The 10 Best Anime Series to Watch on Netflix

Joel Lee 05-04-2017

Remember when Netflix used to be the underdog? It hasn’t been the underdog for a while now.


Netflix is spreading its wings. Having dropped the content no one was watching, the service is investing heavily in original TV series and movies. But Netflix is also exploring another area that you probably weren’t aware of: anime.

We’ve already compiled a list of the best Western animation shows and family-friendly animated films. And while there are legitimate ways to watch anime online for free The 5 Best Websites Where You Can Watch Anime Online for Free These free anime websites make anime more accessible than ever before, and they're all completely legal to use. Read More , you may be interested in Netflix’s own collection of anime shows, which is both impressive and growing.

1. Death Note

37 episodes (finished) | IMDb: 9.0 | MAL: 8.70

Death Note is arguably the most popular anime series of all time. Unlike most anime, which focus mainly on action and/or comedy, this one’s a psychological thriller. Not only is this an underexplored genre in the anime world, but Death Note knocks it way out of the park.

The series follows a student who comes across the “Death Note” — a notebook that kills anyone whose name is written within. He begins using it to cleanse the world of criminals, which grabs the attention of a world-renowned detective and leads to a mind-bending game of cat-and-mouse.


Death Note is so popular that Netflix is creating a live action film based on it. Slated to debut in August 2017, the film will be closer to a reimagining than a direct adaptation, and fans are cautiously optimistic about it.

Watch Death Note on Netflix

2. Attack on Titan

37 episodes (ongoing) | IMDb: 8.8 | MAL: 8.52

Attack on Titan is the perfect mix of strong characters, well-choreographed action, and an atmosphere dripping with eerie dread. The story is about humanity on the brink of extinction as it fends off the persistent attacks of so-called Titans — huge monsters that have insatiable appetites for humans.


It’s hard to explain Attack on Titan‘s success and popularity. Perhaps it comes down to how well it resonates with the struggle of millenials and modern youths: life is an endless climb out of an ever-growing hole, yet no matter how futile it seems, we must persevere and carry on.

Watch Attack on Titan on Netflix

3. Your Lie in April

22 episodes (finished) | IMDb: 8.3 | MAL: 8.92

Your Lie in April follows a gifted pianist who falls into a deep depression when his mother passes away. After two years in his lifeless slump, he meets a beautiful violinist who slowly brings joy back into his days. It’s a masterfully written story of one man’s road to restoration.


If you only enjoy action-heavy anime, then you may want to skip this — but you should at least watch a couple of episodes to see whether you like it. Your Lie in April starts off lighthearted and soft, but by the end proves to be surprisingly emotional and heartfelt.

Watch Your Lie in April on Netflix

4. Gurren Lagann

27 episodes (finished) | IMDb: 8.4 | MAL: 8.77

In the future, humanity is forced to live in subterranean dwellings and prevented from having any contact with the surface. But when two boys discover a weaponized robot and use it to escape the underground, they discover that Earth is at war with the Spiral King to reclaim control of the surface.


Gurren Lagann evokes a kind of energy that few other series have managed. Not only is it fun, but in many ways it’s also unconventional. You may not like this one if you aren’t into the “mecha” genre of anime, but you should definitely give it a shot anyway. It’s the kind of show that appeals to viewers outside the intended target audience.

Watch Gurren Lagann on Netflix

5. Hunter X Hunter

148 episodes (finished) | IMDb: 8.9 | MAL: 9.13

Hunter X Hunter centers on a young boy who dreams of becoming the best Hunter in the world. The reason? So that he can use those skills to track down his Hunter father who abandoned him years ago. This difficult journey takes him on a wild adventure filled with friends, foes, and monsters.

The 148-episode run means you’ll need to commit about 50 hours to finish the series, but it’s well worth the investment. Unlike a lot of long-running anime, Hunter X Hunter maintains a steady quality from beginning to end.

Watch Hunter X Hunter on Netflix

6. Fate/Zero

25 episodes (finished) | IMDb: 8.3  | MAL: 8.49

Fate/Zero centers on a survival battle royale between seven magical participants, all vying to win one grand prize: the Holy Grail, which grants a wish. It is the prequel to Fate/Stay Night.

There are many reasons to love Fate/Zero: beautiful art, strong characters, intriguing supernatural aspects, all wrapped up in a great balance of action and drama. While the story is on the mature side, the plot may seem a bit simplistic when compared to other, deeper anime series. Nonetheless, it’s a fun watch, and that’s ultimately all that matters.

Watch Fate/Zero on Netflix [No Longer Available]

7. Ajin: Demi-Human

27 episodes (ongoing) | IMDb: 7.9 | MAL: 7.77

The world is plunged into chaos when mysterious immortals, known as Ajin, suddenly appear all over the planet. When one student discovers that he’s an Ajin himself, he goes on the run as he’s wanted for capture, interrogation, and experimentation.

Right off the bat, you should know that Ajin uses a strange 3D animation style that can feel clunky at times. But if you can get through the first episode or two, you’ll stop noticing it. The real draw of Ajin is the pervasive mystery surrounding the Ajin phenomenon and the drive to learn what’s going on.

Watch Ajin: Demi-Human on Netflix

8. Naruto

220 episodes (finished) | IMDb: 8.2 | MAL: 7.82

Naruto follows the eponymous main character, an outcast boy whose dream is to become the best ninja in the world. As he pursues this dream, he learns that it won’t be as easy as he thinks, and that life is a lot more complex than he could ever have imagined.

There are supernatural elements (ninja techniques are basically magic) and lots of excellent worldbuilding, but character development is the heart of this show. The cast is mostly comprised of youths, but the stories told are deeply human — they’ll resonate no matter how old you are.

Note that this is only Part 1 of the anime. There’s a Part 2, called Naruto: Shippuden, which consists of an additional 500 episodes and is only available on Hulu as of this writing. Even though I think Netflix is better than Hulu Netflix vs. Hulu vs. Amazon Prime: Which Should You Choose? It has been years since we've compared heavy-hitting streaming services, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. And with changes in pricing, content, quality, and interface, we thought it was time to revisit the topic. Read More , this is one reason why I subscribe to both.

Watch Naruto on Netflix

Reluctant to watch Naruto because you heard it was full of fillers? Learn how you can watch Naruto and Naruto Shippuden while skipping all the fillers!

9. Bleach

366 episodes (finished) | IMDb: 8.2 | MAL: 7.94

Bleach shares a lot in common with Naruto, which isn’t too surprising since both were produced by the same animation studio. It’s an action-heavy, meant-for-teenagers anime with strong character development and mature themes that elevate it above mindless supernatural fighting.

The reason why I rank Bleach below Naruto is that the story arcs of Bleach can start to feel repetitive over the 366 episode run. Don’t get me wrong: the journey is enjoyable, but I don’t recommend binge-watching it. Take a rest between major story arcs and you’ll like it much more.

Watch Bleach on Netflix

10. Sword Art Online

49 episodes (finished) | IMDb: 7.9 | MAL: 7.78

In the near future, a virtual reality online role-playing game called Sword Art Online captures the world’s attention. But things take a turn when the players realize that logging out is impossible and that dying in the game means dying in real life.

Up front, I’ll admit that I hated this anime — so much so that I couldn’t finish it. My biggest gripes include too much of a focus on romance and a squandered premise that isn’t explored deeply enough. However, lots of people love the series, there’s an enthusiastic fan community, and it’s one of the most popular anime of the last decade, so don’t take my word for it.

Watch Sword Art Online on Netflix [No Longer Available] 

What Are Your Favorite Anime Series?

If you were to watch all of the above anime series from start to finish, you’d have enough to fill your plate for the next year or two. If you don’t want to dedicate that much time, then I at least recommend the shorter series. In particular, Death Note, Attack on Titan, and Your Lie in April.

A lot of these anime series are based on manga works. Check out whether it’s better to read the manga first or watch the anime first! Also, don’t forget to make the most of your subscription by watching some of the best movies on Netflix The 100 Best Movies to Watch on Netflix Right Now There is so much content on Netflix it's difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff. This article offers a helping hand, counting down the 100 best movies you should watch on Netflix right now. Read More .

Related topics: Anime, Netflix, Television.

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  1. Veder
    November 28, 2017 at 11:07 pm

    Like I've commented on Facebook: "No Steins;Gate or Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood?... Can't take the list seriously lol"

    Sword Art Online is also way over-hyped, it's decent but not top 10 worthy. The same goes for Bleach and Naruto, they have way to many filler episodes to qualify for a top 10 notation, both have around 40-45% of fillers episodes.

    Not going for a specific order here but replace those 3 shows at least with Steins;Gate, Full Metal Alchemist and Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood and the list is looking a lot better already.

  2. craig
    April 6, 2017 at 7:23 am

    I think Anime has a progression.
    One does not simply watch anime, you grow into anime.
    I would recommend the following as well
    Soul Eater - cute but a good concept and more for kiddies but use discretion
    Durarara - Good Story Line / Fantasy
    Bashquash - Overcoming adversity
    Fairy Tail - Imaginative and Fun
    Guilty Crown
    Neon Genesis Evangelion
    Samurai Champloo - ten out of ten for originality
    Stein's Gate
    Log Horizon - similar to SAO
    Sword Art Online
    One Piece - Although draggy like Naruto
    Bleach - best anime/Manga ever!!
    There are more awesome anime titles but that is the nice part of the journey.
    Btw every anime in the article is awesome and worth a watch

  3. old_phart
    April 6, 2017 at 12:28 am

    Cowboy Bebop
    Ghost In The Shell
    Samurai Champloo
    Natsume Yuujincho
    Rurouni Kenshin
    Darker Than Black
    Letter Bee
    Kamisama Kiss
    Wagaya no Oinari
    Shounen Onmyouji
    (see any pattern? - a good story, well told)

  4. Doc
    April 5, 2017 at 6:35 pm

    Sorry, while I enjoyed Voltron (GoLion and Dairugger XV both, and the first season of Netflix's reboot!), I just can't get into pointy chins, doe eyes, and pastel hair as an adult.