Best Streaming Services for Anime 2022

Our experts tested every major service and found that Hulu provides the best user experience for anime fans.

Editor’s Choice

Price: $6.99–$12.99/mo.
Simultaneous streams: 2
Free trial: 30 days
Simulcasts: Yes

Best catalog

Price: $7.99–$14.99/mo.
Simultaneous streams: 1–4
Free trial: 14 days
Simulcasts: Yes

Best original content

Price: $9.99–$19.99/mo.
Simultaneous streams: 1–4
Free trial: N/A
Simulcasts: No

Best for Studio Ghibli

Price: $9.99–$14.99/mo.
Simultaneous streams: 3
Free trial: N/A
Simulcasts: No

Cheapest

Price: Free
Simultaneous streams: N/A
Free trial: N/A
Simulcasts: No

Disclaimer text goes here.

Trying to balance your love for anime with live-action shows can feel like leading a magical girl’s double life. If you just want to watch the latest anime with minimal hassle (and enjoy other types of media on the side), Hulu is a great choice. It hosts enough Funimation content to make most anime fans happy.

But if you’re looking for something with a more extensive anime-specific catalog, check out Crunchyroll. After absorbing a suite of other services, it considers itself the biggest anime library on the web. It’s a great option for people who prefer subs to dubs.

Always check the subscriptions you already have before seeking out a new streaming service, though—it’s possible the show you want is already on Netflix, Hulu, or HBO Max.

Best streaming services for anime

Compare anime streaming services head to head

Service or product Price Editorial rating Free content? Simulcasts? Streams Details
Hulu $6.99–$12.99/mo. 4.2/5 No Yes 2 View plans

Read Hulu review
Crunchyroll $7.99–$14.99/mo. 3.9/5 Yes Yes 1–4 View plans
Netflix $9.99–$19.99/mo. 4.3/5 No No 1–4 View plans

Read Netflix review
HBO Max $9.99–$14.99/mo. 4.5/5 No No 3 View plans

Read HBO Max review
Tubi Free 4.2/5 Yes No N/A View plans
HIDIVE $4.99/mo. 3.15/5 No Yes 2 View plans
RetroCrush $4.99/mo. 3.83/5 Yes No N/A View plans

Hulu, Crunchyroll, and HIDIVE all cater to fans of currently running anime with simulcasts, while Netflix distributes its original content in large drops.

If you’re looking for free anime, look no further than Tubi and RetroCrush. Their libraries skew a little older, but each has enough classics to entertain you on a rainy afternoon. You can also create a free Crunchyroll account to access a portion of the service’s library.

And if you’re looking for movies like Kiki’s Delivery Service or Belle, head over to HBO Max. It doesn’t have many anime series, but it has a decent number of films, including the entire Studio Ghibli collection.

Reaching for a dictionary?

In this review, you’ll see us use terms like “subs,” “dubs,” and “simulcasts.” For full definitions, check out our anime glossary.

Anime services on their way out

Service or product Price Free content? Simulcasts? Streams Details
Funimation $5.99–$7.99/mo. Yes Not anymore 2–5 View plans
VRV $9.99/mo. Yes Not anymore N/A View plans

Read VRV review

As of March 2022, both Funimation and VRV are being folded into the Crunchyroll brand. Usually, we would suggest Funimation to fans of dubbed anime, but now you can find large portions of its library on both Crunchyroll and Hulu.

In fact, if you try to watch any recent anime on Funimation’s website, like Spy x Family, you’ll get redirected to Crunchyroll. So save yourself the loading time and go right to the orange site. (Or the green site—Hulu has Spy x Family, too, and is slightly cheaper).

VRV, on the other hand, used to be a service that bundled Crunchyroll’s anime library with other mini-streaming services like Shudder, Geek & Sundry, Cartoon Hangover, and Rooster Teeth.

Unfortunately, that dream of a one-stop nerd shop is dead in the water. It’s unclear at the moment when this change will happen, but soon VRV will cease to exist in favor of the all-new, upgraded Crunchyroll.

So while you technically can subscribe to Funimation or VRV right now if you prefer their interfaces, don’t commit to either one long term. Consider going right to Crunchyroll instead—especially since you won’t find new episodes or series on the old platforms.

Best services in depth

Now that we have all that annoying corporate reshuffling out of the way, let’s examine each streaming service more in depth.

Editor’s choice—Hulu

Price:
$6.99–$12.99/mo.
Simultaneous streams:
2
Free trial:
30 days
Simulcasts:
Yes

Pros

  • Accessible captions on English dubs
  • Funimation, Aniplex, Toei, and Viz libraries
  • Student discount ($1.99/mo.)

Cons

  • Ads on Adult Swim content, even with ad-free plan
  • Smaller library than Crunchyroll
  • Low discoverability

If you’re looking for a one-stop entertainment shop, Hulu is the place to go. Odds are, you might already have a Hulu subscription for other content and not even realize how big its anime collection is.

If you have a specific show in mind, check if it’s available on Hulu first. We recommend using Crunchyroll as a discovery tool—it’s got a lot of great, curated lists, and it’s easier to sort by genre. But Hulu provides a better viewing experience.

Hulu has a surprising number of popular titles and simulcasts for more recent anime.

The real benefit of Hulu is its accessibility. Netflix mixes English dubs with English subs from an entirely different translation, and Crunchyroll and HIDIVE often omit captions from English dubs entirely.

In contrast, Hulu almost always has correct English captions available for English dubs. This is a big deal for accessibility and is why we named the service our editor’s choice.

The main downside of Hulu as an anime streaming service is the lack of discoverability. You can see all of the service’s anime offerings by going to the anime hub (either by searching the word “anime” or going to TV and then clicking the anime genre button), but the anime section isn’t very well-organized, so it’s hard to sort by genre.

Unfortunately, Hulu doesn’t have quite the same library as Crunchyroll. There’s a large amount of overlap, Some titles are missing, and more recent shows like Spy x Family only provide the subs but no dubs. It’s a bummer since dubs are what Hulu does best!

By the way: if you’re a fan of animation in general, check out the Disney Bundle. You’ll get Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+ for one price—and access to a lot of great western cartoons like Amphibia, The Owl House, Gravity Falls, and X-Men Evolution.

Recommended anime on Hulu:

  • Spy x Family
  • Akira
  • My Hero Academia
  • Sailor Moon
  • Fruits Basket
  • Cowboy Bebop
  • Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun
  • One Piece
  • Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
  • The Devil is a Part-Timer!
Try Hulu
Anime home screen on Hulu
Hulu’s anime section in the browser.

Best catalog—Crunchyroll

Price:
$7.99–$14.99/mo.
Simultaneous streams:
1–4
Free trial:
14 days
Simulcasts:
Yes

Pros

  • Customizable watchlists
  • Comment sections
  • Translated manga
  • Lots of free titles (subs only)

Cons

  • No captions on English dubs
  • Content overlap with a lot of other services, even their originals
  • High prices for premium plans

We really want to like Crunchyroll. It’s got such a large library of content after absorbing Funimation and VRV. It’s also got a nice interface, with cute anime profile pictures and customizable watchlists (sorry—”Crunchylists.”)

But for $7.99–$14.99 per month, you’d think Crunchyroll would be able to use captions on its English dubs.

Funimation, the streaming service that Crunchyroll is in the process of absorbing, had no problem putting accurate captions on English dubs. And if even Hulu, a service not specifically for anime, could figure out how to caption Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun, why can’t Crunchyroll?

But if none of that bothers you, there’s plenty to like about the service. It has a larger anime collection than anyone else and an extensive library of translated manga. It even offers a “simulpub” service for those that don’t like to wait for their content.

We also like that Crunchyroll organizes its anime titles in fun little subgenres, like “I Studied the Blade” and “Trust me, you can sing.” Since Crunchyroll is dedicated to anime, it’s able to sort related shows together in ways that bigger services like Hulu don’t.

Even if you don’t end up watching the show there, Crunchyroll is a great place to discover new titles.

If you’re unsure whether Crunchyroll is for you, worry not: you can create a free account without ever having to commit to a free trial or enter a credit card. With that free account, you can access a lot of subbed anime and see for yourself which content is locked behind a paywall.

You won’t find a much better deal than “free,” after all.

Recommended anime on Crunchyroll:

  • Spy x Family
  • Akira
  • My Hero Academia
  • Sailor Moon
  • Fruits Basket
  • Cowboy Bebop
  • Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun
  • Gurren Lagann
  • One Piece
  • Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
  • The Devil is a Part-Timer!
  • RWBY
  • Haikyu!!
  • Dragon Ball Z
  • In/Spectre
Try Crunchyroll
Anime home screen on Crunchyroll
Crunchyroll’s homepage in the browser.

Best original content—Netflix

Price:
$9.99–$19.99/mo.
Simultaneous streams:
1–4
Free trial:
N/A
Simulcasts:
No

Pros

  • Growing library of originals

Cons

  • No matching captions on English dubs
  • No easy way to sort through just anime

Anime purists, look away! For Netflix, we stretched the definition of anime and included its American originals like Castlevania and international-but-not-Japanese titles like Scissor Seven.

But we recommend putting your qualms and technicalities aside because when it comes to anime, Netflix’s originals are usually pretty good.

Like Hulu, Netflix isn’t a dedicated anime streaming service, so it’s hard to sort through and browse genres within the anime category. You’ll have to do the Netflix thing of scrolling through algorithm-generated covers and picking based on vibes.

It’s worth it, though: if you look hard enough, you’ll find the hauntingly beautiful Violet Evergarden, the cult classic Devilman Crybaby, and even Beastars for all the secret furries out there.

Netflix has been known to cancel shows that underperform (or shows that overperform—RIP, campy live-action gem First Kill), but anime often stays safe because Netflix isn’t usually the one making it. Netflix typically licenses or commissions these shows from outside studios, like Studio Trigger.

Netflix also has some crossover with other streaming services, with anime classics like Ouran High School Host Club and Cowboy Bebop. It even has more recent titles like Hunter X Hunter and Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba.

The downside of using Netflix is that while you can control all your subs and dubs while watching the show (something services like Crunchyroll haven’t figured out), the subtitles use a different translation than the English dubbing.

It can be disorienting to try to read the subtitles while watching the dubs, so we usually end up turning them off. This completely defeats the purpose of captions, and leaves folks with auditory processing issues out in the cold.

Streaming services, take note: there should always be a separate set of captions specific to the dubs.

Recommended anime on Netflix:

  • BNA: Brand New Animal
  • Beastars
  • Violet Evergarden
  • Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure
  • DEATH NOTE
  • Record of Ragnarok
  • Little Witch Academia
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion
  • Thermae Romae Novae
  • Devilman Crybaby
  • Scissor Seven
  • Castlevania
Try Netflix
Anime home screen on Netflix
Netflix’s anime section in the browser.

Best for Studio Ghibli—HBO Max

Price:
$9.99–$14.99/mo.
Simultaneous streams:
3
Free trial:
N/A
Simulcasts:
No

Pros

  • Library of Studio Ghibli favorites
  • Access to theatrical releases

Cons

  • Very limited anime library
  • Uncertain corporate future

Take this review with a grain of salt because HBO Max has been drastically switching up its programming ever since Discovery bought Warner Bros. HBO Max is shelving and removing finished projects from the platform, allegedly for tax reasons, so it’s unclear whether its anime offerings will also disappear without warning.

But for the time being, we recommend HBO Max to anime fans solely due to its complete Studio Ghibli library. It’s got beloved classics like Howl’s Moving Castle, underrated gems like Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, and even the new stuff that’s not as good as anything that came before (here’s looking at you, Earwig and the Witch).

HBO Max is also home to other theater-released anime films like Weathering With You and Studio Trigger’s Promare, and the critically acclaimed 2022 film Belle.

Beyond movies, though, HBO Max is lacking in the anime department—we wouldn’t recommend it if watching anime series is your main goal. But if you’ve already got the service for other HBO content, it’s nice to know what else you may be able to watch without having to pay an extra penny.

Recommended anime on HBO Max:

  • Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
  • Howl’s Moving Castle
  • Kiki’s Delivery Service
  • Promare
  • Weathering With You
  • Belle
Try HBO Max
Studio Ghibli home screen on HBO Max
HBO Max’s Studio Ghibli hub in the browser.

Cheapest—Tubi

Price:
Free
Simultaneous streams:
N/A
Free trial:
N/A
Simulcasts:
No

Pros

  • Free content, no login required
  • Surprisingly good mobile app
  • Dedicated kids’ mode

Cons

  • No way to disable ads in the app
  • No currently running titles

In addition to its robust horror library, the free streaming service Tubi also has a decent collection of anime. As with other sections of its catalog, you’ll scroll through many titles you don’t recognize, but ultimately there are a lot of gems hidden among them.

This is especially true for classic titles like Ouran High School Host Club, Death Note, and Cardcaptor Sakura. It’s a great resource if you want to catch up on the kind of titles that you hear everyone talk about but haven’t gotten around to yet—or if you want to revisit old favorites.

While the platform is ad-supported, they’re few and far between—and can be blocked with an ad blocker if you’re streaming from a browser.

If you’re looking for a good place to watch anime for free, start with Tubi. It may not have all the most recent and hottest titles that Crunchyroll and Hulu do, but you’ll probably find something worth watching (or re-watching).

Recommended anime on Tubi:

  • Naruto
  • Sailor Moon Crystal
  • One-Punch Man
  • Hunter X Hunter
  • Ouran High School Host Club
  • Akira
  • Love Live! Sunshine!!!
  • Pop Team Epic
  • Sonic X
  • DEATH NOTE
Try Tubi
Sailor Moon Crystal page on Tubi
Tubi’s Sailor Moon Crystal page in the browser.

Other top anime streaming services

They may not have won an award this time around, but here are some anime-specific services that are still worth checking out.

HIDIVE—Best for customization

Price:
$4.99/mo.
Simultaneous streams:
2
Free trial:
7 days
Simulcasts:
Yes

Pros

  • Exclusive titles
  • Customizable subtitles in browser
  • Ability to easily switch between subs and dubs

Cons

  • Fewer big-name titles
  • No free content
  • No captions on English dubs

If you can’t find an anime in the giant mass of content available in the Funimation-Crunchyroll-Hulu Katamari sphere, check out HIDIVE. It hosts a library of lesser-known content and, like Crunchyroll, offers simulcasts.

HIDIVE used to be best buds with Crunchyroll a few years back when both libraries lived under the VRV umbrella. But one Gurren Lagann timeskip later, and the anime streaming landscape is a lot less idyllic.

AMC bought the rights to HIDIVE, which is no longer affiliated with VRV or Crunchyroll, and now HIDIVE is positioning itself as Crunchyroll’s main competitor.

HIDIVE’s interface has a leg up over Crunchyroll’s. Where Crunchyroll lists dubs and subs as separate seasons of the same show, HIDIVE operates more like Netflix and lets users easily switch between subs and dubs.

HIDIVE also has “lights out” mode when watching in the browser, which hides all distracting UI elements without going into fullscreen. We generally had a nicer time watching HIDIVE through the browser than in the app.

The catch, however, is that HIDIVE doesn’t offer any content for free like Crunchyroll does. If you want to watch any content on the site, you’ll have to fork over $4.99 per month or at least sign up for the 7-day free trial.

Also, HIDIVE hasn’t completely figured out the whole subtitle thing any better than Crunchyroll—while it is easier to switch between subs and dubs, the subtitles disappear as soon as you select your dub.

Recommended anime on HIDIVE:

  • Beyond the Boundary
  • Phantom of the Idol
  • Lupin the 3rd
  • Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun
  • Pop Team Epic TV Special
  • Tokyo Mew Mew New
  • Land of the Lustrous
  • Princess Tutu
Try HIDIVE
Home Screen on HIDIVE
HIDIVE’s homepage in the browser.

RetroCrush—Best for retro

Price:
$4.99/mo.
Simultaneous streams:
N/A
Free trial:
14 days
Simulcasts:
No

Pros

  • Ability to sort and discover anime
  • Tons of free content without a login

Cons

  • No captions on English dubs
  • No way to sort by decade

Like Tubi, RetroCrush is a free, ad-supported platform for classic shows. It’s got a lot of overlap with Tubi’s anime section. But unlike Tubi, RetroCrush is a dedicated anime platform, so it’s easier to sort through and ultimately find something that interests you.

If you’re an anime hipster or nostalgia nut, RetroCrush might be for you. Its library isn’t for everyone, but it lets you watch retro cartoons (from the ’80s, ’90s, and even a few from the ’00s) without requiring a subscription or even a login.

RetroCrush does offer a paid subscription, but you don’t need it to watch the vast majority of its content, and the ads are easily blockable through an ad blocker if you watch through your browser. In the app, they’re more obstructive.

The worst part about the app is the “live TV” that automatically plays as you browse. In the browser, this stream is muted by default, but that isn’t the case for the mobile app. It even plays in the background while you browse categories, and you have to navigate back to the homescreen to mute or pause it.

We’d love to see RetroCrush’s definition of “retro” expand a bit, too. With its live TV stream and “random episode” feature, the whole platform revolves around recreating the experience of watching anime live before the days of video on demand (VOD). But it feels like there’s a gap in its programming: anime from my childhood, specifically.

Confession time from the writer—I grew up watching English dubs on the infamous, now-defunct 4Kids TV in the early 2000s. The company went under some years ago, so now there’s no legal way to watch most of their shows. The entirety of Magical DoReMi is lost to time. You’d think it’d be on a platform like RetroCrush, but it’s not.

Whichever streaming service buys up the rights will, in my eyes, win the anime streaming wars.

Recommended anime on RetroCrush:

  • Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog
  • Astro Boy
  • Princess Knight
  • Megazone 23
  • Digimon Adventure tri.
  • Adolescence of Utena
  • Pop Team Epic TV Special
  • Cybersix
  • Ghost Stories
Try RetroCrush
Home screen of RetroCrush
RetroCrush’s homepage in the browser.

What to look for

Simulcasts

A simulcast is a show that broadcasts simultaneously in America and its country of origin.

For example, Little Witch Academia aired single episodes for several months in Japan before American audiences were allowed to watch in two big episode dumps. Netflix, which owns the American rights to Little Witch Academia, doesn’t do simulcasts.

Hulu, which owns the American rights to Spy x Family through Funimation, does do simulcasts, so Hulu subscribers could watch episodes of Spy x Family weekly while they were also airing in Japan.

Another word you might hear is “simuldubs.” This is when an English-dubbed version of the show airs simultaneously with the Japanese-language one.

Subs and dubs

“Subs” is short for “subtitles,” meaning (usually English) translations appear on the bottom of the screen while you hear the original Japanese audio. These translations are usually pretty accurate to the original text.

“Dubs,” on the other hand, are anime with English audio. A foreign show is dubbed into English when the distributor hires a new voice cast to replace the original audio based on a translated script. This script might not match up 1-to-1 with the subtitle translation, though.

There are many reasons for the disconnect. English words are different lengths than Japanese ones, and a big part of dubbing is matching up dialogue with characters’ mouth movements. Another element is localization; certain turns of phrase, cultural references, and even puns sound wrong when directly translated.

Sometimes these changes go too far—like Pokémon calling a rice ball a jelly donut—so some fans prefer to read the more literal translation while hearing the original Japanese voice acting.

Other fans prefer dubs, which introduces an accessibility issue: to be truly accessible to everyone, a good dub should display matching subtitles on the screen, not just the literal translation of the Japanese audio. Hulu has figured this out, for the most part; Netflix and Crunchyroll have not.

Content exclusivity

The most surprising part about anime in the age of streaming is the sheer amount of content overlap. Both Crunchyroll and Hulu have the rights to Funimation’s library, so you’ll find a lot of the same titles on all three platforms.

There are also a lot of classic titles, like Naruto and Sailor Moon, that pop up on a bunch of services. The classic movie Akira also shows up on many platforms, including the free service Tubi.

So for a paid service to have value, it should have a lot of content you can’t find through your other subscriptions. Sometimes this comes in the form of original content, and sometimes it comes through the deals some platforms make to get the exclusive rights to stream a show in the US.

Free content

Having a bespoke streaming service for every niche can get pretty pricey. This is especially true if you’re young, just getting into anime, and relying on your family’s streaming services—I personally spent most of the sixth grade watching whatever clips of Fruits Basket I could find for free on YouTube.

So that’s why it’s nice when anime services allow users to watch some or all of their catalog for free or with a free-tier plan (that doesn’t require a credit card). Tubi and RetroCrush both allow free viewing, and Crunchyroll offers a free tier that unlocks a good chunk of content.

Final take

If you can pick only one streaming service for anime, go with Hulu. It has a library full of anime content, and you can’t beat its user experience when it comes to dubs. It also doesn’t hurt that the ad-supported tier is pretty cheap—and even cheaper for current students.

If you’re looking for a slightly bigger catalog, though, check out Crunchyroll. After absorbing its competitor Funimation, its power level is over 9,000 (not an exact number; we’re just guessing). It’s also a great place to check out manga and discover new titles.

Best Anime FAQ

Is Crunchyroll or Hulu better for anime?

Hulu provides a better anime-watching experience, and we recommend it over Crunchyroll if you plan on watching dubs. However, Crunchyroll has a bigger library, so it’s a good place to turn if you can’t find what you want on Hulu.

Are Funimation and Crunchyroll the same?

Yes, Crunchyroll and Funimation are now owned by the same company, even though their platforms are separate. However, we don’t recommend that you subscribe to Funimation because it is in the process of being integrated into and replaced by Crunchyroll—skip the hassle and go right to Crunchyroll!

Where can I watch anime for free?

Tubi and RetroCrush allow users to watch anime for free without even needing to create an account. In addition, Crunchyroll offers a free tier that gives access to a decent portion of its library, with an option to later upgrade to a paid tier.

Methodology

Our experts have spent dozens of hours doing the grueling work of watching the latest anime to bring you these recommendations. For more information on our editorial keikaku (translator’s note: keikaku means plan), head over to How We Rank.

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