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 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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.