Netflix currently plays host to some of the best anime in the business. You need to get on it!
From distribution of popular anime aired in Japan to original creations, Netflix has become a powerhouse, rivalled only by streaming services dedicated to anime entirely – most prominently, Crunchyroll. Anime is an electrifying art form, and it comes in just about every genre you can think of. No matter your tastes, chances are, there’s an anime out there for you.
In no particular order, here are the best anime shows on Netflix.
Attack on Titan (2013-2023)
Attack on Titan is without a doubt one of the most popular anime right now. And for good reason. With spectacular animation, political intrigue, a compelling cast of characters and bigger-than-life battles, this is one show you’ll want to check out. Yes, the titans — the gigantic, humanoid, human-eating monsters that force humanity to live behind towering castle walls — are unnerving and might freak you out. But that’s half the fun, especially when we see our heroes take them down. Netflix only has Attack on Titan’s first season in its catalog, but those 25 episodes are enough to get you started.
Hunter x Hunter (2011-2014)
Hunter x Hunter remains an unfinished story, having been abruptly paused after season 6. The manga’s author, Yoshihiro Togashi, stopped writing, leaving Hunter x Hunter on hiatus. New chapters, Togashi recently announced, are incoming. This anime starts with protagonist Gon Freecss, who leaves home in search of his father, but the show quickly branches out of that simple narrative. The series is beloved for its world-building and emotional investment across its diverse cast of characters.
A gripping game of cat and mouse for the ages, Death Note follows Light Yagami, a genius high schooler who finds a mysterious notebook (the titular “Death Note”) that gives its owner the ability to kill anyone whose name is written within it. Hellbent on creating a new world free of crime, Light carries out a massacre, killing off criminals and those Light deems morally unworthy. But the world’s greatest detective is on the case. Can Light get away with it?
“Believe it” (as Naruto Uzumaki would say), you can’t have a best anime list without this show. This classic, well-loved anime follows Naruto, a young ninja from the Hidden Leaf Village who dreams of becoming the leader of his village. Beware: Naruto is a very long anime. So long that once you get through all nine seasons on Netflix (220 episodes total), which covers Naruto’s preteen years, you’ll still have another 500 episodes to cover in Naruto: Shippuden, which picks up two and a half years after the show’s original run. There are also a handful of Naruto movies available on the streaming service right now. Make sure to skip the filler episodes, unless you’re really desperate for something to watch.
Shonen’s most recent darling, Demon Slayer is a standout hit that breaks with many of the well-worn cliches in action anime. The story follows Tanjiro Kamado, who joins the ranks of the demon slayers following the murder of his family by a demon. Only Nezuko Kamado, Tanjiro’s younger sister, survived the onslaught — but she was turned into a demon. Tanjiro travels Taisho-era Japan with Nezuko in search of a cure and joins the Demon Slayer Corps, seeking to confront the original demon, Muzan Kibutsuji, who killed his family.
The animation and action are breathtaking, the characters are compelling and vibrant, the music is stellar and the dialogue is memorable. We couldn’t recommend this anime more. Season one is streaming on Netflix, but there’s another season out there, if you’re craving more.
You’ll be hooked after the first few episodes of this popular anime, trust us. This show isn’t your typical action anime – but that doesn’t make it less enthralling. In fact, the opposite is true. Kakegurui is set in an academy where the measure of a student is based on their gambling prowess, whether that’s at the roulette table or playing blackjack. It’s part psychological thriller, part drama, and the stakes get higher as the show progresses.
A Netflix original inspired by the classic video games of the same name, Castlevania follows the last member of the disgraced Belmont family, Trevor Belmont. This dark medieval fantasy is full of gore, gothic horror and grotesque monsters. Trevor — and friends made along the way — venture out to defeat none other than Dracula himself, whose anger and grief over the unjust death of his love overruns Eastern Europe in the 1400s. You don’t want to miss this one.
Record of Ragnarok (2021-)
Ever wanted to see a brawl between a Norse god and an ancient Chinese warrior? Or watch a Greek god duke it out with one of the best swordsmen in Japan’s history? Me neither, but now I’m sure glad I have.
Record of Ragnarok’s premise is simple: Through 13 one-on-one battles to the death, humanity must prove itself worthy to avoid annihilation by the gods. The first to seven victories wins. This anime is imaginative, entertaining and chock-full of human history, so you’ll learn some new stuff along the way. It’s also cool to see legends from all corners of the globe coinciding in one mythos. Only the first 12-episode season is out, making this a perfect anime to binge on your next couch session.
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure (2012-)
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure follows generations of the Joestar family, from the 19th century to modern times, through decades of, you guessed it, bizarre adventures. Each member of the family carries the same name – Jojo – and each is imbued with great superhuman powers. The battles are as psychic and supernatural as the narrative is adventurous. Good thing all five seasons are streaming on Netflix.
Another anime classic, Cowboy Bebop was originally broadcast in 1998 and, well, it never lost its appeal. The show brilliantly melded a variety of genres – primarily science fiction and Western (think space cowboys) – to create something completely novel and compelling. Set in 2071, the series is about a group of traveling bounty hunters aboard their ship, Bebop. Netflix recently made a live-action version of the show, though it didn’t receive the same critical acclaim as the anime.
If you thought Naruto was long, think again. One Piece is the longest-running anime to date, spanning more than 1,000 episodes across 23 years of broadcasting. The show follows Monkey D. Luffy and his crew, the Straw Hat Pirates. They’re in search of the ultimate treasure known as One Piece. Netflix recently expanded its four-season collection of One Piece to 13 seasons, giving you plenty to sink your teeth into. If you ever hope to catch up, best get to it!
In a world where demons resurface, Akira Fudo unites with a demon, at the behest of his friend, to become a devilman, in order to wage a brutal war against the demons that now plague the earth.
Devilman Crybaby is based on the manga written by Go Nagai, which was originally adapted as an anime back in the ’70s. This newer series moves the time setting from the 1970s to modern times and goes hardcore on mature themes and violent sequences. It’s rated TV-MA, so this isn’t one for the children.
Devilman Crybaby debuted to great acclaim in 2018, and so far it’s just 10 episodes compiled under one season.
Beastars is set in a world of anthropomorphic animals. These characters have jobs and go to school, reminiscent of Disney’s Zootopia. But while Beastars and Zootopia both tackle similar themes – predator versus prey, prejudice and discrimination versus compassion and inclusivity – Beastars is definitely the emotionally heavier show. In fact, because of some of the sexual themes and violence in the show, it’s best to steer children away from this one. If you’re into melodramas that are heavy-handed on philosophizing, this may be the best show for you yet.
One Punch Man (2015-2019)
How would you feel if you were so strong that you could defeat any foe with just one punch? Triumphant? Bored? Lonely? This is the central question One Punch Man grapples with. The show follows hero Saitama, who has trained so hard that all his hair fell out. By the end of his training, he’s able to defeat any enemy with one punch. The show is a satire of shonen manga and anime, subverting the common tropes found in those stories. If you’re looking for a different spin on the modern superhero story, this might be your cup of tea.
Netflix has a robust library of past Pokemon anime, and the newest series in the franchise is being produced by Netflix itself. The story follows our favorite forever-10-year-old, Ash Ketchum (go figure), as he continues his Pokemon journey. The show also introduces a host of new characters, including Goh and Chloe, and takes audiences to multiple regions of the Pokemon world, including the most recent, the Galar region. If you’re a fan of Pokemon, or have children, this is a great anime to watch.
Honorable mention: Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005-2008)
OK, Avatar: The Last Airbender isn’t technically anime, but it draws so heavily from the art form, and is so perfect, that it would be madness not to mention it here. I missed out on this show when it was still airing on Nickelodeon, and when it resurfaced on Netflix, I dismissed it as solely nostalgic hype. Boy, was I wrong. This show handles complex themes of war propaganda, genocide, duty and honor, all while remaining a lighthearted and upbeat epic tale. Oh, and it also has one of the best character redemption arcs in TV history, period.
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