From Netflix to Crunchyroll and beyond, there’s a ton of different services to watch the latest and greatest in anime. One of the most underrated streaming services in terms of anime is Hulu, which boasts not only a selection of popular older titles but is also the simulcasting destination for new releases that are licensed to distribute through Disney.
Like Netflix, Hulu has the streaming rights to some of the most beloved and iconic anime series and movies, such as Cowboy Bebop, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Akira, and more. For the purposes of the list, we’re going to emphasize the best anime on Hulu that aren’t available to watch on other services, like Netflix and Prime Video. We’ll update this list periodically to bring you the best recommendations possible, but for now, here is our list of the best anime to stream on Hulu.
Number of episodes: 5 (English dub)
A Blaxploitation-infused, post-apocalyptic chanbara anime inspired by a love of hip-hop and soul music, Afro Samurai is an excellent action anime packed with fantastic fight sequences and accompanying geysers of gore. Set in an anachronistic Japan, the series follows the story of a young samurai who embarks on a personal journey to avenge his father’s death at the hands of a ruthless gunslinger and claim the mythical No. 1 headband — an item thought to bestow godlike powers onto any person who possesses it.
At five episodes, Afro Samurai is short and to the point, weaving an elaborate and violent tale of vengeance filled with outlandish characters and awesome battles. Combine that with a score composed by RZA of Wu-Tang Clan fame, and you’ve got a certified banger. If you like Afro Samurai, you should definitely check out the 2009 sequel movie Afro Samurai: Resurrection, which is also streaming on Hulu. —TE
Number of episodes: 47 (English sub and dub)
When I grow up, I want to be an octopus man oscillating between apocalyptic threats and compassionate care for my classroom of troubled students. Korosensei is just that kind of role model.
In Assassination Classroom, a smiling creature who looks like an octopus punches a hole in the moon and threatens to destroy the world unless the students in a misfit class can kill him before the end of the year. He’ll teach the class assassination techniques (and many other things) along the way. It’s the perfect mix of silly hijinx and heartfelt character building — for such a ridiculous premise, Assassination Classroom works well because of the deep care Korosensei has for his students, and the effort he puts in to help them grow into the adults they want to be. —Pete Volk
Number of episodes: 12 (English sub and dub)
Chainsaw Man doesn’t just whip, it rips and tears.
The anime adaptation of Tatsuki Fujimoto’s acclaimed dark fantasy action manga follows Denji, a teenage orphan living in a world populated by supernatural monsters known as “Devils.” Working as a freelance Devil Hunter in order to pay off his deceased father’s debts, Denji is betrayed by his employers so they can gain the favor of a powerful Devil themselves. Resurrected by his pet Chainsaw Devil Pochita, Denji transforms into Chainsaw Man: a powerful human-Devil hybrid with the power to summon chainsaws from his body.
Director Ryū Nakayama’s anime perfectly captures the irreverent, hyper-violent frenzy of Fujimoto’s story, bringing one of the most idiosyncratic and popular ongoing manga series to life in faithful detail and with stunning execution. If you want to know what all the fuss is about, watch the anime’s first season and then jump into reading the manga while we patiently wait for more news on Chainsaw Man’s upcoming second season. —TE
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Number of episodes: 64 (English sub and dub)
If you’re looking for a show with complex female characters, gorgeous animation, monstrous adversaries, and smokin’-hot mentor figures (that is a pun), then Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood might just scratch all those itches.
The series follows alchemist prodigy Edward Elric and his brother Al, whose soul has been trapped in a suit of armor, as they look for a way to recover Al’s body. But their search leads to darker secrets about alchemy and the country they live in, uncovering a sinister plot that threatens the whole world. Unlike a lot of shonen anime, which take viewers on a “Let’s learn about curses/demons/Nen along with the protagonist!” arc, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood kicks off without much explanation, trusting viewers to keep up. This allows the show to jump-start immediately, diving right into the action and complexities of world-building. The plot is brilliantly executed, but never once sacrifices the character development along the way.
Fair warning: Once you watch this show, every other anime you watch will pale in comparison. Just putting that out there right now. —Petrana Radulovic
Number of episodes: 27 (English sub and dub)
Every anime Studio Trigger has produced, to some degree or another, has been influenced by the precedent of Gurren Lagann.
Directed by future Trigger co-founder Hiroyuki Imaishi, the 27-episode mecha adventure follows the story of Simon, a 14-year-old living in an underground post-apocalyptic village. Together with his childhood friend Kamina, he discovers a mysterious robot head buried in the collapsed tunnels of their village just before it comes under attack by a horde of creatures known as Beastmen.
From there the show exponentially escalates into an explosive, action-packed, expectation-defying adventure filled with drama, humor, heartbreak, euphoric highs, and absurd levels of spectacle. Bursting at the seams with personality and fist-pumping excitement, Gurren Lagann is a giant robot anime for the ages and a must-watch for any fan of Promare, Space Patrol Luluco, or SSSS.Gridman. —TE
Number of episodes: 26 (English sub and dub)
Similar to 2007’s Mononoke, Mushi-shi is an anthology anime that follows a white-haired traveling exorcist of sorts who mediates disputes between the human world and the world of primitive supernatural life forms similar to bacteria that exist alongside the material world.
Mushi-shi is a stunning series: ambient, meditative, beautiful, and filled with captivating stories and intriguing characters. It’s a series that emphasizes the delicate and necessary balance between humanity and nature through its sophisticated tone, exquisite sound design, and sepia-infused color palette. If you’re looking for a few episodes to acclimate yourself to the series’ particular vibe, I recommend “Tender Horns” and “One-Eyed Fish.” —TE
Number of episodes: 12 (English sub and dub)
After breaking through with his work on the popular first season of One-Punch Man and Shinichirō Watanabe’s Space Dandy (more on that in a second), Shingo Natsume went to write and direct his first original anime: Sonny Boy, one of the best anime of 2021.
Sonny Boy centers on a group of high school students who, in the midst of blissfully enjoying their summer vacation, are whisked away to an alternate dimension. While attempting to devise a way to return home, the students learn the properties of this new world endow some of them with strange and extraordinary abilities, before inadvertently breaking through to yet another alternate dimension.
A coming-of-age allegory wrapped inside of a surreal sci-fi survival plot, Sonny Boy is an exhilarating and thoughtful meditation on the challenges of growing up, letting go of the comfort of the past, and embracing the inherent uncertainties and promise of the future. —TE
Number of episodes: 26 (English sub and dub)
How do you follow up Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo, two of the most celebrated genre-busting anime ever, both known for their idiosyncratic blend of action and music? Simple: You make a space opera comedy anthology series about a lovable oaf who gets into all kinds of shenanigans across a universe populated by freaky aliens and even freakier situations.
Space Dandy didn’t quite leave an impact equivalent to Shinichirō Watanabe’s magnum opus, Cowboy Bebop, back when it premiered in 2014. Which is a shame, because Space Dandy is one of the most inventive and surprising anime of the 2010s: a multiversal sitcom about a pompadour-haired alien hunter scouring the universe in his Hawaiian-themed starship looking for his next big adventure.
The series’ loose continuity and strong emphasis on animated storytelling leaves the door wide open for a host of talented episode directors — including Sayo Yamamoto (Yuri on Ice), Eunyoung Choi (The Tatami Galaxy), and Masaaki Yuasa (Inu-Oh) — to riff on the initial premise of the series and shoot off into their own unique and memorable directions. It takes a few episodes to really hit its stride, but once it does, Space Dandy makes for one hell of a ride. —TE
Tengoku Daimakyo (Heavenly Delusion)
Number of episodes: 13 (English sub and dub)
If you’re looking for an intriguing post-apocalyptic mystery anime that feels like a spiritual cousin to Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira, Heavenly Delusion is the perfect choice for you.
Set 15 years in the wake of a unknown disaster responsible for the destruction of modern society, Heavenly Delusion follows the story of Maru, a mysterious 15-year-old boy escorted by Kiruko, a courier and bodyguard, to a location known only as “Heaven.” They encounter several horrific mutated monsters on their journey, dispatching with these threats through a combination of Kiruko’s prowess as a marksman and a special ability Maru possesses that allows him to tap into the minds and biology of these fearsome creatures.
There’s more to the series than meets the eye, with the final episode of the first season all but necessitating a rewatch in order to understand the full chronology of events and the true identity of certain characters glimpsed throughout. It’s a genuinely terrific sci-fi mystery with beautiful animation, compelling characters, and a premise that touches on everything from generational division to gender identity. Don’t just take my word for it; watch Heavenly Delusion and see what all the fuss is about. —TE