17 Anime Worth Watching On Netflix

The streaming giant is well known for their original movies, sitcoms and investments into various franchises, but Netflix's library of anime content has grown nicely over the last few years as well. Here's 17 films or series that are worth your time.

This story has been updated since its original publication.

The Dragon Prince

Image: IMDB / Netflix

An anime from the creative team behind Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Dragon Prince kicks off in a kingdom torn asunder by 1,000 years of war. The series focuses on three characters stuck in the middle of it all, and the stories of those on the battlefield.

Like Avatar, there's a good deal of humour to break up the grimness of war. Two seasons are currently up on Australian Netflix, and the mix of CGI and 2D art looks an absolute treat.

Samurai Champloo

Image: IMDB

One of the classics and the only anime to feature music from Japanese hip-hop producer Nujabes (who passed away in 2010), Samurai Champloo is a whimsical, cheeky look at two rogue samurai as they journey through Japan to help a waitress search for a mysterious warrior.

With a great soundtrack, solid action sequences and plenty of comedy throughout, Champloo is one of the must-watch anime from the '00s. Definitely recommend for those who enjoyed the underpinnings of Cowboy Bebop, and anyone who wants an episodic series that's easy to watch.

Kakegurui

Imagine going to high school ... but it's a high school for gamblers. Kakegurui delves into the political and hierarchical machinations of a school that operates based on skill at the table - and the amount of debt everyone owes to each other.

Baki

Image: IMDB

While martial arts champion Baki Hanma strives to surpass his father, five inmates from death row invade Tokyo to challenge his might. It's an anime on the more gruesome and violent side, but good for those who enjoy MMA or similar action anime/manga like Hajime no Ippo.

The Seven Deadly Sins

Originally serialised in the Weekly Shonen Magazine, Seven Deadly Sins refers to a group of knights who disbanded after failing to overthrow the Liones Kingdom. Ten years after the failed coup, the saviours of the realm, the Holy Knights, opted to overthrow the king to rule the kingdom for themselves.

Faced with their tyrannical rule, Princess Elizabeth is forced to journey out to find the Seven Deadly Sins and ask for their help to take back the kingdom once more.

She-Ra and the Princesses Of Power

She-Ra doesn't fit within the traditional meaning of anime, but it's a clever and witty reimagining of an old series. The remake focuses on Princess Adora's relationship with Bow and Glimmer as they build up a coalition to save Etheria, concentrating on the personalities of everyone involved and Adora's conviction to do the right thing. It's a solid option for families wanting something with a good message they can watch with their kids, and there's plenty of sass and good animation to make it easy on the eye.

The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.

Inspired by the gag manga of the same name, Saiki K is a story about a high school sophomore student who struggles to keep his psychic talents hidden. Some of Saiki's abilities include x-ray vision, pyrokinesis, clairvoyance, mind control, the ability to share telepathy with others, and the ability to turn people to stone (which is why he wears glasses). It's an anime filled with weird characters, and it's a great watch if you just need something deadpan and silly to unwind to.

Flavours of Youth

Image: Netflix

A romantic anime set in China, Flavours of Youth focuses on three stories that, in some way, all come back to family, friendship and sharing a hot bowl of noodles. Each part focuses on a different character, including a nameless man who focuses on his most cherished experiences, an aging fashion model who is tasked with caring after her sister following the death of her parents, and an angry high schooler dealing with a crush on his friend.

It's visually appealing, and the backdrops are a breath of fresh air instead of the usual Japanese urban and rural environments that feature in every anime. Some of the character designs are a little generic, but it's a neat story. There's a scene after the end credits, so make sure you watch through to the end.

Devilman Crybaby

If you don't mind your anime on the brutal side, then the latest iteration of the Devilman franchise, Devilman Crybaby, might be up your alley. The Devilman series began with the tale of Akira Fudo, who is soon possessed by a demon. Relying on a friend, Akira overcame the will of his inner demon to become Devilman, one demon to rule them all.

Crybaby covers a lot of similar ground, with Akira incorporating the powers of the demon Amon but retain his human soul to prevent the destruction of humanity. The big key with the Netflix version is the more modern setting (smartphones are a thing) and a heightened focus on sex and violence.

I can't stress that enough: this isn't a series for the squeamish. There's people being bitten alive, death by vehicle galore, and orgies that quickly turn into massacres. But if you can stomach some odd scenes, it's one of the best animated series with the Netflix label yet.

Fullmetal Alchemist / Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Whether you should watch Brotherhood before working through the original Full Metal Alchemist is a different question entirely, but one way or another, FMA: Brotherhood is worth your time.

Brotherhood is an adaptation that more closely follows the plot of the source material. The original FMA anime deviates from the manga about halfway through, after Hiromu Arakawa (creator of the FMA manga) requested a different ending for the anime. As a result, I'd recommend just watching Brotherhood especially given that the two series tend to cover the same ground in the early episodes.

Differences aside, FMA is well worth a watch regardless. The series covers the journey of alchemist brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric as they search for the Philospher's Stone, in a quest to revive the latter's body following a failed transmutation. It's equal parts funny, grim and surprising, as the Elric brothers come to grips with the machinations of the state military and a divided world.

The original FMA is streaming on Australian Netflix now, while FMA: Brotherhood is only available through Netflix in the US.

Knights of Sidonia

One of the early Netflix original anime series, Knights of Sidonia is a deconstruction of the space opera genre. The story focuses on Sidonia, a colony ship in space housing a genetically altered branch of humans.

The human race had been battered to within an inch of its life by the alien Gauna, and so to recover their losses scientists used genetic engineering to create humans that rarely need to eat or sleep.

It's an anime that takes physics a little more seriously than most space operas, while offering an intriguing look into a manufactured humanity, struggling to survive. If you enjoyed the principle of, say, Macross but you'd prefer to see those mechs in a setting where fuel is a factor and humanity isn't able to joke its way around its own demise, Knights of Sidonia is worth a watch.

Knights Of Sidonia Is A Mecha Anime With A Realistic Twist

An isolated human colony ship is on the run from aliens and the only effective defence they have left are giant robots. No doubt, you've heard similar setups before; but Knights of Sidonia plays the situation completely straight — from the real world physics to the societal implications.

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GANTZ:O

A franchise that has gone around the bend for almost two decades, GANTZ:O is a CG spin-off of the series that features 17-year-old Masaru Kato. Kato has woken up in a room with a bunch of people, all of whom have died.

In the room is a giant black ball called Gantz. It's later explained that everyone is pitched in a game of survival, where they have to kill off a range of monsters attacking Japan within a certain time limit if they want to survive.

A feature-length movie, GANTZ:O is streaming on Australian Netflix in English.

Castlevania

Image: Netflix/IMDB

The second season of Castlevania hasn't dropped yet, but until then you can enjoy Netflix's reimagining of the series inspired by the iconic games. As a short series it's a fun screenplay largely drawn from the timeline of Castlevania 3.

The Animation Studio That Made Castlevania Explains Why It Was A Dream Project

Castlevania looked pretty dang cool when it hit Netflix last month. Part of the reason is the fact that the folks at Powerhouse Animation have been waiting for the chance to do a project like this for ages. Hell, they practically stalked the producers.

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I'm not one to put much stock into whether Castlevania properly qualifies as anime, given it was basically produced entirely in the United States. I don't think it largely matters: fans of anime have no trouble enjoying, say, Avatar: The Last Airbender, despite its American roots. But if that's something you care about, there you go.

And while Castlevania isn't perfect, it's a great homage to OVAs of the '80s and '90s. The four episodes are based on a script that was approved by Konami over a decade ago. Netflix greenlit a second season of Castlevania last year, with eight episodes due to be dropped online sometime this winter.

Little Witch Academia

Little Witch Academia is what happens when you take trademark Japanese cuteness and mix it with a world of magic, ala Harry Potter. Makers Studio Trigger released Little Witch Academia as an animated short on YouTube, which generated enough interest to successfully crowdfund a feature-length sequel a couple of years later.

The magical mishaps of Akko and her friends has since spawned a full series, which you can stream on Netflix as well. It's charming Harry Potter. What's not to like?

Ajin: Demi-Human

After discovering that he is from an immortal race called the Ajin, Kei finds himself fleeing before being turned into a test subject. Ajin don't actually heal until they're dead, you see, making him an ideal target for unethical researchers. Amidst all this, there's a ¥100 million bounty up for grabs for capturing an Ajin.

So what do you do when you wake up, only to discover the world around you has declared you persona non grata? That's the general gist of Ajin, which also uses the same CGI style as Knights of Sidonia. The facial expressions are especially good, although note that this anime is more on the violent side.

BLAME!

BLAME! is Netflix's adaptation of the original 1998 comic, which focused on a gunman exploring a ravaged cyberpunk city. Netflix's adaptation really only uses the setting rather than the plot of the original, instead focusing on a single band of humans who have survived The City's extermination efforts.

Blame!: The Kotaku Review

Tsutomu Nihei's Blame!, first published in 1998, is a masterpiece in comic story-telling. Its 2017 animated adaptation, recently released on Netflix, is nothing like it.

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This isn't the first anime adaptation of BLAME! either, with an earlier anime released in 2003.

Gunslinger Girl

One of the older offerings on Netflix, Gunslinger Girl on the surface stars a bunch of cybernetically-enhanced underage girls wielding enormous weapons. But what it's really about is the relationships between people with vastly shortened lives and life expectancies, due to the nature of their work, and how those characters deal with the pressure of the unusual world around them.

The series centres on the girls rehabilitated by the Social Welfare Agency, which claims to rebuild the lives of children with severe disabilities and critical injuries. What ends up happening is a process of cyberisation and brainwashing on the behalf of the Italian government, with the agency's assassins dealing with adolescence and their attempts to maintain their humanity.

What anime have you seen on Netflix that you'd recommend - and what series would you like to see get the Netflix treatment?


Comments

    Blame was alright, i had fun with it. I reaaaally wanted to like sidonia, it hits so many beats i adore, but it felt really uneven and that animation style is reboot-esque at times.

    The 3d-based stuff does seem to be improving.

      Yeah, that 3Dish stuff is pretty jarring and noticably detracts from my enjoyment of an anime, but there are some which overcome it despite the 3D. I'm thinking Kingdom (which is just... so very shonen), Ajin (even worse animation, but the 'what if' has a killer hook), Berserk ended up better than I expected (heresy amongst fans, I know, but the original didn't get god damn finished so what're you supposed to do? Read the manga? That's not why I'm here!), God Eater (does it really count if it doesn't look all that 3D?) to name a few.

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      I agree Seven Deadly Sins is better if not the best anime available on Netflix Australia.

    Anyone else prefer the original FMA over brotherhood? Been a long time but i remember Brotherhood being way too big in scope and not knowing when to end. FMA on the other hand had engrossing dark themes with a concise satisfying ending.

      I enjoyed FMA more then brotherhood. Can't really place why but I can understand why Brotherhood is the go to FMA series if you had to decide between the two (close alignment to manga)

      I watched the original first and thought it was great, then a few years later I watched brotherhood and thought it was so much better.

      I find the big scope and never ending ness of FMA:B to be one of the best parts because all of its good even though it goes for so long

      I personally don't feel that way. While it was indeed a bit overlong, it was also well-paced and its overstay was balanced by the fact that even the more superfluous secondary characters where very well developed or at least entertaining to watch. It also brilliantly kept its main themes even through the more inconsequential detours and brought it all together with a bang at the end.

      Also, if I must be shallow the visuals where so much better!

      I only watched the original, I started slowly phasing out of anime around the time brotherhood came out (I still watch the odd show, but only the ones that get alot of buzz), and I didn't want to watch a show I had BASICALLY already seen 50 episodes and a movie of)

    I did not know there was a CGI GANTZ.

    I didn't mind the live action movies so this should be a good watch

    I enjoyed Castlevania a lot more than I expected, really looking forward to Season 2.
    I also put Voltron into that 'American Anime' category.

    Finished Ajin - was enjoyable but got kinda slow in areas.
    Little Witch Academia - Slow to start, but really enjoyable. Special props to the Silent Hill Pyramid Reference in Suzy's Dreamscape.
    Gunslinger Girl - no English dub. This isn't usually an issue, but the English dub of GG is actually rather decent.

    As for Castlevania, oh my dear god that was amazing. Looking forward to the next 8 episodes dropping this winter.

    Little Witch Academia is magnificent. The fifth episode may be the best single episode of anime I've ever seen.

    Also B The Beginning, the new Production I.G series went up last week and is good so far.

    Gantz 0 is the best action movie I have ever seen.

    I'm really enjoying Aldnoah Zero at the moment. Mars and Earth are in a war with each other with giant mechs. The mech battles are varied and interesting and don't amount to who can hit the hardest. There is also a bit of political wrangling in the mars forces to make things more interesting.

      Second season was a bit naff, but the first season was rather excellent.

    Kuro Mukuro was also a good anime. I wish there were more episodes

      It really did seem primed for a second season, with so much of the alien society as yet unexplored... but I feel like it did what it needed to for a self-contained first season.

    B: The Beginning was just released and is very good, I hope they do more. Reminded me some of Darker Than Black.

    Firstly, Castlevania isn't anime.
    Secondly, you left off the fantastic Godzilla anime movie.

    I am in the U.S. so is "Attack on Titan" not streaming in Australia? It is fantastic better then "Knights of Sidonia" and Knights of Sidonai is great

    To rouse the great beast from its slumber, I wouldn't exactly call Dragon Prince, Shera and Castlevania "anime". In terms of the word being the Japanese word for "Animation" they are. In terms of the Western vernacular though the visual style may be reminiscent but the themes, tropes, aesthetics, and storytelling generally lean towards Western convention than Eastern which is the measure by which most people distinguish "Anime" from "Cartoon".

      That's a whole different discussion - what is, and what isn't anime. Most people aren't aware that there are actual criteria that should be met, and just dump anything that resembles the traditional style as anime. Which I can understand. But has that distorted the truth of the definition, or not?

      I'm not clear enough on that criteria myself to say one way or the other by the way, I just know it exists. Knowing they're out there means I wouldn't label She Ra as anime. Castlevania probably doesn't meet the criteria either.

      And that's one of the great debating points. Anime is meant to be made solely in Japan, so are products made outside Japan excluded by default? Like how sparkling whites made outside the region cant be called Champagne...

      Either way, still a great list to watch, whether they're genuine anime or not.

        I understand the argument, but when you look at things like Avatar - which are so heavily inspired by Japanese anime, and done very much in a similar style - it just seems awfully redundant, and not in anyone's best interest, to exclude series like those.

        Like how language and meanings can evolve over time, I think this is one where it's probably in the best interest to evolve it to the particular artstyle and not exact country of origin.

          Yeah, not disagreeing, just pointing out that its a matter for debate with some people. I think its a bit silly to protect the origins in that way, but another part understands why they do. Open it up and you start to dilute the value of the brand and eventually risk it becoming meaningless.

          As its pretty much become the default terminology, it would be really hard change back anyway. Not impossible, Champagne managed to get sparkling white to hold, but it wouldn't be easy. When you add in that its mostly an issue outside of Japan then its a moot point anyway. Its THEIR brand to protect, and they aren't the sort of culture to care about it.

          Just look at the cultural appropriation comments with the Ariana Grande tattoo issue a couple of weeks ago. All the talk, and in Japan they were oblivious to it all.

            The Japanese were definitely aware of that. They were too busy laughing at her for getting a "Charcoal Grill" tattoo which is such a 1997-era mistake.

              Meant being oblivious to the 'cultural appropriation' complaints about it all. They were only aware it was an issue when people outside Japan made it one.

          If you had said this was "17 animated shows worth watching on Netflix" then no one would bat an eye and you wouldn't need to have these sorts of semantic arguments.

          This isn't a "language evolving over time" situation.

          (*whispering* this is important because the majority of anime is garbage and these particular shows in question are pretty good, and most of what makes them good is the elements that *aren't* anime)

      She-Ra's inclusion in the list but not Voltron: Legendary Defender (which is a very similar visual style) was a bit confusing.

        Especially since Voltron is actually a remake of an actual anime, so it includes a lot more of the tropes and structure.

      Very much this. None of these three are anime. They might import the style, but they lack some of the most important characteristics that make it anime. Like the use of limited animation and keyframed animation on the twos and threes. The Dragon Prince even tried to do it, but by just knocking out frames and because it's 3DCG it just looks stilted.

      This doesn't meant they're not good animated series, but they are not anime. And @alexwalker to save having a separate reply: just because they inherit the style doesn't make these any more anime than something like My Little Pony is. And if you're going to add Dragon Prince or She-Ra, MLP has just as strong an anime aesthetic, and Voltron should be on the list as well. The line is definitely blurred but just having a certain character design aesthetic doesn't make it anime.

      I'd also strongly argue that the 3DCG shows here are not really anime either, even the Japanese ones. They may be Japanese-produced, but the use of 3D animation means throwing out a lot of the animation elements that are characteristic of the anime style. This is a way harder argument to have though. Knights of Sidonia and Blame are borderline (it also absolutely kills me that they used such bad 3DCG to adapt such a visually stunning manga, as an aside). Gantz is absolutely on the other side of the line, it's trying to look like a live-action show. Ajin is also more borderline but it doesn't belong on this list because it's not very good, but that's a separate issue.

        You do realise that a lot of anime is actually done with CGI and not 'traditional' cel animation, right? Like even shows you wouldn't expect use CGI heavily, if not exclusively. The techniques are good enough now that you could likely never tell.

        Anyway, the old "it's made in America so it can't be anime" argument is so tired and dead at this point that the best thing to do is Elsa up and let it go, lest someone start throwing the word 'japanimation' at us.

          Doing it on a computer instead of cels is not the same as doing it in 3D. I'm well aware they've been using 3D for effects and certain scenes, but it almost always looks incredibly jarring. Usually because you go from stuff animated on the twos and threes to full animation, too smooth.

    I found Baki to be a sublimely boring power fantasy. Devilman Crybaby rules.

      Literally had to stop watching after the first 5 minutes, principally because my eyes found themselves permanently rolled up so it was hard to see.

        I know it's SOOOOOO boring. The characters have the depth of a teaspoon. It would be tolerable if it were funny but it's not. It's just tedious with grotesque visuals. Even the action sequences are rendered boring because they stop and narrate the ridiculous lore behind such-and-such muscle-bursting power-punch whatever-the-fuck.

    Why are we reposting an old, outdated list here? Unsure exactly when this was originally written but it was at least 6 months ago as the 2nd season of Castlevania has been available since October. The list also doesn't include any of the newer stuff that's been added in the last 6 months such as the three Godzilla movies either.

    Had a look through Netflix AU's catalogue and there's a few actual anime in the lineup that are not listed here which are actually good. Far better than most of the list...

    - Code Geass
    - Death Note
    - Erased
    - In This Corner of the World
    - Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro
    - Your Name

    Also a few that are pretty reasonable watches if they click for you but maybe not quite up with the rest:

    - Aldnoah Zero
    - Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works
    - Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic & Magi: The Kingdom of Magic
    - Rurouni Kenshin (just don't watch season 3)
    - Trigun
    - Violet Evergarden

      I've seen Erased, Death Note, Your Name, Violet Evergarden and Your Name. Full recommend all of these.

      Also have seen Fate/Stay night: Unlimited Blade Works, but would caution about jumping into that anime without researching the series and best place to start.

        Agree with you on Fate. The real issue with Unlimited Blade Works is that the best place to start would have been the original game's first arc, but the anime adaptation for that is pretty much trash. It works well coming in off Fate/Zero which is an okay starting point.

        I mainly mentioned it because it's incredibly well animated with a ridiculously high budget and it's pretty good if you can get into it.

          The original is Fate/Stay Night, right? I really want to get started from the true beginning but I keep putting it off because I keep hearing that it's trash.

            Yeah, the adaptation by Deen from back in 2006 or so. Subsequently adaptation of Type-Moon stuff primarily moved to Ufotable, who absolutely nail the feel, something the previous studios to touch their stuff absolutely did not.

            I *think* you could skip it and start at Fate/Zero instead - Zero into UBW follows a lot better tonally and the style is a lot more consistent since it's the same studio. But Zero is very dark and a bit slow at times. And it's pretty hard for me to be sure I can recommend that that works, since I've played the original game and seen the old series.

              Would it help that I'm not unfamiliar with Ufotable? (Watched the whole Kara no Kyoukai series of movies.)

              Also, would you say that I'd be missing overall important information from the Stay Night path? (if I understand correctly the different series are the different paths you could take by choosing different character focuses in the game, right?)

                I don't think there's anything much in that first arc that's important. The bulk of the actual revelations are in the second and third arcs and if you watch Fate/Zero several of them are revealed in there too. And besides that, the old anime tried to blend in a lot of those plot points anyway, even when they didn't make sense.

                If you've seen Kara no Kyoukai and enjoyed it, then I'd strongly recommend doing Zero and UBW. Same tone. Yuki Kajiura soundtrack in Zero too (sadly they didn't have her return for UBW). Also the animation is even better.

      "Far better than most of the list"

      "Your Name"

      *giggle*

      Also the version of Trigun on Netflix is the old unremastered version, and while the show itself is great, it looks *awful* blown up on a 4K screen.

        You better not be talking shit about Shinkai films, sir. Although I'd agree it's not his best, just the most accessible.

          It's certainly the least dull Shinkai film I've ever seen!

            You're aware you may have a minority opinion here, right? :P

      Growing up, I'd always seen Death Note references everywhere (and when I was an adult, I even recognised a live-action version of it on a TV in a hostel in Kyoto) but I'd never actually watched it or understood its popularity until it popped up on Netflix and I watched it. THE TENSION! I was yelling at the TV.

    Hi-Score Girl and Dragon Pilot need a mention; especially being genuine anime.

    Your Name and Aggretsuko should be on this list.

    From what little I've seen of Kakegurui that summary might leave you totally unprepared for actually watching it lol.

    Saiki K is great. I didn't think I would actually like that one, but it's pretty funny.

    Erased is also worth watching. One of my favourites.

      Kakegurui was ridiculous and I enjoyed it. "I collect f i n g e r n a i l s" What?! XD

    Where's the love for Samurai Champloo? I love that show and the soundtrack is amazing

      It's pretty awesome. I think it suffered a bit from having to live up to Cowboy Bebop and also the second half was a bit disjointed.

      That said, it gave us the baseball episode which is objectively one of anime's best single episodes ever.

        I submit Full Metal Panic: Fumoffu's rugby episode for consideration in that latter challenge.

        That said, I should watch Samurai Champloo again. It's been a while.

          Somehow random sports episodes in series that otherwise do not deal with sports are great without fault. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and Dragon Ball Super's baseball episodes were awesome too.

    FMA Brotherhood is most certainly NOT on Aus netflix, I've been trying to find it for a while.

      Yeah, Funimation lost the license to FMA brotherhood and the movie in 2016, and Madman licensed it via Funi. The rights reset to Aniplex of America, but they've never re-released it on home video. I believe Aniplex mainly deals with Hanabee in Australia, but I don't think Hanabee have the license, so it's caught in legal limbo.

      It really sucks that it's not easily available to own though. It's one I'd love to have on the shelf.

        If you just want to watch it and don't mind using a VPN or whatever though, the whole thing is on Netflix, Hulu and I think Amazon Prime in the US...

    Surprised Violet Evergarden didn't make this list.

    I'm two episodes away from finishing Sirius the Jaeger. Unless PA Works stuff up the ending then I'd recommend it.

    No love for Aggretsuko? - the death metal karaoke singing cute red panda.

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