Anime fans are lucky to have dozens of free streaming sites to choose from. Here are the best and safest options:
- Anime-Planet – best overall free anime streaming service
- Crunchyroll – one of the greatest anime sites, although not completely free
- Funimation(Anime Lab) – largest libraries of licensed anime series
- Midnight Pulp – great streaming service for different types of Asian productions
- AnimeFrenzy – unlicensed viewing for mobile devices
- 9Anime – advanced browsing options for anime
- GoGoAnime – a simple design for anime enthusiasts everywhere
- Masterani – fast servers so you can stream without buffering
- Pokemon.com – one-stop-shop for Pokemon fans
- RetroCrush – amazing collection of retro anime titles
- Peacock TV – free streaming for more than just anime
- Tubi TV – live or on-demand western titles and anime series
- YouTube – a good choice for commentary and full-length episodes
- SoulAnime – the best option for ongoing series
- AnimeHeaven – an amazing site, although ads can get annoying
- MyAnimeList – the best tracker for anime fans all over the world
- Viz – great to keep track of the latest releases
Just keep in mind that not all of these sites operate legally. Some of them don’t have distribution rights for the anime they offer. We don’t recommend you watch anime online on those sites.
Moreover, some of the sites in this list are only available in the US. Both to protect yourself and to unblock regionally restricted sites, we recommend you use a VPN app. It will change your IP, make it look like you’re browsing from the US, and secure your connection.
The best option out there is ExpressVPN. It’s fast, reliable, and it has special streaming features.
Anime streaming services usually offer a ton of content for anime fans. And most of them are even available for free. Compared to the best streaming sites for general audiences, anime platforms feature more content, for a smaller price.
But they’re not always available worldwide. And even when you can access a site, it might not feature the anime you want to watch.
So what are the best free anime streaming services? What can you watch on them? How do you access platforms that aren’t available worldwide? Read our article to find out.
Is it Legal to Watch Anime for Free?
It’s not. Anime fans are lucky! A lot of sites like Anime-Planet, Funimation, and RetroCrush feature many popular series completely free. And they own the distribution rights for the shows you can watch, so it’s completely legal to use them.
On the other hand, platforms like 9Anime or GoGoAnime don’t have a license to share the content on their site. So yes, using those platforms is illegal.
Best Free Anime Streaming Sites
Not all of the platforms below are available worldwide. Most of them are limited to US and Canadian audiences. But there’s good news. You can still access these platforms wherever you are, with the help of a VPN (Virtual Private Network).
A VPN will change your IP address and secure your connection. This way, anime streaming sites will think you’re accessing them from the US. So we definitely recommend you use the best VPN services to access anime sites safely and quickly.
And don’t worry! We’ll flag sites that don’t have a license to distribute their content. Just look for “Unlicensed content” in the “Cons” column. That way, you’ll know exactly which sites operate legally, and which don’t.
#1 Anime-Planet – Best overall free anime streaming service
|Legitimate streaming platform||Not all shows available outside the US|
|Impressive library of anime|
|Other content for otakus|
Anime-Planet is one of the best free sites to enjoy anime. Its tagline is “run by fans, for fans”. And it shows. The platform is free to access, and it relies on Patreon supporters to keep going.
But just because this is not a big-budget streaming site from a huge corporation doesn’t mean their library is lacking. AnimePlanet features great titles like Naruto Shippuden, the original Naruto, The Faraway Paladin, or Blue Period. Just beware that some of these titles aren’t available to watch everywhere.
It also has a smooth interface, and a ton of features for users to browse and enjoy their favorite anime. For example, you can create lists with your favorite series.
Lastly, Anime-Planet also features manga on their site, and they also have a fantastic community forum where you can discuss all of your favorite anime.
#2 Crunchyroll – One of the greatest anime sites, although not completely free
|Legitimate streaming platform||Unavailable outside the US|
|One of the largest anime libraries||Not completely free|
Crunchyroll comes in strong to take second place on our list. It’s one of the best anime sites out there, both thanks to its huge library, and amazing user experience. It features the most popular anime productions, as well as the newest releases, and even original productions.
Crunchyroll also has other content for otakus, like manga and anime-inspired video games.
Unfortunately, Crunchyroll doesn’t have any membership plan that’s completely free. Subscriptions cost between $7.99-$14.99. However, they have a lengthy free trial period: 14 days. Amazon Prime subscribers can also get up to a month of free access. With a VPN, you can easily access Crunchyroll from anywhere in the world.
#3 Funimation (Anime Lab) – Largest library of licensed anime series
|Largest legitimate library for anime||Not available outside the US|
|No ads to disturb your experience||Potential issues with data processing|
|Small price for premium subscriptions|
Funimation (previously known as AnimeLab) is a fantastic site for anime lovers. It has over 15,000 titles for you to binge, and it’s all free to enjoy for anyone. What’s even better is that Funimation has no ads to disrupt your streaming experience.
Funimation also features games, news, and a community for fans to connect from all across the world.
However, we do have to mention that Funimation is part of the Sony Corporation. That means there are some stakeholders to keep happy. So there’s always the risk that your data will be sold to third parties, even if Funimation claims they don’t do that at the time of writing.
Funimation also has a paid subscription. You can pay between $5.99-$7.99 for a bunch of perks, including subs and dubs, simultaneous streams, and offline access to the anime you want to watch.
They also advertise ad-removal for premium members, but we used a free account to enjoy some shows, and we weren’t interrupted by ads at all.
Just remember that if you’re not from the US, you’ll need a VPN to access Funimation. Scroll down for more information on VPNs, and how to use them to unlock sites like Funimation.
#4 Midnight Pulp – Great streaming service for Asian productions
|Legitimate streaming platform||Not available outside the US and Canada|
|Impressive library of series and movies||Other Asian cinematic productions|
|Affordable subscriptions to disable ads|
Midnight Pulp is only available in the US and Canada, but it’s a great stop for anime fans all across the world – as long as they have a VPN. The platform has a respectable library of anime, Asian cinematic productions, and tons of other movies and shows from everywhere.
It doesn’t have the largest collection of anime, but it’s still a great platform for otakus that can’t find what they’re trying to watch anywhere else.
If you want to disable ads and get access to age-restricted content, you’ll also need to sign-up for an account. That’ll cost you $4.99/month.
#5 AnimeFrenzy – Unlicensed viewing for mobile devices
|A great library of anime||Unlicensed content|
|Mobile app for Android users|
|Little ad intrusion|
AnimeFrenzy is one of the largest sites for unlicensed anime streaming. It’s easy to navigate, with categories based on interest, popularity, and even an alphabetical sorting of all the shows in AnimeFrenzy’s library.
And that’s a very big library we’re talking about. AnimeFrenzy features fan-favorite classics, and interesting new releases as well. If you can put up with ads, AnimeFrenzy is the best site for unlicensed anime series.
What makes it stand out though: a mobile app. Users can download an APK from AnimeFrenzy’s site, which will allow them to watch anime on their Android phones.
From what we could tell, there’s no iOS support though.
#6 9Anime – Advanced browsing options for anime
|Easy navigation||Unlicensed content|
|Advanced browsing capabilities|
|The option to request titles for upload|
9Anime is one of the best unofficial platforms for watching anime online. It has a huge library of titles and easy navigation. Since it’s free, you’ll have to deal with ads when watching anime online. But the site is not riddled with ads, so it’s a small inconvenience.
9anime also has great filtering possibilities, which means that users can narrow down their search for series. Users can browse titles based on the release date, genre, whether or not they’re ongoing, and the type of media (show, movie, etc).
Moreover, users can see a calendar for upcoming releases, and even request new titles for the 9Anime staff to upload.
The only downside is that 9Anime has no “popular” or “trending” section, but that’s not too inconvenient.
#7 GoGoAnime – A simple design for anime enthusiasts everywhere
|Simple user interface||Unlicensed content|
|Great library of anime titles||Slightly more ads than unofficial counterparts|
|The ability to request titles|
GoGoAnime is a simple site, which lets you get right into the action.
All titles are arranged alphabetically, besides a “Recent Releases” section, and a small genre section on the right side of the window.
GoGoAnime features most major titles, although the library seems smaller than that of 9Anime. If users want something that’s not on the site, they can request new titles.
It also has slightly more ads, but they don’t take too much away from the experience. An advantage of GoGoAnime is that it also has a Chinese section on its site, making it easy for more audiences to enjoy anime.
#8 Masterani – Fast servers so you can stream without buffering
|Fast servers, so no worries about buffering||Unlicensed content|
|Easy to jump in and watch something fast|
|New content added regularly|
Masterani is an even simpler site that stands out thanks to its fast servers. Users don’t have to bother with buffering most of the time, and they can quickly find something to watch.
You can choose between anime movies and series, or browse a limited list of genres. This might be limiting if you’re browsing for something very specific. But it might also be an advantage if you want to start watching something fast.
The site features some famous titles, especially when it comes to movie-length productions. But it’s not the largest library of anime out there.
If you struggle with longer buffering times, you might want to give Masterani a try.
#9 Pokemon.com – One-stop shop for Pokemon fans
|Great website for Pokemon fans||No titles outside the Pokemon franchise|
|A very welcoming community|
|Loads of other content besides anime|
If you’re a Pokemon fan, there’s no better place online for you. This site features everything-Pokemon-related, from trading cards data, video games, and encyclopedias, all the way to free-to-watch online series.
The site has a mix of free and paid content – For example, you won’t be able to play the latest Pokemon games here. You’ll still need to buy them, and have a Nintendo Switch to play them on.
But you can watch Pokemon shows for free. And you get a wonderful community to share your passion with.
#10 RetroCrush – Amazing collection of retro anime titles
|Great library of retro anime||Only focused on retro titles|
|Little ad intrusion||Not available outside the US|
If you want to relieve the Golden Age of anime, RetroCrush should be your first stop. It’s a huge platform for anime, featuring older titles like AstroBoy, Project A-Ko, and Beelzebub.
Unfortunately, RetroCrush is only available in the US and Canada, so you’ll need a VPN if you don’t live in one of those regions.
But if you can get on the site, it’s a blast.
The ads you have to put up with aren’t too intrusive, and you can deactivate them for $4.99/month. The premium membership will also give you access to exclusive media.
RetroCrush has an identical interface to Midnight Pulp, and both are owned by Digital Media Rights. But keep in mind that a subscription to one of the platforms won’t unlock content on the other.
#11 Peacock TV – Free streaming for more than just anime
|Legitimate streaming platform||Not only focused on anime|
|A mix of on-demand and live content||Not available outside the US|
|Great all-around streaming service|
It’s a free streaming site with tons of great shows. Granted, Peacock’s library is mostly focused on western titles, so it may not be the first stop for otakus. But Peacock TV has some anime. It features some of the all-time greats, like Naruto, and least known series like The Twelve Kingdoms or Flame of Recca.
RetroCrush used to have a channel for live streaming content on Peacock. But it doesn’t seem to be up anymore.
If you like what’s on Peacock, you can subscribe to a paid membership and remove the ads, as well as get access to exclusive content.
#12 TubiTV – Live or on-demand western titles and anime series
|Live and on-demand content from all genres||Not available outside the US|
|Great all-around streaming site||Not a huge anime library|
|Available on multiple devices|
Tubi TV is a free streaming platform from the US. It has a ton of content that you can watch, as long as you’re ok with some ads here and there. Like Peacock, TubiTV is mostly known for western content.
The anime category of this site is great as well though. It features things like Naruto, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Terraformars, and Carried by the Wind.
Just keep in mind that this is a US site. If you don’t live in the US and you want to access TubiTV, you’ll need a VPN to change your IP.
#13 YouTube – A good choice for commentary and full-length episodes
|Largest on-demand platform in the world||Some videos may be regionally restricted|
|Great commentary on everything anime||Not a dedicated streaming site|
|Full-length episodes available|
YouTube might not be a traditional streaming platform. YouTube generally features user-generated content, not official shows. But it’s a good choice if you want to watch anime for free.
For starters, there are great anime commentary channels on the site. Not to mention, YouTube also has some channels that feature full-length anime episodes.
You probably won’t find the highest quality videos on YouTube, if you’re looking for full episodes. The ads can also get pretty annoying.
But if you already have a YouTube Premium account, it’s a great place to look for a show that’s missing on other platforms. Keep in mind that some videos might be regionally restricted as well, so it never hurts to keep your US IP address while searching.
#14 SoulAnime – The best option for ongoing series
|Decent library of anime series||Unlicensed content|
|Very few ads||Outdated user interface|
|Great support to stay up to date about ongoing series|
SoulAnime has a very outdated UI. That might take out of the experience for some people, especially when most anime sites have better UX. And that goes for both legal, and unofficial anime platforms. But SoulAnime is still a great place to enjoy your favorite series.
It has a decent library. And it’s mostly focused on anime that is currently airing. So if you can’t catch the latest releases on any other site, SoulAnime might be a good place to check out.
The site also has very little ad intrusion, so you won’t bother to close pop-ups and skip advertisements all the time.
Users can also press “Random” to start watching something without knowing what will play. This is a common feature for anime sites, and it makes it easy to get into a new franchise without much thought.
#15 AnimeHeaven – One of the best free anime streaming services, although ads can get annoying
|Huge library of anime productions||Unlicensed content|
|Great design for easy navigation||Pretty intrusive ads|
|Advanced features to browse for series|
AnimeHeaven has the trappings of an amazing site. It’s got all the categorization and sorting functionalities of 9Anime, and a huge library of titles. It’s also very beautifully designed, it features dubbed series, as well as a schedule.
The only downside of this site is its ad intrusion.
AnimeHeaven’s ads are more intrusive than those of other platforms in this list. So users usually turn to this site as long as the series they’re after isn’t available anywhere else. But if you have a particularly good ad blocker, you can make it work.
#16 MyAnimeList – The best tracker for anime fans all over the world
|Great community to engage in||Limited streaming library|
|Powerful tracking features for anime fans|
|Other content for otakus|
MyAnimeList is very limited when it comes to streaming. There are only a few shows for users to watch, and they’re usually obscure productions.
The platform does have more popular titles. But they’re not free. You’ll have to pay for most of the full-length anime movies or episodes on MyAnimeList.
So why is MyAnimeList in this article?
You can enjoy a lot of other content on the site. Manga, trailers for your favorite shows, and a dedicated community forum makes it a fantastic place to find out about the latest and greatest anime. MyAnimeList users can see what’s trending, track the latest releases, and create a watch list for what they want to hop on next. It’s a great place to stay in touch with the news, and connect with like-minded people.
Or, you know… just argue about stuff.
#17 Viz – Great to keep track of the latest releases
|Great tracker to stay on top of the newest releases||No streaming library|
|Welcoming community for anime fans|
|Calendar to track upcoming anime|
While Viz used to stream free anime, it doesn’t do that anymore. It’s not a streaming service per se, but a directory for everything anime.
Viz gives you information on anime, like what they’re about and where you can watch them. It’s a great resource for otakus to see where they can watch their favorite series. It’s also nice to get a community to talk about your favorite media.
Not to mention, Viz doesn’t just focus on anime. You’ll find free previews to manga, and a calendar to track the newest releases. But since October 2020, you won’t find any full-length free content on the site.
How To Unlock Regionally Restricted Sites
If you can’t access anime websites like RetroCrush or Crunchyroll, don’t worry. The workaround is simple. With a VPN and a little patience, you can watch your favorite anime in no time.
Here’s what you’ll have to do:
- Subscribe to a VPN. We recommend ExpressVPN, as it’s a reliable service with great support for streaming.
- Download and install the VPN. This process shouldn’t take long, and your computer will take care of most of the work.
- Connect to a server. For most anime sites, you’ll need to connect to a server in the US or Canada.
- Access the free anime streaming site. Now, you should be able to view all the restricted content.
- Sign-up for an account. While they’re free to access, most legal anime sites require you to sign-up before you can enjoy your favorite anime.
What Are The Risks When Accessing Free Anime Sites?
If you access legal anime sites, there are no risks involved. You’re not breaking any laws, so you’re free to enjoy as much anime as you want.
However, if you decide to use sites like GoGoAnime, SoulAnime, or AnimeHeaven, you do expose yourself to some risks. These platforms don’t have a license for the content they share, so you’re engaging in piracy when accessing them.
For this reason, your ISP may throttle your connection. This will slow down your internet considerably. Depending on where you live, you might also receive cease and desist letters. But prosecution is highly unlikely for average users. Governments usually only target the platforms that share this content, not the end-user.
Staying Safe While Watching Anime
We don’t recommend you access unofficial streaming platforms. But if you do, at least stay safe while you’re at it. Here’s what you can do about that:
- Use a VPN. A VPN will hide your IP connection and secure your network.
- Use an antivirus. A good antivirus will flag dangerous web pages, so your computer doesn’t get infected.
- Employ general best practices to stay safe online.
And even if you don’t access unsafe sites, these tips are still worth it! Official platforms will still try to get your data, so it’s not a bad idea to protect your privacy with a VPN at all times.
Have questions about any of these anime streaming services? Check the Frequently Asked Questions section below to get your answers.
A lot of anime streaming services are free. These include Anime-Planet, Funimation, RetroCrush, and Midnight Pulp. If you want to learn how to access them worldwide, and what each platform is good at, read our full article about the best anime websites.
There are some dedicated anime streaming services that are completely free. Anime-Planet, RetroCrush, Midnight Pulp, and Funimation are great examples. However, you’ll need a VPN to access them if you don’t live in the US. Read our article to find out how to do that.
If you want free anime, without having to download anything, Anime-Planet is a great option. It’s supported by donations, and it has a ton of free anime series and movies. For more options, don’t forget to check our list of the best free anime streaming services.