Ranking The Best Anime Streaming Services: Top 8 Picks

The kids of today have no idea of the struggle pre-streaming anime fans endured. We were limited to heavily censored, westernized versions of only the most family-friendly, popular anime shows. Look at this nonsense:

 a screenshot of localized subtitles in Pokemon
Maybe if Brock opened his eyes, he’d notice it’s a rice ball.

If you wanted more than Pokémon, DBZ, or Sailor Moon, your only option was to become a pirate – but it was problematic. Illegality aside, anime wasn’t sought after, so good, complete shows were hard to come by. Not to mention the messy subtitles and risk of corrupted, even infected files.

Thankfully, the world has become a more anime-friendly place. Anime is so in demand, streaming platforms have no choice but to distribute it. Even better, we no longer have to deal with embarrassing localizations. 

The only question is, what is the best anime streaming service for you? Worry not, I’ve narrowed it down. Before you commit, let’s Naruto Run through a few considerations.

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Does Library Size Matter?

Bigger doesn’t always mean better! Some niche platforms, like RetroCrush, have fewer titles, but their libraries are curated and quality controlled.

You’re spoiled for choice with services like Crunchyroll, but you have a higher chance of stumbling upon bad anime shows. More often than not, you’ll have to pay for the good stuff.

Then, services like Netflix and HBO Max have gigantic content libraries, but they’re not limited to anime. It’s a trade-off – high value for money in exchange for smaller anime catalogs.

Sub vs. Dub — Why Not Both?

The best anime streaming sites accommodate everyone’s preferences. Dual-audio is the goal, but surprisingly, few anime platforms incorporate it into their shows. 

Still, accessibility is important, and good streaming services have different language options. RetroCrush is a good example. It separates subtitled and dubbed content, but makes it extra easy to find what you’re looking for.

Screenshot of Retrocrush's browse page and sort options
The only thing better than a big library is an organized one

How Much Do Anime Streaming Services Cost?

Legal anime streams are generally found behind paywalls, but how much it should cost to get through them depends on what you’re looking for. 

A premium ad-free Crunchyroll subscription costs $8 for 1000+ anime titles and Crunchyroll’s manga library. Compare this to Amazon Prime Video, which costs $5.99 for a total of 24,000+ movies and 2,000+ series – and a tiny anime library as the compromise.

The few extra dollars you’ll spend on Crunchyroll gets you more anime, but overall, Amazon Prime Video has more value for money if you’re not just looking to watch anime. Then you also have to consider what anime genres you like to watch and where the titles you’re looking for are available. It’s entirely up to you which option is better or worth your cash.

What About Free Anime Streaming Platforms?

Don’t want to pay for your anime? You don’t have to. Most anime streaming platforms have a free tier –  but be warned they’re limited. Free anime almost always includes disruptive ads and other limitations, like delayed releases and lower video quality. Content libraries are also usually smaller, and in extreme cases, full seasons won’t be available to you. 

Considering these drawbacks, you might be asking, what is the best free anime streaming service? Keep reading, it’s on this list!

Tip: Got a particular show in mind? Try visiting its official website, if it has one. A great example of this is Pokémon TV. With a few exceptions, you can watch entire seasons, specials, and mini-series without even signing up.

Free Vs Illegal Anime Streams

Don’t risk your online safety for a free episode of My Hero Academia. Some free ‘services’ host illegal streams, and when you visit them, you risk data theft, phishing, and even malware attacks. Some tell-tale signs of sketchy anime sites are:

    • ⚠️Suspicious domains. Often, the quickest way to spot dodgy dealings is to look at the URL. Spelling errors, unfamiliar or free extensions, and hints at piracy in the website name are all red flags.
    • ⚠️Alarm bells ringing on your device. If Google tells you the site can’t be trusted, or if the site is blocked or flagged by your antivirus software, run for the hills. Credible anime streams will never trigger your security software.
    • ⚠️Invasive advertising. Ads are expected on all free sites, but they shouldn’t cripple your browsing. If the service ambushes you with pop-ups and banners, or if the ads are obscene, the site is likely unsafe.
    • ⚠️Dodgy disclaimers. Legitimate streaming sites will never warn you of legal ramifications for  watching what’s on offer. If a service denies responsibility or makes it clear it doesn’t own the content, it’s a dead giveaway the site is practicing unlawful content distribution.
    • ⚠️Link loops and downloads. Legal anime sites won’t direct you to other websites or download links to access their content. Some might have an offline option for premium subscribers, but few allow you to download episodes directly to your device.
    • ⚠️No full-length episodes. Another red flag is when episodes or films are split into pieces. Legitimate sites may have the odd interfering ad, but you can watch the entire episode or movie without clicking “next”, opening different windows, or downloading extra files.

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The 8 Best Anime Streaming Services

You’ll find dozens, maybe even hundreds of anime streaming sites out there, but it doesn’t mean you should settle on the first one you find. I’ve taken the best of the best and ranked them according to their quality, content, and value for money. 

8. HBO Max

Screenshot of HBO Max's anime homepage
HBO Max has a few anime surprises up its sleeve
    • 🏆Best for new anime fans
    • ️⭐ 50+ anime titles
    • ️⭐ Entire Studio Ghibli Collection
    • ️⭐ Dual audio on select shows
    • 😐 No free tier
Pricing Options
      • $9.99 p/m (with ads)
      • $14.99 p/m (ad-free)
Jelly Donuts
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If you’re new to anime, HBO Max might be the best anime streaming service for you. Watch 26 of the most popular anime shows, including fan favorites like Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Berserk, Your Lie In April, and Hunter x Hunter. Even better, you can watch all Studio Ghibli titles – so it’s an excellent starting point for those new to anime.

Die-hard otaku won’t see much value in a subscription because its library is tiny, but it’s a solid all-rounder, and quality is guaranteed. Not to mention, HBO Max has 2,500+ total shows and movies to enjoy when you need a break from anime.

7. Amazon Prime Video

a screenshot of Amazon Prime Video's available anime
Prime Video is a great place to discover new anime
    • 🏆Best for casual anime fans
    • ️⭐ 60+ anime titles
    • ️⭐ Great variety
    • ️⭐ Dual audio on select shows
    • ️⭐ Access to 25,000+ titles outside of anime
    • ️😐 No free tier
    • ️😐 Anime movie collection is lacking
Pricing Options
      • Free with Amazon Prime
      • 30-day free Amazon Prime trial
      • $8.99 p/m
Jelly Donuts
    • 🍙🍙🍙🍙🍙🍙

Amazon Prime Video is one of the last places you’d expect to find good anime, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised if you give it a chance. Its anime selection is nowhere near as large as niche streaming services, but its variety earned its place on our list.

Unlike HBO Max which curates popular shows, Amazon Prime Video has something for everyone; from select Pokémon seasons for kids to Vinland Saga for Mature Viewers. Prime Video has a good mix of iconic and unheard-of anime, so it’s the perfect option for those who have graduated beyond mainstream shows.

Don’t count on Prime Video if you prefer anime films, though. Its series may shine, but unless you’re looking for Evangelion, RWBY, and Little Nemo, its movie roster leaves much to be desired.

6. Tubi

A screen shot of Tubi's anime home page
Free Attack on Titan, anyone?
    • 🏆 Most affordable
    • ️⭐ 140+ anime titles
    • ️⭐ 100% free
    • ️⭐ No sign-ups or logins
    • ️⭐ Excellent app interface
    • ️⭐ Parental control
    • ️😐 No ad-free version
    • ️😐 No ongoing anime releases
    • ️😐 Quality cap of 720p
    • ️😐 No dual audio
Pricing Options
      • N/A
Jelly Donuts
    • 🍙🍙🍙🍙🍙🍙

Who doesn’t love free stuff? Tubi is the only anime streaming service that won’t try to coax you into purchasing better features. It’s 100% free – with no fine print or strings attached.

If you think this sounds too good to be true, think again. Tubi has an excellent selection of anime for you to enjoy, including favorites like One Punch Man, Psycho-Pass, Shaman King, Naruto, and even Beyblade.

Even though Tubi is as free as it gets, it’s far from perfect. Tubi’s library isn’t exactly up to date, and you’ll have to watch your shows in 720p whether you like it or not. Most importantly, it’s funded by unavoidable ads with no option to remove them – and let’s face it no one enjoys that!


A screenshot of HIDIVE's homepage
HIDIVE gets bonus points for its user interface
    • 🏆 Best for mature anime
    • ️⭐ 500+ anime titles
    • ️⭐ HIDIVE exclusives
    • ️⭐ Uncensored adult content
    • ️⭐ Subtitled simulcasts
    • ️⭐ Chat rooms
    • ️😐 Few popular anime shows
    • ️😐 No free version after trial
    • ️😐 No dual audio
Pricing Options
      • 7-day free trial
      • $4.99 p/m
Jelly Donuts
    • 🍙🍙🍙🍙🍙🍙🍙

Tired of the same old anime? Looking for something a little more interesting? HIDIVE is your best bet. You’ll find a variety of new and classic anime, exclusive titles, and mature shows. 

HIDIVE is an excellent anime streaming platform, but it’s not for everyone. Hardcore anime fans – and those who enjoy spicier content – will love it, but it comes with a steep downside: It’s obscure, and mainstream recognizable anime is few and far between. 

On the plus size, HIDIVE’s organization is top-class, and if you’re looking for new titles to explore, it will make your search infinitely easier. You’ll also find a lot of light novel anime, and a variety of subbed and dubbed content.

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4. RetroCrush

a screen shot of Retrocrush's homepage
Old but gold!
    • 🏆 Best for classic anime
    • ️⭐ 100+ anime titles
    • ️⭐ Quality selection of rare, vintage anime
    • ️⭐ Minimal ads on free tier
    • ️⭐ Live action Japanese content
    • ️⭐ Mature anime
    • ️😐 No dual audio
    • ️😐 Infrequent library updates
Pricing Options
      • Free with ads
      • 14-day free trial
      • $4.99 p/m
Jelly Donuts
    • 🍙🍙🍙🍙🍙🍙🍙

It’s funny how the streaming service emphasizing old anime is the youngest in the game! It’s the go-to hub for pre-2000s anime, but don’t be fooled. You won’t find Dragon Ball or Sailor Moon here. RetroCrush focuses on forgotten gems you won’t find anywhere else, and recently acquired a few live-action Japanese titles too.

You don’t need to sign up or log in to view shows on RetroCrush, and the forced ads – the price of free anime – are sparse. You also have the option to go premium to watch exclusive shows, remove the ads, and access uncensored age-gated content.

RetroCrush is definitely worth checking out if you’re interested in classic, rare anime, but it won’t be of much use if you’re looking for hyped shows or fresh episodes.

3. Netflix

a screenshot of Netflix sorted by anime movies
you can’t go wrong with Netflix
    • 🏆 Best for anime movie buffs
    • ️⭐ 200+ anime titles
    • ️⭐ Netflix Original anime
    • ️⭐ Exclusive titles
    • ️⭐ Dual audio
    • ️⭐ Frequent updates to library
    • ️😐 No free version
    • ️😐 Subtitles are inaccurate
    • ️😐 Library varies by country
Pricing Options
      • $9.99 p/m (Basic)
      • $15.49 p/m (Standard)
      • $19.99 p/m (Premium)
Jelly Donuts
    • 🍙🍙🍙🍙🍙🍙🍙🍙

This list wouldn’t be complete without Netflix. It has an excellent selection of anime, but while its shows are just above average, Netflix gets a gold star for its collection of anime movies

Its anime movie library is as huge as it is varied, especially when compared to the likes of HBO Max and Amazon Prime Video. From popular movie tie-ins like Bleach, Naruto, and Violet Evergarden, to Studio Ghibli, and classics – Netflix seems to have it all.

It‘s not without imperfections though. Its subtitles are often grossly inaccurate, and it has a reputation for incomplete series due to licensing restrictions.

2. Hulu

A screenshot of Hulu's anime home page
If streaming were an anime, Hulu would be the unexpected hero
    • 🏆 Best all-rounder
    • ️⭐ 140+ anime titles
    • ️⭐ Wide variety of anime
    • ️⭐ Dual audio for most titles
    • ️⭐ Great movie selection
    • ️⭐ Simulcasts available for some titles
    • ️😐 No free version
    • ️😐 No original releases
    • ️😐 Catalog is somewhat behind
Pricing Options
      • 30-day free trial
      • $6.99 p/m with ads
      • $12.99 p/m ad-free
Jelly Donuts
    • 🍙🍙🍙🍙🍙🍙🍙🍙

Hulu is a sorely underrated anime streaming service. It’s got a ton of anime variety in genres and age ratings, and its movie collection is decent – if not a tad small.

Are you a fan of classic anime like Astro Boy, Hellsing, or Mobile Suit Gundam Wing? Do you prefer shonen, like Bleach, One Piece, and Dragon Ball? Perhaps darker stories like Death Note, Tokyo Ghoul, or Attack on Titan are more your style? Guess what, Hulu has it all.

Hulu also wins points for its accessibility. Except for a few titles, anime fans can choose between sub or dub to suit their preferences and needs. Considering Hulu has a collection of 3,000+ titles, it’s high value for money as well. 

1. Crunchyroll

a screenshot of Crunchyroll's series library
To think there’s more than a thousand titles on this 1995-esque website
    • 🏆 Best overall
    • ️⭐ 1,000+ anime titles
    • ️⭐ Largest collection of anime
    • ️⭐ Simulcasts
    • ️⭐ Fresh content – updated frequently
    • ️⭐ Manga library
    • ️⭐ Free with ads
    • ️⭐ Censored mature content
    • ️😐 Free shows are delayed by a week
    • ️😐 No dual audio
Pricing Options
      • $7.99 p/m fan
      • $9.99 p/m mega fan
      • $14.99 p/m ultimate fan
Jelly Donuts
    • 🍙🍙🍙🍙🍙🍙🍙🍙🍙

It might be cliché, but Crunchyroll consistently ranks as the best anime streaming service of all for a reason. If you’re looking for a specific anime, 9 times out of 10 Crunchyroll has it.

Crunchyroll has excellent features, including HD viewing on all plans, a licensed merch store, a community forum, a manga library for paid subscribers, and access to Funimation dubs. Shows are released an hour after they debut in Japan, and simulcasts abound.

It’s a near-perfect platform with only one drawback – its free tier is limited. Some full seasons are premium only, as are simulcasts, and don’t forget about the forced ads. Even worse, free viewers have to wait a week to watch fresh episodes.

Still, both the free and paid Crunchyroll tiers deserve the #1 spot. You’ll access more anime here than on any other streaming site, and Crunchyroll is a stellar example of both quality and quantity.

Honorable Mentions

VRV and Funimation almost made the cut, but had to be excluded for the same reason – they’re merging with Crunchyroll. Both sites are still available, and with no word of either planning to shut down soon, but they’re too redundant to list separately.

VRV has a fantastic ad-supported free tier, while a paid subscription gives you access to VRV exclusives and Mondo shows. Funimation is the go-to for dubbed anime, but has nothing new to offer since all its new content has been acquired by Crunchyroll.

Nothing is stopping you from signing up for VRV and Funimation – they’re still great platforms. Keep in mind the brands themselves are encouraging viewers to move to Crunchyroll, which ultimately gives you more value for money and more shows.

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The Best VPN for Anime? Believe It!

When it comes down to it, the best anime streaming service for you depends on your tastes and watching habits. 

Looking for popular anime to enjoy every now and then? Try HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu. If you’re a fully-fledged anime geek, Crunchyroll wins hands down. Choose Tubi for free anime, Netflix for movies, or HIDIVE and RetroCrush for niche anime.

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What is the absolute best anime streaming service?

Objectively speaking, it’s Crunchyroll. Its library is gigantic and diverse, and it acquires new episodes and releases within an hour of its Japanese debut. Crunchyroll also has cool features other streaming services lack, like a manga library and a merch store.

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What is better than Crunchyroll?

HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and Netflix are great contenders if you want a streaming service not dedicated to anime. RetroCrush and HIDIVE are your best picks if you’re looking for obscure (and mature) anime. As for free anime, Tubi is the winner, since it’s 100% free, with no strings attached.

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Is Funimation or Crunchyroll better? 

Technically, they’re the same thing since Sony acquired and merged them, though it’s placing all its eggs in the Crunchyroll basket. Funimation has officially moved to Crunchyroll, and although its platform is still online, it has ceased uploading new content.

Funimation is better if you prefer dubbed anime, while Crunchyroll – before the merge – focused almost entirely on subtitles. Crunchyroll has a larger library, while Funimation has a more curated catalog.

It makes more sense to subscribe to Crunchyroll, though. Use CyberGhost VPN to safely get the best of both worlds, even on unsecured public Wi-Fi!

Is Crunchyroll or Hulu better for streaming?

Crunchyroll is an anime-only streaming service, while Hulu is an all-rounder, so it depends on the experience you’re looking for. If you’re a hardcore anime fan with little interest in western entertainment, Crunchyroll is the obvious choice. If you like variety and want a great selection of anime thrown into the mix, Hulu is well worth your money.

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