Mazinkaiser SKL and Madoka Magica embody the spirit of 1990s anime and anime fandom.

That I included Mazinkaiser SKL in that statement is not much of a surprise, I imagine. It’s the robot whose name stands for “Skull” because it’s covered in skulls, and its plot, characters, and levels of ultra-violence are taken straight of the worst best OVAs of the era. Mazinkaiser SKL has what thrilled anime fans of the 90s, and it would not have looked out of place next to the likes of MD Geist and Bubblegum Crisis.

My choice of Madoka Magica might be more puzzling, but I insist that in some ways it houses the 90s anime (and anime fan) spirit even more than Mazinkaiser SKL. When you look at how the series has been captivating fans, you see recurring comments in regards to how dark it is, or how it subverts the genre. Even if people don’t necessarily have a good understanding of the original genre being addressed, when it comes down to it Madoka Magica is attracting fans because it feels “different” and worth discussing and thinking about at length. The way people talk about it reminds more of the way people discuss Akira, Ghost in the Shell, or Evangelion than the way conversations about Suzumiya Haruhi or Code Geass go. Madoka Magica has that certain something that thrills people into dividing anime into Madoka Magica and everything else. While the difference is that Akira drew in non-fans and Madoka Magica isn’t really going beyond the existing fandom, it seems to be hitting fans with the same shock that Goku’s death gave to me as I realized cartoon character’s could die after all.

So while Mazinkaiser SKL is aesthetically an anime ripped straight out of the 90s, a time traveler from a different era whose ways may seem at odds with the current day, Madoka Magica takes the effect anime had on anime fans in the 90s and translates that emotional impact across time onto the current fandom. Whether or not these shows will be remembered in another ten years is unknown, but at the very least in the here and now they connect the decades together.