So you want to try to watch anime, but you aren’t sure how to do it. A question I get asked by a lot of friends when they discover I watch anime is “What’s the best streaming service for anime?” Essentially the answer boils down to “depends on what you’re looking for.” So rather than write a post about the service that I recommend, I’m just going to list the services I know of below and some information about each one. I can’t pick one for you, but hopefully I can help you make an informed decision. I have everything listed in alphabetical order, and if I missed anything, please let me know. (Note: Because I live in the United States, this will be geared towards users in the U.S.)
All sites listed below are legal streams for anime. I’m not here to help you sail the high seas. All information is up-to-date as of July 26th, 2019.
Crunchyroll is one of the larger anime streaming sites available, though admittedly, I wasn’t sure how legitimate it was before I started watching anime. They offer a large library of past and seasonal anime, with new episodes typically showing up roughly 1 hour after they air in Japan (simulcast).
Crunchyroll typically only carries anime that is subtitled. They do occasionally offer dubbed anime in various languages, but their original Japanese library is their bread and butter. Luckily, their subtitle game is on point, having the easiest to read subtitles of any of the other listed platforms here.
Their pricing structure is as follows: $7.99/month | $22.99/3 months | $79.99/year
If you don’t see a reason to cancel your service, the annual option is the best pick as it comes to roughly $6.66/month at that price. You can watch for free, but you have to wait an extra week for new episodes, you don’t have access to the entire library, the streams aren’t in HD, and you have to watch ads.
- Large library
- Commercial Free
- Easy to Navigate Website
- New Seasonal Content 1 hour after airing in Japan
- HD Streams for most content
- Occasional Downtime (it’s getting better)
- No Downloads for Offline Streams
- Tech Support is only OK
Available Platforms: iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Playstation 4, WiiU, Xbox One, Playstation 3, Playstation Vita, Xbox 360, Chromecast, Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV
Funimation is the other large player in the US market for anime streaming. They cater to the dubs crowd, licensing and releasing shows in English. While the English releases aren’t typically out as quickly as the subtitled releases, if you prefer to hear it in English rather than read it, this is the place to be.
I have to say though, their website experience is seriously lacking. It’s really hard to peel through all the stuff they’re trying to sell you (merch, etc) and find the actual shows to watch. It’s seemingly buried and pretty difficult to find until you know how to search for it. It’s a huge mark against it.
And if you prefer the original Japanese with subtitles, their subtitle game is pretty weak, too, on some of the major platforms (such as Roku and Chromecast), relying on outdated and difficult to read .srt subtitles without special formatting to help you read it easily.
Their pricing structure is as follows: Premium for $5.99/month or $59.99/year | Premium Plus for $7.99/month or $79.99/year | Premium Plus Ultra for $99.99/year
Here are the benefits of each tier:
- Premium: Ad-free access to the entire library | Subs and Dubs Included | 2 Simultaneous Streams
- Premium Plus: All of the above plus 5 Simultaneous Streams | Offline Viewing | Member-Only Events | 1 Day early access to shop sales | Free shipping over $20| Member-Only offers in the shop
- Premium Plus Ultra: All of the above plus 2 Free Rentals Per Year | Annual Anniversary Gift | Free Shipping on All Orders | 2 Day early access to shop sales
- Large Library
- HD Streams
- Offline Viewing
- Dubs in English
- Lots of Seasonal Content
- Convoluted Pricing Structure
- Hard to Navigate Website to watch content
- Sub-par subtitles design
Available Platforms: iOS, Android, Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Kindle, Windows Store, Roku, Xbox One, PS4, Samsung Store
HiDive has a smaller library of available titles, but that does include a lot of exclusives and the pricing is more affordable as well. They offer a lot of “uncensored” content, as well. Their site is simple and straight to the point when it comes to streaming. They also offer multiple profiles per account.
Simulcasts, Dubcasts and Dubs are all available for various shows. They offer customizable subtitles, parental controls, custom avatars, and multiple streams.
Their pricing structure is as follows: $4.99/month | $47.99/year
- HD Streams
- Easy to use website
- Unique Library
- Seasonal Content
- Customization for profiles and subtitles
- Parental Controls
- Home Video Editions
- Simple Pricing Structure
- Smaller Library
- Subtitle Customization varies across platforms
Available Platforms: iOS, Android, Chromecast, Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Fire Tablet, Roku, Xbox One, VRV (more on this in the VRV section)
Hulu isn’t typically thought of as an anime platform, but as the anime medium is starting to pick up some steam, other streaming platforms are trying to get in on the game, Hulu included. They have a modest anime library in addition to their other content. While they do have seasonal anime, it’s usually stuff you can find on other platforms. This feels more like a bonus anime experience, especially since at least one show I came across (K-On!) was actually better to watch on HiDive since Hulu didn’t have an HD stream for it.
Their pricing structure is as follows: $5.99/month with ads | $11.99/month no ads
Remember, those prices include both anime and the rest of Hulu’s large TV and movie library.
- Lots of content other than anime
- Large platform reliability
- Simple Pricing Structure
- No annual pricing
- Commercials on a paid tier
- Anime isn’t their business so it isn’t their focus
Available Platforms: iOS, Android, Apple TV, Chromecast, Echo Show, Amazon Fire Tablets, Amazon Fire TV, LG TV, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Roku, Samsung TV, Vizio Smartcast TV, Windows 10, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Like Hulu, Netflix isn’t an anime only platform, but is starting to really try to get into the anime game. They have a few larger exclusives as well as some big name older anime (and they keep adding more big name shows and movies). In addition, you get their entire library and all commercial free. The shows are typically in HD and the subtitles are easy to read; English dubs are also available for a large chunk of their anime library.
Their pricing structure is as follows: Basic for $8.99/month | Standard for $12.99/month | Premium for $15.99/month
Here are the benefits of each tier:
- Basic: Single stream | Unlimited Movies and TV Shows | Cancel Anytime
- Standard: All of the above plus HD Streams up to 1080p | 2 Simultaneous streams
- Premium: All of the above plus Ultra HD Streams (4k) | 4 Simultaneous streams
Remember, those prices include all of Netflix’s library, including their originals.
- Large Platform Reliability
- Rapidly Expanding Anime Library
- Ad Free Streaming on all Plans
- Download for offline streaming
- Easy to read subtitles
- Not an anime focused platform
- No Annual pricing
Available Platforms: iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Nvidia Shield, tons of smart TVs, Nintendo 3DS, PS Vita, PS3, PS4, WiiU, Xbox 360, Xbox One, tons of smart Blu-ray players
I don’t have VRV myself, but I’ll do my best to summarize what I am seeing on their website (please correct me if you see an error). It’s an aggregate platform offering membership to a host of other services for one low price. These are their premium tier services, so you get the full benefits of each site. Basically, rather than subscribing to a bunch of different platforms, you can pay for VRV and access all the different sites and their content.
Their pricing structure is as follows: $9.99/month
These are the sources that VRV Premium gets you access to:
- Cartoon Hangover
- Curiosity Stream
- Rooster Teech
- VRV Select
- One low price for access to all platforms
- You probably won’t watch everything available (but even if it’s just for Crunchyroll and HiDive, it’s cheaper than individual subscriptions)
- I could not find an option for annual pricing
Available Platforms: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Chromecast, iOS, Android, Android TV, Fire TV, Apple TV, Roku
And there you have it. Hopefully it makes it easier to pick the platform that works best for you and your anime habits. If I missed anything (or misrepresented anything) please let me know in the comments so I can correct it. Now go watch some anime and come back and talk about it with me!