The global reach of anime is as big as its ever been, and with the ever-growing amount of shows pouring out of Japanese animation studios, fans are teeming with excitement to stream the latest hot topic.
Over the past decade, many services have become resident hosts of a wide variety of anime. We’re going to break down the top places to get your fix in the US.
A rundown of key terms for anime fans
Before we dive in, let’s look at some important words to know, just in case there are any newcomers or watchers who want to brush up on their terminology.
What’s a simulcast?
Simulcast stands for simultaneous broadcasting.
If an anime is simulcasting on Hulu, for example, that means it’ll be available to stream on Hulu around the same time it airs in Japan. The times may vary but it’s usually about an hour after, or at the very least, the same day.
What’s the difference between subbing and dubbing?
Subbing means you’ll be streaming anime with Japanese audio and English subtitles. Dubbing means you’ll hear English audio.
To break it down further, “subbed” refers to watching anime with the original Japanese audio performed by Japanese voice actors with English subtitles on screen, and “dubbed” refers to anime that has been dubbed over with English audio by English-speaking voice actors.
What do Shounen and Shoujo mean?
The anime (and manga) industry uses titles to refer to certain marketing demographics. Shōnen in Japanese translates to “boy”, so shōnen animanga targets the audience of teen boys, usually 12-18. Shōjo is the female equivalent, so animanga for teen girls.
Now, the existence of these terms doesn’t mean that anime and manga are heavily gender or age-restricted. There’s plenty of overlap in the audiences that consume both shōnen and shōjo content and not all works that fall into these categories are meant for kids, but each term does carry its own share of specific tropes/characteristics:
- Usually male protagonists
- Follows the main character on some adventure or quest to achieve an important goal
- Emphasis on impressive action/fight scenes—in the case of sports anime, it’s heightened games/matches
- Some examples: Demon Slayer_,_ Naruto Shippuden, Kuroko’s Basketball
- Usually female protagonists
- Centers around themes of romance and friendship
- Focuses on emotional and personal growth
- Some examples: Fruits Basket, Kamisama Kiss, Bibliophile Princess
There are also terms like Seinen, which refers to anime targeted to young adult men—think One Punch Man—, and Josei, which refers to anime for young adult women—titles like Chihayafuru.
Crunchyroll is the best streamer for most anime fans
Crunchyroll is an exclusively anime-centric service and has the most extensive catalog out of all the streamers on this list. It has the added bonus of offering a free tier, which is ad-supported and restricts access to simulcasts and certain content.
You can also read manga on the service and buy tons of merch from the Crunchyroll store. If you want to be able to watch as many titles as you can think of, this is the service you want to get.
Pricing: Crunchyroll has 3 paid packages to choose from in addition to its free tier:
Sub vs. dub: Many shows are offered with only English subtitles, but there are some titles with English dubs available.
Simulcast: Yes, with a paid subscription
Ads: No, with a paid subscription
Device Support: Apple IOS/Apple TV, Android/Android TV, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, Windows, Xbox One, Chromecast, Roku, Amazon Fire TV
HIDIVE is more romantic
HIDIVE isn’t so different from Crunchyroll.
It’s an anime-centric service and hosts an array of content. It also houses shows that are licensed exclusively to the platform, like the Tokyo Mew Mew and Urusei Yatsura reboots, or the newer series Call of the Night. The service has a decently sized catalog, with a bit of a preference for shōjo titles.
Pricing: HIDIVE offers a monthly plan at $4.99/mo and a yearly plan at $47.99/year
Sub vs. dub: HIDIVE offers both subbed and dubbed options for a majority of their content.
Device Support: Apple IOS/Apple TV, Android/Android TV, Xbox One, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Chromecast
Netflix has exclusivity
Netflix’s main draw is its exclusive content, housed under the title of a Netflix original. From shows like Beastars to Little Witch Academia, Netflix offers an impressive assortment of anime that you can’t watch anywhere else. That coupled with its other licensed content builds up a nice-sized catalog to comb through. For more information, check out Flixed’s Netflix review.
Pricing: Starting in November 2022, Netflix offers 4 plans:
Sub vs. dub: A large chunk of Netflix’s anime is available with dubbed audio, offering a page specifically for dubbed series. Everything is available with subs.
Ads: Netflix offers plans with and without ads.
Device Support: IOS/Apple TV, Android/Android TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, PlayStation, Xbox, Windows, Chromecast, Samsung TV, LG TV, Xfinity, Contour, Dish, Blu-Ray players, practically any device you could think of
Max is for the Ghibli lovers
Max definitely has the least amount of eggs in its basket, with an even smaller selection of anime now than it had just a few months ago. But it makes up for it by being the only streaming service where you can watch almost all of the Studio Ghibli library. The service’s launch a few years ago marked the first time the animation studios’ films were available to stream in the US. That’s a pretty big deal for fans of co-creator Hayao Miyazaki’s work and is enough for Max to make it onto this list.
Pricing: Max offers 3 plans with monthly and yearly options for each:
Sub vs. dub: Almost every title has both subbed and dubbed options, save for a couple.
Ads: Max offers plans with and without ads.
Device Support: Amazon Fire TV, IOS/Apple TV, Android/Android TV, PlayStation, Roku, Samsung TV, LG Smart TV, Xbox One/Series XIS, Xfinity, Chromecast
For more information, check out Flixed’s review of Max.
Hulu is the best for newcomers
Hulu has the best features of any of the non-anime-focused streaming services—meaning any of the services that you probably already own if you’re new to anime. With a decently sized selection and variety of titles, simulcasts of some of the most popular shows out right now—shoutout to Spy x Family—and a healthy amount of dubs available, it’s an easy recommendation for all anime fans, new or old. For more information on Hulu, check out Flixed’s review here.
Pricing: Hulu offers 4 different plans:
Sub vs. dub: Most titles have both subbed and dubbed options.
Simulcast: Yes, for select titles
Ads: Hulu offers plans with and without ads.
Device Support: IOS/Apple TV, Android/Android TV, Chromecast, Echo Show, Amazon Fire Tv, LG TV, Nintendo Switch, Windows, PlayStation, Xbox Roku, Samsung TV, VIZIO Smartcast TVs, Xfinity, Contour
Our takeaway: Choose whatever works best for you
Each service has its wins and losses, but it all comes down to personal taste. Thanks to anime’s growing appeal here in the US, you may already have services with enough shows to satiate your appetite. But if you want more, there are always others to subscribe to. Try them all, and if one doesn’t appeal to you, well, that’s what the free trial is for.
Regardless, finding anime to stream has never been easier, and we have access to more shows than we have time to watch. Amongst the 5 services we’ve listed here, we’re sure you’ll be able to find something worth your while.
Davan Hamilton • Author
Davan Hamilton is an editor and writer based in Jacksonville, FL. Holding a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, her writing spans a wide range, from essays on film criticism and analysis to surreal poetry. Now, she works for Flixed as an editor, continuing to ignore the list of passion projects she’s accumulated. When she’s not glued to her computer, you can find her building endless amounts of Lego sets, binge-reading manga, or playing with (fighting) her cat.
Desiree Wu • Editor
Desiree is a full-time Honours Business Administration student at Ivey Business School at Western University. She also served as an Editorial Intern at Flixed. Desiree is based in London, Ontario.