Editor’s Note: This post is updated monthly. Bookmark this page and come back to see what other anime classics get added to Hulu.
Updated for April 2020.
Isn’t it just the worst when you’re out with friends at your favorite restaurant and everyone’s discussing Assassination Classroom and you’re unable to jump in? How about when you’re waiting for the bus to arrive and people are discussing the latest Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure plot twist? Or when your cashier at the supermarket tries to make small talk and naturally namedrops the eternal equalizer, Space Dandy, and you just have to quietly look at your shoes?
Okay, so anime’s presence might not be quite at that level, but the popularity of the once-niche area of the animation industry only continues to blossom and become more mainstream. Not only are there now ample anime series that are available on popular streaming services, but this is even used as a selling point in some cases!
Not only are more legacy titles being added to streaming services every month, but there is also a steady stream of new series that are being added
For both the obsessive anime fan and those entirely new to the form, here’s a whopping list of the 50 best anime that are currently streaming and exactly where to find them/here’s the top anime that are currently streaming on Hulu.
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure
Hirohiko Araki’s Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is one of Japan’s most prestigious and beloved franchises. Araki began work on the Jojo series back in the ‘80s, but it’s only been in more recent years that Jojo fever has caught on in North America. The series spans the multi-generational saga of the Joestar family, with each new series/saga in the franchise tackling a new “Jojo” throughout the lineage. This allows Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure to span a huge amount of content and the series can change its goal, location, and protagonists with each new series.
The third and fourth chapters in the series, Stardust Crusaders and Diamond is Unbreakable have been the most successful and compelling stories in the ongoing Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure saga. The series all feature unforgettable characters (with even more unforgettable outfits), but also some of the most creative fight sequences you’ll come across thanks to the spirit-like “Stands” that dominate the series.
Magic powers are one thing, but the way in which some of these Stands operate will truly leave you surprised. Jojo has an uncanny ability to mix slice of life anime with breakneck action sequences and inspired serialized storytelling. The entirety of the series may be too long and intimidating for newcomers to jump in, but Diamond is Unbreakable is easily the most accessible of the seasons and an easy place to jump in for the uninitiated Jojo fans.
This might be the greatest television show that I’ve ever seen—not just anime, but television, as a whole. The incredibly complex show has one of the simplest premises as the series follows a bounty hunter, Dandy, and his unusual crew on the hunt for rare alien species. Masterminded by Shinichiro Watanabe (a name that will pop up a lot here), each episode takes Dandy and company to a different planet, ostensibly making it a new show each time. One episode it’s a zombie story, the next a romantic comedy, and then an intergalactic dance competition. Another installment is focused entirely on the idea of a robot trying to learn and comprehend how to love. The show’s narrator is just as much a character on the program as any of the actual cast.
Space Dandy goes the extra mile by having a different art director and character designer in use for each planet they visit, giving the locations and their inhabitants all a distinctly unique look. On top of that, the animation and music is just a gorgeous, psychedelic avalanche for the senses. It’s over-the-top aesthetic is very much something to get excited about. When combining that with truly avant-garde, unpredictable storytelling, Space Dandy becomes a series like no other. It demands watching and refuses defining.
Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto
Sometimes overpowered characters in an anime can be exhausting because they suck all of the tension out of a scene. However, Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto harnesses this energy and makes it the entire point of its series. The premise of Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto is incredibly thin: Sakamoto is a high school student who’s incredibly popular and excels at every little thing that he does (the show’s banging opening credits song does a great job at how Sakamoto effortlessly becomes the king of everything). That might seem like a limited angle for a show, but the anime makes Sakamoto’s God-tier skills a constant delight. Rather than get annoyed at how Sakamoto is always at the top, the anime turns it into a brilliant game of tension.
The bullies and other jealous students around Sakamoto continually try to get the better of him and knock him down a peg, but it never happens. Sakamoto always has the perfect solution and his increasingly ridiculous escape plans are part of why the show’s so fun. It’s like Sakamoto is a magnet for good luck, and he can’t help it if things like his friend’s mom falling in love with him happen. Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto finds the perfect kind of energy for its comedy and it’s hard to not fall in love with Sakamoto, just like every else.
Certainly one of the older shows on this list, but one that’s earned its place as legacy anime. Long before he was blowing people’s minds on Space Dandy, Shinichiro Watanabe was setting the standard with his planet-hopping space western, Cowboy Bebop. While again focusing on a ragtag group of bounty hunters and outlaws jumping around in space, there is a certain sense of tone and atmosphere conjured up by this series.
Even though it’s a mostly episodic program, there is still such a connection to it among fans due to how well each story sees execution. It’s also responsible for those countless people you see cosplaying with big hair and a navy blue suit.Additionally, the score and music is done by Yoko Kanno, and it’s just pure bliss across the board. Bebop really makes its music a priority and the quality is undeniable. Can you think of a theme song that gets you pumped up more than “TANK”? No, no you cannot.
One-Punch Man is overblown action in the best possible way. The series is about Saitama, the eponymous “One-Punch Man”, a superhero that is so powerful that he kills all of his enemies in one punch. Because of this lack of a challenge, Saitama has developed a blasé look on life as he searches for someone stronger than him. The fact that this extremely overpowered person looks like this is the perfect unassuming icing on the cake.
It’s encouraging to see how well One-Punch Man nails the action and humor that it goes for, and it’s funny that in a year that has seen people clamoring for (and receiving) more Dragon Ball, this is the series that seems to be satisfying most of these people’s desires for overblown, God-level battles (the work done in the first season finale is truly a sight to behold in both animation and fighting).
On the other extreme of this, the series is also very interested in the hierarchy of these superheroes, designating them classes, rules and restrictions, and through this we get a number of delightful ancillary low-level heroes that kind of out-Venture Bros the Venture Bros. Here you’re getting such absurd fighters like Tank Top Vegetarian, Superalloy Darkshine, Handsomely Masked Sweet Mask, Metal Bat, Pri-Pri-Prisoner, Spring Mustache, and License-less Rider, who is simply a cyclist who uses his bike as a weapon. I dare you to watch that theme song and not want to give this adrenaline shot a peak.
Death Parade is a perfect mix of the playful and the macabre, resulting in a surprisingly profound series. The anime is set at a way station of sorts, and when two people die at the exact same time, they’re sent to this location to play a game against each other. Scrubbed of their memories, these two people must compete in some sort of parlor game in order to determine their future—which of them gets to have an afterlife, and which is just gone, essentially.
There’s something intrinsically compelling about watching people play a game of air hockey, billiards, or even Twister, for the highest stakes imaginable. Each game also has twisted tricks incorporated into them, such as the balls in billiards each corresponding to a different body part that will experience pain upon being sunk.The competition at work in each episode already makes this a suspenseful show, but it gains even more poignancy with what each episode is trying to say about life and death while these games are going on. Every installment is more or less a fresh story, and yet a great deal of pathos is created each time for these new people you encounter. Endlessly compelling and always having something to say, Death Parade is a great subversion of the afterlife.
My Hero Academia
My Hero Academia is set within a well-defined universe where a good deal of people are born with latent superpowers known as “Quirks” that become activated after a matter of time. The series follows Izuku Midoriya, a quirk-less child who is more obsessed with superheroes than anyone else, in spite of his own normal status. However, everything changes for Izuku when the world’s greatest superhero, All Might, gives his own quirk over to Izuku in a rare act that forever ties the two together.
With Izuku still trying to understand and master the abilities of his new quirk, he finds himself enrolled in U.A. High School which becomes a training ground for all of the newest superheroes in training. My Hero Academia might skew younger a little in its tone, but it has an infectious energy that’s built upon having a strong (huge) cast of characters and an addictive narrative that sees these heroes-in-training trying to brave the trials of school.
There’s something so soothing about clearly established battles of Good Vs. Evil and My Hero Academia excels at painting these extremes in such exciting, new lights. The fight scenes are also on a whole other level. Just taking a glimpse of the superpowers on display in this show should give you an indication that this is far from some X-Men rip-off. This series isn’t going anywhere though and if Funimation didn’t have Dragon Ball Super on their hands, My Hero Academia would be the other big hit that they’d be banking on. They’ve only scratched the surface with the superpowers of this one.
Parasyte –The Maxim-
Parasyte: The Maxim hits the ground running and is bonkers from its very first frame. The series revolves around a number of alien parasites that have landed on Earth and start possessing hosts. Shinichi Izumi is a mild-mannered high school student whose life drastically changes when one of these parasites possesses his right hand. This sets Shinichi on a dangerous journey to wipe out the other parasites that have landed on Earth, as well as figure out how to work alongside his new alien host, and if there’s a way to rid himself of this threat.
Parasyte: The Maxim operates like a superhero series at times as Shinichi acclimates to the new strength and powers that his parasite gives him. The series also navigates tricky moral territory as Shinichi, who’s now a human-alien hybrid, must fight against the aliens that are now part of his biology (think Tokyo Ghoul, but with aliens instead of vampire demons).
The path that Shinichi finds himself on gives the anime a strong narrative drive, but honestly, this is just a beautiful show to watch in motion. The fluid, bewildering effects that Shinichi’s parasitic hand puts to use are ridiculous and it’s just crazy to watch a boy partner up with an alien version of his hand for an entire series. H.P. Lovecraft would give this madness his full stamp of approval.
If there is any show on this list that demands a binge-worthy approach to viewing, it is Erased. Think of Zodiac and all of the best engrossing serial killer stories mixed with the best sort of supernatural weirdness and you’ve got Erased in a nutshell.
The series looks at a character that experiences “revivals” when disasters strike, allowing him to go back in time a few minutes and prevent this wrong from happening. However, one such incident sees him flinging back in time twenty years to when he’s eight years old, stuck in his childhood trying to prevent a much bigger crime from happening that has its roots in the past. Erased builds such suspense (especially since the stakes are the lives of children) and you really just want to watch the next episode immediately after finishing one. It’s a slow burn, but telling a really nuanced, emotional story with unusual elements that it doesn’t lose itself in.
As all sorts of flashy new anime hit the scene, there’s something to be said for an action classic from the ‘90s like Trigun. Vash the Stampede is your mysterious “Man With No Name” gunslinger archetype. The series bills him as one of the most destructive forces in the nation and while he is an impeccable shot and gunfighter, he’s also an incredibly sensitive individual who’d much rather preach the gospel of “love and peace” than empty out his chamber. With an obscene bounty of sixty billion double dollars on Vash’s head, there is never a shortage of assassins and derelicts out there who are looking to take him down.
Trigun offers incredible gunplay and action set pieces that are amazing to watch, but also highlight Vash’s extreme skills and ability to avoid death, whenever possible. The series only becomes more complex and fascinating when Vash’s spotty past gets explored and he attempts to fill in the blanks surrounding his retrograde amnesia.
Trigun provides an emotional, suspenseful story about a man who wants to reject his violent talents and reclaim his past, but it’s also full of memorable villains and intense weapons that make the show even more impressive. Many chivalrous archetypes have come after Vash the Stampede’s time, but there’s a reason that he’s still such a classic character from anime (there will definitely be someone dressed up at him at the next Comic-Con you attend).
Shimoneta: A Boring World Where the Concept of Dirty Jokes Doesn’t Exist
The series’ introduction (and even its lengthy title) gives you a pretty good idea of what’s going on here. In a world where pornography, lewd language, and even crude humor are made illegal, a certain group of freedom fighters try to insert sexuality back into the world. This mash-up of Bradbury with bawdy humor turns out to be an ingenious pairing. You’d have no idea that flashy terrorist acts involving nude photos raining down on the population could not only be so hilarious, but also saying something poignant at the same time.
There’s some exceptionally smart, informed humor coming out of this show (even their heavy “censorship” towards their language and gratuitousness is very funny while also servicing the story) and a delicious What If? scenario like nothing else. It’s also just nice to see the rampant sexuality that can so often dominate anime being portrayed in such an empowering light, too.
FLCL is a coming-of-age story as if told by William Burroughs or Alejandro Jodorowsky. Each iteration of the series looks at a complacent pre-teen or teenager who’s lost over the future and the hurdles of adulthood.FLCL puts such relatable themes in a blender with absurdist plotting and surrealist animation and the result is one of the most unique, infamous anime series to hit the market. FLCL is a vespa-riding, alien invading, sentient guitar-playing take on adolescence and even if certain aspects of the series go over your head, it’s always a delight to watch.
FLCL plays things fast and loose with it animation style and it incorporates many different aesthetics to illustrate its lost mental state. You may not always understand the show, but you’ll always be in awe of it. FLCL never slows down and even when the show doesn’t quite work, it’s still an astounding experiment that taps into deep pockets of humanity.
Adult Swim recently co-produced two sequel series, FLCL: Progressive and FLCL: Alternative that don’t quite carry the same manic magic as the original series, but they remain faithful to the show’s unique perspective. If you ever feel lost in life, pop on some FLCL to feel better (although be careful of the show’s dangerously addictive soundtrack).
In what’s one of the best concepts that I’ve ever come across, Assassination Classroom deals with an octopus-esque alien that declares that he’s going to destroy the planet in one year unless he can be killed. Oh, and if you don’t think he’s serious, he just blew up three quarters of the moon. The measures that have been set in place here is that a class of students—the bottom of the barrel, at that—are given the task of being trained as assassins to take him down, garnering one billion dollars in the process. The conditions however are that this alien is their teacher, and he’s unable to hurt any of his students, with them having a year to pull off their task, lest the planet be destroyed yada yada yada.
What’s kind of amazing is the symbiotic relationship between this alien, Korosensai, and his students/would-be assassins. Each episode has him genuinely bettering them and helping them grow, and it’s this bittersweet arrangement of them deeply caring for each other, yet this terrible asterisk hanging over it all. Now in the middle of wrapping up its second season, I legitimately don’t know how this show will conclude and I couldn’t be more excited about that.
If you’re sifting through anime, you’re likely going to come across some samurai titles. They’re a staple of the form. Samurai Champloo, unsurprisingly, is exactly that, but also so, so much more. While at its core a simple quest story involving a mysterious beauty, Watanabe’s series is an anachronistic mash-up that reimagines Edo-era Japan into a post-modern hip hop wonderland. Watanabe continues to remix these ideas by literally rewinding episodes or “scratching” them like a record with a DJ-like sensibility as these classical themes get mashed together with current aesthetics.
Just like Watanabe has revamped other classic anime archetypes, even if you’ve never been big on samurai series before, this one is likely to rub you the right way. Part of the fun here is just how successful Samurai Champloo is at creating its tone. It’s really a different way of presenting a narrative, and a smart pairing that deserves more credit. There’s also just something about seeing an elegant sword fight set to a hip-hop soundtrack.
Attack on Titan
Look, you probably don’t need me to tell you about or push Attack on Titan on you. It’s a series that has grown into an institution and has slowly become one of the most successful cross-pond anime in recent years. The sheer fact that this selection is also on Netflix is a testament to the growth in demand. If you have been unaware of Attack on Titan though, now’s the perfect time to make the jump with the series’ third season nearing some sort of release, and the production of two live-action movies having gone on in the interim time.
The series is set in an alternate world where humanity has caged itself in through a series of giant successive walls as a result of the threat of Titans. These monsters are huge human-like monsters with an unstoppable hunger for humans. The series begins with the breach of one of these walls and the discovery of more powerful Titans behind it.
There’s real art going on here as the series jumps in stretches of the time and chooses to selectively focus on certain characters, building a real full mosaic in the process. There’s also just some stunning animation going on at these fighters zip through the air in their gear to take down these behemoths. The story only becomes deeper and deeper too, with fantastic twists that litter the end of both seasons. Year two takes some risks by banking more on characters than action, but there’s still a story that’s unbelievable to watch unfold. This is how you effectively build a world and tell a full, nuanced story. Plus, monsters and the biggest daddy issues this side of Neon Genesis Evangelion!
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
Some anime series take some time to find their audience, but Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba was 2019’s big hit and looks to be many people’s anime obsession for years to come. The series handles familiar territory where an underdog Demon Slayer sets out on a mission to take down the evil that fills the world. However, Demon Slayer adds an interesting wrinkle where the hero’s sister has been turned into a demon and he must hide her existence as he works to find a cure for cure. Demon Slayer is full of entertaining characters, a slick and dazzling animation style, and some wonderfully choreographed battle sequences that turn most episodes into animated spectacles. Demon Slayer isn’t exactly doing anything new, but it looks so good and has created such a rich world that it’s still one of the better shonen anime to come around in years.
Astra Lost In Space
It’s so satisfying when an anime can thoroughly surprise audiences and Astra Lost in Space is the perfect example of a show that acts like one thing, only to pull the rug out from under everyone and turn into a very different kind of show. The anime looks at a bunch of students who go off on a routine space expedition, but suddenly finds themselves transported thousands of light years away with survival looking slim. There’s a very Star Trek quality present as the group hop between planets, get to know one another, and struggle to survive, but the story becomes much deeper and becomes a fascinating commentary on independence and the power and dangers of a legacy. Astra Lost in Space is one of the biggest surprises of the year and it routinely defies expectations as it delivers a tight, smart anime about free will, friendship, and the wonders of the universe.
The Promised Neverland
The Promised Neverland is the very best variety of mysterious thriller that only becomes more unbelievable and addicting with each new episode. The series is set within a strange, secluded orphanage where children are relegated to numbers and those that run the place are shrouded in secrecy. As the children begin to grow suspicious of those that look after them and the stories that they’ve told, a vast conspiracy reveals itself where these children are pushed into an tense situation where survival seems impossible. This tightly paced, tense series explores the idea of child experimentation and a manipulated existence with creativity and elegance.
Fire Force is one of the more creative anime to come around in recent years. It’s set within a universe where many people are blessed with pyrokinetic abilities and others suffer from a vicious form of spontaneous combustion that turns some of them into vengeful flame entities known as Infernals. Many of those with pyrokinetic skills put their efforts towards the Fire Force, an organization set on taking down all of the Infernals and other corrupt and deadly criminal acts. Fire Force beautifully animates all of these fiery spectacles and every time the Fire Force is pushed into battle or a difficult situation they’re a joy to take in. The characters are sometimes too stereotypical for their own good, but the animation is so gorgeous and the action is so much fun that it’s easy to overlook its simpler flaws.
ID: Invaded is a fantastic crime thriller that’s like if Silence of the Lambs and Inception gave birth to a baby that was raised by Darren Aronofsky. The anime is set in a futuristic time where detectives are able to jump into the ids of serial killers as a means to study motive, gather evidence, and put together the pieces of these crime scenes. However, certain stipulations exist over those that can enter these killers’ ids, as well as the nebulous way that information is processed within these ids. The series’ protagonist is a detective who’s driven to murder after he loses his family and becomes the perfect detached candidate to help the police prevent more murders from taking place when a new serial killer is on the loose. ID: Invaded features engaging mysteries within every episode, but also contains grueling character drama that’s not afraid to show the darkness within ordinary people, albeit in a vastly creative way.
Also Available on Hulu: Yu Yu Hakusho, Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, Rurouni Kenshin, Overlord, Dagashi Kashi, Kill la Kill, Boogiepop Phantom, Hellsing andHellsing Ultimate, Dragon Ball/Z/GT, Megalobox, Death Note, Tokyo Ghoul, Lupin the Third, Inuyasha, Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Attack on Titan: Junior High, Sailor Moon, Crayon Shin-Chan, Fruits Basket, Mobile Suit Gundam 00, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
Daniel Kurland is a published writer, comedian, and critic whose work can be read on Den of Geek, Vulture, Bloody Disgusting, and ScreenRant. Daniel knows that the owls are not what they seem and his perma-neurotic thought process can be followed at @DanielKurlansky.