The Anime Nerd’s Guide to Crunchyroll, Hulu and Netflix

Where do you watch anime? Such a question warrants countless answers. It’s no secret that many of us found our start on illegal sites, mentioned through the hushed tones of one enthusiast to another. So, let me offer you three optimal (legal) resources.

Of course, in the past few years, there’s been a surge of new streaming services, either supplementing their viewing choices with anime or geared primarily towards anime. Still, these three below are veterans of the trade.

Chances are you’ve either perused these services for content other than anime or been force-fed a recommendation for one of the three.

For any anime viewer, from the hikikomoris (extremely severe shut-ins) to the curious toe dippers, there’s essentially four things more important than life itself: Quantity, the amount of shows offered; Variety, the extent of shows with different tones, genres, release dates and otherwise; Organization, the method in which the different shows are organized and presented; Dualism, the subtitle and dubbed viewing capabilities.

 In case you didn’t know, anime generally has several language choices for audio and subtitled text. Dubbed applies to anime in which the original audio has been replaced by a recorded translation. 

For any newcomer, I’d say Netflix is a safe bet, but Hulu might also float your boat. As someone just being introduced to this world, you might prefer dubbed anime since it’ll be more familiar and easier to see all the action on the screen.

For someone who feels like they’ve seen everything the world has to offer, Crunchyroll would be the best option since it adds new content daily. Hulu would be best for you if your anime viewing history is pretty light, but not light as a feather. Although your preference between Hulu and Crunchyroll could easily come to the flip of a coin.

Now check these out and get that gregarious coworker or highly opinionated friend off your back.

NETFLIX
7 out of 12 Stars

Brief History

Launched in 1996, Netflix began adding anime to its roster in the early 2000s. While Netflix may technically be the oldest “scrapper” in this ring, it’s still a lightweight compared to its rivals below.

Netflix was one of the first major streaming services, even tied so tightly to popular culture that its existence spawned a new term for… let’s say… ” binging.” If the term “Netflix and chill” is new to you, go no further and research urban dictionary, you’ve got a lot of catching up to do.

Quantity
★☆☆

As impressive as Netflix’s catalog is, the anime category is far less intimidating. Imagine a minuscule sliver of the capacity Netflix is known for and you’ve quickly gained a full understanding of the anime selection. At just over 50 entries now, there’s a sweltering difference between the two.

Variety
★☆☆

If you expected the variety to match the quantity, then pat yourself on the back, you sure won’t get one from me. Most of the series are action-oriented picks for the mainstream audience.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with mainstream anime, as long as you’re content sampling the world of anime rather than truly visiting it. All shade aside, mainstream anime isn’t inherently bad. It’s just cheating you out of exposing yourself to the obscure gems that slip right by the masses.

That being said, Netflix has spawned some gripping original anime series that definitely stand out from the bulk of passable shows that comprise the world of anime.

Organization
★★☆

The organization is satisfactory. Nothing special, but I’ve seen worse. You’re in luck if you’re into pretty vague sub-genres, such as action or fantasy. For the rest of us with particular tastes or well-defined preferences, you’re unlikely to find a show based on those details.

The filters are the only saving grace. The sorting filters based on year, suggestions for you, and the alphabet adds a rounded feel to the organization.

Dualism
★★★

Hate hearing horrible English voice-overs? Just watch with subtitles. Hate reading subtitles? Just watch in your language of preference. While some series have more range than others, common audio languages are English and Spanish, while common subtitle languages are the same.

But don’t stop there, if you’d like to watch Netflix’s recent original series Castlevania, you can opt to listen to German audio and read traditional Chinese subtitles among other possibilities.

Who’s it for?

For the seasonal travelers, the bingers and pretty much anyone who detests subs like I detest melted cheese.

CRUNCHYROLL
9 out of 12 Stars

Brief History

Crunchyroll launched in 2006. Unlike the others on this list, it rose to power from the underground, dealing in illicit content. By that, I mean that Crunchyroll allowed content on their site that had been created using copyrighted material without permission of the original creators.

It was only after 2009 that Crunchyroll committed to going legitimate and hosting only content it had authorized distribution rights for. I find it important to mention that this is the only choice here that offers the same content, other than the single latest episode of any current series, to free users without a subscription. Although free users still suffer through ads, at least it’s legal.

Quantity
★★★

It’s over 9000!!! No, just kidding, but capping out at over 900, it’s hard to tell the difference. Who could even watch that many shows? Ask yourself or any of your friends, I doubt you’ve even watched 900 shows in your life. And no, I don’t mean out of the corner of your eye or in contempt from over your sibling’s shoulder as they bogarted the family tv.

Variety
★★★

You know rule 34 of the internet? Well, if there was an anime addendum, it’d say “if it exists there’s an anime of it”. Crunchyroll brings that rule to life, in the giant inventory, which features any kind of show you could think of. If it hasn’t been made yet, then don’t worry, it will be.

Crunchyroll features series from genre categories you won’t see on the other two contenders. Still, one of the most important features that indisputably hands Crunchyroll the crown in this tier is the Simulcast series offered.

For those unaware, “Simulcast” is an amalgamation of the two words simultaneously and cast. It refers to anime that airs internationally while simultaneously airing in Japan. This feature gives Crunchyroll the uppermost hand in staying current.

Organization
★★☆

Let’s first start out by pointing out the difference between the service’s online system and the app on video game systems. The app on video game systems is far less developed compared to the website and offers considerably less quality. For this, a point must be stripped from what would otherwise garner a perfect score.

On the website, we see more genres included in the categorization than we see with Netflix or Hulu. You can also search by season spanning as far back as winter 2009, meaning you could search by what came out this past summer or any season you would like.

Dualism
★★☆

Unfortunately, those used to watching dubbed won’t find any choices here. For viewers content with subtitles, the opportunities include English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, and Dutch.

Who’s it for?

For the early worms and devotees interested mainly in keeping up to date with current series, refining their selection more closely by genre, watching with subtitles, or catching up on what they missed last season.

HULU
10 out of 12 Stars

Brief History

Like the others, Hulu is a popular streaming service. Hulu launched in 2008 as a primarily ad-supported service with anime as a small part of their content.

More recently, Hulu announced the production of an original series to air in April and May of 2017, Soutai Sekai. Yet, news has ceased to emerge about the series. With it being so far behind its intended air date, I’m unsure if it’ll ever see the light of day. Even Hulu employees are unaware of any further news.

Quantity
★★☆

Over 500 series is impressive in its own right, especially considering that Hulu’s inventory extends to more than just anime. However, compared to Crunchyroll’s standing, Hulu can’t make much of a dent. Still, there’s no way you’re working through this whole catalog. Anime is added each season, so the list is probably getting longer, as long as the new shows aren’t replacing older ones.

Variety
★★★

Just as with Crunchyroll, you’re going to find any anime you’d look for on this streaming service. If it isn’t here, then it’ll be on the other and vice versa.

Organization
★★★

With the same level of detail for the organization as Crunchyroll, Hulu scores high here. It even features some groups you won’t find elsewhere, such as “Tournament.” The recommended section is also a great tool for catching the series that generally fall through the cracks or ones you usually wouldn’t grant a second look.

Dualism
★★☆

Hulu’s Subbing and dubbing options are simply sufficient. While most of the shows are offered in both viewing preferences, the simulcast shows are offered either partly all in subbed and partly in dubbed or only in subbed.

For anyone who loathes reading every line a character utters, this service isn’t a good fit for any new series. Still, the lack of alternatives only applies to some shows, rather than every show the service offers.

Who’s it for?

For the battle-scarred and those who swear by the 90’s.

While all of these services are perfect for someone, they’re not all perfect for everyone. Determine what your needs are and what you’re looking for. Then, the answer will reveal itself.