Over the past decade, anime has gone from niche to mainstream. Do a quick Google search and you’ll find no shortage of fan-fiction, art, and cosplay, all based on the creative and immersive worlds found in anime.
investment in this narrative medium may be just one reason for the rise in popularity of anime. From distributing popular anime broadcast in Japan to original creations, Netflix has become a powerhouse rivaled only by streaming services dedicated solely to anime – most notably Crunchyroll. Anime is an electrifying art form and comes in almost every genre you can think of. No matter your taste, 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 undoubtedly one of the most popular anime of today. And for good reason. With spectacular animation, political intrigue, a compelling cast of characters and larger-than-life battles, this is a show you’ll want to see. Yes, Titans – gigantic, humanoid, man-eating monsters that force humanity to live behind high castle walls – are unnerving and might scare you. But that’s half the fun, especially when we see our heroes take them down. Netflix only has the first season of Attack on Titan 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 that was abruptly put on hold after Season 6. The author of the manga, Yoshihiro Togashi, stopped writing and put Hunter x Hunter on hiatus. New chapters, Togashi recently announced, are coming. This anime begins with the main character Gon Freecss leaving home in search of his father, but the series quickly branches out from this simple narrative. The series is beloved for its world-building and emotional investment across its diverse cast of characters.
An engaging cat-and-mouse game for the ages, Death Note follows Light Yagami, a genius high school student who finds a mysterious notebook (the titular “Death Notebook”) that gives the user the ability to kill anyone whose name is written in it. Determined to create a new world without crime, Light goes on a rampage, killing criminals and those whom 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, popular anime follows Naruto, a young ninja from Hidden Leaf Village who dreams of becoming the leader of his village. Attention: Naruto is a very long anime. So much so that once you get through all nine Netflix series (220 episodes total) covering Naruto’s pre-adolescent years, you’ll still have another 500 episodes to cover in Naruto: Shippuden, which picks up two and a half years later. the original course of the show. Several Naruto movies are also now available on the streaming service. Make sure and skip the filler episodes unless you’re really desperate for something to watch.
Shonen’s latest darling, Demon Slayer, is a standout hit that defies many well-worn action anime clichés. The story follows Tanjira Kamado who joins the ranks of demon slayers after his family is murdered by a demon. Only Nezuko Kamado, Tanjiro’s younger sister, survived the onslaught—but she was turned into a demon. Tanjiro travels around Taisho-era Japan with Nezuko in search of a cure and joins the Demon Slayer Corps in an attempt to confront the original demon Muzan Kibutsuji, who killed his family.
The animation and action are breathtaking, the characters are compelling and vivid, the music is stellar, and the dialogue is memorable. We couldn’t recommend this anime more. The first season is streaming on Netflix, but there’s another season if you want more.
Trust us, you’ll be hooked after the first few episodes of this popular anime. This show isn’t your typical action anime – but that doesn’t make it any less fascinating. In fact, the opposite is true. Kakegurui takes place in an academy where a student’s scale is based on their gaming skills, whether it’s playing roulette or playing blackjack. Part psychological thriller, part drama, the stakes get higher and higher as the show progresses.
A Netflix original inspired by the classic video game 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 the friends made along the way – dare to defeat none other than Dracula himself, whose anger and grief over the unjust death of his love is flooding 15th century Eastern Europe. You don’t want to miss this one.
Record of Ragnarok (2021-)
Have you ever wanted to see a fight between a Norse god and an ancient Chinese warrior? Or watching a Greek god Duke with one of the best swordsmen in Japanese history? Neither did I, but now I’m sure I do.
The record of Ragnarok’s premise is simple: Through 13 one-on-one battles to the death, humanity must prove itself worthy of avoiding the destruction of a god. First to seven wins wins. This anime is imaginative, fun, and packed with human history, so you’ll learn some new things along the way. It’s also great to see legends from all over the world coming together in one myth. Only the first 12-episode season is out, so it’s the perfect anime to binge on for your next sitting on the couch.
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure (2012-)
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure follows generations of Joestar’s family, from the 19th century to modern times, through decades of, you guessed it, bizarre adventures. Each member of the family bears the same name – Jojo – and each is imbued with great superhuman powers. The battles are as psychic and supernatural as the adventure story. The good thing is that all five seasons are streaming on Netflix.
Another anime classic, Cowboy Bebop originally aired in 1998 and has never lost its appeal. The show did a great job of blending different genres – mainly sci-fi and westerns (think space cowboys) – to create something completely new and compelling. Set in the year 2071, the series follows a group of traveling bounty hunters aboard their ship, the Bebop. Netflix recently produced 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 animated film to date with over 1000 episodes in 23 years of airing. The show follows Monkey D. Luffy and his crew, the Straw Hat Pirates. They are searching for the ultimate treasure known as One Piece. Netflix recently expanded its four-season collection of One Piece to 13 seasons, so you’ve got plenty of options to binge on. If you ever hope to catch up, you better be!
In a world where demons are re-emerging, Akira Fudo, at the behest of his friend, fuses with a demon to become a devil-man so he can wage a brutal war against the demons that now plague Earth.
Devilman Crybaby is based on a manga written by Go Nagai that was originally adapted as an anime in the 1970s. This newer series moves the setting from the 1970s to modern times and goes hard on mature themes and violent sequences. It’s rated TV-MA, so it’s not for kids.
Devilman Crybaby debuted to much fanfare in 2018 and so far it’s only 10 episodes compiled in one season.
Beastars takes place in the world of anthropomorphic animals. These characters have jobs and go to school, reminiscent of Disney’s Zootopia. But while Beastars and Zootopia deal with similar themes—predator versus prey, prejudice and discrimination versus compassion and inclusivity—Beastars is definitely the emotionally heavier show. In fact, due to some of the sexual themes and violence in the show, it’s best to steer children away from this one. If you like melodramas that philosophize heavily, this might 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 enemy with a single punch? Triumphant? Bored? Solitary? This is the central question that One Punch Man grapples with. The show follows the hero Saitama, who trained so hard that all his hair fell out. At the end of his training, he is able to defeat any enemy with one punch. The show is a satire of shonen manga and anime that subverts the common tropes found in these stories. If you’re looking for a different take on a modern superhero story, this might be your cup of tea.
Netflix has a robust library of past Pokemon anime, and the latest series in the franchise is 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 number of new characters, including Goh and Chloe, and takes viewers to several regions of the Pokémon world, including the newest region, the Galar region. If you’re a Pokemon fan or have kids, this is a great anime to watch.
Honorable Mention: Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005-2008)
Okay, Avatar: The Last Airbender isn’t technically an anime, but it draws so heavily on the art form and is so perfect that it would be crazy not to mention it here. I missed this show when it was still on Nickelodeon, and when it reappeared on Netflix I dismissed it as pure nostalgia hype. Boy was I wrong. This show deals with the complex themes of wartime propaganda, genocide, duty and honor while remaining a cheerful and upbeat epic story. Oh, and it also has one of the best character redemption arcs in TV history, period.