Netflix surprised us when they began loading up their library with anime series in 2017. That provided a lot of value for geeks like me who liked anime but weren't hardcore enough for Crunchyroll.
Not long after, Netflix began producing their own original anime series, giving us more reason to stay subscribed at a time when Netflix was bleeding market share. And not just producing, but licensing other original anime series for exclusive distribution outside Japan.
The term Netflix Original encompasses both types: anime series that are actually produced by Netflix, as well as licensed anime series to which Netflix has exclusive streaming rights in the US.
Not every Netflix Original anime series is a hit, but you'd be surprised by how many are actually pretty good. Netflix may not have the best track record with original movies and TV series, but they seem to have an understanding of what makes an anime series good.
Here are the best Netflix Original anime series on the platform so far—ones that are definitely worth your time.
TV adaptations and anime adaptations of video games tend to be cringeworthy more often than not. But Castlevania blasted through that stereotype with its high-quality production and writing.
The Castlevania anime series stays faithful to its roots in mythological and supernatural horror, complete with its incorporation of demons, vampires, monsters, and magic.
The story begins when a bishop of Wallachia accuses Count Dracula's wife of practicing witchcraft, resulting in her being burned at the stake. This obviously angers Dracula, who promises to kill everyone in Wallachia with an army of demons.
That's where Trevor Belmont comes in. Despite the fact that the country despises him and his royal family, he works to save the land from Dracula's wrath.
Kakegurui is pretty much a public service announcement on why teenagers shouldn't be allowed to gamble. The intriguing combination of high-stakes gambling and detailed facial expressions make this anime series an interesting watch.
The wealthiest children in Japan are sent to Hyakkaou Private Academy, where the social hierarchy depends on payments to the student council. But students don't use money from their rich parents to pay off their debts. They earn their money by gambling.
What happens to students who can't pay off their debts? They become slaves—male slaves called "Fido" and female slaves called "Mittens"—who are subservient to those of a higher rank.
This whole social hierarchy is thrown into chaos when a new transfer student arrives: Yumeko Jabami. She's not only skilled at gambling, but also dangerously obsessed with it.
8. Dota: Dragon's Blood
Valve Corporation stunned the gaming world when they casually dropped a teaser for Dota: Dragon's Blood one month before its premiere—with no prior build-up or announcements.
The Korean-American anime series is based on the world, lore, and characters of online multiplayer game Dota 2. This particular run consists of 8 episodes that center on Davion the Dragon Knight.
Everything changes when Davion, who hunts dragons to make the world a safer place, has his soul merged with the soul of an elder dragon. Now he's on a mission to stop Terrorblade, the demon who's killing dragons and harvesting their souls.
7. The Seven Deadly Sins
Seven Deadly Sins is a lighthearted, action-packed fantasy anime series that takes place in medieval times.
It follows a group of characters who once belonged to a group called the Seven Deadly Sins that was broken apart after allegedly planning to overthrow the Kingdom of Liones. The Holy Knights took credit for their defeat, but some still believed the Seven Deadly Sins were alive.
Years later, after the same Holy Knights capture the king, the princess Elizabeth seeks out the Seven Deadly Sins to restore her kingdom.
6. Devilman Crybaby
Unique animation? Check. Raunchy and violent storyline? Check. Makes you feel like you're on acid? Definitely check!
In Devilman Crybaby, Akira is just a normal teenager who's told one day—by his friend, Ryo—that the world is going to be taken over by demons. Ryo also informs him that the only way to defeat the demons is to merge with one.
After Akira's body is joined with the body of a demon, he ends up encountering all sorts of problems, including his newfound supernatural strength.
Devilman Crybaby's psychedelic visuals and demonic storyline will suck you in from the first episode. Based on the popular manga Devilman by Go Nagai, Devilman Crybaby maintains the same level of horror that Nagai intended.
Adapted from a manga series of the same name, Beastars is an anime series full of anthropomorphic animals, with a main character being a loner wolf named Legoshi who attends Cherryton Academy.
One day, an alpaca student is killed and devoured overnight. This causes a rift of distrust between the carnivorous students and herbivorous students. It gets even more complicated when Legoshi encounters and falls in love with a fellow rabbit student.
Dorohedoro follows the amnesiac Caiman, a man who's been cursed with the head of a lizard—which isn't all too unusual, given that his town is victim to a clan of sorcerers who conduct dark magic experiments on everyone.
With the help of his friend Nikaido, Caiman hunts down the sorcerers in the Hole in hopes of finding the one who did this to him and killing them to undo the curse. However, his sorcerer-hunting activities draw unwanted attention and complicate matters.
3. Great Pretender
Great Pretender is a comedy-crime anime series about a small-time conman who has bigger dreams. But when he partners with his rival and pursues bigger confidence tricks, he gets caught in a mess of scams, frauds, and conspiracies.
The story of Great Pretender consists of episodic chunks called "Cases." The first Case covers episodes 1 to 5, the second Case episodes 6 to 10, the third Case episodes 11 to 14, and the fourth and final Case episodes 15 to 23.
2. Violet Evergarden
Violet Evergarden is a 13-episode anime series that's based on the light novel of the same name. It centers on Violet Evergarden, a young girl who was born and raised as a soldier. But now that the Great War is over, she needs to re-integrate back into society.
So she becomes an Auto Memory Doll, a kind of scribe-assistant who transcribes people's thoughts and memories onto paper. Through her interactions with her clients, Violet Evergarden begins her process of self-rediscovery—and the pursuit of something deeper.
1. Blood of Zeus
Inspired by and based on Greek mythology, Blood of Zeus is centered on the fictional demigod son of Zeus named Heron. A demonic army is on the rise, and Heron is the only one who can protect the world from their onslaught—but it won't be easy.
The series frames itself as one of the ancient tales that have been lost to time. As of this writing, only one season has been released with a second season approved for production. The creators have five total seasons outlined, so you can expect a dense and satisfying story.
Find Your New Favorite Anime on Netflix
One of the best things about Netflix Original anime series is that they all bring something new to the table. These are all quite different from big-name anime series like Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece.
You may not like all of these recommendations, but there's a good chance you'll like at least one of them—and that one may just end up being one of your favorite anime series.
But even if not, you should still find most of them enjoyable to watch. They steer clear of the usual anime cliches and anime tropes, or at least put interesting new spins on them!