What to Watch

20 of the best anime to watch on Netflix right now

Netflix’s continued investment in anime has yielded fruit over the past couple of years. The streaming service has amassed a selection of some of not only the most popular and iconic anime series in recent memory, but also a host of impressive original anime titles. It has secured the platform’s position as of the go-to streaming services for the medium. With over 100 titles to choose from across a smorgasbord of subgenres including sci-fi, fantasy, slice-of-life comedy, mecha, action, and more, the right anime for the right mood has never been more available and simultaneously harder to find.

Don’t sweat it; we’ve got you covered. Poring over Netflix’s rich catalog of anime titles, we’ve assembled a list of 20 of the best anime to stream on Netflix right now. From classic series like Cowboy Bebop and Neon Genesis Evangelion to Netflix originals like Devilman Crybaby and Rilakkuma and Kaoru, here are the very best anime series the platform has to offer.


Aggretsuko

Retsuko singing death metal karaoke in Aggretsuko

Image: Netflix/Sanrio

Based on mascot company Sanrio’s original character, Netflix’s original animated comedy Aggretsuko follows Retsuko, a 25-year-old anthropomorphic red panda working in the accounting department of a Japanese trading company. Frustrated with her thankless job, domineering boss, and boring love life, Retsuko vents her millennial rage in the only way she knows how: through death metal karaoke. Eventually, Retsuko’s misery and the knowledge of her after-work activity catch up with her professional life, forcing the young red panda to experience a series of meaningful revelations and changes while struggling to figure out what just exactly she wants out of life and who she wants to build that life with. Eccentric, funny, and deeply relatable, Aggretsuko is anime’s answer to Bojack Horseman. With four seasons of 15-minute episodes, now is the perfect time to catch up and see what all the hubbub is about. —Toussaint Egan

Beastars

Haru the dwarf rabbit holds Legoshi the gray wolf’s face in Beastars Season 2.

Image: Orange

Beastars tells the story of a wolf who wants to have sex with a rabbit but worries he will devour said rabbit. I think it’s a metaphor for puberty. Maybe it’s holding a magnifying glass to sexual violence on campus. Or perhaps it’s a coming-of-age story about a generation of young people disconnected from their parents by rapidly changing norms. Frankly, I’ve stopped caring about what it’s about.

Beastars works when I quit trying to make a one-to-one connection between our world and its city of horny teenage carnivores and herbivores. I enjoy the show best when I take its internal logic on its own terms. In that way, Beastars is like Romeo and Juliet. A sexy, violent, and often frustrating tale of star-crossed lovers kept apart by society. And like the works of Shakespeare, Beastars can be contorted into whatever else you want it to be. —Chris Plante

Carole & Tuesday

Two girls smile at each other, carrying musical instruments as they run.

Image: Bones/Netflix

Directed by Shinichirō Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop) and produced by anime studio Bones (My Hero Academia), Carole & Tuesday is a spirited drama that hones in on one of the most persistent passion topics of Watanabe’s career: music. Set on a terraformed Mars in the distant future, the anime follows the story of Tuesday Simmons and Carole Stanley, two teenage girls from starkly different backgrounds who bond over their shared dream of becoming musicians.

Teaming up as a singer-songwriter duo, the pair navigate the thorny challenges and euphoric highs of their nascent musical career as they grow and bring out the best in both each other and those around them. Featuring the return of Cowboy Bebop screenwriter Keiko Nobumoto and original music and vocal performances courtesy of Thundercat, Flying Lotus, Denzel Curry, and more, Carole & Tuesday is a bubbly and beautiful musical anime bursting with heart where it matters most. —TE

Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy Bebop characters smushed into a frame

Image: Sunrise

Speaking of Shinichirō Watanabe, Cowboy Bebop, his 1998 sci-fi Western noir anime produced by Sunrise, is considered by many to be one of most exemplary anime series ever made. Set in the year 2071, the series follows the stories of four people: Spike Spiegel, Jet Black, Faye Valentine, and “Radical” Edward as they traipse across the solar system hunting criminals and chasing bounties.

A work of retro-futuristic pastiche that pulls from several dozen influences in the creation of its own universe, Cowboy Bebop is an enduring classic of the medium for its rich storytelling, heady themes, and a spectacular and eclectic score by composer Yoko Kanno. If you’ve somehow never seen Cowboy Bebop before, (1) now’s the perfect time to and (2) I am both jealous of and excited for you. —TE

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba

A long-haired girl with veins on her head comes out of a box that is slung around a young boy’s back

Image: Ufotable/Crunchyroll

Based on Koyoharu Gotouge’s acclaimed manga series, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba has quickly become an shōnen anime powerhouse on par with My Hero Academia and Naruto since the series premiered in 2019. Set in Taishō-era Japan, the anime follows the story of Tanjiro Kamado, a kind-hearted young boy who trains to become a demon slayer in order to find a cure for his sister, Nezuko, who was transformed into half-demon hybrid in the wake of the attack that claimed the lives of the rest of his family. With jaw-dropping action sequences, brilliant hybrid animation blending traditional and 3D-modeled backgrounds, and a genuinely stirring story centered on the power of family and finding strength in the harshest of circumstances, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba is one of the most popular anime series today for good reason. With a highly anticipated third season coming up, you absolutely must find the time to watch Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba now if you haven’t already. —TE

Den-noh Coil

Yūko Okonogi and Fumie Hashimoto gaze up at a mysterious contraption in Yūko’s grandmother’s house in Den-noh Coil.

Image: Madhouse

Mitsuo Iso’s sci-fi slice-of-life anime Den-noh Coil is one of the most highly acclaimed yet underseen anime of the late aughts. Set in a future where augmented reality and internet-connected visors have become the norm, the anime follows Yūko Okonogi and her younger sister Kyōko, who move to the small town of Daikoku to live with their grandmother, Sanae. There, the two join the Coil Cyber Detective Agency, a small group of local kids who perform odd jobs and investigate mysteries that skew the line between the technological and the supernatural.

Drawing inspiration from Japanese folklore and then-cutting-edge technology to tell a story filled with rich characters, subtle themes, outrageous humor, and novel creativity, Den-noh Coil is the definition of an anime cult classic and an absolute gem worth watching. —TE

Devilman Crybaby

Ryo transforming into Devilman in Devilman Crybaby

Image: Netflix

Based on Go Nagai’s massively influential manga and directed by Masaaki Yuasa (Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!), Devilman Crybaby was Netflix’s first original anime series and one of the breakout anime premieres of 2018. The series follows high school student Akira who, after reuniting with his childhood friend Ryo, is made aware of the existence of demons. Convinced that the only way to drive the demons back and save humanity is to create a human-demon hybrid — a so-called devilman — Ryo asks for Akira’s help by volunteering to fuse with one himself. Known for its unsparingly graphic action, ecstatic visual style, and emotionally gripping story, Devilman Crybaby is a phenomenal adaptation that breathes stunning new life into a bona-fide anime classic. —TE

Dorohedoro

Dorohedoro: A snake man bites the head of a human man

Image: Netflix

Based on Q Hayashida’s dark fantasy sci-fi manga, Dorohedoro follows the story of Caiman, a reptilian-headed amnesiac living in a dystopian metropolis known as the Hole where humans are preyed upon by malevolent sorcerers from another dimension. With the help of his friend Nikaido, Caiman hunts down these sorcerers in his search of the one who transformed him, devouring their heads into his mouth where a mysterious face at the back of his throat passes judgment on their fate. Yeah, and that’s not even the series at its weirdest. Comical, hyperviolent, and oddly endearing, Dorohedoro is one of the most bizarre, unique, and impressive anime to grace Netflix since it first premiered in 2020. —TE

Erased

A young Satoru Funinuma runs past Kayo Hinazuki in Erased.

Image: A-1 Pictures

Nearly 20 years later, Satoru Fujinuma remains haunted by the disappearance of his fifth grade classmate, Kayo Hinazuki. When his mother is murdered by an unknown assailant, Satoru discovers her death is somehow connected to Kayo’s abduction. Using his mysterious ability to travel back into the past, he becomes determined to save his mother and Kayo from their tragic fates and uncover the truth of who’s behind their deaths. Erased is an atmospheric, twisty, and gripping tale, so don’t surprised if it doesn’t even take a full weekend to get through it. —Sadie Gennis

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Alphone Elric and his brother Edward, the “Fullmetal Alchemist.”

Image: Bones

If you’re looking for a show with strong and complex female characters, gorgeous animation, monstrous adversaries, and smokin’-hot mentor figures (that is a pun), then Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood might just hit all those itches. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood 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 shōnen 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

Great Pretender

the crew from Great Pretender anime

Image: Wit Studio

Directed by Hiro Kaburagi (Speed Grapher) and produced by Wit Studio (Vinland Saga, Attack on Titan), the Netflix original anime Great Pretender is a rollicking comedy-drama with equal parts style, brains, and explosive action. Centering on the story of Makoto Edamura, a small-time Japanese conman who is taken under the wing of the dashing heist maestro Laurent Theirry, the series follows the intrepid band of thieves as they swagger from one beautiful locale to the next in their campaign to swindle the most notorious criminals out of their ill-gotten gains. Aside from the elaborate antics of the core cast, Great Pretender is absolutely stunning in its visual design, with exotic cities and countries rendered in picturesque layouts and backgrounds inspired by the British artist Brian Cook. Not only that, but with character designs courtesy of Yoshiyuki Sadamoto (Neon Genesis Evangelion) and an infectiously jazzy score by composer Yutaka Yamada, Great Pretender is a feast for the senses and absolute blast to watch unfold. —TE

Gurren Lagann

Kamina, Simon, and Yoko stand around the robot head of Gurren in Gurren Lagann

Image: Gainax/Bandai Entertainment

Every anime Studio Trigger has produced, to some degree or another, has been influenced by the precedent of 2007’s Gurren Lagann. Directed by future Trigger co-founder Hiroyuki Imaishi, the 27-episode mecha adventure comedy-drama 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

Hunter x Hunter

a white catlike person looms over two small children running

Image: Madhouse

Hunter x Hunter is a 165-episode gift. Yes, there’s a cannibal furry arc. Yes, the clown man (OK, magician) is naked all the time. But look beyond the fact that I can’t describe this series in a way that will convince my friends to watch it. Hunter x Hunter is the pinnacle of shōnen anime. There’s not a shred of filler in it. A particular arc that involves Gon and pals fighting in the 251-floor Heavens Arena is the perfect example of Hunter x Hunter’s economy of storytelling: it only spends 10 episodes there, and the narrative payoff is so good.

By the time I reached the 61-episode-long Chimera Ant arc (shut up), I would have died for these characters, and Hunter x Hunter is at times so emotionally wrenching that I nearly did. —Simone de Rochefort

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure

Josuke Higashikata and Jotaro Kujo standing alongside several supporting characters from “Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable”

Image: David Production

You know that thing you did as a kid when your friend would shoot their finger guns at you, but you’d say you were made out of metal, and then they’d say that their bullets are made out of metal-melting acid, but then you’d say that last night you snuck into their base and ate all their bullets? JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is exactly like that, except instead of imaginative kids, everyone is an extremely beautiful fully grown adult man with a name like “Robert E.O. Speedwagon” or “Kars.”

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is pure spectacle. It’s a series built around absurd confrontations where the stakes aren’t always clear and the rules might as well not exist, but it’s a joy to look at. Characters strut around in avant-garde, impractical outfits and strike dramatic poses. They’re all named (seemingly arbitrarily) after classic rock musicians. It’s the kind of series that encourages you to keep watching, not with a compelling plot or great mystery, but just with the promise of seeing beautiful and weird men do things. I think that’s OK. —Patrick Gill

Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans

Gundam Barbatos sitting in its hangar illuminated by underneath a shaft of light.

Image: Sunrise

Set 300 years after a deadly conflict between Earth and Mars known as the Calamity War, Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans follows a ragtag group of child soldiers who break away from the control of their adult commanders and form their own mercenary group. With the aid of the ancient Mobile Suit Gundam Barbatos, piloted by orphan Mikazuki Augus, the group accepts a contract to escort Kudelia Aina Bernstein, an idealistic noblewoman, back to Earth to negotiate Martian independence, all while surviving repeated clashes against the corrupt military outfit Gjallarhorn.

With intense mecha action, interesting characters, and engrossing political intrigue, Iron-Blooded Orphans is commonly cited as one of the best Mobile Suit Gundam series in recent memory. —TE

Neon Genesis Evangelion

A close-up shot of the Eva Unit-01 from Neon Genesis Evangelion

Image: khara/Project Eva

Director Hideaki Anno’s apocalyptic mecha drama Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of the undisputed titans of contemporary anime, commanding a passionate legion of fans since it first premiered in 1995 and amassing such a reverential reputation that it spawned a tetralogy of films dedicated to reimagining its vast universe. Set 15 years after a worldwide cataclysm, the original series centers on Shinji Ikari, a 14-year-old boy who is enlisted by his estranged father to pilot an enormous bio-weapon known as an Evangelion in order to combat a mysterious legion of creatures codenamed “Angels.” Together with his fellow pilots Asuka Langley Soryu and Rei Ayanami, as well as his legal guardian/commanding officer Misato Katsuragi, Shinji must struggle with the pangs of growing up while defeating the Angels to save humanity. Of course, there’s way more to this premise than meets the eye. By equal turns psychological and eschatological, Neon Genesis Evangelion subverts audience expectations at every turn to deliver one of the most memorable anime stories of all time, culminating in one of the most divisive and inspired finales ever produced for television. —TE

Ouran High School Host Club

Tamaki Suoh points his finger at the off-screen Haruhi Fujioka while other members of the Ouran Host Club stand behind him.

Image: Bones

This comedic, reverse-harem series is one of the most iconic gone-before-its-time anime. Joking about waiting for season 2 is practically a hobby of the shoujo community at this point. The series follows Haruhi Fujioka, an Ouran Academy scholarship student who finds herself indebted to the school’s Host Club after breaking an expensive vase. At first, Haruhi is supposed to only run errands for the club’s six wealthy male members, who entertain female clients in the school’s unused music room. But due to her natural rapport with the clients, Haruhi is promoted to a host-in-training, a role which requires her to disguise herself as a boy — and which leads to ample opportunities to winkingly poke fun at typical shoujo tropes. —PR

Rilakkuma and Kaoru

Image: Netflix

Similar to fellow Netflix original Aggretsuko, Rilakkuma and Kaoru is another anime based on cutesy mascot character designs created by a stationery company. While the latter is beautifully realized in impressive stop-motion animation, the two share a common focus in centering on disgruntled office workers yearning for a change of pace. The series follows a year in the life of Kaoru, a young human woman living with her three roommates: a large brown anthropomorphic bear named Rilakkuma, a small white bear named Korilakkuma, and a baby chick named Kiirotori. Heartwarming, whimsical, and powerfully cathartic, Rilakkuma and Kaoru is a wonderful anime with adorable characters and a stunning art style. With a follow-up series titled Rilakkuma’s Theme Park Adventure slated for release later this year, now is the perfect time to catch up on the series. —TE

Tiger & Bunny

Kotetsu T. Kaburagi and Barnaby Brooks Jr. standing beside one another in their armored superhero outfits in Tiger & Bunny.

Image: Sunrise

Set in a futuristic city where superpowered heroes compete on live television to capture criminals and promote sponsors, Tiger & Bunny follows veteran hero Kotetsu T. Kaburagi (aka Wild Tiger), who is forced to team up with a new partner, Barnaby Brooks Jr. Despite sharing the same abilities, the two clash over their conflicting goals and ideas of what it means to be a hero. However, when a dangerous new adversary threatens to plunge the city into turmoil, the pair will have to put aside their differences and work together if they’re to have any chance of saving the day.

The brainchild of producer Masayuki Ozaki (Tales of the Abyss) and director Keiichi Sato (The Big O), Tiger & Bunny failed to muster a strong reception when it first aired in 2011, but a cult following of fans amassed via enough word-of-mouth praise over the next decade that Netflix commissioned a second season of the series, albeit now directed by Mitsuko Kase (Ristorante Paradiso) and produced by Bandai Namco Pictures.

If you’re looking for a fun superhero anime in the vein of My Hero Academia or Samurai Flamenco but with a heavier satirical bent, look no further than Tiger & Bunny. —TE

Violet Evergarden

Violet Evergarden in Violet Evergarden

Image: Kyoto Animation/Netflix

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. —Julia Lee

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