Japanese animation has been popular for a long time, but the last few years have seen a proliferation of anime on the major streaming platforms. Audience for the genre doubled on Netflix last year amid increased consumption of non-English titles by American viewers, according to the streamer.
With that in mind, we’ve put together this list of TV shows you can stream right now. Like the genre, which ranges from tales of vampire hunters to detective sagas, we’ve included a little something for everyone.
“Cowboy Bebop” (1998)
This beloved – half black, half space western – series follows a team of intergalactic bounty hunters. “Cowboy Bebop” was the first anime to air on Adult Swim in 2001, and it’s a great series to watch if you’re unfamiliar with the genre. He’s also highly regarded for his sardonic sense of humor and his jazz-infused soundtrack (which features one of the best themed songs on TV).
Netflix is set to release a live-action version starring John Cho as protagonist Spike Spiegel later this year. (Streams on Hulu)
Also consider: “Trigun,” a 1998 series that doubles the theme of Western space. (Streams on Hulu)
Oscar nominee LaKeith Stanfield voices the main character of this series, which is based on the historical accounts of an African man who lived in 16th century Japan. There’s a lot of other stuff going on, which – as more than a few reviews have noted – doesn’t always serve the story well. But it’s visually stunning, and features an expansive electronic score from DJ Flying Lotus, who also serves as the show’s executive producer alongside Stanfield and series creator LeSean Thomas, a Tokyo-based (and New York-native) host. whose previous credits include “The Boondocks” and “The Legend of Korra”. (Stream on Netflix)
Also consider “Afro Samurai,” the 2007 hip-hop culture-influenced miniseries featuring RZA music of Wu-Tang Clan fame, as well as the unique voice of Samuel L. Jackson. (Streams on Hulu)
Based on a manga by Norihiro Yagi, this dark fantasy series follows half-human, half-demon warriors tasked with slaying their all-demonic counterparts, the most powerful of whom can morph into humans. It’s understood? Most of the action unfolds from the perspective of the series’ injured protagonist, Clare, who is driven by her painful past. (Streams on Hulu)
Also consider: “Inuyasha,” the 2000 series based on a manga by Rumiko Takahashi, in which a teenage girl is transported to feudal Japan, where she finds herself on a mission with the titular Inuyasha: half man, half demon dog. (Stream on Netflix and HBO Max)
“Case closed” (1996)
A crafty high school detective crosses paths with a group of criminals and ends up inside the body of a young boy from this series, known as “Detective Conan” outside of the United States. The long-running show sparked (fake) anger from Conan O’Brien after the late-night host found out the child protagonist had outperformed him on Google in Japan. It’s so popular, O’Brien discovered, that there’s actually a town named after the fictional character – and, of course, Team Coco visited it. (Streams on Crunchyroll)
Also consider: “Lupine III”, the franchise that began in 1971, which follows the grandson of the same gentleman burglar who inspired the popular French-language series. (Streams on Crunchyroll)
Technically inspired by the anime since it was produced outside of Japan, the English-speaking cast of “Castlevania” includes Richard Armitage (“The Stranger”) and Lance Reddick (“The Wire”). In this Netflix original, based on the famous Nintendo franchise of the same name, a vampire hunter decides to protect his town from Dracula’s deadly rage. It’s dark, bloody, and daring in a way that now adult fans of the “Castlevania” video games will appreciate. It also offers a unique take on the classic Dracula story across four seasons, the last of which began in May. (Stream on Netflix)
Also consider: “Hellsing,” the 2001 series that revolves around the famous Van Helsing family and their servant Alucard (this is for all anagram lovers). (Streams on Hulu)
“Dr Stone” (2019)
A teenage scientific genius awakens in a world in which almost all human life has been petrified. Senku, aided by friends who eventually join him in an awakened state, sets out to find out what happened – and how to undo it. “Dr. Stone” takes his science seriously as Senku attempts to move the world from the Stone Age to modern civilization. (Stream on HBO Max and Crunchyroll)
Also consider: “Fullmetal Alchemist,” a 2003 classic with more fantastic science leanings. (Stream on Netflix)
This kid-friendly franchise begins with the story of an orphaned young ninja who longs to be accepted by the village he hopes to someday lead. The following installments further explore the fate of Naruto, as well as those of his closest friends. (Stream on Netflix and Hulu)
Also consider: “One Piece,” an ongoing series that started airing in 1999, which also revolves around a young boy with big ambitions. (Stream on Netflix, Hulu and Crunchyroll)
“Keep your hands away from Eizouken!” “(2020)
This bubbly series follows three motivated high school girls who create an anime club – but not without opposition – and embark on the creation of their own animated universe. It’s a fun story, creatively told, especially illuminating when it comes to the animation process. The New York Times named “Eizouken” one of the best TV shows of 2020. (Streams on HBO Max and Crunchyroll)
Also consider: 2016’s “My Hero Academia,” which puts a smart twist on the high school setting. (Streams on Hulu and Crunchyroll)
“Neon Genesis Evangelion” (1995)
Fans of the classic anime rejoiced when it arrived on Netflix in 2019, after years that were virtually unobtainable in the United States. But the celebration was worded with caution as “Evangelion” is an emotionally heavy topic.
“Yep, that was another show about teens in big humanoid robots saving the world,” wrote Gene Park of the Washington Post. “But it was also a bold and brutal mosaic of depressed children and adults with severe abandonment issues and debilitating existential crises. For me and many young viewers in the ’90s, it sparked awareness of our depression and our childhood traumas. ” (Stream on Netflix)
Also consider: “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood,” the 2009 series that also pairs its acting with the exploration of pain and grief. (Stream on Hulu and HBO Max)
“The Seven Deadly Sins” (2014)
This fantastic series revolves around a group of powerful knights tasked with restoring order to an ancient kingdom from which they have been evicted. The show – part of a franchise that includes movies, video games and, of course, manga – is currently in its fifth installment; “The Seven Deadly Sins: Dragon’s Judgment” was released last month. (Stream on Netflix)
Also consider: 1986’s “Dragon Ball,” the first anime in a pioneering and hugely popular franchise aimed at a similar demographic. (Streams on Hulu)