Nostalgia is…kind of a beautiful thing.
Defined as a sentimental longing or wistful attraction for the past, nostalgia takes us back to innocent days. Rushing to the TV Saturday morning for that latest episode of that one new show you’re following, and growing up following the adventures of your favorite characters, watching any series now just…doesn’t quite compare. You guys HAVE to know what I mean.
So, in this more personal list, I’ll run down my top five nostalgic anime. These are the anime that I think of, that cause me to wistfully remember the days of my childhood. They’re great memories, and I’m sure you guys have similar experiences! Maybe you’ll even find one of your nostalgic anime series on this list! Without any further ado, let’s get to it!
5. Kirby: Right Back At Ya! (2001-2003)
I still remember finding out that Kirby had an anime series, after I played Kirby 64 as a kid. It blew my freaking mind- suddenly, there were new characters, a whole different interpretation of Dream Land, and of course, ample opportunity for the pink puffball to show his stuff. Fighting against the mean ol’ King Dedede and his snail sidekick, Escargoon, Kirby fights a plethora of creative, dangerous monsters, swallowing any assortment of items to gain powers, fight, and save the day!
This anime is EXACTLY what I think of when I hear of “monster-of-the-week” shows. You literally have a King who hires new monsters to fight Kirby every episode, and because of Kirby’s copying ability, you have a plethora of creative ways in which the Pink Puff can defeat them. Combine this simple, cute formula with the unique personalities of King Dedede, Meta Knight, and Kirby, and you have an anime that was plain and simple fun to watch as a kid. With stand out transformation sequences, Kirby’s naturally cute personality, and creative monsters every episode, Kirby: Right Back at Ya! has given me some great childhood memories.
4. Digimon Adventure: Seasons 1+2 (1999-2001)
Digimon, Digital Monsters, Digimon are the CHAMPIONS
One of the Holy Trinity of nostalgic anime, the original run of Digimon Adventure engrossed kids across the globe. It told the story of a young group of kids who found themselves in a strange realm- The Digital World- and were told that they were selected to be the Digi-Destined, fated to fight an evil force that was growing in that world. Growing closer to, growing with, their partner Digimon, the Digi-Destined, together, faced new challenges, trekked through the strange realm, all in the hopes of defeating the evils responsible for terrorizing the Digital World.
Honestly, Digimon Adventure is just extremely iconic in so many ways, from seeing new Digimon evolutions, to watching Tai and Matt as they squabbled and fought, Digimon Adventure- both the first series and its sequel- was absolutely great. I can still remember Angemon, defeating Devimon, the first time I saw DNA Digivolution, and of course, wishing that I could have such cool Digimon. Sadly, I never got to visit the Digital World, nor have my own Digimon, but that doesn’t change the fact that the series was responsible for some great memories. I really need to get around to watching Digimon Adventure Tri…
3. Sonic X (2003-2004)
Kind of a shameful pick for me, to be honest, but hey, as a kid, I absolutely loved this show. In retrospect, there were a WHOLE lot of things about Sonic X that just don’t stand up to the other entries on this list, but regardless.
Just a quick bit of background- I loved Sonic as a kid. Maybe it was just because of the two Sonic Adventure games, but young, fun-loving me considered Sonic my absolute favorite gaming character. Lasting all the way until the late 2000’s, I’ve had a huge preference for Sonic, until my tastes evolved, and I realized, sadly, that his games just weren’t up to par. My point is- just like with Kirby: Right Back at Ya!, hearing there was a Sonic X anime was HUGE for me back then. And with its fast paced, RIDICULOUSLY CATCHY theme song, how could I not enjoy this series?
Featuring Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, the Eggman himself, and a whole other cast of new characters, Sonic X was a show that satisfied all my needs as a kid. It had action, focused on my favorite, cool video game character, and, come the second season, it even had a decent enough plot for me to keep up with, in the threat of the Metarex. All this considered, Sonic X is absolutely one of the most nostalgic anime to me, but, of course, there were two that beat it out in the end.
2. Pokemon: The Original Series (1997-2002)
You KNEW. You HAD to know that Pokemon would be here. This was EVERY 90’s kid’s anime, the one that, I’m fairly certain, was the largest anime of our generation. Even people who don’t watch anime know of this show, and love it. I’m sure you know the premise already- Ash, with his overpowered Pikachu, Misty, and Brock, travel the land, encountering new Pokemon, fending off Team Rocket and their talking Meowth, and ultimately, travel to every gym to try and collect a full set of badges. Ash wants to be the very best, and to that end, he befriends his Pokemon, trains them, experiences narrow victories, and builds a close team that goes through thick and thin together.
The thrill of catching them all, the antics of Team Rocket, and that unparalleled, unbeatable theme song, I honestly don’t think I can say much more about Pokemon. Yes, it didn’t make sense sometimes, yes, the game mechanics were disregarded, and yes, Ash doesn’t actually catch that many Pokemon in his quest, but dang it, the adventures of Ash and his friends were just so fun to watch. Whether it’s dealing with an angry Charizard, getting electrocuted by Pikachu, or somehow beating a ground-type Pokemon with an electric attack, the original Pokemon series was an essential part of the 90s experience. Not to mention the first MOVIE, which was legitimately one of the greatest, most nostalgic anime experiences for many people, myself included. However, although the original Pokemon is one of the greatest, it is not the greatest nostalgic anime in my mind. That title belongs to…
1. Yu-Gi-Oh! (2000-2004)
Yu-Gi-Oh! is my most nostalgic anime, and actually, perhaps the most nostalgic series of my childhood, period. Young duelist Yugi Muto, having completed the Millennium Puzzle over the course of seven years, finds that it hosts the soul of a long dead pharaoh- one that he befriends, and one that helps establish him as the most powerful duelist- the “King of Games.” Sparking a rivalry with multi-millionaire tech genius Seto Kaiba, participating in Shadow Games that can decide the fate of the world, Yugi grows, duels, and does his best to learn about the Egyptian history behind his Millennium Puzzle, and the Pharaoh.
This series hits a soft spot for me, as the first series I’ve ever watched that provided a genuine, compelling plot with consequences for failure. It had many of the great moments that a nostalgic series needs to stand out in a kid’s mind, but beyond that, it featured games that left people trapped in “the Shadow Realm,” the protagonists weren’t invincible, and there some genuinely emotional moments that made me as a kid, think just a little bit more about what I was watching. I remember Yu-Gi-Oh! as the first series that got me to care about more than just the action, more than just the cool monsters and situations- it got me to care about whether or not the protagonists could save the day, what card would they pull to turn the tides?
That being said, Yu-Gi-Oh has PLENTY of memorable moments that are nostalgia-worthy. From its memetic opening sequence, to signature cards like the Dark Magician and Blue-Eyes White Dragon, and of course, back and forth duels that made very episode exciting, there was a LOT to love about Yu-Gi-Oh!. It is the series that has stuck with me the most after 13 years, and the only series I’ve ever actually revisited, and I’ve gotta say, in my eyes, it still holds up pretty well. It’s a smarter kind of nostalgia, that I can experience again and again, and as such, it holds a place in my heart as my most nostalgic anime series.
Well. Are any of your favorites on here? If you say no, you’ve gotta be lying, everyone likes Pokemon! Regardless, any good memories? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear about some of your guys’ nostalgic experiences! ヽ(´▽`)/