Anime has finally become mainstream. The interest in all things anime has never been higher, drawing in more and more people that are interested in the medium and want to know what it’s all about. But first, you may be wondering what exactly is “anime.”
Well, for people outside Japan, anime is used to describe any type of hand-drawn or computer animation originating from Japan. To a certain extent, it can also include works produced outside of Japan just as long as the style proves to be Japanese-inspired.
What Makes Anime So Popular?
Unlike other media or classic cartoons, anime is often very heavily stylized with vibrant graphics, unique characters, and delves into more mature themes that can involve violence, sexuality, politics, and death.
That’s probably the main reason why it resonates so well with young adults and people that are looking for a unique source of entertainment. Anime simply presents these topics using its original style to set itself apart from other types of media around.
With the advent of online streaming and fast internet connections around the world, watching anime is no longer a difficult task. Back in the day, accessing this content would have required ample amounts of work or research throughout the internet.
Nowadays, it’s as quick as opening up a website and just clicking on any particular series that suits your mood. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the best anime streaming sites available online. Our list includes both pay-to-watch and free options, and it’s up to you to decide which one best suits your needs.
The websites in this category are the ones that offer the official experience of watching anime online. In simple terms, distributors and license holders have authorized these websites to offer their content on these platforms in exchange for a certain amount of money. For many, these are the “legal” websites. By using their services, you’re supporting all those talented individuals who put the actual work into creating anime.
Without a doubt, it’s hard to deny the impact Crunchyroll has had on making anime accessible worldwide. With over ten years of uninterrupted service and more than 2.5 million paid subscribers, Crunchyroll remains the first point of contact with anime for many people.
This website offers two subscription models. You can either register as a free or a premium user, the main difference being that premium offers full HD content without ads. More importantly, premium users can also watch the newest anime shows one hour after they’ve finished airing in Japan. On top of that, premium users get full access to Crunchyroll’s catalog.
That’s not all. Crunchyroll also offers manga to read, Asian drama TV series to watch, an interesting community to be part of, and they even feature their own original anime productions from time to time. Many people would agree that Crunchyroll is probably the best site to choose if you want to keep up with the popular mainstream series everyone else is watching.
Although mostly only available in the United States, Funimation has proven to be the go-to choice for many. Funimation is an American company owned by Sony.
They offer a great selection of exclusive streaming options on their platform, ranging from the most well-known classic series (Dragon Ball, One Piece) to the most recent productions (My Hero Academia, Assassination Classroom). They also produce English-dubbed versions of many anime series that have proven to be very popular among fans.
Funimation also offers different models of subscriptions, so you can choose the one that suits your needs and tastes the most.
Just like Crunchyroll, they offer simulcast options for the most recent anime and have their own catalog of series to choose from. For the most part, if an anime series you’re interested in is not available on Crunchyroll, you can be sure that Funimation will most likely have it.
A relatively new player into the streaming anime market. HIDIVE offers a sleek and simple website design, along with an affordable subscription fee compared to its competitors. Although their selection of available titles is not as vast as the other websites, it does have a good selection of high-quality series and cult classics I’d personally recommend.
HIDIVE offers simulcasts, series dubbed in English remarkably quickly after their Japan release. It’s important to note that they also offer a 14-day trial of their service, so you have enough of time to decide if their $4 monthly subscription fee is worth it or not. All these propositions solidly cement HIDIVE’s standing at number three on this list.
Believe it or not, streaming giant Netflix has been making its move into anime for years, trying to grab a slice of the ever-growing anime market. Even though they have taken a few missteps here and there, it’s safe to say nowadays they’re a viable choice for streaming anime online.
Their catalog has expanded massively over the years, covering many mainstream series as well as a wide selection of timeless classics, such as Akira, Evangelion, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion and many, many more.
Netflix has even gone as far as to start producing its own anime series in partnership with some of the renowned Japanese studios, enjoying a fair amount of success in the process. If you’re already paying for a Netflix subscription, then have a look at their anime selection. Maybe your new favorite anime is waiting for you.
Just as with Netflix above, Hulu also wants to take part in the anime craze. Even though Hulu is another major player in the US streaming business, the name doesn’t get frequently thrown around by anime enthusiasts. However, it’s hard to argue the company’s effort in including a veritable selection of anime offerings for users to watch.
Some would say Hulu’s catalog is even bigger than the largest and most dedicated anime streaming websites out there, but having to deal with ads in the platform even if you’re paying the $7,99 monthly fee is a hard proposition for some to stomach. Nonetheless, Hulu manages to remain an excellent option for its quality library of anime series to choose from.
In this category, we’ll cover sites that are geared more towards those of us who are tight on money and need “another way” to access the content. It’s important to mention that most of the sites here don’t exactly respect copyright laws.
However, since some of the paid sites we mentioned are region-restricted, these free sites still present a very reliable alternative for users who simply can’t legally access their favorite anime shows.
Featuring a massive collection of series to choose from, including movies, OVAs, ONAs, specials, dubbed series, and many more, 9Anime has managed to stay relevant over the years.
Featuring multiple servers to host all content online and with the vast majority of the series available in HD format, you can be sure that they’ll have that specific anime series you’re looking for. Most new releases are uploaded mere hours after being shown in Japan, and the quality of the website itself is fantastic too.
The ads can be a little excessive at times, but arm yourself with a decent ad blocker, and you’ll have the ultimate anime streaming experience right at your fingertips with 9Anime.
An old but trusted site within the anime community, KissAnime has been around for years, and their vast library of titles is an excellent proof of this. As the name suggests, KissAnime website specializes in anime, but you can also find TV shows and movies. As with other free anime websites, the presence of ads can be cumbersome, but there’s always an effective way to deal with them.
Anime series are available in HD and Ultra HD too, everything is neatly organized by categories. Dubbed series are available as well, and you can generally expect to find pretty much any content from the paid websites here.
The site does look a bit traditional, but don’t be fooled, GogoAnime also has tons of great anime series to choose from. They offer incredibly fast load times, HD quality when available, as well as an active, vibrant community of users and fans to interact with.
Pretty much anything you would want from a free anime streaming site is here, from the ability to download your favorite series with the press of a button to multiple servers keeping the content available at all times.
Just like with many other free anime sites, ads can get in the way of things. Just have your ad blocker at the ready, and you are guaranteed to have a great time here. However, if you find what you’re looking for, it would be kind of you to consider turning the blocker off and supporting the site that way.
4. Anime Twist
Featuring a simple, no-nonsense minimalist design, Anime Twist offers high-quality HD content and a reasonable amount of series to choose from. The website doesn’t use ads at all, relying instead on donations to keep the site going. All of the content they offer is mostly subbed, with almost no dubs whatsoever. Its simple, straight-to-the-point design is sure to win many people over for ease of access.
Everything is ordered alphabetically on the main page. If you’re looking for a specific anime, be sure to use the search function. This is anime streaming at its finest, with pretty much nothing getting between you and the content you want to see, making Anime Twist one of our top choices of the free section.
5. Anime Planet
If a site is free, that doesn’t automatically mean it’s in a gray area regarding licensing. “A site run by fans, for fans,” that’s Anime-Planet’s motto, and it definitely shows.
Even though it functions mostly as a database site, Anime-Planet also offers over 45,000 anime episodes to stream online with an impressive selection of some of the most popular titles out there. Part of this is due to their partnership with Crunchyroll to provide a good selection of series on their table.
Since it’s mostly a database-focused site, Anime-Planet offers lots of info about the production staff, voice actors, and all sorts of interesting details about your favorite series in one convenient place.
Again, its primary purpose is informational rather than streaming. Still, if you need convenience and a healthy amount of information to accompany your favorite series, this is the place to go looking for it.
Anime has already made its way into millions of lives out there, bringing with it a new set of ideas, emotions, and experiences for people to appreciate. Just like many other works in the entertainment industry, it can also be seen as a work of art that will undoubtedly have an impact in the years to come.
Even though anime started slowly as this “weird cartoon” not many people understood at the time, the number of devoted fans has exponentially grown over the years, making it a mainstream sensation that has reached people of all ages and all walks of life. With our list of the best sites to stream anime, you can also take part in this global phenomenon and see for yourself what anime has to offer.