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18 anime series now on Netflix that you need to watch

There are subtitles, but not subpar titles

As Netflix continues to invest in anime, the platform’s selection has grown to almost titan-sized proportions. With over 100 titles scattered across subgenres ranging from sci-fi and fantasy to comedy, it almost feels like you have to strap on 3D Maneuver Gear and tear through monsters yourself in order to find a series that piques your interest.

While you could fight your way through Netflix’s rich anime selection, we’ve compiled a selection of some of the best. Assuming that you’re already familiar with genre giants like Bleach, Naruto, Inuyasha, or Fairy Tale (all of which are streamable, either with full runs or partial seasons), here are 18 anime series currently available on Netflix that demand your attention.

Action/Adventure anime

Funimation

Fullmetal Alchemist (2003) & Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (2009)

After Netflix brought Fullmetal Alchemist back into the limelight this past February with a live-action adaption, we can count ourselves lucky that both the original show and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood are also offered on Netflix in their entirety. The two series share a premise: set in a world where alchemy (the transmutation of physical matter) is possible, brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric attempt to bring their mother back from the dead by sacrificing parts of their physical bodies. While the two series later diverge — Fullmetal Alchemist began and finished production while Hiromu Arakawa’s manga was still being written while Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood fully follows the manga storyline— both have their merits. Brotherhood fully fleshes out the plot, which finds Edward and Alphonse joining forces with teammates from other nations while combatting political and supernatural forces alike. However, Fullmetal Alchemist takes greater care with its exposition arc, devoting several episodes to Ed and Al’s childhood and adolescence at the beginning of the series. We recommend watching Fullmetal Alchemist first and then proceeding to Brotherhood in order to maximize your experience watching both series. If you only have time for one, prioritize Brotherhood. Both series are available in their entirety (51 episodes in Fullmetal Alchemist, 64 in Brotherhood) in both English and Japanese with English subtitles. — Palmer Haasch

Bandai Entertainment

Gurren Lagann (2007)

The only mecha anime on this list (for now!), Gurren Lagann comes from Gainax, the same studio that produced another bizarre but acclaimed anime, FLCL (of which the second season was released in early June). Gurren Lagann exists in a world in which humans are by-and-large sequestered beneath the surface of the Earth in subterranean cities. Simon and his surrogate brother, Kamina, live in one such city until they stumble across a mecha — known in-universe as a “Gunmen” — and encounter Yoko, a girl from the surface. What follows is an epic battle for the above-ground, and eventually, the Earth itself. Ten years after its release, Gurren Lagann is a classic, and available on Netflix in its 27-episode entirety in both English and Japanese with English subtitles. — PH

Funimation

Soul Eater (2008)

On the more lighthearted side of Netflix’s surprisingly not-that-niche, demon-hunting anime offerings is Soul Eater. The series, based off a manga of the same name written by Atsushi Õkubo, focuses on the students of Death Weapon Meister Academy, a school where students train to work with weapons in order to defeat and absorb the souls of evil humans. The catch? Half of the students are the weapons and have the ability to transform at will into scythes, pistols, shuriken, and any other weapon in existence. The other half, known as “meisters,” are paired up with weapons and wield them in battle. Defined by its Halloween aesthetic, an ensemble cast of characters that rotate in and out of focus across the series, and an original soundtrack that merits its own listen, Soul Eater deserves a place on your Netflix list. Soul Eater is available in its 51-episode entirety in both English and Japanese with English subtitles. — PH

Aniplex of America

Durarara!! (2010) and Durarara!!x2 (2015)

Durarara!! is an ambitious series that is more about a fictional iteration of Tokyo’s bustling Ikebukuro district than any of its main characters. The series begins when high school student Mikado moves from the countryside to Ikebukuro to attend school with his childhood friend, Masaomi. From this humble beginning, new characters and plotlines are introduced, of which the most prominent is the headless bike rider Celty, an Irish Dullahan (a type of headless fairy) on the hunt in Japan for her missing head. The series rotates through characters, with Mikado and his friends or Celty taking prominent roles throughout the series while others filter in and out. This kind of storytelling in which the characters play second fiddle to the narrative of the city itself is what sets Durarara!! apart. Durarara!!x2 is the continuation of the first series and works primarily to tie up its loose ends. Luckily, both series are available on Netflix in their entirety (24 episodes in Durarara!! and 36 in Durarara!!x2) in both English and Japanese with English subtitles. — PH

Viz Media

Tiger & Bunny (2011)

In the futuristic world of Tiger & Bunny, superheroes double as entertainers, and their popularity ratings are almost as important as catching the baddies. Kotetsu T. Kaburagi is the hero Wild Tiger, an aging dad who finds his popularity in rapid declining. The solution is teaming up with Barnaby Brooks Jr., a pretentious stud who has the same power he does: five-minute-long super-strength that takes a day to regenerate. Together, they have to take out bad guys while learning to tolerate each other’s very different personalities. There’s also something really funny about the heroes in the show being sponsored by real companies. There’s nothing quite like seeing Barnaby with a huge Bandai logo across his chest, or another hero blatantly advertising Pepsi. Tiger & Bunny is available in its 25-episode entirety in both English and Japanese with English subtitles. — Julia Lee

attack on titan - titan Funimation

Attack on Titan (2013)

Attack on Titan has been at the forefront of anime conversations since its premiere in 2013. Set in a fictional world in which what’s left of humanity is cloistered within three concentric walls, Titans — large humanoid monsters that eat human flesh for the sake of it — lurk just outside the outermost wall. Eren Yeager, the overconfident and yet thrillingly captivating protagonist of the series, enlists his childhood friends as warriors in order to get his chance at exacting revenge at the titans that invaded his village and killed his mother. With a cast of fleshed-out supporting characters, an operatic (and at times rock-driven) musical score, and jarringly nonstop action, Attack on Titan is a prerequisite in today’s anime landscape. With season 3 premiering this July, now is the perfect time to introduce yourself to (or refresh your memory of) the series. Currently, only the first 25 episodes (Season 1) of Attack on Titan are available on Netflix, and only in Japanese with English subtitles. — PH

Aniplex of America

Kill la Kill (2013)

With dashes of comedy and flashy outfits, Kill la Kill’s blend of bizarre and captivating drama is just about perfect. After finding her father killed by a mysterious, red scissor blade, Ryuko Matoi follows a magical school girl uniform named Senketsu to comes to Honnouji Academy, where she mounts a rebellion against the student council president, Satsuki Kiryuin (and all of her lackies). The school’s hierarchy is reflected in the students’ special transforming uniforms that let them duke it out with Ryuko. As she begins to make her way through different clubs to fight Satsuki, it’s revealed that there’s more to the uniforms than expected, and there’s a much bigger fight ahead. Kill la Kill is available in Japanese with English subtitles in its 24-episode entirety. — JL

One-Punch Man Viz Media

One Punch Man (2015)

It’s unbelievably frustrating to fight against overpowered characters, but One Punch Man makes the argument that it’s even harder to be one. Saitama, a beleaguered superhero who trained so hard that he went bald and became more powerful than literally anything and everyone, is relatively apathetic about his life as a hero. Given that it doesn’t take more than one punch to defeat whatever villain he encounters, Saitama is often more concerned about supermarket sales than supervillains. One Punch Man’s parody of the anime superhero genre is what established it as a favorite back when it aired in 2015 and what makes it one of the best anime on Netflix today. That and, of course, Saitama’s classic deadpan expression that became a viral meme. One Punch Man is available in its 12-episode entirety in Japanese with English subtitles. — PH

devilman crybaby art Netflix

Devilman Crybaby (2018)

Devilman Crybaby is Netflix’s first, original anime offerings, and it’s certainly not one for the faint of heart. Akira — the crybaby — is made aware of the existence of demons when his childhood friend, Ryo, returns from a research trip in the Amazon. Ryu observed firsthand the chaos that demons are capable of creating, and is firmly convinced that the only way to defeat demons was by exposing them to the world, and in addition, bonding one to a human to create a hybrid creature more powerful than the demons themselves: a devilman. At Ryo’s request, Akira fuses with a demon, becoming — you guessed it — the Devilman Crybaby. Noted as a breakout in Netflix’s original programming due to its visually stunning nature and unique storyline, Devilman Crybaby is an ecstatic work of animation, even by anime standards. The 10-episode series is available in its entirety in English and Japanese with English subtitles in addition to dubbed voices and subtitles in several other languages. — PH

Drama anime

Death Note Viz Media

Death Note (2006)

From the perpetually ridiculous “I’ll take a potato chip … and eat it!” meme to its more recent lackluster Netflix original live action adaptation, Death Note will never fade out of general anime fandom consciousness. Known for its intriguing premise that shades the definitions of good and evil, Death Note focuses on the existence of the Death Notes, notebooks which give their owners the power to kill anyone in the world simply by writing their name inside. Light Yagami, a cunning and ambitious high school student, comes into possession of a Death Note after Ryuk, a shinigami (Japanese death god), drops it to Earth because… well, because he was bored. In a quest to eradicate evil in the world and create a crime-less utopia, Light sets out to use the Death Note to kill the worst of humanity, and in the process attracting the attention of international police and fervent admirers alike. Death Note holds a prominent position in the canon of modern anime, and at only 37 episodes is well worth the time it’ll take you to watch it. It is available in its entirety in both English and Japanese with English subtitles. — PH

madoka Aniplex of America

Puella Magi Madoka Magica (2011)

A standout within the well-established magical girl genre made popular by shows like Sailor Moon and Tokyo Mew Mew, Puella Magi Madoka Magica is a darker twist on a comparatively utopian genre. The story begins when the titular Madoka and her best friend Sayaka encounter an alien creature named Kyubey who offers them a wish in exchange for their service as magical girls. Over the course of the series, Kyubey reveals the stark reality of what it means to be a magical girl, forcing Madoka, Sayaka, and the cast of characters to face the consequences of their decisions. Netflix currently hosts the 12-episode series in its entirety but as of June 1st, 2018, none of the three movies adaptations/spinoffs. Puella Magi Madoka Magica is available in both English and Japanese with English subtitles. PH

your lie in april Aniplex of America

Your Lie in April (2015)

Widely acknowledged as one of the best music anime series in existence, Your Lie in April is, at its most basic level, about music. However, it’s arguably more so about love, loss, and fundamentally, living. Ex-piano prodigy Kōsei lost the ability to hear the music he creates after his mother’s death. Kaori is a capricious violinist who is more concerned with connecting with her audience than appeasing her judges with pitch-perfect accuracy. When the two meet, Kaori works to drag a reluctant Kōsei back into the world of music as her accompanist, slowly chipping away at his musical block. However, when Kaori collapses during a performance, complications arise that put Kōsei face-to-face with the possibility of losing Kaori, who he eventually realizes that he loves. Aside from deftly navigating adolescent love and grief, Your Lie in April is both musically and visually stunning with gorgeously animated musical sequences that culminate in a breathtaking final performance. The 22-episode series is available in its entirety on Netflix in both English and Japanese with English subtitles (but you’ll have to go searching for the 2016 live-action film adaptation). — PH

Netflix

Violet Evergarden (2017)

The highly acclaimed Kyoto Animation brings the Netflix exclusive Violet Evergarden to life with the beautiful scenes you’d expect from the studio. The main character, who shares her name with the series, is a young girl previously used as a killing machine by the military during a war. After losing both of her arms and having them replaced with metal prosthetics, she has to learn how to integrate back into society as an Auto-Memory Doll, which is essentially a trained ghostwriter for books and letters. It’s sweet and satisfying to watch Violet grow and learn about the complexity of human emotions, a journey complemented by gorgeous animation. The 13-episode series is available in its entirety in English and Japanese with English subtitles in addition to dubbed voices and subtitles in several other languages. — JL

Comedy anime

ouran Funimation

Ouran High School Host Club (2006)

Ouran High School Host Club, like many other shōjo anime, is filled with copious amounts of rose petals in its catchy title sequence and vast majority of its simple backgrounds. What sets it apart is its bizarre premise: girl meets boy(s), breaks expensive vase, falls into crippling debt, and assumes a masculine identity in order to work as a host and pay off said debt — and the fact that it deliberately plays with the character archetypes that its ensemble cast seems to fall into at first glance. Chock-full of romantic subplots and featuring a running commentary on class and some of the more eccentric tendencies of Haruhi’s rich classmates, Ouran remains a timeless series more than ten years after its debut. Luckily, the 26-episode series is available in its entirety in both English and Japanese with English subtitles. Palmer

Little Witch Academia Netflix

Little Witch Academia (2017)

The third Netflix Original on this list, Little Witch Academia actually began as a short film funded as part of the Anime Mirai 2013 project, which provides financial support to young animators. Directed by Yoh Yoshinari (Gurren Lagann), the short received enough acclaim to merit a sequel (fans fulfilled its crowdfunding goal in under six hours) that was released in 2015. Both films and the Netflix series of the same title share the same basic plot and premise: set at Luna Nova Academy, an academy that teaches young witches, enthusiastic student Atsuko Kagari works to follow in the footsteps of her idol Shiny Chariot, a witch who inspired her to study magic. Despite encountering regular difficulties due to her lack of a magical background, Atsuko begins to find her place in the magical world after discovering a relic left behind by Shiny Chariot. With a set of characters hailing from all around the world, adorable animation, and a whole lot of heart, Little Witch Academia stands out as one of Netflix’s most acclaimed original anime offerings. The full 25-episode series and both short films are currently available on Netflix in English and Japanese with English subtitles. — PH

Netflix/Sanrio

Aggretsuko (2018)

Netflix Original Aggretsuko seems to be a contemporary of Netflix’s Bojack Horseman in the respect that both animated series focus on anthropomorphized animals dealing with very real human problems ranging from alcoholism to workplace misogyny. Aggretsuko, however, does so while being aggressively cute. Retsuko is 25-year-old red panda who burns off stress deriving from her dead-end job and chauvinist pig of a boss (he’s actually a pig) by singing death metal karaoke every night. Much of the humor of the series derives from the stark contrast between Retsuko’s demeanor from her generally subservient nature in the office and her frankly terrifying karaoke personality. Overall though, Aggretsuko is an anime that is painfully relatable for a generation that grew up with Sanrio’s Hello Kitty, and at just 10 episodes, it’s certainly worth binge-watching. Aggretsuko is available in both English and Japanese with English subtitles in addition to dubbed voices and subtitles in various other languages. — PH

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