect choice if you’re seeking a mecha anime with these elements.
6. Getter Robo: Armageddon
Getter Robo: Armageddon is a niche mecha anime released in 1998 which is a highly versatile series in the genre, and you’ll soon understand why.
In this anime, humanity has advanced thanks to the development of Getter Rays by Dr. Saotome.
But this breakthrough attracts the attention of a shape-shifting alien race determined to acquire it to conquer Earth, setting off a series of intrigues of all kinds.
Getter Robo: Armageddon is the perfect choice for any mecha genre fan due to its fusion of themes and genres.
For experienced fans, it offers classic and timeless elements typical of the genre, including political intrigue, Sci-Fi, and stunning mecha designs.
And for more casual viewers, the series provides over-the-top action scenes balanced with lighter and more playful moments, along with an excellent sound design.
So whether you’re a die-hard mecha fan or just an enthusiast, Getter Robo: Armageddon has something to offer.
5. The Big O
The Big O is a unique and innovative mecha anime that has captivated fans since its release in 1999, especially those who enjoy the crime genre.
Set 40 years after an incident known as The Event, which wiped out the city of Paradigm and erased its citizens’ memories.
The story follows Roger Smith, the city’s protector who uses the giant robot Big O. But as he keeps Paradigm safe, a complex web of mysteries emerges, reaching back to events from four decades ago.
The Big O perfectly blends mecha, Sci-Fi, investigation, action, and a stylish Noir setting into a fantastic and compelling series.
If you’re seeking a mecha anime that breaks away from the norm, The Big O might be the perfect choice for you.
4. Mobile Suit Gundam Wing
Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, spanning 49 episodes from 1995 to 1996, is set in the post-colonial year 195, where Earth and its colonies are under the control of a clandestine organization known as Oz.
In response to this tyranny, a rebellion dispatches five young Gundam pilots to Earth, igniting a war that holds the fate of humanity in its hands.
Mobile Suit Gundam Wing is yet another outstanding addition to the expansive Gundam universe, and that’s a fact.
And like its counterparts, it adeptly explores the theme of war and its profound impact on both those who wage it and those who endure its consequences.
Whether you’re a Gundam enthusiast or not, this series is an absolute must-have on your watchlist.
3. Macross Plus
Macross Plus is a four-episode OAV released in 1994 that serves as a sequel to the iconic Super Dimensional Fortress Macross series.
Set in the year 2040, three decades after the momentous war between Humans and Zentradi seen in the original series, the Supernova Project commences on the space colony Eden.
This project involves testing and evaluating two new models of space fighters, with the plane that passes all tests slated for use by the military.
But fate takes a curious turn as the two pilots selected for these tests are Isamu Alva Dyson and the half-Zentradi Guld Goa Bowman, childhood friends and former lovers who now harbor deep resentment for each other.
And their strained relationship is further complicated by the arrival of Myung Fang Lone, the source of their past discord.
But an unexpected threat forces them to set aside their differences and unite against a common enemy.
Macross Plus is a must-watch for fans of the original Macross series.
It preserves the franchise’s best elements, including its vintage style, comedic moments, mecha battles, romance, and a healthy dose of innovation, making it simply excellent.
But this doesn’t imply that it’s merely a rehash of the original series, quite the opposite. Macross Plus, while preserving its standout attributes, has a distinct vibe and narrative.
One prominent distinction, aside from the storyline, is the love triangle. Instead of the traditional setup involving one male and two female characters, it revolves around two males and a female character.
2. Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team
Mobile Suit Gundam – 08th MS Team is another installment of the expansive Gundam universe, released in 1996.
Its format is peculiar, comprising 11 OAV episodes along with a 12th that continues the story of the protagonists.
Also there is a medium-length film that fills in the gaps in the story after episode 8, following the unexpected death of the original director.
Set during the One Year War, which runs parallel to the first iconic Mobile Suit Gundam series, this installment departs from the franchise’s typical space settings by primarily taking place on Earth.
The central focus of the story revolves around the tumultuous romance between Federal Sub-Lieutenant Shiro Amada and noble Zeon pilot Ayna Sahalin, with their forbidden love story despite being from opposing factions.
Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team remains a unique and iconic series within the Gundam franchise, thanks to its thematic departure and settings that represent a highly successful experiment.
This makes it a must-watch for Gundam enthusiasts, but also fans of mecha anime in general.
1. Neon Genesis Evangelion
You’ve all been waiting for it, but there was no doubt that Neon Genesis Evangelion (NGE) would appear on this list.
Created by Hideaki Anno and the Gainax studio in 1995, the anime portrays a world under attack by mysterious cybernetic entities known as Angels that threaten the peace of humanity.
To fight them, the Special Agency Nerv uses special mechas called EVAs. The protagonist, Shinji Ikari, is hired by this group to pilot one of the robots, EVA 01, and attempt to end these attacks.
Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of the most important and well-known anime ever, and not only in the mecha genre.
Even today, nearly 30 years after its release, it continues to generate new theories and interpretations about its story, especially after the Rebuild movies. This series is among the best vintage anime and one of the most representative shows of the 1900s.
But Evangelion will always be a one-of-a-kind and incomparable work within the mecha genre due to its approach, which places more emphasis on the psychological and emotional aspects of the characters rather than on action.
N.B. Even though the Eva units look like mechas, they aren’t. Nonetheless, NGE is still considered a mecha by most.