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While anime has been popular in the US for a long time, the explosion in streaming services has really helped push the genre even further into the mainstream. Specialist platforms such as Crunchyroll and Funimation host many of the best new and classic titles, while Netflix is increasingly becoming a destination for exciting original series. The anime content on Hulu has also grown hugely over the last few years too, and there’s now a huge number of series on movies available to subscribers.
But with so much anime available on Hulu, it’s hard to know where to start. Anime can be a daunting genre for newcomers, and even for fans, it’s sometimes hard to keep up with the sheer quantity of titles available. So we’ve looked through Hulu’s current library of anime titles and picked some of the must-see classics and underrated gems that are worthy of your time.
So check the best anime shows and movies on Hulu below. All of these titles are included with the basic Hulu subscription, which starts at just $6 a month. You can check out our full breakdown of Hulu plans and pricing for 2021 (including the Disney Plus bundle with Hulu) for more details if you’re considering signing up. There’s also a 30-day free trial if you just want to try it out or watch a specific show.
All five seasons of one of the ’90s most beloved anime shows can be found on Hulu. Based on Naoko Takeuchi’s long-running manga, the show follows the adventures of teenage student Usagi Tsukino, who under the superpowered alias Sailor Moon, helps protect Earth from a variety of strange creatures and dangerous beings.
The manga Attack on Titan is one of the biggest selling of all time, and the anime adaptation has rightly become one of the most acclaimed in recent years. The tale of the gigantic man-eating Titans and heroic Eren Yeager is both horrifying and thrilling, and brings something genuinely new to the post-apocalyptic sub-genre.
The hugely popular One Piece follows the bizarre and very funny adventures of rubber-bodied Luffy and his crazy crew, the Straw Hat Pirates. The series has been running since 1999 and will soon hit its 1000th episode. The first six seasons are available on Hulu, and it’s never too late to find out why it’s one of the most watched animated shows ever made.
The international success of Katsuhiro Otomo’s dazzling 1989 adaptation of his classic cyberpunk manga did much to introduce Western viewers to anime and is now considered one of the finest sci-fi films ever made. Akira is essential viewing for new anime viewers, and endlessly rewatchable for longtime fans.
Netflix’s highly anticipated live-action Cowboy Bebop show is on the way, so now is a great time to revisit the original series. Shinichirō Watanabe’s epic story about a team of intergalactic bounty hunters is a genre-bending masterpiece that puts as much emphasis on the characters as the exciting space action. And who can forget that amazing, eclectic musical score?
Yu-Gi-Oh is one of the highest-grossing media franchises of all time, comprising manga, movies, video games, trading cards, and two anime series. The second of these shows is available on Hulu. It focuses on Yugi, a schoolkid who becomes the host for a mysterious gambling spirit and uses the card-battling game Duel Monsters to solve problems with his friends and defeat evil.
Ninja Scroll was one of several anime movies that helped the genre gain popularity in the West in the early ’90s, as well as establishing Madhouse as one of Japan’s most important animation studios. It’s a bloody and exciting film set in feudal Japan, that mixes gory action and supernatural horror.
The ever-popular My Hero Academia returned in May with Season 5, and each new episode is currently Hulu every week. But if you’re yet to see any of the show, then you can catch the previous four seasons, and follow Izuku Midoriya, a boy born without powers in a world filled with superheroes, as he trains to fulfill his dream of becoming one.
Based on Koyoharu Gotouge’s hugely popular manga series, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba is set in Taishō-era Japan and focuses on the war between humans and demons. This stylishly animated and exciting show has become a cultural phenomenon, with the recent Demon Slayer movie, Mugen Train, scoring the biggest foreign language opening weekend in US box office history.
One-Punch Man tells the story of Saitama, a superpowered man who can defeat his opponents with–you guessed it–a single punch. While a change of animation studios resulting in a very disappointing second season, the inventive and funny Season 1 is highly recommended.
Takashi Okazaki’s love of hip-hop and soul music led him to create the iconic hero Afro Samurai, a Black samurai based party on the legend of Yasuke, who has also inspired the recent Netflix show of that title. Afro Samurai was developed primarily for the American market, with Samuel L. Jackson, voicing the main character.
Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto is the fourth best-selling manga series in history, and there have been an incredible 720 episodes of the anime version, spread across two separate shows. The first series is available on Hulu–it’s the shorter of the two, but there’s still over 200 episodes of the funny and enthralling adventures of young ninja Naruto Uzumaki to dive into.
Without question one of the most powerful war films ever made, Grave of the Fireflies was written and directed by Studio Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata. It follows two orphaned siblings as they struggle to survive towards the end of World War II. It’s a beautiful and devastating masterpiece that remains an absolute highpoint of the genre.
Bizarre is the right word for this endlessly inventive, beautifully illustrated series that follows the heroic Joestar family across the generations, with superpowered adventures, supernatural horror, comedy, drama, and philosophical concepts thrown into the mix. It’s a hard show to describe, but an easy one to love.
The very surreal and funny Assassination Classroom has the sort of plot you’d only find in anime or manga. A powerful and dangerous octopus-like being gives mankind a year to stop him from destroying the Earth, and in the meantime, takes a job as a high school teacher. A group of kids in another class take it upon themselves to destroy the creature.
In a world where demons occupy a dimension parallel to our own, twin brothers discover that their dad is Satan, and start training to become demon-fighting exorcists to stop him. Blue Exorcist is a mix of horror and dark fantasy, and fans of both genres should check out its excellent single season. A follow-up series, Blue Exorcist Kyoto Saga, is also available on Hulu.
Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata’s acclaimed manga has spawned a variety of adaptations and spin-offs across TV and movies, but the initial anime show is still the best. A young man finds a book that causes the death of anyone whose name is written in it, so sets about ridding the world of evil. Death Note asks questions about fate and morality as well being a dark and gripping supernatural thriller.
While most of the shows on this list are adapted from manga, Eden of the East is an entirely original series. It’s a mystery conspiracy drama about a young man and woman who finds themselves involved in a strange game to “save” Japan. The unpredictable plot and likeable characters make it addictive viewing, even when it’s not entirely clear what is going on.
This gripping cyberpunk series takes its influence from movies such as Minority Report, Brazil, and Blade Runner; but it still delivers its own intelligent and original spin on the genre. It’s set in a dystopian future where public sensors continually scan its citizens to determine their inclination to commit crimes.
Samurai Champloo was Shinichirō Watanabe’s first anime series since his classic Cowboy Bebop. This show is a period tale set an alternate version of Edo-era Japan, and follows a trio of heroic misfits as they set out to find the “samurai who smells of sunflowers.” Like Cowboy Bebop, it combines genres in an inventive and hugely entertaining way–it’s not as renowned as that earlier classic, but well worth watching.
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