The best anime on Netflix is up there with the very best the streamer has to offer. Period. Whether it’s psychological character dramas or adrenaline-pumping sports series you’re after, there’s plenty waiting for subscribers to discover.
But it can be hard to know where to begin. That’s where we come in. Below, we’ve curated a collection of what is – in our expert opinion – the 25 best anime shows on Netflix. We’ve done our best to provide a taste of the wide spectrum of anime on offer; simply put, this won’t all be shonen or action series – and some fan favorites may be left off. Still, this is a snapshot of the best anime shows on Netflix that we’d regard as essential or unmissable for both newcomers and veterans alike.
A quick note: Some shows may differ by region and may be removed at short notice – Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is just one of the more popular shows taken off Netflix in recent years.
For more from the world of anime, including the ongoing Delicious in Dungeon, check out our guide to new anime. Then take a larger look at the medium with the best anime to watch in 2024 and the latest on Jujutsu Kaisen season 3 and Demon Slayer season 4.
The best anime shows on Netflix
Set in the League of Legends universe, Arcane follows the heart-wrenching tale of sisters Vi (Hailee Steinfeld) and Jinx (Ella Purnell) as they get caught in a war between the haves and have-nots: elite society Piltover and the underground dwellers in Zaun.
The series is bolstered with terrific world-building, gorgeous art, well-rounded characters, and emotional beats that land again and again. Arcane is the gold standard on what can be achieved when that horrid phrase - IP - is tossed aside in favor of complex, mature storytelling. For that reason, Arcane is rightly held aloft as one of Netflix's finest original anime.
Blue Eye Samurai
While not technically an anime by its traditional definition (it was developed by French studio Blue Spirit alongside creators Michael Green and Amber Noizumi), it's to Blue Eye Samurai's credit that it doesn't feel out of place next to its peers out East.
Blue Eye Samurai has a killer premise and has its hooks in you from the get-go: it centres on Mizu's quest for vengeance against one of the four men who could be her father. During her revenge tour of 17th Century Japan, she encounters the good, the bad, and the ugly of the Edo period - fleshed out admirably by a voice cast that includes George Takei, Randall Park, Kenneth Branagh, and Stephanie Hsu.
Carole & Tuesday
Anime doesn't have to be all angst and action, you know. Step forward Carole & Tuesday, the fizzy, fun, and frenetic series based in the Cowboy Bebop universe that focuses on the eponymous singers who have naught but a dream to make it big.
You'll fall in love with the magnetic duo long before the curtain falls on their story, with the spotlight firmly shining on their musical talents, including dozens of songs you'll be humming and toe-tapping along to throughout. If you're looking for a different flavor of anime on Netflix, you could do a lot worse than tucking into this slice of life series with Carole & Tuesday.
It's time to sink your fangs into something a little meatier. The Castlevania adaptation on Netflix is a sexy, sordid, and surprisingly brutal take on Trevor Belmont's war against Dracula and his vampire army.
You don't even need to be a fan of the source material to enjoy Castlevania, with its eye for action, engaging story, and an insatiable bloodlust coursing through the veins of each of its four seasons. And if you are? This is the definitive take on some of the iconic characters you've spent decades with.
If you've got a taste for it, there's also the spin-off Castlevania Nocturne should you wish to dive into more vampire-slaying adventures.
What more can be said about Cowboy Bebop? In short, this is a phenomenon that launched its own cottage industry in the West: without this show, there's a good chance you would never have been into anime.
But this masterpiece is so much more than its trailblazer reputation suggests. Following the down-on-his-luck bounty hunter Spike Spiegel as he hunts some of the galaxy's greatest criminals, this 26-episode series is a charming, creative monument to both creator Hajime Yatate's storytelling prowess as well as composer Yoko Kanno's effortlessly cool soundtrack.
Together, their collaboration is legendary: "The work, which becomes a new genre itself, will be called... Cowboy Bebop," reads the opening titles. Some would write that off as arrogance. The show, which includes a colorful crew including the prickly Jet, feisty Fay, and wunderkind Ed, backs it up with gusto - from opening salvo to the cacophony of chaos that makes up its final act.
It's a series operating on another level entirely to anything before or since and, yet, its greatest strength might be its malleability: it can make you laugh and cry in equal measure, while never losing its ability to entertain. Nobody has done it quite like Cowboy Bebop.
Set before the events of Cyberpunk 2077, Night City resident David finds himself on the rise in the dystopia's criminal underworld after the death of his mother.
Along the way, he becomes romantically entangled with netrunner Lucy, who dreams of one day escaping her life and going to the moon, and starts tagging along with a motley crew of edgerunners and ne'er-do-wells.
Cyberpunk: Edgerunners isn't a mere additive to CD Projekt Red's futuristic RPG, however. It's so much more than that.
What follows is an uber-cool, action-packed series filled with the explosive sort of kinetic energy that audiences rightfully lapped up back in 2022. You don't even need to be a fan of the franchise to plug in, either; Cyberpunk: Edgerunners has charisma in spades, is equipped with a killer soundtrack and - at the heart of it all - a love story that will make even the most stone-hearted of chooms weepy by the time the series is over. And if you are a fan of Cyberpunk 2077? This will undoubtedly enrich your next playthrough.
Even if you haven't watched Death Note, you've probably heard of it, such is its near-ubiquitous status as the gateway drug for those wanting to get into anime.
That reputation is certainly warranted. Death Note, after all, revolves around the juiciest of premises: teenager Light Yagami comes into contact with the 'Death Note', a book that allows its user to kill anyone - just by writing their name down.
Egged on by creepy shinigami Ryuk, Light's early good intentions soon turns into a lust for power - which catches the eye of detective L. The cat-and-mouse game that ensues is one for the ages and the suspense doesn't let up throughout its 37-episode run. A true masterpiece, in every sense of the word - and the perfect first anime for newcomers.
Probably the world's most popular ongoing anime, Demon Slayer tells the tale of Tanjiro, a boy whose life is turned upside down after demons attack his family.
But it's not all doom and gloom as Tanjiro trains his inherent breathing abilities to help take down the demon clan's top dog Muzan Kibutsuji. Flanked by his friends - the boar-headed, hot-headed Inosuke and scaredy-cat horndog Zenitsu - Tanjiro and the show itself always blends the light with the dark, often dropping laugh-out-loud jokes and moments of levity shortly before shattering us with an emotional mic drop.
A word, too, for animation studio Ufotable. Arguably the best in the game right now, even Demon Slayer's slower scenes are imbued with a combination of stunning visuals and muscular, yet fluid, action that makes it stand out from the pack.
Den-Noh Coil may have gone under the radar slightly during its 2007 release, but Netflix has given it a new lease on life almost two decades later.
Set in the (now) not-so-far future year of 2026, Den-Noh Coil sees the world embrace Den-noh Megane glasses, which allows users to access information through its network.
The series follows Yasako as she acclimatises to life in the tech-heavy city of Daikoku. With kids going missing, she sets about discovering the mystery hiding at the centre of it all.
In truth, it feels like if the invention and whimsy of a Studio Ghibli movie was squeezed through an emotionally complex sci-fi world. Throw in a dash of commentary about technology and human connection and you won't need to be wearing Den-noh glasses to see the obvious potential with this one.
Hajime no Ippo
2023 saw two incredible older anime shows make their way to Netflix: Monster (which features further down on this list) and Hajime no Ippo. It's about time you gave them a try, especially as the algorithm might not always showcase their obvious talents.
Centred on the world of boxing, the sports anime is a mix of Rocky and The Karate Kid rolled into one, with enough of its own unique fighting spirit to really stand out from the gaggle of shows fighting for your attention. Simply put, you'll be hooked on scrappy Ippo's journey to the top, from opening bell to the final fight.
Supported by a killer one-two punch of excellent animation and an underdog you can't help but root for, Hajime no Ippo is a worthy contender for the crown of the best sports anime on Netflix, if not one of the best anime around.
Hunter x Hunter
Hunter x Hunter focuses on - you guessed it - hunters: those on the prowl for treasures, creatures, or other humans. The protagonist, Gon, finds out his long-thought-dead father is actually a member of this elite club, and sets upon a path to take the Hunter Exam so he can be just like his pops.
Hunter x Hunter's hype may have died down somewhat in recent years, but the shonen anime is primed and waiting for you on Netflix with its stellar world-building, fast-paced action, and endearing cast.
Anime does fish-out-of-water stories like no other. Case in point: InuYasha, the story of Kagome, a high school girl transported from modern-day Tokyo back to feudal Japan.
Along the way, she bumps into the half-demon Inuyasha. What transpires is an epic saga that sees the pair (and their accompanying band of allies) collecting fragments of the mystical Shikon Jewel to stop another half demon from harnessing its powers.
It lacks a little of the polish that anime would get into the 2010s, but you'll still feel right at home in the 16th Century with its triumphant tale of friendship wrapped up in cathartic character development and a satisfying ending.
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure
Bizarre doesn't quite cover it. JoJo's Bizarre Adventure revels in its eccentricity, presenting a madcap anthology-like series that revolves around different members of the Joestars, a family equipped with supernatural powers (called Stands) in the war against series villain Dio and his clutch of nefarious underlings.
Viewers will never get bored, either. From its relatively low-key first series, through to Star Ocean, each new season has the feel of a brand new saga just waiting to be binged.
When you think of anime's more peculiar excesses, there's a chance you're thinking of JoJo's: it's silly, weird, wonderful, and downright bonkers in places. And we wouldn't have it any other way.
Talk about a slam dunk of an anime. Kuroko's Basketball follows a pair of players at Seirin High on their path to becoming Japan's best ballers. What comes next is a fist-pumping affair, featuring Kuroko and his team locking horns against fiercely competitive rivals.
It's not all three-pointers and pick and rolls, though. The basketball anime - which requires only a passing knowledge of the sport - captures the imagination with its character drama and quieter moments. Of course, everything is left out on the court - but you might be surprised at just how emotionally affecting it can get down the stretch. Fans of Haikyuu will also be pleased to know that animation studio Production I.G., with its masterful handle on kinetic action, are behind this one too.
Another gem plucked from (relative) obscurity and thrust in front of a mainstream audience, Monster was all the rage for tape-traders and anime aficionados back in the day. It's easy to see why.
Monster follows prodigious brain surgeon Tenma, whose life rapidly falls apart after performing a hospital procedure on a young boy instead of the city’s mayor. In a twist (the first of many in this gripping drama), Tenma is accused of murder after multiple people die in mysterious circumstances.
Years later, Tenma discovers that the boy whose life he saved is, in actuality, an inhuman serial killer. Monster, then, deals with Tenma attempting to overcome the fact he has created a monster - and the lengths he must go to stop him.
It's a wildly complex narrative that brings in several new characters and viewpoints throughout its run as the walls close in on its major players. It's frustrating, frenetic, and wildly ambitious - and is proof enough that anime can dip its toes into more mature, psychological storytelling without resorting to blood and gore.
My Happy Marriage
You may not have tried romance anime before, but My Happy Marriage is a good a place to start as any.
Revolving around a girl named Miyo being paired off to the cold, calculating commander Kudou by her abusive stepmother, love eventually blossoms between the pair - and Miyo starts to come out of her shell in this life-affirming, sweet series.
A second season is on the way, too, for those holding out for more lovey-dovey adventures between the wholesome couple.
Neon Genesis Evangelion
"Get in the damn robot." Has there ever been a series reduced to one incredibly out of context line? In truth, Neon Genesis Evangelion, the brainchild of Hideaki Anno, is so much more than a mecha anime.
It centers around 14-year-old Shinji, a boy chosen to pilot an 'Eva' mech which will help save the world from certain destruction after several attacks from mysterious 'Angels'.
Teeming with religious imagery, teenage angst, and incredible animation (until, infamously, the show runs out of time and budget in its final few episodes), Neon Genesis Evangelion belies its trad status by gifting us with an experimental, brave, and profound series all about growing up, one that has proved infinitely influential on the medium.
Once you've finished the series, be sure to pop on End of Evangelion to witness its breathtaking, unforgettable final act.
Over 1000 episodes later, One Piece is still going strong. What once revolved around the adventures of Monkey D. Luffy and his hunt for the mythical One Piece has sprawled out into a collection of colorful arcs, each bringing in more and more wacky heroes, villains, and Straw Hat members into its orbit.
While the show is accused - rightly, in some cases - of spinning its wheels and fleshing out its seasons with filler episodes, there's enough charm and delightful antics to keep viewers engaged as the episode count ticks over into three figures.
For some, it's become a comfort watch but, decades on, it still captivates with its swashbuckling stories and best-in-class world-building. Netflix has even launched a live-action adaptation, which debuted to acclaim in 2022.
Onimusha has always flown under the radar somewhat. Loosely based on the criminally underrated Capcom series, this 2023 anime sees swordsman Musashi crossing Japan to rid the country of demons as it inches towards a more prosperous era.
Bundled with a relentless pace and action sharper than Musashi's own blade, Onimusha is among the more overlooked anime currently on Netflix. It's a looker, too, with its eye-catching visuals only strengthening the cause of this historical epic.
Zeroing in on what it means to be human is something anime always excels at. It's none better than in Pluto, a sci-fi series that takes a well-worn narrative crux - the murder mystery - and emboldens it with a fresh spin: two robot detectives, Atom and Gesicht, who must uncover the murderer all while wrestling with themes of identity and connection.
It's also one of the few shows where we'd actively recommend the English dub over the Japanese dub. Both have their own strengths, but it's to the show's credit that its English-language version is pitch perfect for the premise.
Cast those rose-tinted glasses to one side. Even today, amid all the nostalgia, Pokemon still holds up.
Charting the adventures of Pallet Town's Ash Ketchum on his quest to become a Pokemon Master, this anime was likely among your first tentative steps in the medium.
To help relive your childhood, Netflix has the first 52 episodes as well as several more seasons on tap. It's bursting with creativity and invention, with its trio of protagonists (or more, in some episodes) always entertaining foils for the likes of Team Rocket to go blasting off again. Pokemon quickly become a phenomenon in the late '90s and, yes, the games were obviously huge - but the high bar set by the anime cemented its legacy forever with a certain generation of viewers
Scott Pilgrim Takes Off
A complete Scott Pilgrim remake with the entire cast of the Edgar Wright-directed 2010 movie feels like the sort of monkey paw wish that could go terribly wrong. No caveats here: boosted by the involvement of series creator Bryan Lee O'Malley, this retelling of Scott Pilgrim is just as joyfully anarchic, meta, and memorable as the original.
On top of that, Scott Pilgrim Takes Off veers in a shocking direction (one that we shan't spoil here) that turns the animated series from a simple 1:1 recreation into something altogether more surprising and novel.
Like any good rom-com, Toradora first places its polar opposite leads - the fearsome Taiga and the affable Ryuji - in the most awkward of situations: trying to win the hearts of their opposing number's friends. Over the course of the series, however, the pair find that their well-laid plans are getting in the way of feelings for each other. As the enemies-to-lovers trope goes, few pull it off as successfully as the slow-burn Toradora does over its 25 episodes.
Vinland Saga starts strong and, by its second season, heads into the stratosphere as a potential all-time classic.
The historical epic, set during the Vikings occupation of England in the 11th Century, follows the fledgling young warrior Thorfinn, who falls under the wing of his father's murderer, Askeladd. As his group pillages its way across the country, the encroaching drama in the royal court proves to be a powder-keg-in-waiting that draws in Thorfinn, Askeladd, and a whole clutch of major players - each based on historical figures.
That's just the first season. The second season, its diametric opposite, preaches pacificism and peace over endless bloodshed and political intrigue. Each has their fans but, as a whole, it presents another side to the story of conquest - that of its victims - which anime rarely addresses.
Fancy a cry? Violet Evergarden has you covered. Once you crack through its quaint, faintly twee exterior - the opening episodes might be too sickly-sweet for some - you'll soon find a passionate (and passionately-told) love story. At the heart of it all is Violet, who must overcome her trauma and lost beau Gilbert in her new role as an Auto Memory Doll.
Her job, which tasks her with penning letters for those who can't - or are unable to - express their feelings, slowly sees her reconnect with her humanity.
Its tenth episode, which deals with an ailing mother and her daughter, stands alone as one of anime's greatest episodes of the past decade. It's a masterpiece; a heart-wrenching look at parenting, love, and loss that you should go out of your way to see.