Whether you’re a long-term fan of this distinct Japanese art form or a curious newbie, the best way to dive into the world of anime is through a streaming service. You’ll find high school melodramas, sci-fi anthologies, horror tales, rom-coms and superhero quests in this storytelling landscape. Longtime favorites such as One Piece and Pokemon prove that audiences will stick with classics while still making room for rising stars like My Hero Academia and worldwide phenomenon Attack on Titan.
Anime is an expanding genre with major players in the streaming game dedicated to meeting demand. It doesn’t matter if you’re a bona fide otaku with specific tastes or a total noob, look no further than these streaming services to satisfy your anime cravings.
Hajime Isayama, Kodansha/Crunchyroll
Because of its robust stable of content, Crunchyroll has become the global destination for anime streaming. Launched in 2006, the brand boasts over 100 million registered users and more than 5 million subscribers. Following its acquisition by Sony, Crunchyroll now shares its vast lineup with fellow genre titan Funimation to deliver thousands of titles 24/7. All that anime is under one umbrella, which includes Demon Slayer, Jujutsu Kaisen and To Your Eternity.
The biggest selling points? New episodes of My Hero Academia and other hot commodities land on the streamer one hour after their Japan premieres. Viewers can also count on surprise releases like the eight special episodes of Attack on Titan that dropped weeks before the final season premiere.
Fans love the variety and appreciate that for some content, they can watch the uncut Japanese versions of their favorite series on this service. Additionally, there’s a carousel of original, in-house creations that spin alongside the freshest releases out of Japan. And due to Crunchyroll’s partnership with anime streaming service VRV, US customers can tap into even more programming.
Sony has plans to create a single subscription for Crunchyroll and Funimation, but this hasn’t happened yet. However, you can sign up for a free subscription and receive access to current and older content with one catch: You’ll have to wait one week to watch new episodes.
For those who prefer immediate viewing access to new episodes, Crunchyroll’s basic ad-free option is $8.
A former Crunchyroll rival, Funimation shares a lot of major titles with the anime giant. Where the two differ lies in their respective libraries. Funimation possesses over 13,000 hours’ worth of content and claims the entire Dragon Ball Z collection. Crunchyroll has some, but not all of the popular franchise.
But you’ll find a variety of subgenres on the service and Funimation excels in the dub department. When it comes to new episodes, the streamer has a set simulcast schedule that it releases each season, and its winter 2022 slate features Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Entertainment District Arc, Tribe Nine and, like Crunchyroll, Attack on Titan Final Season Part 2.
As with Crunchyroll, you can register for a free account to watch classics as well as new content. The free version allows you to create bookmarks and personal watchlists. Go with Funimation’s ad-free membership for $6 a month to stream all content, and receive same-day access to simulcasts.
Hajime Isayama, Kodansha/Crunchyroll
If you’re on the fence about Crunchyroll or Funimation subscriptions, Hulu boasts more than 300 anime titles and is a prime stop to watch hits My Hero Academia, Boruto: Naruto Next Generations, Tokyo Ghoul, Attack on Titan, Soul Eater, Bleach and more. There are also simulcasts that stream each season, treating viewers to the newest releases from Japan. This is an area where Hulu one-ups Netflix. Fans will find Pokemon films and oldies but goodies like Sailor Moon and Akira, too.
Hulu also has partnerships with Crunchyroll and Funimation to carry some titles, but not their entire catalog. The Crunchyroll and Adult Swim original series, Blade Runner: Black Lotus is available along with favorites such as Assassination Classroom. However, new subtitled episodes may arrive immediately on the streamer while dubbed versions take longer. Debut times vary depending on the series.
An added benefit is the dedicated Anime Hub where you’ll find content organized into categories such as classic, A-Z or simulcasts. Hulu starts at $7 a month.
As a pioneer in streaming TV, Netflix has grown its anime offerings though it lacks the fresh installments and simulcasts of Hulu. Currently, there are dozens of Japanese imports on the platform as well as Netflix originals Castlevania, Yasuke, Cannon Busters and Devilman Crybaby.
Though it’s not the go-to for more obscure titles, Netflix has a reliable selection of popular anime that includes Demon Slayer, Hunter x Hunter, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, and nine glorious seasons of Naruto. Another major plus for the streamer is the absence of ads. But subscribers should be aware they’ll need to take the extra step of nixing the skip function when episodes end to see if there are any post-credits scenes in their favorite show.
In spring 2021, Netflix opened its Anime Creators’ Base in Tokyo where writers, designers and other artists team up to expand the streamer’s productions. Viewers can look out for upcoming anime movies and shows like Bubble, Tomb Raider, Skull Island and Terminator. Netflix starts at $10 a month.
A service for the 18 and older crowd, Hidive streams content to fans around the globe, including simulcasts. Not only will you find curated anime from all subgenres, but there’s an assortment of live-action adaptations too.
Hidive prides itself on its customizable subtitle option, in-episode live chats, and exclusive catalog. You can even choose between censored and uncensored anime. An independent service, the company encourages fans to request their favorite titles if they can’t find them on the platform.
Hidive is supported on iOS, Android and smart TVs, and it runs content directly through its site. There’s no free subscription option, and the monthly rate is $5 after the 14-day free trial.
Anime streaming FAQs
What’s the difference between dub and sub?
In the anime community, the terms dubbed and subbed are used to describe the difference between a piece of content that streams in Japanese with subtitles or an English-dubbed (or other language) version. It’s a matter of personal preference, but some fans like one type over the other. Among diehard fans, Funimation is known for its extensive dubbed collection.
Why can’t I find certain anime content on some streaming services?
Due to licensing agreements, some streaming providers’ anime lineups will change. This also depends on which country you live in, as various content may only be available in Japan, the US, or other regions.
Timing plays a role and can determine whether a series’ new season or movie hits a platform the same day, month or year of its original release. However, viewers will notice that some shows are streaming on multiple platforms at the same time.
What is the meaning of OAD and OVA in anime and does it matter?
From time to time, you may see streaming services refer to OAD or OVA as special promotions. Generally, OAD and OVA are extra episodes that did not air on television, but are part of the story and may or may not be canon. They can be prequel episodes or storylines that happen during or after what’s seen in a series and act as cool additions for anime lovers.
Which devices support these apps?
Each of these anime streaming providers are accessible via their standalone websites, smart TVs, Roku, iOS, Android, Chromecast, Amazon FireTV, Apple TV and Xbox One devices. You can watch it on your phone, tablet, PC or TV.