There was a time when finding the best Netflix anime was more of a case of picking through scraps rather than the embarrassment of riches it is today.
After a small offering initially, Netflix has grown its anime profile and now boasts some of the best anime around. The streamer even produces its own series and movies these days, working with both Japanese and Western studios to build out its library, and making it a serious competitor to Crunchyroll (opens in new tab), Hulu (opens in new tab) and similar services.
Whether you’re new to anime, or you're familiar with the subject and you simply want to see what's on offer, this list is here to help you find some of the highlights on Netflix.
As well as our Netflix list, we've got a comprehensive list of the Best Anime (opens in new tab)you can find anywhere, but, within that, you may be surprised to discover that quite a few of them are on Netflix.
Below, we've rounded up 11 different Netflix anime that you can watch right now in both the US and the UK. We'll keep this updated with new entries as they come and go from the streamer.
Neon Genesis Evangelion
Evangelion combines two things that shouldn't go together – psychological drama and mech combat. Even though this original series is known for the varying quality of its episodes due to budget constraints, the fights are really something else. Instead of a typical strong protagonist who all but storms into battle, Evangelion has Shinji Ikari – an awkward, depressed teenager who would rather be anywhere else, but who always gets into the robot in hopes his father will finally acknowledge him.
This results in fights that are short, brutal and genuinely tense. The rest of the show is just as engaging, with plenty of betrayal, scheming and the looming end-of-the-world terror. Netflix has the original TV show as well as the movies Death & Rebirth and End of Evangelion – not to be confused with the new movie adaptations, which you can find on Prime Video (opens in new tab) in the US and the UK.
Anime with anthropomorphic animals certainly aren’t going to for everyone, but you should still give Beastars a chance even if it doesn't sound like your sort of thing. It didn’t just turn its characters into animals for fun – this is an anime that really digs deep into what would happen if an animal’s primal urges caused it distress, in a way that's familiarly human.
Beastars gave a lot of thought to what a world populated by beings that still have animalistic traits would look like, but that also have their own sexuality, family relationships and…the concept of capitalism to deal with.
It’s an interesting setup, buoyed by some great character writing and animation, going for tense and mysterious character exploration rather than slice-of-life fun. Beastars is simply different in a good way.
Pokémon Indigo League
Netflix doesn’t have all seasons of Pokémon (opens in new tab) in its catalogue, but sometimes the original is the best. The Indigo League seasons are when so many fans discovered the series, and they roughly cover the same territory as the first two Game Boy games, Red and Blue, as Ash Ketchum looks to become a Pokémon master by capturing and training the titular monsters.
This might be a good time to discover why Pokémon is one of the most popular anime the world over, teaching us the value of being kind to others and never giving up.
Red panda Retsuko is a normal office worker – underappreciated, flooded with work and perpetually looking for that one thing that may give her happiness, whether that’s a partner or a new career. When it all gets too much, Retsuko lets loose by singing death metal at her local karaoke bar.
In many ways, Aggretsuko is something of the Bridget Jones of anime, focusing on a young woman trying to navigate modern life. This Netflix (opens in new tab)show is very relatable and funny, and it’s very likely that Retsuko will grow on you so much that you'll cheer for her in every moment where she manages to stand up for herself.
Little Witch Academia
The animation quality of this one is simply ridiculous – it’s a great show to watch in the most literal sense of the word. As the name suggests, Little Witch Academia follows life at a school for witches. Atsuko comes from a non-magical family, but she wants to become a witch, come what may – unfortunately she isn’t particularly great in school, either.
Thankfully, Atsuko is everything an enjoyable anime protagonist so often is – open-minded, friendly and determined to do her best. Little Witch Academia is mostly regular high school anime with a fun dash of magic.
Netflix's first anime, by the same studio that made Free!, was a massive hit, opening the door for more works commissioned by the streaming giant. In a land that has been ravaged by war until very recently, Violet Evergarden, an android made specifically for the war, finds herself out of job, so she becomes a ghost writer of letters.
Since Violet doesn’t have emotions, she needs to figure out how to understand people, and she does this by learning more about the lives of her clients. This show will make you cry a lot, in part because it’s deliberately heartwarming, but also because it tells these very human stories about the effect of war. If you enjoy wringing your heart out like a washcloth, there’s also a special episode and a movie, both also on Netflix.
Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop
Soda Pop is a calm slice-of-life movie reminiscent of the work of Makoto Shinkai (Your Name). Visually, it’s really bright and eye-catching, but what will really make you watch it till the end is the slowly developing affection between Cherry and Yuki. Cherry, nicknamed after his last name “Sakura”, Japanese for cherry blossom, is a shy teen who can only express himself using haiku. Yuki is a streamer popular for her smile, but she becomes massively insecure when she gets braces.
A chance encounter between the two has them spend a summer together around a typical Japanese mall, and the more they get to know each other, the more each wants to bolster the others’ self-confidence. It’s awkward and super-duper cute.
Are you in the mood watching something super weird and original? Are you comfortable with large helpings of violence? Then Dorohedoro is the anime for you.
Caiman lives in the Hole, a suburb of a city reminiscent of Akira’s near-apocalyptic Tokyo. He has a reptilian head, which isn’t the worst thing that could’ve happened to him – in the Hole, almost every human has been used as a test subject by magicians, leaving them in a terrible state. Caiman isn’t going down without a fight, so he starts hunting for the magician who did this to him.
Dorohedoro features really dense worldbuilding, a world polluted by magic, but also humanoid cockroaches, mushroom people and the ever-present drag of capitalism. Worth a try if you're looking for something with a harder edge.
Long-time anime fans will be familiar with shows like Toradora, where the small, feisty female protagonist incessantly bullies the boy she actually likes. Ryuji, in another classic switcheroo, looks intimidating but is actually a very nice person, whereas the rather short Taiga is physically strong, hates to be babied and always says exactly what she thinks.
Toradora is also an anime about a group of high school friends navigating daily life and how to communicate with one another. It focuses on some of the worries that teenagers (in anime) often have – how to be vulnerable in front of others, how to plan for your future, and how to express yourself. Plus the romance at the heart of the show is actually quite sweet.
Gundam is an anime classic, but it can feel difficult to get into due to the many different series offshoots and the sheer amount of episodes. Netflix now offers a relatively pain-free start into the Gundam universe by streaming the three original Gundam films on the service.
The films are re-cuts of the TV anime, basically a best-of selection of events. It’s not always the smoothest at conveying what’s going on, but what you really want to see – giant mechs and Gundam’s intricate sci-fi world – are all there. Like a Japanese Star Wars, Gundam depicts a large, intergalactic conflict, and the world building is something to behold. You shouldn't miss Gundam if you're a fan of that specific, beautiful style of 1980s mech and environment design.
Both Netflix US and UK are streaming Demon Slayer, the popular adaptation of the shōnen manga Kimetsu no Yaiba. It's a period fantasy anime about a boy, Tanjiro Kamado, who discovers his family has been killed, and whose sister has been transformed into a demon – he's then brought into a coalition of demon slayers to be trained, with the goal of vengeance and saving his sister from her new demonic status.
It's popular for a reason, with gorgeous animation and compelling storylines. A second season has just started – but not on Netflix. You'll need Funimation or Crunchyroll to keep up to date with this massive series.
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