Ultraman
Photo: netflix.com

Best anime to watch on Netflix right now

Want to explore the amazing world of Japanese anime? Put these Netflix shows on your binge-watch list now. By George Art Baker

Written by
Time Out Tokyo Editors
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Japanese anime is celebrated the world over for its unique visual style and engaging storytelling. And now with the advent of Netflix, it’s now widely accessible to everyone everywhere. From giant fighting robots to unconventional superheroes, romantic comedies to supernatural dramas, here are the top anime shows you should be streaming right now. Do note that the availability of these shows may differ from country to country.

RECOMMENDED: New to the world of anime? You can get a crash course here

Miss Kobayashi-san’s Dragon Maid
Photo: IMDb – Miss Kobayashi-san’s Dragon Maid (2017)

Miss Kobayashi-san’s Dragon Maid

Genre: Fantasy, comedy

Synopsis: Kobayashi-san is an office worker. One day, she wakes up hungover, frets about work and gets dressed. She opens her apartment door to find herself staring at the face of a five-storey-tall dragon, which transforms into a cute maid with a green tail before her very eyes…

Overview: An upbeat, colourful visual style plays to the strengths of this enjoyable comedy that cleverly contrasts droll office life with the vibrant and the fantastical. Plenty of over-the-top slapstick moments and fun vignette-like sequences that project our protagonist’s inner feelings ensure there’s never a dull moment.

Ouran High School Host Club
Photo: IMDb - Ouran High School Host Club (2006)

Ouran High School Host Club

Genre: Romantic comedy

Synopsis: Haruhi is a student who accidentally discovers the 'Ouran Academy Host Club', a group of six male students who spend their extra-curricular time entertaining female students with their charisma, charm and eccentricity. After breaking a priceless vase, Haruhi's gender-ambiguous appearance leads to her being tasked with becoming a host herself, in order to repay her debt…

Overview: There’s a lot of fun, romantic intrigue and gender-related feels in this wonderful 26 episode comedy. This is a breezy show, nice to just dip in and out of. As superficial as things seem at first, there are solid character developments and relationships between characters are kept dynamic and exciting.

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Mushishi
Photo: IMDb - Mushi-Shi (2005-06)

Mushishi

Genre: Supernatural, mystery, horror

Synopsis: Ginko is a unique man who travels across Edo-era Japan helping villagers whose lives have been turned upside down by Mushi, supernatural entities that often have a parasitic effect on their human hosts…

Overview: This is a slow-burning yet beautiful anime with a minimalist electronic soundtrack, sublime artwork and a unique colour palette, which together conjure some vital sense of the natural world in a way few other animated productions ever have. There are some profoundly existential moments at times; at others, there is an almost zen-like stillness to the proceedings. Drawing inspiration from Japanese folklore tales, this episodic anime is a delight to dip into every now and then to bathe in its unique, calm atmosphere.

One Punch Man
Photo: IMDb – One Punch Man (2015)

One Punch Man

Genre: fighting, comedy

Synopsis: On an Earth-like planet, by decree of the world government, ranked heroes defend humankind from grotesque, powerful monsters who just sort of haphazardly appear. Saitama is a self-taught hero, who can destroy anything with one punch – the only problem is, he’s more concerned about getting to the supermarket in time so he can buy some discounted items…

Overview: With a catchy theme song that will have you shouting ‘One Punch!’ at all your friends, this anime has won accolades for its balance of comedy, action and surreal mix of characters. ‘OPM’ (as it’s often abbreviated) features a refreshingly lacklustre and unenthused protagonist, while its writer’s trademark down-to-earth, low-key comedic style makes for a truly unique fighting anime.

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JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Ougon No Kaze
Photo: animekaizoku.com

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Ougon No Kaze

Genre: fighting, supernatural

Synopsis: In a world where gifted individuals known as Stand Users have unique special powers, a stand user called Koichi Hirose is sent to Italy at the behest of the Joestar family, to investigate a young man called Giorno Giovanna. Giorno, a low-level gang member, proves to be a man of quite some calibre and determination…

Overview: The fifth installation of JoJo is just as visually imaginative, if not more so, than the previous series, with the kind of unbelievably weird battles and suitably bizarre imagery that demonstrates why it has garnered a substantial international following. We would hazard exercising some caution as certain scenes may be deemed shocking or of bad taste. This is a quirky fighting series that shows no sign of taming its penchant for indulgent visual excess.

Castlevania
Foto: Cortesía Netflix

Castlevania

Genre: horror, drama

Synopsis: Set in the 15th century, when the church burns his wife at the stake for possessing mysterious scientific equipment, the legendary vampire Dracula summons all manner of demonic beings to exact his revenge. A vampire hunter Trevor Belmont begins to mount a resistance against this truly powerful undead foe…

Overview: With nightmarish imagery from the get-go, this gorgeously animated adaptation of the popular ’90s Nintendo video game is adorned with lush detail, plus a sonic and visual depth that professes a love for the show’s source material. This has really raised the bar for anime adaptations, paying homage while exploring its creative team’s own visionary faculties.

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Mob Psycho 100
Photo: IMDb – Mob Psycho 100 (2016)

Mob Psycho 100

Genre: horror, comedy

Synopsis: Shigeo Kageyama, nicknamed Mob, is a young boy with supernatural abilities that allow him to fight evil spirits. He is currently working for a hilariously inept con-man who tricks people into hiring him for exorcisms. But despite fighting all these ghosts, Mob’s real battle is of a more personal nature…

Overview: This is the latest anime from ‘One Punch Man’s mysterious manga writer known simply as One. ‘Mob Psycho 100’ does a great job of establishing a unique comic sensibility and visual flair in a short runtime of 12 episodes. With visuals that flit between gloomy dark hues to supernova-esque explosions of vibrant color, this show is a fun, tongue-in-cheek foray into the paranormal.

Death Note
Photo: ©Tsugumi Ôba, Takeshi Obata / Shueisha / Nippon TV / Madhouse

Death Note

Genre: supernatural, detective, horror

Synopsis: Yagami Light discovers the ‘Death Note’, a mysterious book that instructs its reader that if one writes a person’s name in it, that person will die in the manner of one’s choosing (or by a default heart attack). Light, the son of a police officer, decides that he will begin meting out justice himself, a decision with truly wide-reaching consequences…

Overview: At 37 episodes, this anime relies heavily on its ingenious premise and cat-and-mouse detective hijinks. The protagonist is perhaps one of the most compelling in the history of anime, and the mysterious, supernatural elements successfully create a sense of looming danger and tension so tangible that most live-action detective series pale in comparison.

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Little Witch Academia
Photo: IMDb – Little Witch Academia (2017)

Little Witch Academia

Genre: fantasy, kids

Synopsis: After witnessing a fantastical display of magic by a witch named Shiny Chariot, a young girl called Atsuko ‘Akko’ Kagari enrols in Luna Nova Magical Academy. With the school facing financial issues and the global flow of magic seemingly declining, Akko will try her best to shine as brightly as the great witch she so admires…

Overview: A fun, colourful anime that’s also suitable for kids of all ages, this anime benefits from cute, memorable character designs and a very playful orchestral soundtrack. A light-hearted adventure series with an immediately amicable bunch of characters and jovial atmosphere.

Cowboy Bebop
Photo: IMDb – Cowboy Bebop (1998-99)

Cowboy Bebop

Genre: sci-fi, action, gangster

Synopsis: In a future where Earth has become uninhabitable, in a bid to lower spiralling crime rates, the Inter Solar System Police begin offering handsome rewards to anyone who can apprehend criminals alive. The story follows the exploits of a ragtag group of bounty hunters aboard the spaceship Bebop. The ever-cool Spike Spiegel and his comrades fly thousands of miles chasing bounties, but no matter which planet they travel to, it seems the past is intent on catching up with them…

Overview: A show that captivates viewers from the outset with its stylised opening credits and superlative jazz-centered score by Yoko Kanno, director Shinichiro Watanabe’s episodic masterpiece won acclaim from directors around the world, including Quentin Tarantino. This spacefaring action drama always gravitates back to individual characters in a way that sustains interest across an impressively consistent 26 episodes.

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Slam Dunk
Photo: IMDb – Slam Dunk (1993-96)

Slam Dunk

Genre: sports, comedy, coming of age

Synopsis: Hanamichi Sakuragi is a class clown who has no luck whatsoever with romance. One day a girl called Haruko introduces him to the high school basketball team and so he joins up just to impress her...

Overview: ‘Slam Dunk’ is widely regarded as one of the best sports anime series and the manga has now sold over 100 million copies. This simple yet satisfying coming-of-age drama brings smiles and excitement both on and off court.

My Hero Academia
IMDb – Boku No Hero Academia (2016)

My Hero Academia

Genre: supernatural, superhero, children

Synopsis: In a world where most people are born with superpowers called ‘quirks’, Izuku Midoriya is a boy who, despite being born without such abilities, longs to become a superhero himself. One day, a chance encounter leads to him meeting the celebrated hero (and his idol), a man named All Might, who is so impressed with the gusto Izuku shows in the face of danger that he agrees to help him try and get into superhero school…

Overview: A recent anime that has captured the imaginations of audiences worldwide, this show does a wonderful job of imagining the more humane, humorous side of superheroes. The show looks set to continue its solid run for many years to come, so it’s definitely worth checking out while it’s still not too much of an ordeal to catch up.

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Ranma 1/2
Photo: IMDb – Ranma 1/2 (1989)

Ranma 1/2

Genre: martial arts, comedy

Synopsis: While training kung fu in China, Ranma and his father, Genma, fall into the ancient springs of Jusenkyo. Each spring inflicts a different curse upon whomever that happens to fall into it. As a result, Ranma now transforms into a teenage girl every time he makes contact with water and Genma transforms into a grumpy panda. Upon returning to Japan, they find that their dynamic new lives are going to take a bit of adjusting to...

Overview: This 1989 comedy undoubtedly has some elements that haven’t aged too well, but overall, there’s still a lot to celebrate about this innovative anime. Its presentation of a dynamic gender identity, despite often being the punchline, proves especially poignant to a lot of people and has helped cement its place in the anime canon.

Inuyashiki
Photo: IMDb – Inuyashiki (2017)

Inuyashiki

Genre: horror, sci-fi, drama

Synopsis: A man in his late fifties suddenly learns that he has mere months to live after being diagnosed with cancer. Unable to break the news to his family, he goes out for a night walk. While he's outside, he has a surreal encounter with some kind of alien intelligence that changes his fate in astonishing ways…

Overview: With one of the most breathtakingly original pilot episodes in anime history, this 11 episode show goes from strength to strength. Writer Hiroya Oku’s bold choice of a senior protagonist and the multifaceted exploration of his character establish a story that bucks the trends of increasingly homogenised storytelling within the sci-fi genre. In dispensing with the usual cliches and really vivifying its central character, this brave production proves to be an incredibly rewarding watch. Warning: this series contains very disturbing scenes and extreme violence.

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Neon Genesis Evangelion
Khara/Project Eva.

Neon Genesis Evangelion

Available in spring 2019

Genre: action, mecha, drama

Synopsis: Fifteen years after a global, cataclysmic event, a boy called Shinji Ikari is summoned to Tokyo-3 by his estranged father, Gendo Ikari. Gendo is the director of NERV, a futuristic military organisation that uses giant robots called Eva Units in order to defend humanity from Angels, otherworldly creatures who terrorise the Earth from the sky. After seeing an Angel attack take place, Shinji decides to pilot the disturbingly biological-looking Eva Unit-00…

Overview: The legendary show that changed anime forever is finally coming to Netflix! Originally aired in 1994, this show is still as popular as ever in Japan. This is a very psychological series, featuring a lot of violence and dark emotional themes. Some 24 years later, the show’s astonishing tonal contrasts, characters and grand-scale proceedings show no sign of fading from cultural memory.

Ultraman
Photo: netflix.com

Ultraman

Available April 1, 2019

Genre: action, superhero

Synopsis: After saving the world from all kinds of monstrous evil, the gigantic hero Ultraman is nowhere to be seen. For the psychological prosperity of humankind, he erased humanity’s collective memory of himself. As a brand new evil stirs in the night, it transpires that Shinjiro Hayata, the son of the original Ultraman, seems to have inherited his father’s miraculous powers…

Overview: The original ‘Ultraman’ was a beloved 1960s live-action TV show in Japan. It was the basis for American shows like ‘Power Rangers’ and ‘VR Troopers’, where our heroes grow to gigantic size in order to duel nefarious monsters, or as they’re known in Japan, Kaiju (怪獣). This anime seems to be quite a departure from the antiquated men-in-puppet-suits fighting in mini-scale replicas of cities – instead, it opted for a cooler, more modern approach showcasing state-of-the-art animation.

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Cannon Busters
Photo: IMDb – Cannon Busters (2019)

Cannon Busters

Available in spring 2019

Genre: sci-fi

Synopsis: SAM is an expensive droid designed for the purpose of befriending its owner. He teams up with a wanted criminal and a thrown-away maintenance droid, and we follow this ragtag trio of misfits as they go off in search of a royal heir whose kingdom is in great peril...

Overview: This anime has been hotly anticipated since the trailer dropped back in 2016. Boasting some memorable character designs and a fabulously chaotic, comic sensibility, this show is likely to be one of the anime highlights of 2019. Despite some delays surrounding the show’s release, this anime will definitely be worth the wait.

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