Online streaming is the way forward, as far as digital media is concerned. The best movies, television, documentaries, anime, and pretty much anything else that you happen to enjoy on a screen is almost always enjoyed easier when you stream it from a reliable source, even more so when it’s free. Every fandom and corner of pop culture is in on the trend, so much so that it scarcely resembles a “trend.” It’s simply the current state of technology, and there’s no sign that we’re going to move away from it anytime soon.
If you’re an anime fan, you’re probably left wondering where the most popular places are to stream your favorite shows. For cinephiles and live-action television, there’s little doubt—Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video are your best choices. All three of those offer anime, too…but what if we told you that there are places where you can stream anime for free? In the article below, we’re going to introduce you to 10 of the best places where you can stream popular anime series and movies. Some of them will allow you to watch certain content without any cost, while others might require a subscription if you want to access their sizeable libraries.
Before we start looking at the particulars of each of these excellent anime resources, though, we have a couple of brief disclaimers to work through.
Be Wary of “Free” Streaming Sources
This is an issue that we encounter frequently on Digital Recourse, but it’s always worth repeating. As a consumer of online content, you should always be skeptical of anything that’s purporting to be “free.” In most circumstances, the only way that websites are allowed to stream anime (or movies, TV shows, or other entertainment media) is by licensing it specifically through the content’s original developer or distributor. That means cash is changing hands, which means that the streaming service has to find a way to recoup that money. Usually, that takes place in the form of a subscription or download cost. Other sites have a “pay-per-view” type system in place.
When that same content is offered “free,” it means that it probably hasn’t been paid for, which means the site in question might not have legal rights to stream or distribute it. After all, can you imagine that the people responsible for creating your favorite anime would want to freely distribute it without making any money? I can’t.
Thus, you should always be skeptical of anything that’s advertising itself as “free.” That doesn’t mean you can’t watch anime at no cost online—we have a few resources that will do just that. But always be vigilant.
Better Safe Than Sorry
Similar to the above situation, you’ll always want to make sure your streaming from a legitimate source. If you’re not, the risk of malicious code finding its way onto your computer, phone, or other hardware increases significantly. The best way to be safe is to always ensure that you have antivirus and malware removal software running.
After all, nothing puts a damper on the newest series of your favorite show like a virus.
Best Free Anime Websites for Streaming
Not every anime resource is going to be free—that much should be obvious. However, there are some great places to watch anime at no cost to yourself, but you have to go into the experience realizing that your options are going to be somewhat limited. And if we only listed free, legitimate anime resources in this article, it would be an awfully short list.
Lo and behold, one of the top listings among our favorite places to stream anime is the top anime streaming service online. Or, at least, Crunchyroll manages to be the most renowned of the bunch.
Most people know Crunchyroll based on its subscription service (which we mention below) but did you know that you can also watch anime for free? You’ll be a bit limited in what you can view, of course, but there are quite a few episodes of a plethora of shows available for guests and non-subscribers. Certainly enough to wet your palate!
Quite a few people head to Daisuki when they want to watch shows that aired a while back. Dragon Ball Z? One Punch Man? This is many viewers’ source for all of it, and it can be yours, too.
One of the nice things about Daisuki is that you don’t need to create an account in order to view the content hosted here. Just visit the site, search for what you want, and get to watching!
If you regularly browse sites like Daisuki and Crunchyroll, there’s a good chance that you’ve become accustomed to easily navigable interfaces. Pleasant, concise, clean, and filled with vibrant, inviting colors. Unfortunately, AnimeSeason is the opposite of many of those things.
However, in spite of the fact that the site is presented as an overly-crowded mess, that “crowd” is made up of thousands of episodes of your favorite anime series. It’s a robust little collection that might be difficult to sort through, but is jam-packed with free access to great shows.
Here’s what you need to do: click through the link above, and click the “Random Anime” button. Trust us. You won’t regret it, and it might just be our favorite part of this particular anime resource.
Nevermind the fact that you’ll get access to hundreds of episodes of your favorite anime series. This cleanly organized collection of content doesn’t boast the aesthetic or quality of something like Crunchyroll, but it’ll do in a pinch. And, perhaps most importantly, it’s free.
This site works mostly due to its partnership with various other anime streaming sites. Much of what you’ll find here is free, but you’re also going to have to wade through those links that would prefer to take you to Hulu or Crunchyroll.
The sense of community at Anime-Planet is great, however. The “anime recommendations” feature is a great way to introduce yourself to new shows. And the service has a fairly good track record when it comes to pairing you with content that you’ll enjoy.
There isn’t a lot separating this resource from several of the others that we’ve listed above. It’s free, it’s accessible, it’s pretty rough-looking, but it has quite a lot of anime that you can stream at no cost. As long as you don’t mind the relatively clunky interface that you’ll have to use to navigate the site, there’s plenty to enjoy, here.
Best Paid Anime Websites for Streaming
Of course, hunting down free resources is only going to get you so far. Plenty of sites purport to offer free streaming of great anime, but they’re either scams or simply hubs through which pirated content is distributed. A torrent site does not a good anime resource make, as the old proverb goes (doesn’t it?)
Instead, after you’ve given the options above a try, you’ll find yourself in the helpful position of knowing exactly what types of content each of them offer. For those services that also offer a subscription option, you’ll know whether or not the anime that’s locked behind a paywall is worth paying a few bucks a month for.
What’s this? The same place making it onto our list twice? Crunchyroll is the only one that’s going to manage to do it, but yes indeed, it happens to be one of the best places for free and paid anime streaming. And if you’ve had a taste of the shows and episodes offered for free viewing, you’ll probably have stumbled upon quite a few that require the monthly subscription service.
Thankfully, it doesn’t rival Netflix in terms of cost. At $6.95 per month, it’s a relatively affordable option. If you watch quite a bit of anime every month—let’s say 20 episodes or more—this is a downright steal. There’s only one other service online that can rival what Crunchyroll offers with its paid subscription, and that is…
Unsurprisingly, the company responsible for a massive amount of anime distribution, localization, and sales across the world is also a great place to stream it. You’re going to need to pay a subscription fee to do so, but what you get in return is likely the largest legitimate collection of dubbed, localized anime available online. Simply put, it’s huge.
It’s a little bit less expensive than Crunchyroll, too. At only $5.99 per month, you’re forgoing the cost of a couple cups of coffee in order to get access to not just a large amount of streamed anime, but the best-streamed anime currently being released. You can even watch simulcast episodes so that you can keep up with your favorite shows as new episodes air.
Oh, Netflix. Would it be possible for you to slow down, one of these years? Maybe let one of the other massive streaming services catch up? More and more, it seems like Netflix is the go-to source for all video media, no matter the genre. If you’re an anime fan, that can certainly be the case.
We have to warn viewers, though—while there is quite a lot of anime available on Netflix, the service specializes in offering quite a lot more than anime, too. Still, the “Netflix Original” program has helped to bring certain shows to US viewers faster than any other anime streaming service. Fancy some of the futuristic Knights of Sidonia? You’re only going to find it here.
Somehow, Hulu is almost a better service for streaming anime than Netflix is. This is due to it offering many shows that recently aired, or are currently airing. You’re only going to find the massively popular series, One Punch Man, on Hulu and Daisuki, for example.
Sure, Hulu is now hidden behind a pay wall, just like Netflix. Don’t let that deter you from investigating the anime that’s offered here, however. If it’s the type you want, a subscription might just be worth your time and money.
There you have it, folks. Some of the best websites to watch anime for free. Some of them are free, some of them aren’t, but they’re all 100% legitimate, and won’t run you across a plethora of scams, torrent files, or other fishy offers.
If you have any remaining questions about our recommendations, let us know in the comments, below! Otherwise, happy viewing!