If love anime like Naruto loves Ramen, then check out the 4 best free to paid streaming apps for your binge worthy obsession.
If you are new to the unique world of Japanese Animation, but don’t wish to pay for a streaming service in order to watch it, these free streaming apps for your smart TV, smartphone, or streaming device will give you a good idea of what to expect. From English dubs to Japanese subs, every fan has their preferrable way to watch. The difference between a free anime app and a paid version though is that in a free version, you get most shows in the original Japanese language with English or other language subtitles. Also, you won’t be able to view every single episode in a season unless you decide on the paid version.
In the paid version, you get access to every season and new episode of a series that’s available to watch shortly after it first airs in Japan. Yet, certain streaming services that aren’t host to anime content alone could take longer to show up in your watchlist. It really depends on what contracts the anime creating companies have with a Hulu or Netflix to air their content. These are some things to consider if you wish to eventually spring for a paid anime streaming app which usually only costs $5-$10 a month. I’ve dug through and found 4 anime streaming apps that all have a vast library of old and new content that costs absolutely nothing to sign up.
Best for Dubbed Anime
If your interested in delving into the most popular Shonen anime such as Dragon Ball, Naruto, or One Piece, then Funimation Now has this and much more. Coming in both a free version and multiple paid offerings, Funimation Now’s free version like many contains ads, although not an overwhelming amount like watching something on cable or satellite without recording. Having classic anime series like Rurouni Kenshin or Gundam, to the most recent hit series such as Demon Slayer, Dr. Stone or Fire Force. The paid version includes: Premium: $5.99 per month or $59.99 annually, Premium Plus at $7.99 monthly or $79.99 annually or the Premium Plus Ultra which has an annual only plan costing $99. So, if you want to watch all episodes of a series in English, then like all the other choices in this list, you’ll have to upgrade to the paid version which you can do on Funimation’s website.
Best for Subbed Anime and Manga
Boosting over 25,000 anime on it’s free to start service, Crunchyroll has the newest and classic anime as well as manga. If Funimation is the home to the most English dubbed content, then Crunchyroll is definitely the service for anime purists who prefer to view the original Japanese version over the English, Spanish or other dubbed versions. This is true in both free and paid subscriptions, and with the addition of the original manga source material to read, you can start off reading before even jumping to watching. In the free version, you can view much, but not all content which is ad-supported in both watching anime’s and reading manga. The paid tier plans include: The Fan-$7.99 a month, Mega Fan-$9.99 a month, and the Ultimate Fan-$14.99 a month. With the largest library of anime on this list, everything from Bleach, Hunter x Hunter, Attack on Titan and much more, Crunchyroll is the ideal choice for anyone with an interest in anime or one who has been a lifelong otaku.
Best for Variety
If you’re looking for a little comedy or gaming to go with your anime, then you would be impressed with the variety you get using VRV’s app. Having content channels from Crunchyroll, Rooster Teeth, HIDIVE and more, VRV is like a one stop shop for all your geeky obsessions. Besides the sci-fi, gaming and comedy stuff, there is plenty of anime here from Naruto, Boruto, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure and more. Available in the free version is access to all the shows and channels with commercials, in the paid version you get ad- free content and offline viewing for $9.99 a month. If your interests span beyond just anime, then VRV’s variety of other nerdy content will surely hold your attention.
Best for Anime Exclusive Content
The most popular streaming platform on the planet also has some great anime. Netflix may not be known for its anime, but in recent years it has developed original series for the growing demand. Series like Castlevania and the acclaimed Seven Deadly Sins, both Netflix exclusives. In the free version, you get Netflix original content mostly, and everything else in the paid versions which consist of multiple tiers. The paid tiers are the Basic-$8.99 a month, the Standard-$13.99, and the Premium-$17.99 a month. Any of the paid versions are the way to go if you want anime content like Death Note and the hard-to-find classic series Neon Genesis Evangelion. This isn’t even including the other non-animated series and movies you get with a Netflix subscription.
Each streaming service above has a free trial to test out if your interested in upgrading, as well as a standalone free version. My best advice is to try the free trail version of each app and decide from there which one meets your needs. Each one has something different to offer, but investing $0 to start is the smart choice, especially if your new to this whole anime craze. Some other services to check out are HIDIVE, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu, which are paid with no free versions. Also, Tubi which is a free app with ads with anime, movies, and many more such content for your viewing pleasure.
© 2021 Corey Martinez
Corey Martinez (author) from NorCal on April 12, 2021:
Your right, it does vary by country. And thanks for your input, I pay for Funimation and the free VRV mainly for Jujitsu Kaisen and a couple of others that aren't on Funimation as of yet.
Nigel Kirk from Calgary, AB, CAN on April 12, 2021:
Pretty good options, though it should be noted it may vary by country. VRV is not available in Canada and Netflix changes depending on local licenses. Even with a VPN you'd have to figure out which country has the best content for your needs.
Other than that, great article! I use Crunchy and Funimation myself.