Netflix’s anime selection has greatly improved over the past year. There are many classic series, but there is also a large number of new works that are competing successfully with the existing classics. The streaming service has a wide selection of comedic, dramatic, and romantic shows. You’ve come to the right place if you’re willing to delve deep into the bowels of Netflix in search of binge-worthy entertainment.
After much deliberation, the Paste staff has compiled a list of the 25 best Netflix anime series (in no particular order) that will satisfy both seasoned weeaboos and those who have never seen anime before. Yamero is the magic word to use when things become too out there.
1. Hunter x Hunter
Countless shonen (and even American TV shows) feature a group of young protagonists who use their magical powers and deductive thinking to tackle difficult problems. Hunter x Hunter stands out from the rest of the generic genre because of its depth of character and dedication to its story. There are tonnes of little side stories in this anime that don’t amount to much, but they show you that the characters in this universe existed before you even started watching.
Beginning with Gon Freecss’s quest to join the Hunter’s Guild, the series follows him as he travels across the world. He’s the standard savior-figure protagonist of a shonen, and thankfully he doesn’t bother anyone else with his tiresome, repetitious platitudes. His unwavering optimism and commitment to helping others propel the show’s narrative.
He befriends a kid from a family of assassins, and the contrast between them is what makes their friendship so compelling. You can’t help but become invested in the lives of these two youngsters thanks to the intriguing nature of their friendship.
Togashi highlights the characters’ youth and inexperience by having them face older, more seasoned antagonists, and by introducing influential guides who aid in their development. He puts a lot of thought into making each character’s skills fit their personality, but ultimately, they all have the same source of power: determination. You will never be the same after seeing the incredible acts of will you’ll see in this anime.
Togashi has been sick for a while, yet he insists that the manga will continue. A seventh season of the remastered animation, please! —Jarrod Johnson II
2. Neon Genesis: Evangelion
Most people today have heard about Neon Genesis Evangelion, if only because of the show’s ubiquitous merchandising and ubiquitous media references. Though Evangelion is a staple in the anthology of animated works, the ways in which it is discussed are always evolving. After being hailed as a clever rebuttal to the mecha genre established by Gundam and Macross, the franchise soon became as bloated and full of filler as the melodramas-as-merchandise that it had mocked.
However, the anime’s impact is undeniable, with a cultural overlay visible in everything from Persona 3 to Gurren Lagann; the show has become a phenomenon that seems to go beyond the show’s actual content. Once claiming that Japan’s animation sector is “moving by inertia,” the franchise’s original creator Hideaki Anno has subsequently predicted the end of anime as we know it. By Austin Jones
3. Cowboy Bebop
Every time someone questions whether or not Shinichir? An argument that Watanabe’s science fiction masterpiece—the ultimate expression of the medium—is the apex of anime is a semantic one. So, yes, that’s the case. Unique in the seinen genre, it combines elements of cyberpunk mystery set in space with those of the Wild West, martial arts action, and noir cool. Both the existential and painful topics it explores are universally human.
Its motley crew of bounty hunters are multifaceted and imperfect, but dripping with coolness all the same. It portrays a future that is both racially and culturally inclusive and terrifyingly close to the present. The English dub, which has some of the best American voice actors working today, manages to hold its own against the subtitrated Japanese original.
Its 26 episodes were nearly flawless, and even those that would have been filler in another series are tightly written, serve the show’s thesis, and don’t detract from the overall plot. It’s simple enough for beginners to pick up, but complex enough to satisfy veterans with each subsequent viewing. The wonderful, jazz-heavy score and soundtrack by Yoko Kanno can be enjoyed independently. It has a flawless beginning credits sequence.
This is a completely unique work, not a remake. Though it seems nearly unbelievable that this is Watanabe’s debut series as a director, it has all the hallmarks of a masterwork created at the height of a lengthy career. It’s a masterpiece that belongs in the pantheon of the greatest works of animation, period. There is a void in the market that we believe a competitor can fill. Nobody here is going to hold their breath. (John Maher)
4. Demon Slayer
Even while the anime series Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba is well-liked in the United States, it is practically impossible to avoid in Japan. Years after the manga ended, its books are still bestsellers, and the movie surpassed Spirited Away to become the highest-grossing Japanese film of all time. This, was during the height of a pandemic when no vaccines were available.
Explain what makes Demon Slayer so popular. The story of Tanjiro Kamado, a young demon slayer, and his journey to save his demon-transformed sister Nezuko may not be the most creative action series to come out of Weekly Shonen Jump, but it hits all the most likable conventions of the genre with amazing elegance.
The Taisho era is vividly depicted, the protagonists are instantly likable, and the animation by studio Ufotable is stunning. The first season is available to stream on Netflix, and if you finish that and want more, you can rent the movie from most digital stores, or watch the second season on Crunchyroll and Hulu. According to Reuben Baron.
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Baki is an exciting display of hyper-masculine legends carrying out the classic tale of a son trying to become a better fighter than his father. This shonen features intense battles between the strongest men imaginable. You know, Netflix could make a whole show just off of clips of dudes flexing and tensing their muscles.
The knowing smirks and sneers of these characters perfectly capture the meathead tool mentality that propels the show, as if the bulk and hyper-tough voices weren’t enough. Although Baki agrees with common notions of power, he questions their bearing on compassion and independence. —Jarrett Johnson, II
6. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure
When I need some downtime, I’ll usually watch an episode of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. Not that there’s anything relaxing about it; on the contrary, it’s an anime full of muscular men shouting at each other about psychic fights that move at a snail’s pace. In JJBA’s timeline, what seems like hours is actually less than a minute.
However, JJBA is much more than that; it is a journey that spans a century and obliterates the rules of how to tell a traditional adventure story, drawing liberally from Indiana Jones, Versace, classic rock, and any other passing interest of mangaka Hirohiko Araki to make an explosive hodgepodge of fast-paced absurdity, a language you will pick up quickly and soon find cozier than Sailor Moon.
The popularity of JJBA as one of the most impactful works of anime media is not surprising. I’m sorry, but I had to quote Austin Jones:
I think it’s safe to say that Beastars is 2019’s finest animated offering. It’s possible that I’m in the minority here, given that 2018 was a banner year for gorgeous animation across the board, from the balletic action scenes in Demon Slayer and Mob Psycho 100 II to the high stakes drama in The Promised Neverland and Vinland Saga.
And yet, the curiously evocative melodrama of a wolf, rabbit, and deer was the one that really got to me, even though it featured films by two of my favorite directors, Kunihiko Ikuhara and Shinichiro Watanabe (including some of their finest work, respectively).
The imbalance of power between carnivores and herbivores serves as a unifying factor in the Beastars universe. In the first scene, Tem, an alpaca student, is brutally murdered. Whether or whether there was already a noticeable gulf between pupils before this tragedy is debatable, but it has the effect of sending every living thing into a state of paranoia.
The theatrical group, which includes everyone from tiny squirrels to enormous tigers like Legoshi, is well-known for its cooperative and pleasant membership. The drama club provides an ideal setting for many of the show’s themes.
Not only do we see the plight of herbivores, who are consistently misunderstood and who live in constant fear of being devoured, but we also witness the prejudices and stereotypes used against carnivores, who are, for the most part, incredibly docile and peaceful. “Austin Jones”
8. Devilman Crybaby
To put it mildly, Go Nagai is well-known in his field. Not only is he remembered as the creator of Mazinger Z, a staple of the “Super Robo” subgenre of mecha, but his works are also credited for ushering in an era in which anime moved away from its traditionally lighthearted and innocent focus and began exploring darker, more sexually charged themes. Take Devilman as an example.
Masaaki Yuasa’s modern retelling of Akira Fudo and Ryo Asuka’s “love” tale is worthy of respect to both Nagai’s body of work and the character’s illustrious heritage, being as orgiastically violent and unflinchingly risqué as the original manga. From the Luciferian beauty of Berserk’s Griffith to the post-apocalyptic loneliness of Neon Genesis Evangelion, the impact of Devilman is clear.
Because of all of these factors and more, Devilman Crybaby is in a prime position to become not only one of the best series of recent memory but also a classic that will endure for decades to come. In the words of Toussaint Egan:
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9. Little Witch Academia
The time is right to look again at Trigger’s most underappreciated creation. Yoh Yoshinari, best known for his work on FLCL and Gurren Lagann, is also the creator of Little Witch Academia.
The show is based on two short animated films, and its story is very similar to the popular The Worst Witch book series, in that it follows a young girl named Atsuko Kagari as she strives to become a powerful witch on par with her idol, Shiny Chariot. She doesn’t come from a magical family, but via some sleight of hand, she manages to enrol at the same magical school as Chariot did: Luna Nova.
Little Witch Academia is a definite must-see for every animation fan, thanks to its expert pastel animation and a lot of heart. In the first half of the show, the tone is relatively lighter, with episodes spoofing the Twilight fanbase and slapstick humor clearly influenced by Chuck Jones’s Looney Tunes.
The best parts of the play occur when the writers revisit the meaning of magic in a technologically advanced society, showing how magic is gradually being replaced by technology and automation in both entertainment and practical applications. Little Witch Academia is a great programme for kids and adults alike, with a cosy setting that will appeal to anyone who likes the works of Ghibli, Dr. Seuss, or Harry Potter. By Austin Jones
10. Attack on Titan
When it first premiered in 2013, Attack on Titan was a phenomenon. The anime shows a post-apocalyptic future where humanity is locked in a never-ending war against a species of cannibalistic humanoid giants called Titans, adapted from Hajime Isayama’s ongoing manga series. Eren Yeager, a young man from one of the planet’s few remaining cities, joins the Survey Corps to protect his nation and exact revenge on those who wronged his family.
Attack on Titan is a David vs. Goliath conflict with the speed and violence of a high-tech superhero drama. It features Goya-esque monstrosities devouring hapless villagers, political intrigue and subterfuge, the smoldering tension of an unrequited romance, and a host of memorable characters who make the mounting mortal costs of humanity’s last stand deeply personal and a battle worth fighting for. Touseint Egan
Kakegurui is a completely wild work based around a deranged and unpredictable protagonist and featuring increasingly high stakes and the devolution of mental states. Studio MAPPA (Kids on the Slope, Yuri on Ice!) delivers breathtaking animation in Kakegurui, and the show’s play with grotesque sexuality and twisted power dynamics leaves us with something akin to Yu-Gi-Oh! infused with truly terrible psychological horror.
Both its strangely evocative philosophizing and its maximalist bleed-out of aesthetic make this anime impossible to look away from. Even among shows with a tight focus, Gambling: The Series manages to take you through the whole range of human emotions in a relatively short amount of time. To quote Austin Jones:
12. Carole & Tuesday
Carole & Tuesday, directed by Cowboy Bebop’s Shinichiro Watanabe, strongly alludes to taking place in the same universe as Bebop. While both shows take place in the Martian city of Alba City and feature music selected with great care by Watanabe, the two couldn’t be more different.
If the Disney Channel allowed songs consisting exclusively of F-bombs and not-even-in-the-vicinity-of-subtle comments on America’s treatment of immigrants, the narrative of Carole & Tuesday, a refugee and a runaway who team up to compose music, might air there.
One of the most potent artistic responses to the atrocities of the Trump administration is a programme whose first major story arc is literally “Martian Idol.” The range is not an issue. A quote from Reuben Baron.
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The battle scenes in this shonen are excellent. This anime has a lot going for it: an expansive magic system and complicated, beautifully rendered hand-to-hand fighting. While the series’ overuse of flashbacks and internal monologues may put some readers off, that hasn’t stopped it from becoming an iconic piece of pop culture in its own right.
When it comes to teaching teenagers that decent people can and will turn bad and relationships can and will end, no one does a better job than Naruto. Masashi Kishimoto gives us an introduction to a clan of ninjas that risk their lives to protect others, only to tear them apart prematurely. Although Naruto’s loss of Sasuke and relentless pursuit of him to return him home take up the bulk of the plot, Naruto’s existing community in the leaf village is given equal weight.
The emotional underpinning of these metaseries about unconditional friendship, retribution, and the forgiveness that is the only route to peace is the solidarity the Hidden Leaf Village demonstrates in the face of conflict and terror.
This anime serves as a prologue to the second series of the same name, Naruto: Shippuden, and establishes a web of spies, conspiracies, and (secretly) interconnected subplots that all come to fruition in the latter. It’s important to avoid filler, though. Iii. Jarrod Johnson
14. Cells At Work
As one might hope for such an Aniplex production, the animation is spotless and beautiful, and the opener is as sweet and cheery as the rest of the show.
The universe of the human body is the setting for the high-octane comedy Cells at Work. Each episode centers on a single red blood cell who, in the course of her duties, encounters some of the body’s most lethal pathogens and viruses. Once you stop keeping track, the sheer volume of high-severity crises faced by these cells becomes comical.
This manga-style rendition of scientific processes in the body is funny, and so is seeing these manmade bacteria scream bloody murder at even the tiniest scrape wound. If you want to see the classic “go get a pep talk and power up to battle the bad guy” scene recast as a conversation between a dendritic cell and a T-cell, you’ll have to go elsewhere.
White blood cells in this series, unlike Osmosis Jones’s, bring shonen-like deductive reasoning and fighter’s spirit to the table, which contrasts with the humor to create an even more outlandish adventure. –Jarrod Johnson II
15. The Disastrous Life of Saiki K: Reawakened
The second installment of a comedic series is about a teenage kid who develops psychic abilities. You’d suppose he uses his powers for personal gain or that he has made a sacred pact with God to become a masked vigilante, but nope. All he wants to do is get home without hearing any spoilers for the shows he enjoys from his fellow commuters. Kusuo fights to keep his psychic abilities hidden from his classmates, who all appear to have a screw loose.
This is made more difficult by the fact that Kusuo’s classmates share his psychic abilities. The second season takes the crazy ideas we enjoyed in the first and runs with them for six episodes (the standout is about a teacher who looks so frightening that everyone assumes he must be the peeping tom they’ve been looking for).
Netflix’s original animation The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.: Reawakened was created with a wide viewership in mind. The creators struck a fantastic middle ground between the more exaggerated form of comedy common in Japanese anime and the more dry, sarcastic tone of traditional (mostly American) sitcoms. The average Netflix user won’t have any trouble following along and laughing. It was Jarrod Johnson II.
16. Gurren Lagann
Gainax has been a studio that always teetered on the brink of failure and success up to the debut of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Gainax had been saved from certain bankruptcy thanks to the meteoric rise of Neon Genesis Evangelion, but the company had fallen on hard times again in the years since. Super robot anime that followed in the vein of the studio’s earlier works like Gunbuster and Evangelion and marked the directorial debut of Hiroyuki Imaishi.
Gurren Lagann gave Gainax another cult favorite and set the stage for the studio’s own follow-up, Trigger, with its limitless charm, stratospheric stakes, and exponential heaps of insane spectacle that laugh in the face of sensibility. Gurren Lagann was at the pinnacle of its popularity when Imaishi and the company broke through to reveal their true selves. In the words of Toussaint Egan:
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This 25-episode seinen, directed by Ei Aoki, is the second anime adaptation of Type-Fate Moon’s franchise of light novels. It centers on a group of mages who are engaged in a battle royale known as the Fourth Holy Grail War for the possession of a mythical chalice (definitely not the Cup of Christ, but sharing the name).
Each war is fought between seven mages (called Masters) who call upon Servants (extremely potent figures from legend and world history) to fight as their representatives for control of the Grail; this means that adrenaline junkie history buffs who have always wondered who would win in a battle between King Arthur (again, it’s really not that Holy Grail) and Alexander the Great will find this show abundantly rewaxing.
A beautiful animation technique, multidimensional characters, and genuine emotional turns help to balance out the story’s rather off-kilter premise. —John M. Maher
18. Ouran High School
Ouran High School Host Club is largely a spoof of the shoujo genre, using and often subverting our preconceptions of animated romantic comedies. In this tale, we follow Haruhi Fujioka, a typical teenage girl who has won a full scholarship to the elite Ouran Academy.
Because of her slouchy clothes and untidy hair, people often assume she is a male, despite the fact that she is a realistic realist who rejects superficial ways of living. She owes money to the school’s host club, and she has to work as a host while pretending to be a male until she can repay her loan. By Austin Jones
19. Berserk the Golden Age
The 1997 TV series Berserk, based on Kentaro Miura’s graphic novel of the same name, is widely regarded as a classic for its brutality and gore. While the first two parts of this trilogy from 15 years later are generally panned by anime purists, the third picture is as exciting to watch as anything the genre has to offer, and it’s just as violent.
A sellsword named Guts is compelled to join the mercenary gang Band of the Hawk after its leader defeats him in single combat twice in a row in this grimdark fantasy set in a feudal setting clearly inspired after mediaeval Europe.
From that point on, the human, bear, and demon races are all sucked into a never-ending loop of battles, assassinations, sieges, duels, and the like, as they try to rip each other to shreds for sex, power, and greed. By the third instalment, Descent, it’s as gripping and bleak as the best episodes of Game of Thrones. The late John Maher
20. Pop Team Epic
The strangeness of Pop Team Epic may be experienced in neat 10-minute chunks, with the same screenplay being repeated with different voice actors. Pipimi and Popuko, the show’s primary characters, have two different voice actresses do their voices in each episode, using seiyuu that are familiar to everyone who has watched anime.
The whole effect is one of a strange familiarity, which is exactly what the play aims for. Pop Team Epic, which is based on a 4koma (4-panel comic) of the same name, is a stronger candidate for the label “a programme about nothing” than Seinfeld.
The show takes inspiration from classic slice-of-life comedies like Azumanga Daioh and Nichijou! and applies Robot Chicken-style surrealism, dark comedy, and pop culture references to create a hilariously deconstructive playground full of crazy antics and inside jokes about the anime business. (Austin Jones).
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21. Sword Art Online
Sword Art Online is an action/romance set in a virtual world where real-world consequences of in-game actions (such as reaching zero health) might have fatal consequences. First, there’s Kirito, a solitary player who doesn’t seem to be scared of SAO’s perils but is actually still dealing with the trauma of a violent party incident.
A lot of the badassness in the series can be traced back to his endearing “solo player’s arrogance,” which many players will certainly relate to. Asuna, our lovable female protagonist, is just as badass as her male counterpart. This adorable couple’s interaction is completely altered by the virtual world they get to inhabit together.
The two agree to lay away their weapons, move in together, and start a new life in SAO together. Their closeness is illustrative of how computer games can provide a sparkling escape from the isolation they’re designed to alleviate. Also, it has one of the nicest introductions I’ve ever heard. A quote from the second Jarrod Johnson
22. One-Punch Man
As ludicrous as superhero stories tend to be, One-Punch Man is in a class of its own. After rescuing a rosy-cheeked, butt-chinned youngster from the murderous hands of a lobster man-monster (get it? ), a recent college graduate gives up his hunt for stable employment and instead commits himself to a rigorous three-year training regimen with the goal of becoming a hero. The loss of his hair is only natural.
Saitama, the world’s strongest hero, has the incredible power to beat adversaries with a single punch despite having a body reminiscent of Jim Lee’s and a visage that would seem at home in a Charles Schultz comic strip.
The series’ commitment to being a superhero show filtered through the overactive imagination of a child, a comedy of preposterous serial escalation, with every otherworldly adversary that rises up being swiftly smashed to viscera by the force of Saitama’s herculean indifference, is the series’ central appeal. According to Toussaint Egan
23. Seven Deadly Sins
One of Netflix’s earliest original fighting programmes, Seven Deadly Sins, is also one of the most entertaining. This anime tells the story of a band of magically empowered warriors, hence the title. As Meliodas, Sin of Wrath gathers the other Sins to fight the Holy Knights, we learn more about them. The show’s pacing allows for in-depth character histories to be established as we meet new characters, increasing our interest in their skills and growth.
Given that Aniplex was involved in the development, the animations for these outstanding and original abilities are nothing short of breathtaking. Characters, abilities, and plot points should all add up to a genuine experience, yet fanservice prevents this show from being more widely recognized (jiggle-effect and groping will only take you so far.) The fight scenes in this anime are particularly noteworthy because of the animations, powers, and combination attacks. Iii. Jarrod Johnson
24. Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic
Wealth, friendship, and the value of human life all play crucial roles in the exciting plot of Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic. The story unfolds in a fantastical world full of deserts, dungeons, and treasures. Aladdin is the young, tremendously powerful type, and Alibaba is the young, idealistic protagonist.
They confront the merchant who bought their servitude and free Morgiana from the clutches of the slave trader who had been using her as a bodyguard. Her superhumanly powerful legs make her the team’s muscle and add a welcome counterbalance to the other members.
The animation’s aesthetically pleasing Arabian Nights motif. Although it looks and feels like a classic anime, the combat scenes (especially Alibaba’s) can be tediously slow. The show is beautifully done nevertheless, so check it out. –Jarrod Johnson, II
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For me, Inuyasha represents a return to the days when a good anime just needed exciting fight scenes, witty banter, and some melodramatic 90s flair. This was our version of “Demon Slayer” before we “loved ourselves,” the programme we’d binge-watch on Adult Swim (sometimes out of order, not that it matters all that much given Inuyasha’s extensive arcs and tonnes of filler) when we were young and carefree.
The show still holds up surprisingly well and is fun to watch with a group; it’s practically a hotbed for drinking games, such as “take a shot every time Kagome and Inuyasha scream each other’s names” or “take a shot every time a beautiful woman turns out to be a grotesque buglike demon” or “take a shot every time Inuyasha fundamentally misunderstands how to behave like a respectful human.” It’s a terrific show to keep you busy, with just about 200 episodes and a whopping four feature-length films. “Austin Jones”
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