The Best Ways to Watch Anime (Free and Paid)

It’s never been a better time to be an anime fan. Global streaming services make it easy to watch groundbreaking anime classics and the latest shows wherever you live. Read on to find out which anime streaming services are worth paying for and the best platforms to watch anime for free.  

Many streaming services are only available in certain countries. CyberGhost VPN lets you enjoy your streaming subscriptions even when traveling abroad, so you don’t have to press pause on your favorite series.

Quick Guide: How to Stream Anime With CyberGhost VPN

Safely access anime streaming services from anywhere in just 3 steps:

    • Get CyberGhost VPN and set up the app on your device. 
    • Connect to a VPN server in your home country. 
    • Discover new anime shows or rewatch old favorites! 

The 5 Best Streaming Services for Anime

To find the best streaming services for anime, we looked at the size of each platform’s content library, as well as exclusive content offerings and the ability to simulcast shows (watch shows as they’re released in Japan). We reviewed both dedicated anime sites and large streaming platforms with decent anime libraries.

1. Crunchyroll

A screenshot of the Crunchyroll homepage

Crunchyroll is one of the largest anime-focused streaming services on the market. It has a huge selection of titles spanning a wide range of eras and genres, including popular series like Attack on Titan, Naruto, and Demon Slayer. Crunchyroll has also produced some original shows with mixed success. Some of the best rated are TONIKAWA: Over The Moon For You, Tower of God, and So I’m a Spider, So What?

Crunchyroll is available in most countries around the world, with the exception of Russia, Belarus, and some parts of Asia. However, the content you can access varies from country to country. Dubs and subtitles are available in a wide variety of languages for select series.

You can watch some Crunchyroll content for free with ads, or get a paid subscription (prices vary by country). The paid plans give you access to the full content library. You can also simulcast shows an hour after they air in Japan and download shows to watch offline. The paid plans have a 7-day free trial.


    • Huge anime streaming platform
    • Largest selection of simulcast shows
    • Dubs available in several different languages
    • Free content available
    • Free trial available


    • Large number of ads in the free content
    • More streaming glitches than other services

2. Netflix

A screenshot of anime on Netflix.

Netflix has fallen behind other streaming platforms in the past when it comes to anime, but it has recently made some big strides to catch up. As well as expanding its content offering to include popular shows like My Hero Academia and Black Clover to its library, Netflix has started simulcasting certain shows, so you don’t have to wait to watch a series until it has finished broadcasting in Japan. You can also find some original live-action anime adaptations, such as One Piece, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and the Rurouni Kenshin movies.

Netflix is a good option if you want to watch anime on a mainstream streaming service. There are plenty of shows to binge-watch, including well-known series such as Demon Slayer and Netflix exclusives like Devilman Crybaby and Pluto

Netflix is available in almost every country, although the anime catalog varies based on local licensing deals. Netflix does not offer a free subscription plan or a free trial, and prices vary by country. In some countries, you can sign up for a cheaper ad-based plan. 


    • Good selection of anime for a mainstream platform
    • Exclusive live-action adaptations
    • Easy-to-use website and app
    • Available in most countries 


    • No free plan or trial
    • Limited number of simulcast shows 


A screenshot of the HIDIVE home page.

HIDIVE is an excellent streaming service for niche anime titles. It prides itself on offering edgy, adult titles that you won’t find on other streaming services, as well as teenage-focused shojo anime options. It also has a live chat feature, so you can host a virtual watch party and chat with your friends as you stream.

HIDIVE lets you choose between censored and uncensored versions of shows. You can create up to three profiles and set parental controls to restrict access to mature content. Although HIDIVE has some big-name titles and exclusive shows, it has a much smaller content library than Crunchyroll. Anime superfans will appreciate its eclectic offerings, but if you’re new to anime or you want to watch the more well-known shows, you’ll want a different service.

Right now, HIDIVE is only available in the US, the UK, Canada, Ireland, and Australia. Prices are reasonable, and you get a 7-day free trial. 


    • Niche anime you won’t find anywhere else
    • Uncensored and mature titles
    • Cheaper than other services
    • Unique features including live chat
    • 7-day free trial


    • No option to watch shows offline
    • Limited number of well-known titles
    • Smaller catalog than other streaming services  

💡 Planning a trip abroad, but don’t want to lose access to your favorite anime titles? Get CyberGhost VPN and connect to one of our servers in your home country to keep watching from any destination.

4. Hulu

A screenshot of anime shows available on Hulu.

Hulu is another major streaming service that has an excellent selection of anime. The platform has popular shows from a wide variety of genres, including blockbusters like Attack on Titan, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, and Spy x Family. It has more simulcast series than Netflix and offers new shows such as The Fable and Mission: Yozakura Family.

Hulu is a great option for those new to anime who want an all-in-one service with mainstream anime shows alongside other content. Netflix may be catching up, but Hulu still beats it for classic anime – for now.

Hulu is currently only available in the United States. You can choose between an ad-based plan and a more expensive ad-free plan. Hulu has one of the longest free trials – you get 30 days to try the service. 


    • Good mix of new and classic anime
    • Better for simulcasting than Netflix
    • 30-day trial period


    • Few original or exclusive anime series
    • Only available in the US

5. RetroCrush

A screenshot of the RetroCrush home page.

RetroCrush is a small streaming platform dedicated to classic anime. You won’t find the latest series, but you will get access to vintage shows from the 1970s–1990s, including trailblazing, influential titles like Astro Boy. Best of all, the majority of RetroCrush’s catalog is free to watch.

RetroCrush doesn’t currently offer any original series or new content, and its content library is tiny compared to other platforms, but it’s a must for die-hard anime lovers who want to enjoy some quality nostalgic content. 

RetroCrush is currently only available in the US. You can watch for free with limited ads. There’s also a paid subscription which lets you watch ad-free and gives you access to some additional content. 


    • Classic shows that aren’t available on other platforms
    • Lots of free content
    • Limited ads


    • Small content library
    • Only available in the US
    • No option to watch shows offline

Why You Need a VPN for Streaming Anime

Some anime streaming services are only available in certain countries and others have different content libraries in different regions. This means you may not be able to watch your favorite series when you travel abroad. A VPN masks your IP address and gives you a new one in a country of your choice. You can travel all over the world and still access your streaming service as if you were at home.

You may also need a VPN if streaming is restricted on your school or workplace Wi-Fi. VPN encryption hides your web traffic from the network, allowing you to bypass firewalls and access your favorite anime streaming services. A VPN also protects your personal data from network snoops and cybercrooks, which is especially important if you connect to unsecured public Wi-Fi.  

CyberGhost is the best VPN for streaming anime. Our global server network makes it easy to get an IP address in the location you need. We also have streaming-optimized servers for popular streaming services where you can watch anime, including Crunchyroll, Netflix, and Hulu. These servers are closely monitored to make sure you can access your favorite services without annoying error messages. 

CyberGhost’s servers give you fast VPN speeds for smooth streaming without any freezing or buffering. You’ll also get unlimited bandwidth, so you can binge-watch to your heart’s content.

You can use CyberGhost VPN on your mobile, tablet, computer, or other streaming device to stream securely wherever you are. If you have any questions about using CyberGhost VPN on your device, contact our 24/7 customer support team. You can also take CyberGhost for a trial run risk-free with our 45-day money-back guarantee.

Can I Use a VPN to Watch Streaming Services from a Different Country?

Some VPN users connect to a server in a different country to watch Netflix or other streaming services, but this is against our terms of service and is not acceptable.

CyberGhost is a privacy-forward no-logs VPN, meaning we can’t view your online activity and we never share your browsing data. While we don’t know what you’re doing online, you should always comply with your streaming provider’s terms of use, our terms of service, and any applicable law, including copyright.


What is the best anime streaming service?

Crunchyroll is the best anime streaming service due to the sheer size of its catalog. Die-hard anime fans may also want to consider HIDIVE for niche titles and mature content or RetroCush for old-school classics. If you want a streaming service that combines anime with other content, Netflix and Hulu are good options.

Is Hulu better than Crunchyroll for anime?

Crunchyroll and Hulu are both great streaming services for anime. Crunchyroll has a larger anime catalog and more options for simulcasting. You can also watch some shows for free, and the paid plan is pretty cheap. Hulu doesn’t have the same variety of shows, but it’s a better choice if you want a mix of anime titles and other content.

Is Funimation better than Crunchyroll?

Funimation was shut down in April 2024 and its subscribers were transferred to Crunchyroll. Most of the content available on Funimation was also transferred to Crunchyroll.

Is Crunchyroll legal in the US?

Yes, Crunchyroll is available to watch in the United States. It’s one of the best services to watch new and classic anime series legally outside of Japan.

Why is Crunchyroll blocked in Japan?

While Crunchyroll is technically available in Japan, it only shows a limited library of titles there. This is because Crunchyroll does not have the licensing rights to most titles in Japan. Anime in Japan is mostly broadcast on local television and other streaming services. If you’re traveling to Japan, you can use CyberGhost VPN to access your normal Crunchyroll content library.

Is Hulu or Netflix better for anime?

Hulu and Netflix both have excellent anime catalogs. Netflix has more exclusive live-action adaptations, but Hulu has a better selection of classic anime shows. The right choice for you will depend on the specific titles you like to watch.

Can I watch anime with a VPN?

You can watch anime with some VPNs. CyberGhost is a fast VPN with streaming-optimized servers that are monitored daily to help you securely access popular anime platforms like Crunchyroll and Netflix.

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