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Netflix has really come a long way from being a service that sent DVDs to your mailbox. Today, not only can you experience a wide library of films from all over the world with the touch of a button, you can even binge hours upon hours of television.
One of the newest waves of media to hit Netflix is anime. Recently, there have been so many new Netflix anime shows added to the lineup that it can be overwhelming to know where to begin.
That is why we put together this list of ten Netflix anime shows that are worth your while. There are many flavors when it comes to anime, so we wanted to give you a varied selection to choose from. What follows is our evaluation of the ten best Netflix anime shows you can stream right now.
To see the current most popular anime shows just click here.
All About Anime
The history of cultural exchange between Japan and the rest of the world has been fascinating. Japan developed the animation techniques that would become anime as part of their war effort to fight Western powers, but embraced the proportions of beloved Western character Donald Duck to create the character style now known as “chibi.”
Today, anime has become as international as the karaoke machines that replaced open mics across the globe. Thanks to this cultural exchange, we now have access to tons of Japanese anime on everyone’s favorite American streaming site. Welcome to the world of Netflix Anime.
1. What Is Anime?
In short, anime is the hand- or computer-created moving drawings that originated in Japan. It is enjoyed by adults and children alike, and the industry certainly markets to both demographics.
Typically, anime shows feature fantastic themes, outrageous colors, unexpected plotlines, and wacky characters.
2. Where Did Anime Come From?
Anime is the Japanese word for animation. Inside Japan’s borders, the term refers to all moving drawings. Outside of Japan, the word anime refers to a specific style of drawing that mimics Japanese art.
3. How Old Is Anime?
The first anime was created in 1917 in Japan. The typical style of anime was created in the 1960s with the works of Osamu Tezuka.
Anime currently has the largest audience in the history of its reign thanks to the internet and internal exchange. Part of this may be due to the fact that Japan now has over 430 animation studios producing distinct content. For such a small island, they are certainly beating the five that American can claim. The diversity of the studios has resulted in shows that can impact every demographic.
4. What Is an Otaku?
The word “otaku” refers to a person with obsessive interests. It is often applied to those who gravitate toward a particular anime franchise. You may be an otaku already, or maybe your Netflix anime adventure is the beginning of your journey.
How We Reviewed
To make our list, the anime had to be available for streaming on Netflix. After that, we separated the wheat from the chaff and only evaluated those shows which make a cultural impact. Even with that criteria, we had to narrow the list down even further because there are so many Netflix anime shows worth their salt.
Fortunately, some of the absolute best anime shows are available on Netflix, and it was from these that we picked a winner. Each entry was evaluated for its plot, the success or failure of its drama and comedy, and its animation.
About Netflix Pricing
Subscribing to Netflix requires a monthly payment. Netflix offers three plans, which correspond to three different prices and levels of access. Their Basic Streaming Plan costs $8.99 a month, whereas their Standard plan costs $13.99 a month, and you can pay $17.99 a month for their Premium plan.
No matter which plan you choose, you will have access to the full Netflix anime catalog. The only difference between the plans is how high-def you can stream your shows. Basic can only stream in standard definition. Standard can stream in basic high-def. Premium users can stream 4K footage.
What We Reviewed
- Little Witch Academia
- The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.
- Attack on Titan
- Love, Death & Robots
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica
- Neon Genesis Evangelion
If there’s one thing anime does superbly, it’s the over-the-top fights. If there are two things it does right, the second is quirky, character-driven comedy. One-Punch Man is a master of both.
This show will have you rollicking with laughter at the adventures of Saitama while simultaneously anticipating the action of the next fight. This action is always hilariously short-lived, however, as Saitama (the superhero “One-Punch Man”) is able to dispatch even the most overpowering enemies with a singular punch.
One-Punch Man is so good at finishing the fight in a single blow that he has become bored with his existence. No challenge can ever excite him. We watch as he transforms himself from your average Japanese salaryman into an undefeatable superhero by practicing aerobic exercises and doing push-ups.
In this transformation, Saitama morphs from a man full of character into a blank-faced emoji of a superhero who is unable to find any challenge to suit his powers.
If you like postmodern takes on superheroes like much of the work of Alan Moore or Grant Morrison, this could be a great series to dive into. If you are a fan of outlandish character designs and ridiculous situations, you will be hard-pressed to find a more enjoyable show than One-Punch Man. This is a great series to start with a group of friends since the laughs just keep coming.
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We’d like to give this anime four stars, but perhaps it is better to award it one star that knocks the other four out with one punch.
Little Witch Academia
We’d like to recommend another anime, this time a bit on the lighter side. Little Witch Academia is the story of a girl, Akko, who dreams of attending the Luna Nova Magical Academy. While this does initially sound similar to Harry Potter, the writers have put in a huge twist: Akko has no magical powers whatsoever.
This anime does what many others do so well: quirky and fresh characters in funny and novel situations. You will laugh, cry, and fall in love with the story of little Akko as you watch Little Witch Academia. This is a lighthearted story about friendship and goodness.
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Little Witch Academia earns a solid three stars. If you want to feel good or relax a bit with anime, this is the show for you.
The story of Retsuko is worth following. This is a Netflix original, but it’s based on a Japanese series. Retsuko is a red panda who is as disenfranchised with the state of the modern world as most of the rest of us.
Not surprisingly, she works for a Fortune 500 company, spending her days slogging about in the rat race, faced with coworkers, meaninglessness, and bosses. However, Retsuko has the cure for her woes, or at least a passable solution: death metal karaoke.
The show’s animation is really cute even though the subject matter deals with many serious modern problems. The aesthetic is reminiscent of the loveable 1990s character Hello Kitty. This is no coincidence, because the company that created Aggretsuko also made Hello Kitty.
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This classic and revamped anime earns a bold three stars. This is another instant classic.
The Disastrous Life of Saiki K
Like Little Witch Academia, The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. is a show that follows a teen with powers. Saiki K. has unusual powers that viewers will enjoy learning about as they watch. As is typical with anime shows, the kids will misfire, misuse, and make mistakes as they grow and learn about themselves and the world around them.
This show is absolutely hilarious, taking on a cast of unique, quirky, and generally off-the-wall characters. The show will make you feel great about everything while you laugh.
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The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.really earned the three out of five stars we awarded to it.
Attack on Titan
Anime excels at producing fights that are too epic, too fast-paced, and too chaotic for normal film or even Disney-style animation. Attack on Titan is one such incredible action-adventure. It is one of the most popular Netflix anime series, and there is no sign of it slowing down. In Attack on Titan, giant, naked, humanoid monsters (known as Titans) have nearly destroyed humanity by feasting upon it.
To combat these creatures, select humans equipped themselves with some of the most original and exciting tech in all of anime. Strapped with hip-mounted devices that allow the characters to Spider-Man across their environment on propelled cables, the characters zip-line around their world and their nemeses to deliver brutal sword blows to these oversized enemies.
The gore is impressive and often haunting to witness, but Attack on Titan offers more than just gore. This Netflix anime series has no shortage of plot twists, heart-wrenching character moments, and dark nights of the soul that leave even their audience considering their actions.
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As one of the better Netflix anime shows around, we award Attack on Titan four stars out of five.
Excitement, teens, and animation are the trifecta of Japanese animation. Kakegurui a typical example of this, making it a highly watchable show. It will keep you on the edge of your seat for hours.
The show follows a new student at a school who is obsessed with gambling. Every student has their own hijinks and clever tricks for the audience to enjoy. Wacky characters, insane action sequences, and even a bit of fan service are hallmarks of this wonderful anime.
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We have scored this great anime three out of five stars.
Love, Death & Robots
This breakout recommendation is for TV show fans who are not sure about anime. Love, Death & Robots is an anthology series made for sci-fi fans. The topics range from cyberpunk dreams to Black Mirror-style nightmares.
The topics change with every episode, with the use of various animation styles, writers, and directors, giving the show a wide, culturally relevant feeling. If you are a fan of animation, the changing styles alone will keep you hooked. Each episode gives the artist, the writer, and the happy critic a lot to think about.
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This varied and deep series earns a whopping four out of five stars for its unique style.
There are few games as influential as Castlevania. The design of the maps, the acquisition of powers to expand the player’s mobility options, and the radical monsters-and-magic setting have influenced everything from the Batman Arkham series to the Dark Souls games. It is only fitting that Netflix would gravitate toward this series for their own adaptation.
Unlike many items on this list, Castlevania is not just an anime available on Netflix; it is an anime developed by Netflix. And how! The streaming company cut no corners. If you are a fan of Castlevania, this show is one you won’t want to miss. If you aren’t familiar with the series but are a fan of lore-heavy, vampire-filled action-adventure, you will not be disappointed.
Castlevania games never go out of style, but the series seems to be undergoing a bit of a renaissance. Many people who gravitate toward this show end up playing the games later, which can really deepen your experience of the Castlevania world.
This Netflix anime is chock full of dark humor and personality. This is due in large part to its show-runner, Warren Ellis. Comic book fans will certainly recognize this name. Warren Ellis is the legendarily bawdy writer behind the Transmetropolitan series. If any element of Castlevania has intrigued you, we highly recommend checking this show out.
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This show deserves four stars out of a potential five.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica
If you enjoy anime for the colorful visuals, quippy writing, and kick-butt soundtracks, you must try out Puella Magi Madoka Magica. This show has earned more than its fair share of critical acclaim as it first aired in 2011.
This anime follows a group of girls in school in Japan who suddenly gain magical powers from a mythical creature named Kyubey. The deal that the girls make requires them to fight witches, handling huge responsibilities along the way.
While there is only one season of the show, if you like the characters, you will find three Netflix movies that came out of the intense cult-like following of the series.
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The show earned a three out of five stars.
Neon Genesis Evangelion
No list of Netflix anime would be complete without the new bombshell addition to its lineup: Neon Genesis Evangelion. Those three words often cue-up the “Cruel Angel’s Thesis” theme song in many veteran otakus’ minds. Neon Genesis Evangelion is as beloved as it is mystifying, and hundreds of thousands of new fans are joining in this obsession. You could be forgiven for seeing this as a typical giant fighting robot anime. However, it is anything but.
If the giant robots look traditional, that is only because Neon Genesis Evangelion revitalized the genre. There is real weight in the encounters between the Evangelions and the angels that are attacking earth. You can never guarantee a positive outcome to these encounters, and most of the victories that human beings score are pyrrhic at best. The angels themselves are wonders to behold. They are so alien that they border on Lovecraftian. Their designs are simultaneously awe-inspiring, beautiful, and absolutely horrifying.
Effective Narrative Elements
This Netflix anime provides the narrative elements that include world-shaking nuclear forces, imperialism, individuality versus collectivism, Jungian vs Freudian analysis, and much more. You may be drawn in by the relatable protagonist, the sexy ladies, the beautifully off-color mechas, the bizarre angels, and the wonderfully 80s chunky aesthetic of the technology, but we can almost guarantee that what you get out of the show is not what initially drew you in.
Not only do you have access to the entire series on Netflix, but there are also several films and endings to explore on the Netflix anime platform as well.
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We award this anime the absolute highest rating: five stars out of five.
The Verdict: The Best Netflix Anime
How could we award the “Best Netflix Anime” title to any show other than Neon Genesis Evangelion? In Japan, Evangelion is as impactful as Star Wars is in the United States. You can hear its theme song resounding from hundreds of karaoke bars, where it remains a perennial favorite.
You can find figurines of the Evangelions in every toy store. There are even branded trains that are painted like the show’s giant fighting robots.
There is a reason this show resonates with so many people. We cannot wait for you to discover it.