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The Top 8 Samurai and Ninja Anime of the 90s

For fans of action anime, the 90s produced a slew of great shows and movies about samurai and ninjas. These shows and movies feature captivating storylines with memorable moments and characters.

So if you’re looking for some ninja or samurai cartoons from the 90s, then read on!

1. Rurouni Kenshin (Samurai X)

Rurouni Kenshin holding his sword
Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Kenkaku Romantan – 1996 to 1998

Kenshin Himura is secretly the legendary assassin, Hitokiri Battousai. Kenshin has taken on the life of a wandering samurai and vows never to kill again. Eventually, he helps Kaoru Kamiya defend her family dojo against an ill-intentioned imposter claiming to be Battousai.

This sets off a series where Kenshin faces off against enemies as he and Kaoru grow closer in their affections toward one another.

2. Ninja Scroll

kagero is ready to fight
Juubee Ninpuuchou – 1993

Jubei Kibagami and Kagero meet during violent circumstances and are blackmailed by a government spy into investigating a suspicious plague. What they discover is an evil plot that involves ninjas with supernatural powers.

Jubei and Kagero develop romantic feelings for one another as they fight their way through the Devils of Kimon. Ultimately, Jubei faces off against an evil man from his past who has seemingly risen from the dead.

If you love Ninja Scroll, be sure to check out our list of the top dark fantasy anime of the 90s!

3. Flame of Recca

Rekka and his friends prepare for battle
Rekka no Honoo – 1997 to 1998

Recca is a gruff teenage boy who longs to be a ninja and ends up in a lot of fights as a result. After a chance encounter with a mysterious girl, he learns that he is the sole survivor of the legendary Hokage ninja clan with the power to wield fire.

Recca and his friends soon find themselves at odds with the evil Koran Mori and his quest for eternal life. The show also features a tournament arc and it’s easy to see why people have drawn similarities between Recca and Naruto.

4. The Hakkenden: Legend of the Dog Warriors

The dog warriors after a battle
The Hakkenden – 1990 to 1991

Eight warrior descendants of a demonic dog find each other through their separate paths in life. Afterward, they join forces to violently battle against demons and restore the honor of their clan.

This anime is based on a 19th-century novel called Nanso Satomi Hakkenden, written by famed Japanese author, Takizawa Bakin.

5. Thunder Jet: Raiders of the Galaxy Empire

Rai Ryuga sizes up his enemy
Ginga Sengoku Gunyuuden Rai (Galaxy Warring State Chronicle Rai) – 1994 to 1995

As a warrior in a battle for control of the Milky Way Galaxy, young space samurai Rai Ryuga decides that he should be Emporer and bring an era of peace.

Thunder Jet is a classic space opera that explores the complexities of warring states and societies.

6. Jubei-chan: The Ninja Girl

Jubei-chan transforms
Juubee-chan: Lovely Gantai no Himitsu – 1999

Schoolgirl, Jiyu Nanohana, uses a “lovely” eye-patch to transform into the legendary ninja, Yagyu Jubei. This transformation draws unwanted attention from a rival ninja clan seeking to settle an old grudge.

Jubei-Chan provides a lot of comic relief and the show also touches on magic girl themes. This separates the show from the other entries on this list.

7. Nintama Rantaro

Rantaro and his friends are surprised
Nintama Rantarou – 1993 to Current

Nintama Rantaro is a long-running series about a boy named Rantaro and his two friends at a school for future ninjas. The mischievous trio gets into all kinds of trouble as their teachers attempt to teach them the ways of the ninja.

As of this post, Nintama Rantaro is still airing new episodes and is the 2nd longest-running anime series of all time.

8. Samurai Pizza Cats

Yattarou, Pururun, and Sukashii pose
Kyattou Ninden Teyandee – 1990 to 1991

Speedy Cerviche, Polly Esther, and Guido Anchovy own a small pizza shop in Little Tokyo. Whenever trouble shows its ugly face, the cybernetic feline trio leaps into action to save the day.

The English version of Samurai Pizza Cats featured original dialogue due to translation difficulties which lead to its cult following. And if you were a kid in the early 90s, you may recall seeing this on Saturday mornings.

Late 80s Samurai Anime Bonus Pick: Ronin Warriors

ronin samurai warriors
Yoroiden Samurai Troopers – 1988 to 1989

The demon lord of the Netherworld intends to conquer the world of the mortals. Five ronin warriors with magical armor and weapons are the only thing standing in his way.

This show originally aired in the 1980s, but it was later picked up for broadcast on Toonami in the late 90s.

Looking for a lighter watch? Be sure to check out our favorite comedy anime!


Rowegn became an anime fan in the early 90s after renting Akira on VHS. The experience completely changed how he viewed animation as a medium and he has since logged thousands of hours watching anime. Despite his love for all anime both classic and modern, 90s anime will always be near and dear.

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