Legal Anime Exists: 4 Websites Where You Can Watch Anime For Free (Or Cheap)

Looking to watch more anime, but not sure where to find it online? Look no further. These four websites make anime more accessible to the general public than ever before — and they’re completely legal! Three out of the four are even free.

Anime, Japanese animated TV shows and movies, has exploded in popularity in recent years, and more and more people outside of Japan are discovering this awesome fusion of storytelling, art, music, and animation.

A few years back, we reviewed some of the best anime sites on the Web, but times have changed and you can now find a lot of anime through these wonderful mainstream sources.

CrunchyRoll

CrunchyRoll is currently the ruler of legally streaming anime. You can watch videos without an account, or create a free account to keep track of what you’ve seen and add new shows to your queue. CrunchyRoll offers paid membership plans other than the basic free option.

CrunchyRoll Web   Legal Anime Exists: 4 Websites Where You Can Watch Anime For Free (Or Cheap)

They have a wonderful selection of shows from One Piece to Sword Art Online, although it is missing some big names like Fullmetal Alchemist. Regardless, this should be your first stop when shopping around for anime.

CrunchyRoll also has manga, the comics that many of the animes are based on, and a good amount of Asian dramas and Asian pop music videos. Along with a news section, forums, and a store, the whole website is just a wonderful community for anyone interested in any form of Asian media.

CrunchyRoll Android 1   Legal Anime Exists: 4 Websites Where You Can Watch Anime For Free (Or Cheap)

They’ve an iOS app and an Android app that are available for free , and the apps, while quite minimal, certainly get the job done.

CrunchyRoll also has other devices well covered. Upgrading to the $6.95 per month anime membership plan will get rid of the video ads, allow streaming on all available devices including game consoles, Roku, and Apple TV. You’ll also get fast email support, discounts at the store, access to full HD streams, and be able to see shows the same day they’re aired in Japan. They also have a $11.95 per month plan that gives you access to all the manga and Asian dramas on their website as well. Compare their membership plans and sink into 12,000 hours of anime, Korean drama and live-action titles they promise.

Netflix

Netflix is the only option on this list without a free version, but Netflix is worth the $7.99 a month for instant streaming. My favorite part about watching anime on Netflix is that you can switch seamlessly between watching with Japanese audio and English subtitles to watching the dubbed version with English audio. Dubbed or subbed? You decide.

Netflix Web   Legal Anime Exists: 4 Websites Where You Can Watch Anime For Free (Or Cheap)

Finding anime on the website is as simple as clicking on Watch Instantly and then clicking on Anime. While Netflix’s selection is pretty good, it also lacks some big names like One Piece. However, a Netflix subscription supplemented with some of the other services on this list make for a pretty complete anime collection.

Netflix App 1   Legal Anime Exists: 4 Websites Where You Can Watch Anime For Free (Or Cheap)

It has a solid Web version and Windows 8 app (read our review of the two Netflix tools), as well as apps for iOS (our review), Android and even game consoles and smart TVs. The Android and Windows 8 apps have been smooth and quick in my experience, and Netflix does a great job of separating shows into relevant categories and then recommending similar ones to you.

Hulu

One of the best options for watching TV online, Hulu also should get some credit for having a wide range of anime content. Similar to CrunchyRoll, you can either watch shows without an account or create a free account for tracking what you’ve seen.

Hulu Web1   Legal Anime Exists: 4 Websites Where You Can Watch Anime For Free (Or Cheap)

You can find anime from the main page by clicking More and then clicking Anime. Since I usually prefer to watch dubbed shows instead of subbed shows (sorry), I find Hulu a little lacking because it separates dubbed shows from subbed shows and has a much larger subbed selection. Still, there overall collection is huge and varied in many genres, so you should definitely take a look.

Hulu sub dub   Legal Anime Exists: 4 Websites Where You Can Watch Anime For Free (Or Cheap)

The paid version, Hulu Plus, will set you back $7.99, and while it doesn’t remove ads, it does give you access to more content, allows you to stream in HD, and allows you to use Hulu Plus on your mobile devices, game console, or smart TV.

Hulu is officially only available in the US, but don’t worry, there are some easy ways to access region blocked media.

YouTube

Finding anime on YouTube can be a bit trickier, but it’s definitely out there. YouTube has an Animated TV Shows section, with some anime, but this also mixes in a lot of American cartoons and kids shows.

However, there are legitimate uploads to be found. Daisuki has posted all 25 episodes of Sword Art Online on YouTube, and Funimation has uploaded both Fullmetal Alchemist and its remake that stays truer to the manga, Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. You can check out Daisuki and Funimation’s channels for more anime from them, but your fastest way of finding anime on YouTube is with a simple search.

YouTube Funimation   Legal Anime Exists: 4 Websites Where You Can Watch Anime For Free (Or Cheap)

YouTube doesn’t have many of the advantages of the other services, like a community built around Asian media or consistency with subtitles, but it is free and widely known and used. If an anime you’d like to watch can’t be found on any of the services mentioned before, try YouTube.

Conclusion

If you love anime that much, you’ll definitely be interested in the manga that has inspired them, and we’ve covered a few of the best sites to read manga online as well. Not to mention that Tumblr has a few good blogs you should follow for some anime- and manga-inspired cosplaying.

What is your favorite way of watching anime online? Do these services fit your needs, or do you have something better? Let us know in the comments.

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20 Comments -

Ah Rip X

i never tried this, but it seems to be one of the good alternatives too
https://www.daisuki.net/

Justin D

You know, I had never heard of Daisuki before, but it looks great! Thanks!

Josh W

There’s certainly plenty more than four. If you take a look the subreddit /r/anime’s wiki page (http://www.reddit.com/r/anime/wiki/legal_streams_/_downloads), you can see that there are quite a few more. Some worth noting are The Anime Network, AnimeSols, Daisuki, Funimation’s own website, the ambitious Viki, and VizAnime.com (which is not on that list for some reason). To be fair, there is a considerable amount of overlap, as you will most likely see much of their content on Hulu or Netflix.

In any case, there certainly are many options for legally watching anime online.

Robert O

I’m half-Japanese. I spent my youth growing up in Japan, and enjoyed several anime shows on Japanese TV in the 80’s. Doraemon, Lupin III, Ashita no Jo, Blue Noah, and (of course) Uchu Senkam Yamato (“Space Battleship Yamato/ Star Blazers”). These shows are probably before most Western anime fans’ time, but I’m sure some “otaku” die-hards will recognise these shows.

But I am mystified by the fascination the West has with anime/manga, especially the super-cutesy stuff that seems to be available on Hulu! Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the fact that some facet(s) of Japanese culture is appealing to Westerners, but “kawaii” anime seems to go totally against the grain of Western “gritty” tastes.

I don’t get it. What’s the appeal to you modern “otaku?” Now fighting robots, monsters, blood, and space battles I understand, but…. most of the shows seem to feature innocent high-school girls now. OK, I’m just an old guy, I guess. :-)

Josh W

Just like anything else, anime goes through trends, and now that anime fans have immediate access to what is popular in Japan, they end up gravitating toward the same things. As a result, it becomes a generational thing. In the 80s, American anime fans liked big robots as much as Japan did (Transformers, Battletech, etc). I consider myself an “old-school Toonami fan”, so I became a huge fan of the stuff made in the 90s. Now, the current generation of Western anime fans like the kawaii/moe/cute-girls-doing-x phenomenon simply because that is what dominates the anime market these days. 10 years from now, it will be something completely different.

While it may make sense that “grittier” stuff would be more popular in America in general (Akira, Dragon Ball Z, and Cowboy Bebop did do well here), that’s on a major mainstream level. For the fans that go to websites like CrunchyRoll, they just want the latest from Japan, and the cuter stuff is what it happens to be at the moment. I think it’s just part of the peculiarities of niche entertainment, especially since it comes from and is catered to the interests of a different country.

Justin D

Hmm, this conversation was fascinating. You learn something new everyday. :) Thanks, Robert and Josh.

Mohammad A

nice. this is some oase for anime reader

Baldlars

For the past 8 years, I’ve been a paid member of CrunchyRoll because …
1) CrunchyRoll maintains licenses to legally stream all the shows, which means the artists are getting paid. Most other sites can not claim this.
2) As a paid member, I can get my favorite anime (with English subtitles) three hours after it was aired in Japan, which CrunchyRoll can legally do in the United States.

Justin D

Good to know! I’m liking CrunchyRoll more and more. Thanks for sharing. :)

Saumyakanta S

there is another site – http://www.animeultima.tv

Jeb

It is most likely not on the list because it is not a “legal” site.

Luster

There are multiple other websites that are great, like http://www.animerelief.com/ – but this list is for “legal” alternatives. Although you’re not really going to get into trouble watching an anime from one of the other sites, especially if it was never licensed outside Japan, it’s still good to support the growing anime economy in the West.

Mohammad Hamzani S

many that i used not listed… i dont know if it got blocked in ur country or it just out of discuss. i often use this 3 site for most my anime collection. animeultima, animehere, and animeseason. this 3 major site that i used is free online streaming site and if used downloader that capture link, u will be able to download as well just in my case since i used public pc and download the anime and watch at home. althought it free, some anime or to been precise uploader used paid hosting like novavideo, veoh, mp4upload ang many more that are aid and really tricky just to watch the video. but mostly the vid been upload to free hosting or free account posting like auengine, yourupload, vidbox and trollvideo. so feel free to search this site up and enjoy watching or downloading anime..

Alt L

Hey! That lady at the start is Opera-tan (personification of the Opera browser)!

Abdul Amer

Anilinkz.com is the best site in my opinion. It has lots of animeseries and movies that you can watch online. It also has western cartoons like phineas and ferb, adventure time, etc. The website is free, no registration, and all the latest animes are there and always updated.

Josh W

Yes, but that website is clearly not “legal.” I’m not saying that you’re wrong for watching things there (that’s your decision), but the premise of the article is pointing out “official” sites, which this Anilinkz.com clearly is not.

josesl16

Wow, I didn’t expect MUO would ever feature anime :o This is probably the first anime-related post on MUO I have seen… On the note, how is youtube considered legal? Or is it legal only when official youtube accounts of the studios/creators upload the episodes officially to youtube? Although asking this, it’s not like I care that much, lol.

Justin D

I love anime! Hit me up if you ever have any ideas for other anime-related articles. :)

I think it’s exactly what you said: YouTube is legal when it’s uploaded by official YouTube accounts from the creators themselves.

Klaurel

One of my favorite site to watch anime is Animehere xD

Sid

realitylapse could also serve as a legal anime website alternative.