It’s never been a better time to be a fan of anime. What once was a hobby which required patience and a large amount of effort to track down certain shows has been streamlined and improved to near perfection, allowing for more legal consumption of the medium and fans to be added at a breakneck pace. Gone are the days of watching shows years after they’re broadcast thanks to the advent of online streaming, allowing for people the world over to see each season’s offerings the day they’re premiered in Japan. Of course, this has also led to the creation of several different streaming services, each with their own benefits and limitations to be aware of before dedicating your precious funds toward a subscription. To that end, we’ve got a breakdown of each streaming service to help you decide which is the best for you.
Arguably the best known streaming service at the moment, Crunchyroll has one of, if not the, most diverse catalogs of anime available. Offering shows in most every genre as well as a majority of the new shows premiering each season for as low as $6.95 per month, it’s the best option for anyone who prefers to stay as up to date as possible on the current anime conversation. It also helps that it’s easy to use and navigate through with whichever device one chooses to watch from, making it that much easier to find the exact show to fulfill your anime viewing needs.
That said, it is definitely scattered toward those who like or don’t mind subtitled shows. While some older titles are offered with both a subbed and english dubbed version, the majority of their catalogue uses Japanese audio. If you prefer to focus on the visuals of the shows you watch, another service may be more up your alley.
Anyone who’s watched anime with an english dub has most likely heard of Funimation and their work. Boasting the most diverse catalogue of dubbed anime around, they’re the place to go for professionally voice-acted releases of old classics and the next big shows in anime. Plus, thanks to their many years of being a household name in the western end of anime’s distribution, they’ve got a bevy of shows for fans to choose from for only $7.99 each month.
Of course, there are some issues to be aware of. The website can be a pain to navigate and find the exact show you’re looking for at times, and a noticable lag can occur between audio and video if your internet strength is too low. Plus, due to the partnership formed between Funimation and Crunchyroll, the site rarely has shows that can’t be seen somewhere else, albeit with the most timely dub work limited to Funimation.
A titan of streaming services and available for as low as $10.99 per month, Netflix has made a more concerted effort toward expanding its anime offerings in recent years. Once limited to more popular anime series and films of old, their catalog has grown considerably since then and now even offers shows made specifically for the company, ranging from the painfully cute and relatable Aggretsuko to the over the top gore fest that is Devilman Crybaby. On top of that, their platform’s binge-able design is in full effect, with shows releasing in full-season chunks. This makes it that much easier to tear through complete series in a matter of hours and cutting down on the chance of you dropping a show as weeks pass in its broadcasting.
This, however, is also its biggest weakness. With shows only being released once they have a full season, anime that premiere during each given season are unavailable until the last episode airs. This can be frustrating for those who want to keep up with shows week by week, and as such may make the other entries on this list more enticing options.
An odd beast in the world of anime streaming, Hulu has a little bit of everything for everyone for only $7.99 per month. Its catalog is balanced with a nice mix of subbed and dubbed titles, allowing viewers to choose at their leisure how they’d like to view a show. Likewise, they have titles ranging from old favorites like Dragon Ball Z and Cowboy Bebop to newer series like Tokyo Ghoul:re, helping users stay in the loop while also watching their established favorites.
That said, the service’s catalogue also shifts and changes quickly, making it difficult to watch certain titles a few months after they’re first added. This extends to older series as well, with certain seasons becoming unavailable until Hulu reclaims the rights to stream them for an unknown period of time. Go with this if you tend to watch a show once and prefer to keep up with only a few current anime each season.
A veritable museum of classic anime from most every genre, Hidive is already establishing itself as a worthy option in the world of anime streaming. Stocked with anime going back to the ’80s as well as new releases from the most current anime season, the service has plenty to satisfy even the most ravenous consumer of anime. Plus, at only $4.99 a month, it’s one of the cheapest ways of legally streaming anime around.
Due to it being a recent addition to the world of anime streaming, however, there are still some kinks to work out in terms of streaming quality and accessibility. Be prepared for connectivity and lag issues if you try to watch something from the site on anything other than a laptop.
After the less than stellar reception of their separate anime streaming service Anime Strike – and its additional subscription fee needed in addition to an Amazon Prime membership – Amazon announced at the start of this year that all of its anime titles would be available through their standard Amazon Video catalogue moving forward, cutting the subscription price down to an affordable $8.99 per month. This was, and has been, good news for anime fans, as the service offers a great selection of classic anime films and new, more adult-oriented entries in the medium. From the more nihilistic and action-focused titles like Inuyashiki and the contemplative dramas like The Great Passage, to revered creations such as Ghost in the Shell, there’s plenty to find in the service’s catalog which will satisfy anime fans of all stripes.
On the flip side, the service can be finicky when searching for a specific title and tends to experience severe video lag when an internet signal isn’t strong enough. If either of these are deal breakers for you, consider looking into another streaming service before signing on to this one.
Which streaming services have been your go-tos for anime? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to check out some of our other anime related content.