AnimeLab Is How You Do A Streaming Video Service Properly

I haven't watched anime for years, but there's one particular streaming service that is getting me back into it at a rapid pace.

Originally published on Gizmodo

First of all, it's free. You can sign up via Facebook or directly through your email, and you don't have to associate a credit card or enter any payment info. That may come in the future with pay-to-own, downloads or other premium streaming services, but for anyone signing up at the moment it's going to cost you a grand total of zero bucks. Your method of contribution is this: open up an episode in your Web browser and you get a quick pre-roll advertisement — for Madman's own DVD and Blu-ray releases, which if you're an AnimeLab subscriber you'll probably be interested in anyway — and then you can watch all the anime you can eat.

It's made for Australia, too. The AnimeLab service is run by the guys at Madman Entertainment — Australia's biggest anime distributor — and so has the entire weight of one of the country's biggest entertainment companies and definitely its largest anime advocate behind it. While there are plenty of reasons to skip geographic borders online to watch streaming movies and TV shows from the US and UK, when it comes to animated video AnimeLab really means there's no reason to look outside of home.

The website is simply laid out, but it has just the right number of search filters and categories to make it easy to either find a show you're looking for or to explore and discover something completely new. Hover over an episode or show and you're presented with a small but detailed description as well as a link to the full series listing and the option to add it to a curated list of your own choosing. AnimeLab has a pretty fair mix of subbed and subbed/dubbed shows, although the new Simulcast category of literally-brand-new shows are only subbed — anything archival or with a local disc or TV release should have a dubbed English audio track if that's what you're interested in.

The range of shows on offer is diverse, too. Attack On Titan was the show that originally drew me in, but with 21 genres (including the rather eclectic yuri and moe and reverse harem, whatever that is) there's actually a hell of a lot to choose from. If you're the kind of casual or lapsed fan that might want to catch up on a series or two from your past, or the kind of viewer that wants to dip their toes into some different series, you're well catered for.

If streaming from a PC isn't really your jam, that's fine. There's an Android app. It works on almost any device, too — of the last 24 devices associated to my Google Play account (yes, I've been through a few) only one is not supported — the Hisense Vision TV. I watched an episode of Attack On Titan on my new Galaxy Note 4 this morning An iOS version is in the works too, apparently, if you have an iPhone or iPad fit for purpose.

Everything streams to Chromecast, too. If you're looking for a streaming service rather than buying DVDs you're probably interested in getting value for money, and what device is better value for money than a Chromecast? And since Chromecast connects directly to the 'net rather than through a PC or low-powered mobile device, the streaming works seamlessly on a good connection and there is an absolutely minimal amount of buffering to slow down your viewing.

Video quality is great, too — 720p video (at a surprisingly clean and detailed 5.5Mbps) is the maximum quality available, and whether you're on a smartphone or a small- to medium-sized PC display it looks really quite nice. Anime is a video genre that handles compression well — simple edges and large blocks of colour can be quite harshly compressed without losing significant quality — and that definitely works in AnimeLab's favour.

There's not really any solid reason for me to not recommend AnimeLab. It streams quickly, in good quality, for free, on different devices. It's everything that I want Foxtel Go and Netflix and Quickflix and Australia's catch-up TV services to be. I'm still not a huge anime fanboy, but AnimeLab is definitely helping me get there.



    Oh yeah, totally forgot about this!

    And there I was lamenting that the US just got a crunchyroll app for the wii u...

    Googled this and saw that it's available for New Zealand too!!! Has some wicked shows Crunchyroll doesn't have. Thanks Kotaku for putting this awesome website onto my radar!

    Last edited 31/12/14 3:59 pm

      Yes you are right and there is valid use for this subscription as Animelab has a global app for consoles & mobile. So I can cast my animes on my TV (with chromecast) or watch them via PS4 without having to stream through my PC.........their library also has lots of newer animes compared to crunchyroll

    +1 been using it most of the year, really good.

    Another +1. Fantastic service. Works flawlessly and has some good anime on it. And its free!

    If you want australians to use it the highest priority is to cut a deal with some isps for unmetered content, otherwise you're just using the same amount of limited expensive bandwidth for lower quality streamed anime as you would for the same in higher quality mkv.

      Except, y'know, one of those is legal, and one isn't. I don't disagree with all of your point, but I know between Animelab and Crunchy I no longer really download any anime as I have legal options

      This streams is fairly high quality already, like 720 or something

    Waiting for an xbox one app for this. Streaming on pc or tablet isn't really my thing, I'd rather stream onto the big screen in the lounge. The crunchyroll app on my xone has been getting quite a lot of use.

    I'm finding the android app regularly throws ANR errors even after 3 updates, a factory reset and a reflashing of kit kat 4 4.2 onto my phone. I also have gripes about a lack of episodes in certain anime series already wrapped up(ahem Dance in the Vampire Bund) and a noticeable lack of Japanese version with English subtitles for more classic anime(tender topped guuren laggan). I would like to see Madman acquire licenses to other good anime too(the unlimited, zettai Karen children(no I'm not a lolicon), parasyte the maxim, and more) that crunchyroll already releases for free a week after it comes out.

    Oh and please add Ixion Saga DT

    Last edited 31/12/14 9:07 pm

    It looks like they've still got the same subtitle typo I reported in the first episode of Attack on Titan. It looked like they'd done a simplistic conversion from US English to Australian English, which resulted in the sub at the 1:26 mark reading "All arseault squads, switch to omni-directional gear!".

    Still wish Crunchyroll had their app on PSN and so on - each has shows that the other lacks, and the Android app for Crunchyroll has issues with their latest releases.

    One downside for AnimeLab is that some shows only have a couple of episodes as a sampler. This includes a few of my favourite series...

    A reverse harem is a show with a bunch of (typically bishounen/beautiful) boys pandering to one girl, as opposed to a harem show which has a bunch of girls competing for one guy. They're mostly aimed at the female otaku (fujoshi) audience, although that doesn't mean that they can't be enjoyable for others. Free! and its sequel (on Crunchyroll) is another example.

    I'm guessing that the Moe and Yuri genres would mystify somebody unfamiliar with anime more. Moe shows focus on a particular style of exaggerated cuteness; Yuri is basically romance between girls (typically focusing on romance rather than physical relationships.)

      Create a US PSN account, download crunchyroll app ;)

    The only video service I like better is Netflix (Yes, I am including paid services here) and that's just because of the bigger back catalog, the recommendation system and the multiple users per account stuff.

    I can watch shows fine on crunchyroll in SD, even with proxmate running. But animelab doesn't work too well. The lowest option for video quality is "medium" which just may be too much for my connection speed (and many others as well). If all else fails and I can't stream a particular show legally, back to the torrents I go.

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