Before streaming services, it was a challenge finding where to watch anime if you weren’t in Japan. Streaming services gave easy access to vast media libraries of every genre, including anime. Then came anime-centric platforms that were every fan’s dream.
Beloved classics, exciting new releases, everything was within reach, and you had the choice of how to consume it—subbed or dubbed. Even better, many services let you watch episodes as they come out in Japan, ensuring you don’t see an accidental spoiler that ruins the experience for you.
Let’s explore the best anime streaming services, free and paid.
The most recognizable streaming service offers more than 200 titles that fall under the anime genre.
Among the most popular features, you’ll find the utter masterpiece that is Death Note (the series, not the awful movie adaptation), as well as Naruto, and Aggretsuko, to name a few. There’s a separate anime section you can browse, and once you land on a title, you can watch it subbed or dubbed.
Netflix’s anime catalog may seem a bit scarce compared to other platforms, but since it’s one of the most widely accessible streaming services, it’s still impressive.
The cheapest Netflix subscription you can get is $8.99 for its Basic plan.
Hulu is another popular streaming service that doesn’t only stick to anime, so if you decide to get it, you’ll get diverse content.
Hulu offers over 400 titles in the anime genre, including some of the most well-known names like Naruto Shippuden, One-Punch Man, and Sailor Moon. Hulu lets you host watch parties with up to eight other people, so you can all have a simultaneous anime viewing experience.
A Hulu subscription will take you back $12/month for an ad-free experience and $6/month for an ad-supported one.
Crunchyroll does offer non-anime features, but it’s essentially an anime-centric platform that boasts over 1,000 titles and 30,000 anime episodes. Crunchyroll not only offers well-known and more niche anime titles, but also has originals for you to enjoy, including titles like The God of High School and Onyx Equinox.
You can browse through the platform to find your next watch based on your preferred genre, a title’s popularity, or the episodes that are out and about to be out. Crunchyroll also offers simulcasts.
Simulcast is short for simultaneous broadcasts and lets you watch the feature as it airs in Japan, making you bulletproof against spoilers.
The best part is that Crunchyroll has a free subscription, so if you’re on a tight budget, you can still enjoy the content. It also offers an $8/month ad-free plan, as well as a pricier one with more perks. If you pay $15/month, you get an ad-free experience, offline downloads, and an annual gift.
Like Crunchyroll, Funimation is an anime-centric service. Funimation has over 720 anime features, both classics and new releases. It offers dubbed and subbed shows, giving you the option to customize your viewing experience how you like it. It also lets you change the text backgrounds and create a custom font.
The streaming service has a handy Discover tab that helps you find your next watch based on mood, preference, genre, and even what’s a trending hot topic on the platform. Say you really enjoyed the Shokugeki no Souma (Food Wars! Shokugeki no Souma) series and feel like watching a similar food-based show. You can find an Anime Buffet category under Discover that gives you a list of other features where food is central.
Funimation offers several subscription plans. You can get a $6/month ad-free one or scale up to an $8/month one that’s also ad-free with offline downloads. Alternatively, splurge for the $100/year plan that gets you all that plus an annual gift. If these seem too pricey, Funimation also offers a free subscription.
HIDIVE offers a selection of over 300 anime movies and shows. It has subbed, dubbed, and uncensored features.
The platform has a Schedule tab that keeps you in the loop about upcoming releases. Everything there is color-coded to let you know if the release will be subbed or dubbed, a premier, or a simulcast.
HIDIVE offers a 30-day free trial, which is as close as you get to a free plan for the streaming service. If you want to enjoy its features, it will cost you $5 per month or $48 for the year.
VRV is an aggregator platform that hosts multiple channels, including HIDIVE and Crunchyroll, so its anime feature count is among the most impressive—over 2,600 titles. You can easily spend over 20,000 hours consuming anime on it.
VRV makes it easy to browse and find your next watch. There’s a list of all the channels it offers that you can click and explore individually. Or, you can use the search tab and go through the results.
For example, if you search for One Punch Man, VRV gives you a list of shows that match your search and similar ones; the show itself is on Crunchyroll, Punch Line is on both Crunchyroll and HIDIVE, One Piece is on Crunchyroll, and so on. It’s an easy-to-navigate service.
The best part about VRV is that if you pay for it, you also get Crunchyroll and HIDIVE content. The platform offers a 30-day free trial and a $10/month plan that’s ad-free, allows offline downloads, access to exclusive shows, and first access to new episodes. It’s a bargain.
Which Anime Streaming Service Is Best?
It may seem like a cop-out, but the answer is: it depends. What’s your budget? Do you consume anime as the main dish or as a side? Once you know the answers, you can determine which subscription is best to get.
If you’re a novice looking to get into anime, you’re better off using a service you probably already have, like Netflix or Hulu. But if you’re an avid anime fan, then VRV might be best since it offers several platforms in one for a single cost.
These free anime websites make anime more accessible than ever before, and they’re all completely legal to use.
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