Despite the crushing blow dealt to its anime library with the loss of Fullmetal Alchemist and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood on January 1, 2022, Netflix ended the year on a high with stellar new seasons of both JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure and Aggretsuko. And if the programming list rolled out during it’s two-day Japan Festival presentation is any indication, the streamer hopes to keep the original content and new installments coming all throughout the new year.
But January’s getting off to a slow start. Which means it’s a good time to catch up on the other gems to be found in the anime library.
Or follow these links for the best of other genres:
- Best sci-fi movies on Netflix
- Best comedy movies on Netflix
- Best drama movies on Netflix
- Best action movies on Netflix
- Best horror TV shows on Netflix
- Best horror movies on Netflix
- Best superhero movies and TV shows on Netflix
- Best Netflix original movies
Note: As this is a list of anime series and shows to watch, no anime movies were considered for this feature. This list applies to U.S. Netflix subscribers. Some titles may not currently be available on international platforms (yet). This list will also be periodically amended to remove series no longer available on Netflix, as well as add anime shows now available for streaming on the service.
Based on the four-issue comic series by Mark Millar and Leinil Francis Yu, Super Crooks debuted on the platform in December. This prequel to the comic series follows Johnny Bolt and his band of crooks as they attempt to pull off the ultimate heist. This world of super-powered people offers a slick opening, simple, yet action-packed story full of quips, quirks, interesting characters, and crisp (Studio Bones) visuals. Although it won’t be to everyone’s taste (if redemption arcs and character growth are your bag then you’ll be left wanting), this 13-episode was definitely a 2021 surprise.
Akame ga Kill!
Adapted from the manga of the same name, Akame ga Kill! is a dark anime series with mature themes and some of the best character development to be had in shonen stories. Akame follows Tatsumi, the newest member of the assassins group Night Raid, as he and fellow assassins fight a corrupt Imperial Kingdom. With A-level writing and animation, this series doesn’t waste a single episode. If you like your character's backstories morbid and your action brutal and bloody then Tatsumi’s journey to becoming an assassin with a cause is calling your name.
B: The Beginning
The vigilante “Killer B"’s turning the island of Cremona into their personal hunting ground. To catch this escalating killer, the Royal Investigation Service calls its ace – if eccentric – detective Keith Flick back into active duty. But the kills aren’t what they seem and Flick will need to unravel dangerous secrets in order to solve these crimes. If you’re in the mood for a cat-and-mouse detective story – with more than a few science fiction twists – then look no further than B: The Beginning. This visually stunning story offers a blend of mystery and horror for fans who like their anime to take ambitious risks (even if it doesn’t always stick the landing).
Sent to Japan as a hostage, Lelouch, a prince of Britannia, escapes after an encounter leaves him with the power to control anyone. Lelouch becomes the masked rebel known as Zero and begins to mercilessly exact vengeance against Britannia. Code Geass is a genre blend with action, charisma, and just the right amount of bombasticness to carry the story from episode to episode. This alternate history full of mechs and magic is a wild ride.
Set in a grim world, Dorohedoro is a quixotic and disorderly series about a big crocodile man who loves gyoza. It’s almost equal parts comedy and carnage. It’s a bizarre, gory, sci-fi world full of surprisingly compelling characters. With bold color and a brisk pace, Dorohedoro makes the most of its strange world to confuse and entertain.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
Based on the wildly popular manga series, this multigenerational story follows the adventures of a Joestar family member – each with the same titular nickname and endowed with immense psychic strength – as they battle against rivals (and evil) down through the ages. With each new protagonist comes an independent story that expands the universe and keeps the narrative fresh and engaging. It’s sly wit and frequent hattips to popular Western trends add just the right amount of hilarity to this adventure-driven fantasy. With five quality seasons (Stone Ocean being the latest installment) now available on Netflix as of December 1st, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure’s addition to the best of list may just be a bit overdue.
Cowboy Bebop’s set in a world where a hyperspace gateway accident’s left Earth inhabitable. What remains of humanity colonized the rocky planets and moons in the solar system. Fifty years of rising crime prompts the Inter Solar System Police to legal bounty hunting and authorized hunters, known as Cowboys, to track and capture criminals across the system in order to bring them to justice. The series follows the crew of spacecraft Bebop as they hunt down criminals in 2071. This Japanese sci-fi noir and it's now iconic soundtrack and vintage (but still solidly stylish) animation style offers up the space (mis)adventures of former syndicate member and hitman Spike, his former ISSP officer partner Jet Black along with a con artist with memory gaps, a wacky hacker and Ein a too-cute- for its own good genetically engineered Welsh Corgi with human-like intelligence.
The twenty-six episode series offers a genre-blending narrative, visually kinetic action, and audacious good fun for long-time fans and is a great place to start for those new to the anime space. Only time will tell if dropping the entire anime run just ahead of the live-action Cowboy Bebop November 19, 2021 premiere helped or hurt the movie franchise. Be sure to check out how IGN thinks film adaptation stacks up against the source material.
Bleach is based on the massive manga run written and illustrated by Tite Kubo. It’s adaptation played a pivotal role in mainstreaming anime in the US. A fateful series of tragic and extraordinary events turn Ichigo Kurosaki from ordinary high schooler to a Soul Reaper. But when the Soul Reaper who granted him use of her powers is unable to regain them, Ichigo must not only master these new abilities but pick up the fight tracking down the corrupt spirits known as the Hollows to keep them from devouring human souls. Bleach is best as a gateway into anime; the first three seasons are possibly the best of the entire run. They are tense, action-packed, witty, and character-driven. With the promise of a new arc about the Thousand-Year Blood War in the offing for 2022, now’s a good time to start that series re-watch.
If you prefer your shounen occasionally NSFW and built on a narrative designed to explore themes like prejudice, choice, introspection then Beastars may be the slice of life fantasy series for you. This drama-heavy mystery series digs into the lives of anthropomorphic animals; where carnivores and herbivores are trying to coexist peacefully. If Zootopia-eques that dig into slice-of-life stories and self-discovery are what grab and hold your interest then Beastars is definitely an anime series for you.
Based on a light novel series this thirteen episode show brings to life a story of post-war reintegration into civilian life through the lens of fourteen-year-old Violet Evergarden. This fantasy coming-of-age story tells the tale of the young orphan’s attempt to find purpose beyond soldiering. It's an introspective and touching narrative with a phenomenal score. This series is why phrases like “visually stunning” won’t soon go out of use. It is simply one of the most beautifully animated series around.
Now’s an excellent time to revisit this show then pick up with Violet Evergarden: The Movie added to the streamer on October 13, 2021.
Your Lie in April
Based on the manga series of the same name, Your Lie in April follows piano prodigy Kousei Arima as he rediscovers his love of music, and ability to hear his piano in the aftermath of his abusive mother’s death. This show aims right for all those emotional weak spots as it takes you on a heartfelt journey full of music and drama. The pastel-drenched color palette and deceptively straightforward narratives will reel you in and make you a believer in music-driven stories henceforth.
Follow 29-year-old Satoru Fujinuma as he discovers an ability to time travel and ends up in the past trying to solve a murder mystery. This powerful ability he calls “Revival” permits him to jump back to the recent past (a few minutes) to change events and save lives. But after being accused of a murder himself, however, Satoru wakes up, as his younger self, eighteen years in the past. Soon realizing the crime he’s accused of is connected to an abduction and death of a classmate, Sartoru strikes out to unravel the mystery, prevent his classmate’s death, and ultimately clear his (future) name. Erased is a gripping adaptation of Kei Sanbe's full manga run. The story is dynamic and brought to life through gritty and immersive animation. Set aside time, because it’s a binge-worthy series.
Hunter x Hunter
It’s pronounced Hunter, Hunter (the x really is silent). Young Gon sets out to find his missing father. Along the way, he makes new friends, enters a martial arts tournament, and comes face to face with creatures – on his quest to become a Hunter – that any horror prop master would kill to get their hands on. Gon’s enemies have zero chill so between the action sequences and well-crafted story Hunter x Hunter is some of the best shonen anime has to offer, ever. Come for the familiar premise, stay for the character depth, darker tone, and its engrossing and increasingly complex story arc.
The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.
All-powerful psychic Kusuo Saiki attempts to fly under the radar are continually thwarted and result in a high comedy. The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. follows Saiki as he tries to navigate school drama free despite his magnetic ability to attract people. It’s quirky, full of lovable characters, and hijinks. Despite its lighter tone, The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. offers a quality crowd-pleasing story.
Makoto Edamura’s a con man on the run. But don’t think that’ll stop him from falling head-first into new schemes instead of laying low. The Great Pretender is colorful, quick-step, offering all the elements of a perfectly designed heist film. If you like your anime stylish and your character’s too-slick for words, then this Netflix exclusive is tailor-made for you.
Parasyte: The Maxim
Based on the horror manga series by Hitoshi Iwaaki, Parasyte (re)sets the bar for horror anime. This stunning blend of sci-fi/horror isn’t just for horror fans. If you like your storylines built on dark humor and complex character development then following Schinchi Izumi as he struggles to establish a symbiotic relationship with the alien parasite intent on taking him over then, Parasyte is an absolute must watch.
New Anime Series on Netflix
November was a slower anime month, but that just means that Netflix’s continued love of Mark Miller and his Dark Comics culminating in the debut of his first anime Super Crooks Thursday, November 25th, 2021 was right on time. You just can’t go wrong with a heist crew set to take on a world-renown supervillain. And December’s starting off with a bang because Shaman King’s finally slated to return December 9 with part two of season one that aired earlier this year. Set aside some time, Part two brings another 13 episodes following Yoh Asakura on his quest. Aggretsuko’s been on the best anime series list before and if upcoming season 4, dropping Dec 6, 2021offers more of the same rollercoaster ride that is Retsuko life and social circle, it’s like to reclaim its place in short order.
How We Choose the Best Anime Series on Netflix
The goal is to have a list of great anime series that span many subgenres. We've included a mix of popular classics like Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, along with relatively more obscure titles like The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. Whether you're a complete anime newbie or a hardcore otaku, there's something for everyone here.