Best streaming service for anime: and what to watch on each platform

Attack on Titan characters against sky background
(Image credit: Netflix)

So, you’re looking for the best streaming service for anime – and why wouldn’t you? Anime is no longer the niche proposition it was even a few years ago, thanks to the boom in online streaming expanding audiences for Japanese animation all over the world, and production ramping up to cater to those new viewers.

Whether you’re a new recruit to Attack on Titan, a die-hard fan of anything animated, or just want to see what all the fuss about Neon Genesis Evangelion is about (it’s amazing), you’ll want to know which streaming service really is the best for anime. 

In our guide below we’ve compared each streaming service in terms of the content available, how soon it’s available after launch, as well as the subscription price – if there is one! 

Keep in mind that content libraries will vary slightly between regions, though we’ve done our best to make this a fair comparison globally. Here are the best anime streaming services out there.

Best anime streaming service FAQ

  • What is anime? It’s literally the Japanese term for ‘animation’, and refers to a wide range of Japanese-made cartoon TV shows and films for a range of ages.
  • What are the best anime series? We’d need a whole other article for that, but we’ve listed some of the most popular anime shows in the description for each platform. 
  • What does ‘subbed’ mean? Subbed, or ‘subtitled’, means you’re hearing the original Japanese voice acting, with English (or otherwise) translations rolling across the screen throughout.
  • What does ‘dubbed’ mean? Dubbed anime features a new voice cast in languages other than Japanese, for people who don’t like reading words while they’re watching.
  • Are these sites legal? There’s a lot of pirated anime to stream online, but even the free sites below are perfectly legal. (Support animators!)

So, what is the best streaming service for anime?

(Image credit: Crunchyroll)

1. Crunchyroll

The definitive anime library

Huge anime library
Free ad-supported account option
Poor interface

You can’t begin to talk about streaming anime without Crunchyroll. The American website has a vast catalogue of nearly 1,000 popular anime shows and films, – as well as manga and foreign drama – though it’s mostly subtitled rather than dubbed (when the original audio is replaced by US voice actors). The service is free, too, meaning you’ve no excuse to go pirate any of these shows elsewhere.

There is a premium subscription ($7.99 / £6.50), which lets you view anime in higher resolution than 480p – ouch – as well as watch new episodes while they’re released, rather than having to wait a week for the episode to become available.

Crunchyroll doesn’t have the best interface, with a slightly bland design and a one-way sorting system that always lists the latest episode first – which is less helpful for new viewers. But for the breadth of content that isn’t behind a paywall, Crunchyroll is miles ahead of the competition.

Best anime on Crunchyroll: Attack on Titan (Season 1-3), Bleach, Cowboy Bebop, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Black Clover, Sword Art Online, My Hero Academia, Dragon Ball Super

(Image credit: Funimation)

2. Funimation

The home of anime dubs

Free account option
Dragon Ball series (US only)
Mostly dubs

Once a close partner with Crunchyroll, with both services sharing sections of their libraries with each other, they have since gone their separate ways.

Funimation is a large distributor of dubbed anime, meaning the catalogue tends towards replacing the Japanese voice acting, rather than subtitling the original audio. For some purists, this is heresy. For others, it makes anime a lot more accessible. If you’re in the latter camp, Funimation is probably the best anime streaming service for you.

As a dedicated anime platform, you get a lot of overlap with the Crunchyroll library. One thing Crunchyroll doesn’t have, however, is the full roster of Dragon Ball TV shows, with Funimation hosting Dragon Ball Z, Z Kai, Super, and GT alongside the original series (albeit only in the US).

Like Crunchyroll, there's a free, ad-supported version or a premium subscription option with higher video quality. You get a two-week trial to test the wares, but after that you’ll have to cough up $5.99 / £4.99 a month.

Best anime on Funimation: Attack on Titan, Fairy Tail, My Hero Academia, Assassination Classroom, Mob Psycho 100, Yuri!!! On ICE, Dragon Ball (US only: including Dragon Ball Z, Dragon Ball Super, Dragon Ball Z Kai, and Dragon Ball GT)

(Image credit: Riccosta / Shutterstock.com)

3. Netflix

Some anime gems amongst a massive catalogue

Lots of original content
Plenty to watch besides anime
Neon Genesis Evangelion
Small anime offering

You may mainly use Netflix for watching back episodes of your favorite US sitcoms, but the streaming giant has been adamant about catering to all kinds of niche programming – licensing a number of big-name anime shows as well as producing its own.

Because of Netflix’s international audience, each program has a host of audio and subtitle language options, making it one of the most versatile platforms for deciding how you want to watch your anime.

There’s also some real prestige in Netflix managing to get the iconic 90s anime Neon Genesis Evangelion onto its service, which had been missing from any sort of streaming service for years (we expect it was expensive). 

Due to licensing costs and issues, though, you won’t always get the latest or most complete series. Attack on Titan only has one of its three seasons, and anime not produced by Netflix tends to land a good while after release.

The benefit to Netflix is how much other content you get for the low entry price: starting at $8.99 / £5.99, with more expensive subscriptions available for HD and 4K content, or streaming to multiple devices at once. If you want a side of anime alongside your usual helping of action, comedy, or otherwise, Netflix is likely your best bet.

Best anime on Netflix: Neon Genesis Evangelion, Castlevania, Devilman: Crybaby, Aggretsuko, Ultraman, Little Witch Academia, One-Punch Man, Death Note, Bleach, Blue Exorcist, B: The Beginning

Hulu

(Image credit: Hulu)

4. Hulu (US only)

Expensive, but a number of Funimation shows included

Lots besides anime
Funimation shows
Inconsistent dubs and subs
US only
Expensive

Hulu is another Netflix-style streaming service with a host of films and TV shows, anime and otherwise. For a package deal of Hulu’s comedy, drama, and anime content, you’re getting a lot for the buck, though the $7.99 price won’t remove ads from the service: you’ll need the $11.99 premium account for that.

Hulu signed a partnership deal with Funimation back in 2018, so you’re getting a lot of the biggest Funimation shows to help pack out the catalogue here. However, much like Netflix, not all these seasons are complete, and it doesn’t have the breadth of a dedicated anime service. Hulu also tends to have only dub or sub for each individual shows, making for a bit of jarring experience if you prefer one or the other.

If you’re in the US, and want Hulu-specific shows alongside your anime, this may be the best option for you – even though you’re paying considerably more per month for equivalent access compared to the other options on this list.

If you’re outside of the US, you also may want to consider one of the best Hulu VPNs to still get access to the best Hulu shows.

Best anime on Hulu: Naruto, Akira, Afro Samurai, One-Punch Man, My Hero Academia, Fairy Tail, Kill la Kill, Sword Art Online, Grave of the Fireflies

(Image credit: Amazon)

Honorable mention: Amazon Prime Video

What happened to Amazon's anime plans?

Some great anime films
Funimation on TV Channels
Not that much of it

Honestly, Amazon doesn’t have that much going for it in terms of anime, especially since its Anime Strike platform closed down. There are however some brilliant feature-length anime films on the Amazon Prime Video service to stream like The Red Turtle or Your Name, including a few Studio Ghibli titles – which you won’t find on Netflix. 

If you’re on Amazon anyway and can’t find the titles you want, you can also check out its selection of Studio Ghibli boxsets and DVDs, even if this quickly becomes a costly way to binge.

If you already have an Amazon Prime account, too, it’s relatively easy to add Funimation to Amazon TV Channels for $5.99 / £4.99 a month.

Best anime on Amazon Prime Video: Boy and the Beast, Mary and the Witch’s Flower, Your Name, Grave of the Fireflies, The Red Turtle