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Violet Evergarden
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The best anime series streaming on Netflix in the US

Binge the best in Japanese animation with these 15 action-packed series

Written by
Matthew Singer
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For the anime curious, Netflix has made it incredibly easy to dive in. The streaming platform may be light on classic Japanese animated films and Studio Ghibli classics – you’ll need to be in the UK or have an HBO Max subscription for those – but it’s absolutely loaded with great anime series ready for you to binge. Maybe cultural osmosis has put the name of mega-popular franchises like Neon Genesis or Cowboy Bebop in your subconscious, or perhaps you want to jump right into the deep end with some more obscure fare. Wherever you want to start, Netflix has an impressive library that’s growing monthly. Here are the best series to get you going.

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👾 The best sci-fi shows streaming on Netflix 

Best anime series on Netflix US

Neon Genesis Evangelion
Image: Propeller TV

Neon Genesis Evangelion

Among the handful of anime franchises non-aficionados have likely heard about at some point, Neon Genesis has a sprawling mythos to match its widespread influence and overwhelming amount of branded merchandise. At its core, the story involves a young boy in a dystopian world drafted to pilot a giant robot in an ongoing conflict against mysterious, antagonistic beings known as Angels.     

Attack on Titan
Image: Wit Studio

Attack on Titan

Across four seasons, Attack on Titan has built a convincingly terrifying vision of near-future earth, one in which the human race has been effectively conquered by a race of flesh-eating giants. Over time, the series has gradually fleshed out the creatures’ origin story through the lens of one surviving human, Eren Yeager, a teenager who joins a group of soldiers fighting back against the mammoth predators. 

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Cowboy Bebop
Image: Sunrise

Cowboy Bebop

One of the most popular anime franchises of all-time, Shinichiro Watanabe’s sci-fi noir follows a crew of spaceship-bound intergalactic bounty hunters. Inspired by everything from classic westerns to space operas to steampunk, it’s long been regarded as a gateway to the wider anime world for curious viewers – and rightly so. It’s a gem. 

Naruto
Image: Pierrot

Naruto

Spend enough time at a park, and you’ll eventually see kids sprinting across the open space with their torsos forward and arms stretched back behind them. That’s the ‘Naruto run’, inspired by the characters in this long-running series about a rambunctious young orphan who dreams of becoming the best ninja in his village. The fight scenes are particularly excellent.   

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Beastars
Image: Orange

Beastars

Like Beatrix Potter for older audiences, Beastars is set in an anthropomorphic animal kingdom, where wolves wear suspenders and attend university and society is divided between carnivores and herbivores. The two sides mostly get along, until the shocking murder of an alpaca student at the college upsets the peace. It’s an anime Zootopia

Demon Slayer
Image: Ufotable

Demon Slayer

A phenomenon in Japan – a movie based on the series shattered box-office records even at the height of the pandemic – Demon Slayer takes place in the early 20th century and focuses on a society of demon slayers (naturally) who for centuries have secretly kept mankind safe from supernatural monsters. Into their ranks comes a teenager named Tanjiro, seeking revenge against the demons who slaughtered his family. 

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Violet Evergarden
Image: Netflix

Violet Evergarden

This adaptation of the popular Japanese ‘light novel’ – basically a manga aimed at young adults – focuses on a young orphan turned soldier turned ghostwriter-for-hire trying to make sense of her life, post-war. The series ran for only one season but spun off two acclaimed movies to conclude the story. 

The Disastrous Life of Saiki K
Image: JC Staff

The Disastrous Life of Saiki K

Having psychic abilities isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Other than that one special skill, the teenager of the title is just a normal high school student, and would prefer to keep it that way – if only his powers would stop getting in the way. Netflix launched an original second series, The Disastrous Life of Saiki K: Reawakened, in 2019, and the entire franchise is funny in a broadly appealing way.

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Hunter x Hunter
Image: Pierrot

Hunter x Hunter

Gon Freecss is the awkwardly named underaged protagonist of this popular series, who discovers his father, long assumed dead, isn’t just alive but is an elite-level ‘Hunter’ – a class of humanity that presents like Indiana Jones on steroids. The manga was initially adapted for TV in the late ’90s then completely rebooted in the 2010s. The latter is what you’ll find on Netflix.

Fate/Zero
Image: Ufotable

Fate/Zero

For generations, three families have waged war over a mystical chalice, with neither side triumphing. This twice-adapted manga picks up the conflict at the start of the Fourth War. The twist? The actual fighting is done by real-world historical figures and legends, including Alexander the Great and Joan of Arc, making it something like Marvel vs Capcom for history buffs.

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One-Punch Man
Image: Madhouse

One-Punch Man

It’s lonely being a badass. Just ask Saitama, the star of this anime, a superhero whose ability to easily dispatch foes with a single punch leaves him burdened with existential ennui. Bored by the lack of competition, he leaves his hometown in search of a worthy adversary to challenge him. It’s a uniquely funny take on the shounen genre - anime and manga specifically marketed toward teenage boys. 

Gurren Lagann
Image: Gainax

Gurren Lagann

Gainax, the studio behind Neon Genesis Evangelion, scored another hit in the late aughts with a similarly minded mecha anime, this one about a pair of teenagers fighting the forces of a mad dictator who has seized control of the world.

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JoJo's Bizarre Adventure
Netflix

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure

It has indeed been a long, strange trip for this franchise, which first launched as a manga in 1987. Its universe comprises multiple story arcs, lead characters and timelines, and even encompasses other parallel universes. The primary plot line involves a family of psychic warriors fighting against an evil vampire named Dio Brando, while the aesthetic borrows from westerns, classic adventure movies and a love of classic rock.

Castlevania
Photograph: Netflix

Castlevania

As a mostly American production, this Netflix original, based on the classic video game series, may not technically qualify as ‘anime’. But it’s got the look, along with some Japanese animation vets on the production staff. Like the games, it centres on a disgraced vampire hunter going up against an army of demons summoned to earth by Count Dracula himself.

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Dorohedoro
Image: MAPPA

Dorohedoro

This dark, punky series is set in a dystopian slum and stars a man cursed with not only amnesia but a frightening lizard head, trying to piece together his past while also tracking down the evil wizard responsible for both afflictions. It sounds, and looks, like something that would have played late night on ’90s MTV during the Liquid Television era.

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