The podcast about learning Japanese.

Finding Anime Online

Posted February 10th, 2012 by Enrico in Japanese Culture

We’ve written before that it is best to study Japanese through things you like. Perhaps one of those things is Japanese animation. This week, we go over a few of our favorite sources for anime on the Internet. To clarify, these are all legitimate (read: legal) sources — The Japanese Learner does not endorse the infringement of copyrights. This will be very America-specific but if you know of good sources of anime in your region, we’d love to hear from you!


Initially a community that streamed anime episodes provided by its users, Crunchyroll has transformed into one of the main anime streaming powerhouses in North America. They currently have simulcast deals with a number of studios, making the site a great place to watch some of the newest series as they air in Japan. Despite the name, I don’t think it is truly simultaneous, but it is close enough to compete with fan-distributed translations of the same shows if you’re not super-picky.

For the Winter 2012 anime season, Crunchyroll is streaming episodes in 1080p for premium members, which in my personal experience has been pretty awesome save for a few very tiny stutters. For most everything else, Crunchyroll streams up to 720p for premium members, 480p for free users. I’ve enjoyed many series on this site by hooking up my computer to my TV via HDMI and letting the good times stream.

Some of my favorites that can be found on Crunchyroll:

Anime News Network Video/Hulu

I actually didn’t hear about this one until recently. Anime News Network has a listing of videos for viewing online. The catalog seems to be mostly stuff available on Hulu so if you’d like, you can go right to the source, but you might find this to be much more convenient.

To my knowledge, Anime News Network doesn’t do any simulcasting and the listing is considerably less fresh than Crunchyroll’s, but it also includes many old favourites that Crunchyroll’s old community used to upload and are now unavailable due to licensing. Basically, if Crunchyroll isn’t doing it for you, you might like to try this as your next stop. Streams are in standard definition and have forced commercial spots but they are plentiful, free, and legal. If you’re looking for subs (and really, if you’re learning Japanese, you probably should be), you want to look for the “(s)”.

I know relatively little about Hulu because I had a Netflix account in Canada and carried it over to the US, giving me little need for Hulu. If you know more — particularly about Hulu Plus and anime availability there — please leave a comment! Note, just as we do not endorse illegitimate sources, we also do not endorse using proxies to get around Hulu’s US-only restriction. So none of that in the comments, please!

Some favorites of mine I found in the catalog:


Netflix is a bit of an odd entry for this list. The majority of the anime they stream is dubbed; Netflix only does subs for a few movies and I can’t even remember which they are. But Netflix is listed here because it’s pretty ubiquitous in both the US and Canada and the selection is halfway decent. It lacks the freshness of Crunchyroll and some titles it previously had, like Sacred Blacksmith, are gone. But if you’ve got a PS3 or an Xbox 360, you’ve got an easy-to-use Netflix player for your HDTV and if you’re not already a Netflix member, I highly recommend giving it a try.

Some of the streams are in HD but many are SD, or SD upscaled to HD. Really, I think Netflix would be a lot better for anime viewers if they could get the same rights to subtitled versions that they have for dubbed versions, but if Netflix is what you have to work with, you might find some things you would like to add to your personal DVD/Blu-ray collection and that’s never a bad thing.

Some old favorites of mine are here:

  • The Slayers (the three old TV series plus the two new direct-to-video seasons)
  • Noir (they don’t have Madlax but do have El Cazador de la Bruja)
  • Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple
  • Fullmetal Alchemist (and Brotherhood)
  • Full Metal Panic (and Second Raid, and Fumoffu)

Anime A-Plenty!

So there are a few of my favorite on-the-up-and-up sources of anime. It’s amazing to see just how far anime has come in North America though true fans may agree that it still has a ways to go yet. How do you get anime in your part of the world? Let us know in the comments!

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