In this day and age of streaming, it’s easier than ever to discover new anime. However, the main thing is knowing what streaming services are available. This post will be focusing on the legal streaming sites that I know exist, and will not include any anime pirate sites.
Crunchyroll: This site is by far one of the largest out there that’s devoted to anime. It’s available in a lot of countries, although what titles are available on the service varies depending on what country you live in. Viewers can watch anime on the service for free, but for simulcasts, they are not able to see the most recent episode (simulcast episodes are delayed a week for free users). Also, there are commercials in the streams. However, in order to remove ads and to be able to see the most recent episodes, there are three subscriptions tiers. As of this writing, there is the “Fan” tier that costs $7.99/month, the “Mega Fan” tier that costs $9.99/month, and the “Ultimate Fan” tier that costs $14.99/month.
FunimationNow: FUNimation Entertainment has its own streaming service called FunimationNow. Ad-free streams are available to users for $7.99/month. While anime can also be seen for free, access to content is limited and there are also ads included in the streams. Before deciding whether or not to pay the $7.99/month, potential subscribers can try the service with a 14 day free trial.
HIDIVE: HIDIVE focuses primarily on anime streams, and it is available to users for $4.99/month. However, there is the ability for potential new subscribers to experience a 30 day free trial before committing. Unfortunately, it appears that unlike Crunchyroll and FunimationNow, Hulu does not provide any way for free users to watch their streams.
RetroCrush: This anime streaming site focuses on older titles, hence the name RetroCrush. You can sign up for a RetroCrush Premium account for $4.99/month. There is also a one month free trial available. Users can watch streams for free, but there will be ads included in the streams.
Tubi TV: Tubi has a wide range of content, and there are anime titles included in their streaming catalog. No subscription is required to use this service, so viewers can watch the site’s titles for free. The trade-off, though, is that the streams include ads.
Netflix: Netflix has a wide array of titles, including anime. While this service has been getting some anime titles as “Netflix exclusives,” there’s usually a delay between when the series is airing in Japan and when Netflix adds these titles internationally. When new titles are added to the service, they put an entire season’s worth of episodes up, which allows viewers to binge watch an entire season or an entire series. As of this writing, there are three subscription tiers for the service: Basic is $8.99/month, Standard is $12.99/month, and Premium is $15.99/month. You have to be a paying member in order to watch anything on the service.
Hulu: Hulu also includes more than just anime. As of this writing, Hulu has three plans: “Hulu” is $5.99/month, “Hulu (No Ads)” is $11.99/month, and “Hulu + Live TV” is $54.99/month. A one month free trial is available. The only way to watch anything for free on Hulu is to utilize the one month free trial.
Amazon Prime Video: Amazon Prime Video is part of Amazon’s Prime service, and there is also a standalone Prime Video membership. As of this writing, a Prime Video membership costs $8.99/month. An Amazon Prime membership costs $12.99/month. Amazon Prime includes more than just anime.
Crackle: Crackle is a service that includes more than just anime. They provide their titles for free and no membership is required, but there are ads included in the streams. Unlike many of the other services mentioned here, you can’t simply search for “anime” to find the anime they have on the service. You have to basically be looking for specific titles.
While streaming is the best and easiest way to go about discovering anime, there are still a couple of “old fashioned” ways of discovering anime through physical media. If you have a library or a library system that has DVDs available, there’s a chance you might be able to find an anime title, depending on the library. I’m fortunate enough to live near Seattle, Washington, and have access to the King County Library System. Pre-COVID-19, I could easily place holds on items from other branches in the system and have them delivered to my local branch to check out. Unfortunately, holds are more complicated right now due to the pandemic, so this hasn’t really been a feasible option in recent months. At such a point that this pandemic is under control, it might be worth it for you to see if your local library or local library system has anime DVD releases in its catalog.
And for those of you in the U.S. who are insomniacs or just stay up late, there’s Adult Swim’s “Toonami” block on Cartoon Network that runs late Saturday night into early Sunday morning. In more recent years, the block has been starting to get more anime into its lineup that’s more current than what the block used to feature. While you may not be right at the cutting edge of current anime if you watch “Toonami,” it’s still a way to sample anime if you can stay up that late. Of the options, streaming is definitely the easiest way to go about discovering new anime, and for most of the streaming sites, you can access the newest anime coming out of Japan as a simulcast.
I may have missed or not thought about some anime streaming sites. If you notice an omission, please let me know in the comments so I can add them to this post.
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