We outline the top anime available to stream at your fingertips as well as the best places to find it all!
There have never been more anime titles readily available to audiences, which is certainly exciting, but it can also be overwhelming. Not only are more legacy titles being added to streaming services every month, but there is also a steady stream of new series that are being added.
To guarantee that the various libraries of content at your disposal don’t swallow you whole, we’ve done the hard work and narrowed it down to just the top and most important titles! For both the obsessive anime fan and those entirely new to the form, here’s a whopping list of the 50 best anime that are currently streaming and exactly where to find them!
Available on: Netflix
Retsuko the Red Panda is all of us and we are all Retsuko. Aggretsuko is one of Sanrio’s most popular creations in recent years and while other mascots for the company like Hello Kitty or Keroppi capitalize on the sugary sweet demeanor of their cutesy characters, Aggretsuko instead taps into the inner rage that fills us all. Each vignette in Aggretsuko sees the mild-mannered red panda attempt to do her job, hang out with friends, or just get through some mundane aspect of her day.
Retsuko does a fairly good job at keeping her cool around the constant frustrations that pop up around her, but it’s only a matter of time until something pushes the red panda over the edge and Retsuko explodes in a rage of unfiltered honesty and banging death metal. Aggretsuko is simple, low stakes anime, but there’s something endlessly relatable about these stories of a person being pushed to their limit. Everyone has the kind of days that Retsuko does, so why not commiserate with this character’s deeply cute temper tantrums? With a second season also on the way, thankfully the red panda freakouts are far from over!
Available on: Netflix
Ajin: Demi-Human might actually happen to be on your radar due to it being one of limited anime that Netflix has chosen to embrace and co-produce. The series is your basic demon-out-of-water story where a boy named Kei gets hit by a truck and ends learning that he’s actually an ajin (basically a demon) and incapable of dying. That’s all cool and dandy for Kei, only for the fact that ajin aren’t looked at too fondly in the community with the creatures being hunted and kept in camps. This naturally has a rough schism form between the humans and ajin that has revenge at its core and Kei getting caught up in the middle as he tries to mediate and find peace between everyone.
There are a number of series out there where some member of the “outcast race” tries to bridge things between their kind and humanity (I mean, look no further than Tokyo Ghoul, which is also listed here), but Ajin stands out by offering complex characters that take time to define, as well as some super impressive monster designs that won’t soon leave your mind. With a recent live-action film adaptation making this property hot again, Ajin is one that you want to put on your radar!
Available on: Funimation, Hulu
n what’s one of the best concepts that I’ve ever come across, Assassination Classroom deals with an octopus-esque alien that declares that he’s going to destroy the planet in one year unless he can be killed. Oh, and if you don’t think he’s serious, he just blew up three quarters of the moon. The measures that have been set in place here is that a class of students—the bottom of the barrel, at that—are given the task of being trained as assassins to take him down, garnering one billion dollars in the process. The conditions however are that this alien is their teacher, and he’s unable to hurt any of his students, with them having a year to pull off their task, lest the planet be destroyed yada yada yada.
What’s kind of amazing is the symbiotic relationship between this alien, Korosensai, and his students/would-be assassins. Each episode has him genuinely bettering them and helping them grow, and it’s this bittersweet arrangement of them deeply caring for each other, yet this terrible asterisk hanging over it all. Now in the middle of wrapping up its second season, I legitimately don’t know how this show will conclude and I couldn’t be more excited about that.
Attack on Titan
Available on: Adult Swim, FunimationNow, Hulu, Yahoo View!
Look, you probably don’t need me to tell you about or push Attack on Titan on you. It’s a series that has grown into an institution and has slowly become one of the most successful cross-pond anime in recent years. The sheer fact that this selection is also on Netflix is a testament to the growth in demand. If you have been unaware of Attack on Titan though, now’s the perfect time to make the jump with the series’ third season nearing some sort of release, and the production of two live-action movies having gone on in the interim time.
read more: Attack on Titan Makes Giant Monsters Scary Again
The series is set in an alternate world where humanity has caged itself in through a series of giant successive walls as a result of the threat of Titans. These monsters are huge human-like monsters with an unstoppable hunger for humans. The series begins with the breach of one of these walls and the discovery of more powerful Titans behind it.
There’s real art going on here as the series jumps in stretches of the time and chooses to selectively focus on certain characters, building a real full mosaic in the process. There’s also just some stunning animation going on at these fighters zip through the air in their gear to take down these behemoths. The story only becomes deeper and deeper too, with fantastic twists that litter the end of both seasons. Year two takes some risks by banking more on characters than action, but there’s still a story that’s unbelievable to watch unfold. This is how you effectively build a world and tell a full, nuanced story. Plus, monsters and the biggest daddy issues this side of Neon Genesis Evangelion!
Available on: Adult Swim (Random Episodes), FunimationNow, Hulu
Certainly one of the older shows on this list, but one that’s earned its place as legacy anime. Long before he was blowing people’s minds on Space Dandy, Shinichiro Watanabe was setting the standard with his planet-hopping space western, Cowboy Bebop. While again focusing on a ragtag group of bounty hunters and outlaws jumping around in space, there is a certain sense of tone and atmosphere conjured up by this series.
Even though it’s a mostly episodic program, there is still such a connection to it among fans due to how well each story sees execution. It’s also responsible for those countless people you see cosplaying with big hair and a navy blue suit.Additionally, the score and music is done by Yoko Kanno, and it’s just pure bliss across the board. Bebop really makes its music a priority and the quality is undeniable. Can you think of a theme song that gets you pumped up more than “TANK”? No, no you cannot.
Available on: Crunchyroll, FunimationNow, Hulu, Netflix
Dagashi Kashi looks at an inspiring manga artist, Kokonutsu. Kokonutsu is shackled to his family’s candy store, destined to take over the business. Then, with the arrival of Hotaru Shidare of the Shidare Candy Corporation who is looking to poach the owner, “Coconuts” is hurled towards the candy lifestyle more than ever before. Dagashi Kashi’s biggest draw is that it is absolutely in love with candy. It views the subject as if it’s the most magical thing in the world, and that viewpoint makes the show endlessly entertaining in its innocence. You can’t help but get equally excited about the subject matter.
It doesn’t feel like a show like this should work—a pseudo-educational program that educates you about the wonder that is Japanese candy—but it’s crazy how infectious this formula is. It’s at a point now where I can’t wait to see what sort of random, unheard of sweet will be delved into each week. Also, why is our candy just candy, and not a fraction as cool as Japan’s multipurpose sweets? They have fake beer for kids, candies that imbue you with energy to run, stuff that turn into whistles. Even candies that double as marbles/trading cards. #FirstWorldCandyProblems
It’s also extremely indulgent towards the “fan service” area, and what’s a better pairing to candy than anatomy? Granted, the second season of the series loses some of its magic, but it’s still full of plenty of charm.
Available on: Hulu, Netflix
It’s hard not to fall in love with this concept right away: Death Note is about Light, a high school student who finds a notebook that whenever he writes a name inside it, that person dies. Pretty nuts, right? It’s not long before Light is trying to cleanse the world of evil by using this notebook to play God and create a better world. That’s some deep subject matter to get into and Death Note handles this rise to corruption beautifully.
As Light’s carnage begins to grow, a detective, L, tries to take him down. So add to that one of the best subversions to the cat-and-mouse detective genre that I’ve seen, and you’ve got an even more infectious hit on your hands. Waiting for these two to come across each other is such satisfying stuff, especially when even more death notebooks and Shinigami (demons) are thrown into play. The strong energy that the series gives off explains why there have been a number of movies and off-shoots to crop up in Japan over the years. People just need more of this.
Available on: Crunchyroll, FunimationNow, Hulu
Death Parade is a perfect mix of the playful and the macabre, resulting in a surprisingly profound series. The anime is set at a way station of sorts, and when two people die at the exact same time, they’re sent to this location to play a game against each other. Scrubbed of their memories, these two people must compete in some sort of parlor game in order to determine their future—which of them gets to have an afterlife, and which is just gone, essentially.
There’s something intrinsically compelling about watching people play a game of air hockey, billiards, or even Twister, for the highest stakes imaginable. Each game also has twisted tricks incorporated into them, such as the balls in billiards each corresponding to a different body part that will experience pain upon being sunk.The competition at work in each episode already makes this a suspenseful show, but it gains even more poignancy with what each episode is trying to say about life and death while these games are going on. Every installment is more or less a fresh story, and yet a great deal of pathos is created each time for these new people you encounter. Endlessly compelling and always having something to say, Death Parade is a great subversion of the afterlife.
Available on: Netflix
The Devilman franchise has been going strong in Japan since the 1970s. It tells a typical story of corruption and lost identity when an unsuspecting soul has his spirit mixed up with that of a demon. As a result, Akira has access to the extreme powers of Devilman, but he still retains his humanity. As Akira tries to come to terms with his transformation, this tug of war between good and evil wages on inside of him while he attempts to use the darkness to defeat demons, but not let it consume him in the process.
There’s nothing too special about Devilman at its surface level, but Devilman Crybaby is such a worthwhile reboot of the property entirely because the legendary Masaaki Yuasa is in the one in charge. Yuasa injects the Devilman narrative with his typical eye-popping animation and art direction and helps this story ascend to something special. Yuasa has no limits when it comes to the series’ level of gore or how ridiculous the animation will become. You won’t want to take your eyes off of a single frame of Devilman Crybaby, but the rave scene at the Sabbath party from the first episode is an excellent primer for just how much this anime is a batshit, psychedelic fever dream. Nowhere else will you find nipples mutating into big, hungry mouths.
The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.
Available on: FunimationNow, Netflix
The Disastrous Life of Saiki K has been one of my greatest anime pleasures over the past year and it’s partly due to how recklessly random the style of this show is. To begin with, Disastrous Life of Saiki K began airing as daily bite-sized four-minute anime installments that offered up glimpses into the chaotic life of secret psychic, Saiki. Then, after enough time had passed the series began to be packaged as a conventional 24-minute series that would bundle up five of these short-form episodes into one full-length episode. As a result of this, a weird schism in the community has formed regarding whether Saiki should be consumed in small doses or full-sized endeavors, but the show absolutely works regardless of which style you prefer.
There are a number of series to come along about psychics and everyday school life, but what makes Saiki stand apart from the rest is how invested it is in its own rules and mythology. The series builds up a truly unique set of rules for Saiki’s many abilities that you get acclimated with at a surprisingly fast rate. There’s such a clear joy for the world that’s been built here as Saiki simultaneously tries to get through the day drawing as little attention to himself as possible. Unpredictable psychic powers, constant cliffhangers, and an impressive list of side characters that you won’t want to leave anytime soon all point towards The Disastrous Life of Saiki K being one of the most fun and creative shows to come out of the season.
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