Anime is getting a lot of attention these days. Most major streaming platforms are offering some type of anime. Some streaming services are licensing anime. Also, some are setting up producing deals to finance new anime.
The important thing is that anime fans now have a nice selection of options when it comes to streaming anime for free. Fans can watch some of their favorite shows dubbed and subbed, and all they need is an internet connection. Granted, that usually means watching a show with ads, but ad-supported content is good for the industry. It means distributors, licensors, creators, and anime producers are getting paid and receiving ad revenue. That’s a sign of growth and a positive step. It used to be that fans had to wait for just a handful of episodes on VHS or DVD. Now, fans can watch their favorites uncut in their original Japanese language with subtitles, depending on their preference.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 best places to watch anime online for free (legally).
List of 5 Best Places to Watch Anime Online for Free (Legally)
PLEASE NOTE: This list will only mention legal streaming anime sites. These are free streaming apps or websites where subscriptions are not required. So, all you need to do is type in the website or load up the app to get started. Also, these sites are based in the U.S. region.
Crunchyroll has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years. Their selection of streaming anime has improved. They have options to stream shows in multiple languages. You can watch many new shows on Crunchyroll not just in the original Japanese, but also dubbed in many different languages.
The other great thing about Crunchyroll is the anime simulcasts. This way, new anime episodes will be released on Crunchyroll around the same time as their original release overseas in Japan. This way, fans have a legal and free streaming option to keep up with their favorite shows.
The basic Crunchyroll site is completely free and easy to use. There are three different paid premium tiers to get access to various features on the site. With the premium subscriptions, fans can watch all the shows without ads, and they will be able to watch new episodes from Japan one hour after they’re released. Otherwise, they will have to wait a little longer to watch those episodes.
The premium tiers are a good deal for hardcore fans that like to watch and stream a lot of anime. If not, Crunchyroll’s free streaming service is still a good deal to get you started and figure out what shows you like and will want to watch.
The great thing about Crunchyroll is its accessibility. It’s available on iOS and Android devices. It can even be viewed on video game consoles. So, whatever type of device you are using, there’s a good chance you can watch and stream Crunchyroll on it.
Overall, if you are a dedicated anime viewer that loves all the newest shows coming in from Japan and want to watch them as soon as possible, Crunchyroll is your best free and legal anime streaming option.
RetroCrush is a fairly young streaming service that debuted about two years ago. It’s owned and operated by Digital Media Rights (DMR). The service is dedicated to the Golden Age of Anime, and the service has curated quite the selection of classic anime. After taking a deeper look at RetroCrush, it turned out to be a sleeper hit for this list. The streaming service is available on multiple outlets, including internet web browsers, iOS & Android devices, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV, but it doesn’t look like they have any game console apps just yet.
RetroCrush’s library appears to be steadily growing. Their website and user interface appear to be very simple and user-friendly. I like that when you select a classic show, such as Great Teacher Onizuka, you can select the show, pick from the whole run of episodes, and select a dub or subtitled option. The web version appears to be especially quick and responsive.
RetroCrush’s library is filled with classics from the 80s and 90s. However, I’ve even noticed their library is picking up some later memorable shows from the 00s that never really got licensed or picked up, such as Yakitate!! Japan. That wasn’t a show that was very easy to locate when it originally aired in Japan, and there weren’t a lot of online free outlets for streaming anime.
RetroCrush looks like the ideal service if you want to immerse yourself into some of the classic anime and titles that only had fringe availability in the US in the 1980s and 1990s. Like they only aired on obscure blocks on the Sci-Fi channel or Cartoon Network’s early Toonami block, or ADV’s ye olde Anime Network. There are both dubbed and subbed options, and there’s a nice variety of genres and shows to choose from.
RetroCrush also has a premium option for ad-free content and exclusive age-gated content as well, if you so choose.
Now, this one is a bit of a caveat. To enjoy most of the Funimation library, it’s best to have one of the premium subscription tiers. However, Funimation does offer a significant number of free streaming episodes, all without creating any type of account or log in.
Funimation has a great catalog of shows both new and old. The first two seasons of Dragon Ball Z can be streamed both in English and Japanese. Some alternate versions are locked behind paywalls, but as you browse through the website, there’s a good deal of free streaming content to choose from.
There’s some content you can only view on Funimation with a paid subscription. For example, you can stream the entire first season of Demon Slayer on the website in Japanese for free. Plus, some of the specials. While some English dubs and additional episodes are seasons are only available behind a paywall, there is a pretty good deal of content to view on Funimation to help you in your decision if you want to invest in a subscription tier or not.
TubiTV is a decent anime streaming option because they have quite a selection to choose from. A lot of VIZ Media shows are available on TubiTV as well, so there is quite a variety of content to enjoy.
The good thing about TubiTV is that searching for anime is quick and easy. If you want to watch some classic episodes of Bleach, Naruto, or One-Punch Man in Japanese with English subtitles, you just have to type the name of the show you want in the search engine. It comes up, you pick the season and episode you want, and you can start streaming right away. Just like with Crunchyroll, you don’t need a login or to register to use TubiTV. It’s fairly stress-free.
Now, if you enjoy English-dubbing options, the TubiTV selection does have some English dubs available. However, the English-dubbed versions are separated from the Japanese versions and marked as dubbed. It’s not a matter of switching languages in the controls, like with the Funimation streaming browser or app.
While TubiTV doesn’t have the best selection of modern shows, it does have a fairly copious selection of classics from previous decades. There’s a nice backlog of shows you can keep yourself busy, whether it’s Naruto, One Piece, Fairy Tail, One-Punch Man, Toradora!, Bleach, Reborn!, Yu-Gi-Oh, or Hunter x Hunter. There are also some classic anime features, such as Akira. If you wanted a free-streaming legal anime site, you could do way worse than TubiTV’s selection.
5. Pluto TV
Pluto TV is an internet streaming and TV website that does have quite a selection of anime available. What’s interesting about Pluto TV is that they not only have free-streaming anime to watch on-demand, they also have specialized anime “channels,” where they stream anime content all day.
Besides the “Anime All Day” channel, Pluto TV also has channels specifically dedicated to One Piece, Lupin the 3rd, and Naruto that stream episodes of those respective shows all day long.
From browsing the service, Pluto TV has more of a backlog of older shows, but it’s a nice option if you are looking to get started with some older classics. I found it fairly painless and easy to use.
Final Thoughts on the Best Free Anime Streaming Platforms
So that was our look at five of the best places to legally watch anime for free online. Hopefully, this list was of help in giving you some advice or insight on what to look for in choosing an anime streaming platform on your home computer or smart mobile devices.
You can also check out our list of the 5 best places to watch Naruto Shippuden online (Free and paid).