There is something very special about classic anime that most modern adaptations lack; and period Studio Ghibli and a selection of other “golden oldies” are still highly celebrated, many notable series have fallen through the cracks of time. Their awe-inspiring heroines have unfortunately followed down the rabbit hole, and their contribution to the industry has subsequently been forgotten over the years.
It may have been roughly two decades since these lovely ladies debuted, but strangers to the following series should still give them a shot, as long as thought-provoking stories, compelling character development, and stunning artwork are what fans are looking for.
7/7 Nadia and the Secret of Blue Water (1990)
Loosely based on the classic tale of Twenty thousand leagues under the sea, an optimistic youthful inventor named Jean is swept off his feet the moment he sees the captivating Nadia and declares to follow her to the ends of the earth. Empowered by the Blue Water gem, but lacking in the memory department, Nadia’s quest to discover her origins and fearlessly explore the meaning of life and other dark, disturbing notions (only fourteen years old!)
Not only is it refreshing for a woman to take the lead role in an anime, but having a dark-skinned beauty on board for a change is the cherry on top. Don’t be put off by NHK’s failure at the box office with this installment, as Nadia’s failed debut was a marketing problem and ineffectively reflects the high quality of this classic anime.
6/7 The Girls of Magic Knight Rayearth (1994)
Sailor Moon may have survived the test of time; However, Rayearth unfortunately fell to the sidelines of the Magic Girl genre, which is surprising considering Magic Knight’s unique blend of the strong Isekai, Mecha and JRPG influences added to the enchanting narrative.
Hikaru Shidou, Umi Ryuuzaki and Fuu Hououji share the spotlight in their fantasy-driven adventure, each dominating their individual skill sets. The fire-wielding Hiraku has a no-nonsense attitude combined with a passionate personality, while Umi is more considerate and mature, not to mention deadly with a grappler. Bookworm Fuu has an incredible ability for magic, and together they navigate the treacherous terrain of Cephiro on their crusade to free Princess Emeraude.
Tokiko Mima (better known as Key) may look like your average young girl; However, her mechanical structure would beg to differ. This advanced form of artificial intelligence had a relatively normal upbringing, raised like any other average person by her creator and “grandfather”, Murao. Things take an unfortunate turn for the worst when the old man suddenly dies, leaving the friendly android orphaned, but not hopeless, as she can also become human once she manages to make 30,000 friends.
The terrifyingly cruel world doesn’t offer much comfort, but Key endures the savagery long enough to find friendship in Tokyo among his childhood friends. After embarking on the career path of an Idol singer, Tokiko unlocks mysterious supernatural abilities; but be warned, this story is much less frivolous than first impressions suggest.
4/7 Naomi Armitage III (1995)
This action-packed anime may only be four episodes long, but is definitely worth watching, as it takes a rather macabre approach to the android phenomenon. Gender plays a crucial role in the political systems at play, as most women prefer to stay on Earth where they are wanted, causing a shortage of women on Mars. As a result, highly advanced androids are created to “fill the gap”, removing a host of moral dilemmas in the process.
Outlaw “Third type” android Naomi Armitage gives off cyberpunk vibes strong enough to give even the iconic Motoko Kusanagi goosebumps, and as the police officer tasked with taking down a deadly assassin, she needs all the the intimidation factor she can get. ! Aside from her superhuman strength, Armitage’s skill set includes hacking, technological manipulation, a mastery of hand-to-hand combat, and more; not to mention she’s essentially immortal (and capable of reproduction.)
3/7 Yurika Misumaru – Mars Successor Nadesico (1996)
Most of this space opera takes place aboard the Nadesico starship as it explores the cosmos and builds a warpath against the alien Jovian Lizards. Yurika Misumaru may be more badass than diehard; But as the captain of the ship, she at least deserves some respect for achieving her rank, while not forgetting her valuable IFS implant, giving her the ability to pilot Aestivalis robots.
In addition, Yurika becomes one Gekiganger III otaku, (which is pretty impressive!), and she’s not afraid to bare her claws at anyone who gets too affectionate with her beloved Akito. It is recommended that those interested play Martian Successor Nadesico: The Blank of 3 Years after the original series but before you attempted to watch Prince of Darkness movie, as the game is canon to the overall story.
2/7 Sasahara Natsuki- Hyper Police (1997)
There’s a lot more to this cute cat girl than meets the eye, as she’s actually a direct descendant of the ancient Egyptian goddess Bast and arguably the cutest bounty hunter around. She is able to cause an electrical discharge from her hands, which catches the eye of the werewolf Batanen, and then she gets a job in the police force.
Natsuki’s biggest flaw is her Storm Trooper scope, so she trades in her weapons for an orihalcon blade instead which, combined with her magical prowess, earns her the number 2 position in the Police Company. She is paired with some questionable partners during her service, but manages to survive them all, eventually reuniting with her dear friend Batanen.
1/7 Marlene Angel – Blue Gender (1999)
It is now 2031, and Earth has been invaded by colossal, insatiable insect beasts called Blue; but with the much-needed help of the mechanical Armor Shrike suits, humanity maybe have a chance. Those lucky enough to survive have taken up residence on a space station called Second Earth, while brave soldiers are sent to round up stragglers and eradicate the enemy; dystopian to the max!
The main character would have ended the story rather abruptly if the amazing angel hadn’t come along, a seasoned warrior who has basically been surviving on her own since she was ten years old. Marlene goes through without a doubt the most extensive character development in Blue sexwho evolves from her hostile android-like persona into a compassionate companion (who can still kick some ass!)
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