Netflix is a low-key good source for anime. You can find older classics like Rurouni Kenshin for a good Sunday evening binge. Netflix also licenses anime specifically for the platform. Some examples include the Little Witch Academia, Knights of Sidonia, and Seven Deadly Sins. The mixture of titles and genres is good enough for most anime fans, although Netflix pales in comparison to sites like Funimation, VRV, or Crunchyroll. Still, there are a ton of options with some old classics as well as newer anime. Let’s take a look at the best anime on Netflix!
Our first pick for this one is Ingress. It’s a relatively newer anime with an 11 episode first season. There is also a second season in the works. It follows the story of two people trying to understand and unlock the power of XM amidst a worldwide power struggle. The animation is a bit polarizing, but the breakneck pacing and the show’s no-fluff approach make it an entertaining watch. Keep an eye out for season two!
Gurren Lagann is an excellent action-adventure from Studio Gainax. Many of the staff for this one would eventually leave to become Studio Trigger. This show is about Simon, a digger, who helps humanity reach the surface of the Earth after many years underground. That’s where the story starts. It has a bunch of anime tropes, but the show maintains an excellent pace with good character development and an above average soundtrack.
Seven Deadly Sins is a Netflix Original series currently in its third season. It’s a classic Shonen-style fantasy with action and adventure elements. It follows a group of warriors with checkered pasts trying to do good things for the world. This one features some unpleasant fan service and some occasionally uneven animation, but the action sequences are on point and the story telling is generally pretty good.
Soul Eater is a very popular anime show. It’s about a bunch of kids that can turn into weapons and the kids that can wield those weapons. They must kill people, devour souls, and become stronger. It has a lot of slapstick comedy elements, action sequences, and the absurd kinds of things that make you really appreciate anime for what it is. The show has 51 episodes so it’ll take some time to watch.
Slice of Life and Moe
Little Witch Academia is a coming-of-age slice of life by Studio Trigger. It follows the adventure of Atsuko (Akko) as she enrolls in Nova Magical Academy to become a witch. She lives in a world that isn’t all that interested in magic anymore and wants to restore its good name. It has adventure elements and there is a fair bit more action than most slice of life dramas. However, the show is outstanding, despite a bit of controversy about Netflix not releasing the whole series at once.
Ouran High School Host Club
Ouran High School Host Club is part of the anime slice of life fad that includes hit shows like K-On and others. Each episode is about the life of Haruhi as she joins a host club. It has all of the slice of life tropes including plenty of dialog, people eating sweet treats, and various comedic situations. It’s adorable and fun like any slice of life should be and it’s an entertaining watch for fans of the genre.
Drama and Romance
Violet Evergarden is easily the most beautifully animated anime series on all of Netflix. It follows the journey of Violet as she recovers from being a tool for war and finding her commander. The show deals with her feelings for her commander that she doesn’t quite understand. The show is episodic with a short story arc over the last few episodes. Thus, the anime moves at a slower pace. However, the animation, soundtrack, and characterization are utterly flawless. Even if you’re not into drama, this is a good anime to just look at and listen to.
Your Lie in April is a beautifully animated drama about a musician who has lost his will to play. He regains it upon meeting Kaori, a violinist with a chaotic personality. We won’t spoil the ending, but the show is an excellent mix of drama, comedy, and slice of life elements. It’s widely considered among the best in the genre. Drama and slice of life fans won’t regret this one.
Mystery and Thriller
Good mysteries are hard to find on Netflix and Death Note is the most popular among them. It’s about a boy with a notebook. The notebook has the power to kill anybody whose name is written in it. Thus begins a cat-and-mouse game between the boy and a detective looking for the mass murderer. The show is dark and entertaining with some comedy bits to lighten things up from time to time.
Durarara!! is a light thriller about an Irish fairy (called a dullahan) who lost her head in Japan and is looking for it. You witness and event and the show switches between all of the main characters while everybody tries to figure it out. Durarara!!x2 is the second installment in the series and it too is available on Netflix. The show has good pacing and some decent comedy. The two shows have a total of 36 episodes between them so you have something to watch for a while.
One Punch Man is an extremely popular comedy-action anime about a dude who knocks basically anything out in a single punch. You would think a show like that would have no tension, but believe it or not, it does. The show is a quick watch with excellent dialog and fun action sequences. Season 2 is still in production as of June 2019 and we don’t know when or if it’ll show up on Netflix. You can watch season 2 on Crunchyroll, though.
Aggretsuko is something almost completely different. It’s a comedy slice of life about a anthropomorphic red panda trying to make it in the every day world. The comedy comes from observational humor as well as its vast contrast in situations. If you don’t look up anything about the show before you watch it, the first episode is going to take you off guard. Keep at it, though. This is a good one.
Horror and Gore
Devilman Crybaby is a gory dark fantasy about a race of demons trying to take the world from the humans. It has excellent visuals, an active story, and plenty of gore. It revolves around Akira, a human who eventually gains the powers of a demon. The show is rather short at just ten episodes, but it’s a high impact run. You should be able to get through this in a couple of days.
Ajin: Demi-Human is a dark fantasy thriller with some horror elements. It follows the story of Kei, an Ajin that can regenerate when near death. Governments harvest these people for their organs and such since they immediately regenerate. The conflict drives the show forward for the majority of its run. It’s not horror in the traditional aspect, but it’s definitely gory and uncomfortable (in a fun way) to watch at times.
There are a ton of great anime on Netflix, but we couldn’t fit all the ones we like into the list above. Here are a bunch of honorable mentions in case you want even more options. Please note, we don’t list several shows like Fairy Tail, Attack on Titan, Sword Art Online, Bleach, Case Closed, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, and Naruto. Netflix doesn’t have the full run of any of these shows and that makes them incomplete experiences. They are still good anime, though.
Black Butler – Black Butler is a comedy drama about a 12-year old kid who makes a contract with a demon butler to find and kill the people who killed his parents. The show features tons of adult themes, dark comedy, and entertaining storylines. The episodic nature of the show gives it a slower than usual pace, but the characters are memorable and enjoyable. Don’t let your kids watch this one, trust us.
Castlevania – Castlevania isn’t actually an anime in the traditional sense. It’s an American made show with Japanese anime style animation. It follows the basic plot from Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse from 1989. The show currently runs for 20 episodes with good pacing. It’s an excellent nostalgia trip for people who played the original Castlevania games.
Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion – Code Geass is a cult classic action-drama show. You follow the adventures of Lelouch, a dramatic student with some big goals. The show leans heavily on its consistent plot twists, Lelouch’s flair for the dramatic, and a few good mecha battles. Once you really lean into the show’s absurdities, it’s a wildly entertaining thrill ride. Netflix has the entire anime run, but none of the OVAs, unfortunately.
The Fate Series – Netflix has several Fate shows to choose from. They include Fate/stay Night: Unlimited Bladeworks, Fate/Apocrypha, and Fate/EXTRA Last Encore. These are reasonably good action-adventure shows with fantasy elements. Characters battle for the Holy Grail, an ancient relic capable of granting one wish. Netflix has every episode from each show, but it doesn’t have every Fate show in the series.
Fullmetal Alchemist (and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood) – Fullmetal Alchemist and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood are two of the most popular anime ever made. Both shows follow the Elric brothers through a story of action, adventure, fantasy, and mystery. The original Fullmetal Alchemist had better pacing and story telling while Brotherhood had a better ending and a more adult feel to it. You can’t go wrong either way. Both shows are fairly old, but hold up well to today’s standards.
The Devil is a Part-Timer! – This comedy anime features the devil himself. He gets locked out of his realm and must make do in the real world. He gets a 9-5 job at this anime’s version of McDonald’s (called MgRonald’s) and hilarity ensues. The show only lasts for 13 episodes, so it’s easy to binge over the course of a weekend. You won’t be blown away by its premise or execution, but it’s still a good show.
Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet – This one is an adventure-fantasy show with excellent animation quality and a good pace. It follows a mecha pilot stranding on a world made almost entirely out of water. The 13-episode show has one major story arc with a good climax and some decent action. It’s a bit procedural as anime goes, but the memorable characters and animation really helps this one stick out.
Hunter X Hunter – Hunter X Hunter is another older anime and a precursor to MMORPG anime like Sword Art Online and others. The show revolves around Hunters who slay beasts, hunt for treasure, and track down people. The show has excellent fantasy action, but it’s also one of the older anime on the list.
InuYasha – InuYasha is a very popular action-fantasy anime. You may remember this one being on TV when you were younger. It follows the half-demon InuYasha in his search for jewel shards. It’s a classic style action show from the 2000’s, so there is plenty of yelling, fighting, and some bits of comedy to keep the flow moving. This definitely aged better than many similar anime and it’s still a fun watch.
The Magi series – The Magi series comprises of three anime, Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic, Magi: The Kingdom of Magic, and finally, The Adventures of Sinbad (in that order). It follows a child magic user and his pals as they figure out the secrets of a particular dungeon and then take part in a massive struggle. The premise definitely isn’t unique, but the execution is fun to watch.
Revisions – Revisions is a mecha action show and one of several Netflix Originals on this list. It starts with a trip 300 years into the future to battle Revisions, a race of cyborgs. Netflix has the 12-episode first season available now and it has excellent animation, pacing, and English voice overs. You should be able to get through it quickly over the course of a weekend.
Rurouni Kenshin – Rurouni Kenshin is a nostalgia trip for many anime fans. The action-adventure show takes place in late 1800’s Japan and follows the story of Kenshin as he saves Japan from evil. The show originally aired in the 1990’s and suffers from a lot of the animation and English dub setbacks of that era. Thus, it didn’t age quite as well as some other old shows on the list.
If we missed any great anime on Netflix, tell us about it in the comments!
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