There are several legitimate streaming services that offer anime either for free or as part of a paid subscription. Seeking out websites or torrents that offer anime content illegally can be tempting, but it's a bad idea. Many illegal sites will infect your devices with malware. If you don't want to pay for a subscription, there is a lot of legal content available. Some of it is on 100% free, completely legal streaming services.
Funimation, Crunchyroll, VRV and HIDIVE
Funimation, Crunchyroll, and VRV are the biggest providers of anime. All offer a combination of free and paid content. Free content is generally lower quality video with a lot of ads. New releases and exclusives require a paid membership. Not all titles are available to free, ad-supported users. Funimation provides "a sample of the entire streaming library with ads." On Crunchyroll, episodes without an orange crown are free without a subscription. These free options play on Standard Definition (SD) with ads. VRV has over 20,000 hours of free content, which they update regularly.
If you pay for subscriptions to these services, you get to enjoy several extras. For example, this is some of what Crunchyroll offers to Premium subscribers.
- Ad-free viewing
- Unlimited access to Crunchyroll's library
- New episodes are offered one hour after they air in Japan
- Read hundreds of chapters from dozens of manga titles
HIDIVE is another paid subscription service that offers "over 500 series, movies, and OVAs (Original Video Animation)." They allow switching between censored and uncensored anime. They don't provide any free content, but they do have a free trial and the cheapest subscription out of these four services. You will save 20% if you pay yearly.
Completely Free Anime
Tubi TV offers several anime titles "from classic blockbusters to brand new shows airing weekly." Tubi is a completely free ad-supported service owned by Fox, so you don't have to worry about what is free and what is available with a paid subscription. The service bills itself as the world’s largest ad-supported on demand service with over 20,000 titles. See tubitv.com/category/anime for a list of anime titles.
PlutoTV is owned by ViacomCBS. It has channels like a traditional cable and satellite television service in addition to on-demand options. Under Live TV, look for the Gaming + Anime category, which has a few anime channels including Anime All Day, the Naruto channel, and Yu-Gi-Oh! Look under On Demand for the Anime Action and Anime All-Ages sections. The Live TV and On-Demand options are 100% free.
Anime-Planet is "run by fans, for fans" and claims to be a completely legal service. They offer over 45,000 episodes.
"All episodes available on Anime-Planet are legal and industry-supported through our partnerships with Crunchyroll and HIDIVE, as well as selected official content from Youtube, Vimeo, and Dailymotion. Availability depends on what our partners have licensed..."
They also offer several manga titles with an Add to List feature to keep track of what you want to read.
HBO Max, Hulu and Netflix
HBO Max, Hulu, and Netflix offer lots of anime titles but other than free trials none of these services are free. Of the three, Hulu is the most affordable while HBO Max is the go-to streaming service for Studio Ghibli titles. Titles generally come and go from these services, so watch them while they're available.
The 5 BEST Places to Watch Anime (FREE and Paid)
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 LT Wright
Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on March 23, 2021:
Very informative. Thanks.