15 Iconic Anime Waifus From The ’90sThis post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
Although newer generations of anime watchers are hesitant to watch shows older than they are, you can’t deny that the 90s had some bangers.
And what better way to define an entire era than by the waifu selection?
It’s time to put your nostalgia goggles on and remember your first 2D crush, as we’re ranking the most iconic waifus from 1990-1999.
15. Officer Jenny
Calling the Pokémon franchise “a popular show” is like calling Einstein “a pretty smart fellow”.
And while newer releases tend to be hit or miss (as far as the cast is concerned), the original Officer Jenny marked my passage into an adult weeb.
I’ll always love seeing a waifu in uniform – and when she also has an incredibly likable character thrown on top, it’s quite the killer combo.
Sure, she might not have gotten as much screen time as some other lovely ladies in the show. But every scene she was a part of made me understand Brock’s simping ways just a bit more.
Ten out of ten, I’d get arrested again.
Anime: Ranma ½
Although Ranma ½ technically started airing in 1989, its influence was most felt in the 90s. Therefore, this is a valid pick and not a loophole.
Let’s be honest: How I Met Your Mother would’ve been a lot more interesting if the mother in question initially wanted to kill her husband. Or at least her husband’s female form.
Man, the 90s came up with some interesting concepts.
But back to Shampoo. She feels like one of the first tsundere characters. We all know that she loves Ranma, but the physical risk involved with being in her presence is also quite noticeable.
And from the 90s to today, tsundere characters will forever sneak their way onto my lists.
So here we are.
Anime: Yu Yu Hakusho
Before Aqua came around and made weebs think that the afterlife is only full of useless goddesses and thighs, Botan ruled the scene.
Carrying the title of the Grim Reaper, Botan is the biggest Rick Roll one could experience. Instead of the usually hooded skeleton wielding a scythe, you get an incredibly nice waifu in a pink kimono.
And just in case you had any doubts as to her intentions, she also serves as your guardian angel while you adventure around.
Hell, she’ll even throw down if it means backing up her homies.
She’s an absolute cupcake of a person and the Grip Reaper that we all deserve.
12. Serena Tsukino (Sailor Moon)
Anime: Sailor Moon
Serena is, and always will be, a huge mood.
She doesn’t like to study, whines when she doesn’t get enough attention, and throws tantrums like it was her job.
I am Serena, Serena is me. And watching her grow throughout the series nearly made me get off my butt as well. Nearly being the keyword there.
She grows stronger, more confident, and more reliable – therefore earning the right to still throw a tantrum here and there. She’s the waifu of the people – and no amount of time will ever be capable of taking her title away.
11. Lain Iwakura
Anime: Serial Experiments Lain
Lain is kind of an oddball on this list.
While the other waifus are usually just very cute and goofy, Lain takes quite a different approach.
This series is nothing short of a masterpiece but it’s also anything but optimistic.
The thing that makes Lain so lovable is the fact that we’ve seen the gut-wrenching trauma that she’s gone through.
She’s like a respected soldier that came back from the front lines, but somehow maintained their good heart. And nothing makes you feel closer to a character than experiencing the sublime feeling of the world they live in.
I’m sure you understand what I’m trying to say if you’ve seen the show at any point. Lain is the GOAT.
10. Nuku Nuku
Anime: All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku
Since that last pick got a bit too real and dark for my liking, let’s lighten the mood with Nuku Nuku. If you love cat girls and all of the glorious “nyas” that they bring to you in the modern era – you should give some respect to the OG as well.
Especially since Nuku is quite literally a catgirl. As in she was a cat.
And as you could imagine, this means all of the moe cat scenes that an anime could possibly have.
Even her name sounds adorable!
And just like Serena, Nuku has some serious relatability as well. She’s constantly late, sleeps through her classes, and generally freaks people out when first meeting them. A true mood indeed.
Although Officer Jenny is iconic in her own right, she doesn’t have anything on Misty.
Misty is just as GOAT-ed as Ash himself when it comes to the Pokémon universe. And long-term fans will never forget that.
She brought just the right amount of sass to the show to make it hilarious. As well as enough anger to keep the boys in check and focused. She was that one female friend that brought the best out of you.
And even though her entire journey started over a single bike, she became a truly beloved and integral part of the crew. If you don’t agree with me, be ready to be hit with an “ok Zoomer”.
Anime: Dragon Ball Z
Bulma has the same appeal as Misty, as she’s been around forever. Plus she was actually given the ability to age – so she’s that much more fleshed out.
Jokes aside, it takes a lot of sass to shut a Saiyan up and that’s exactly what Bulma brought to the table.
Well, that, genius-level engineering skills, and millions of dollars. But I mainly want to focus on the sass!
She gave the show a lot of its comedic relief and managed to do the unthinkable – making Vegeta showcase character development.
With Casca, there’re a few things that are worth talking about.
First off, the Berserk manga is like the anime Bible, and therefore you’ll probably grow attached to each and every character.
Secondly, her story is so unbelievably tragic that it’s simply impossible not to feel for her on some level. Especially after a certain betrayal.
Thirdly, she’s an absolute badass, and the type of female character that we love to see. The damsel who brings the distress and leads her people into battle.
6. Asuka Langley Souryuu
Anime: Neon Genesis Evangelion
I don’t know what part of the weeb brain makes us like this – but we all stan an aggressive tsundere. Especially when she’s coupled with a dandere male lead who she can torment (just look at Nagatoro for proof).
I say “torment”, but realistically Asuka is the only reason Shinji ever got the slightest backbone.
Plus, watching her few vulnerable moments when she’s around him is like a sugary drink for the soul.
Always being ready to jump into the front lines and having enough talent to back it up, Asuka is simply a badass. She’s a bit rough and tough, but that just adds to her overall charm.
Evangelion basically dominated the 90s. And the great waifu wars between Asuka and Rei were just as intense as the battles in the show itself. So it’s safe to say that she’s one of the best.
5. Rei Ayanami
Anime: Neon Genesis Evangelion
In the battle of ice and fire, I have to say that I slightly prefer the cold.
Don’t get me wrong, tsundere characters will always have a special place in my heart – but kuudere characters (when done right) are just too much to handle.
The thing with Rei is that she was always covered in a veil of mystery. That made each one of her appearances feel like an entire event and each peak into her life like a privilege.
She never seemed evil in my eyes.
In fact, her smiles (although rare) seemed more genuine than those of almost any other character.
And when we really get down to the root of the issue, short hair is my kryptonite, and I will not apologize for that.
4. Lina Inverse
The fact that Lina and Rei have the same voice actress is absolutely insane to me. Especially once you compare just how different the two characters are.
While Rei is the calm and collected type that seems to always have everything under control, Lina is a little troll with an infinite amount of optimism.
Even when captured by the enemy, she’ll find a way to make herself laugh and piss off the guards.
That’s her sorceress way and we must respect it.
She’s just a joy on screen and avoids many of the usual character pitfalls (like being strictly good or strictly evil). She just acts like an actual person. Major respect.
3. Misato Katsuragi
Anime: Neon Genesis Evangelion
And just when you thought I would cave under the Asuka vs. Rei fight, I come back with a roundhouse Misato kick.
Although every single character in this show has a trauma of some kind, Misato is by far the most functional and well put together.
She knows when to relax and have fun, and when she needs her game-face on.
Plus she’s way more relatable than any of the other characters in this show.
Her lifestyle consisting of only bear and junk food sums up my entire college experience – and therefore I feel like she gets me. Also, her design is the best out of the three.
Now that I’ve made my position clear, I’m ready to endure some trial by combat.
2. Motoko Kusanagi
Anime: Ghost in the Shell
The Major just has all of the characteristics that I look for in a waifu.
- She has some of that kuudere charm, as she doesn’t showcase her emotions all that often.
- She’s a badass that’s capable of handling entire missions by herself & absolutely owns every room that she walks into.
- And in terms of aesthetics, she’s rocking that short hairstyle like it was nobody’s business.
Truly a masterclass when it comes to waifu design.
Couple all of those surface-level features with a deep and complex character and you get someone that’s never truly going to fade out of the anime community mythos.
Sometimes you want your waifu to just kick butt, and other times you want them to question general ethics. It’s all about balance!
1. Faye Valentine
Anime: Cowboy Bebop
It was honestly a really tough call between Faye and Motoko (as they share a lot of the characteristics that I love), but I decided to give Faye the throne in the end.
Just like Motoko, she’s a badass that can handle herself and doesn’t need no man.
Alongside a killer hairstyle, Faye also rocks every outfit that has ever graced her skin, and carries herself like a true queen.
Her backstory is immensely tragic. But that only adds to her character, as it makes her truly feel alive. You can imagine what it’s like living in her shoes. And once you do, respect is soon to follow.
Overall, it’s the added “humanity factor” that’s made me slightly prefer Faye to Motoko, although it was a very close call here.