No one wants to watch anime on a seedy site filled with annoying ads, pop-ups, and malware. If you want to watch anime the right way—still without paying a dime—you're in the right place.
The following sites offer the best anime streaming experience without requiring you to pay a single cent. You might have to sit through some ads, but we're focusing on sites that aren't too obnoxious.
Is It Illegal to Stream Anime Online?
If you're worried about watching videos on certain sites because you think you could get in trouble, here's what you need to know.
Disclaimer: None of this should be taken as legal advice. These findings are general to the United States, but they may not apply to you. When in doubt, consult with a lawyer.
First, downloading copyrighted content is always illegal without explicit permission. Downloading a file constitutes creation of a copy, which violates US copyright law if you aren't authorized to make that copy. While the chances of you being prosecuted for it are slim, it's still greater than zero so we don't recommend it.
Second, hosting a copyrighted video and streaming it for others to watch is illegal without explicit permission. Even if no direct copying of files is involved, unauthorized streaming of copyrighted content to viewers is a US felony offense as of 2021.
Third, watching an unauthorized video stream of copyrighted content is legal. If you're merely watching a video that someone else put up—even if that video was pirated—you aren't breaking any laws. While stream hosters are subject to prosecution, stream watchers aren't. You can rest easy knowing that you're in the clear.
The one exception is if you're watching videos on a peer-to-peer streaming network. With peer-to-peer streaming, you're simultaneously uploading video data to other viewers as you watch video data from someone else, and that makes it illegal.
However, peer-to-peer video sites are relatively rare and usually require opting in from users, so if you don't know what they are, you're likely not using one.
Watching anime streams may be legal, but maybe you still feel an inkling of fear that somehow you'll get in trouble. If that's the case, you should use a VPN.
A reputable VPN offers benefits like hiding your IP address, encrypting your connections, and protecting your privacy so that your online activity can't be traced back to you.
ExpressVPN is the VPN we trust most: no activity logs, no connection logs, no way to point back at you even if compelled to do so by world governments.
If you're a fan of classic anime from before the 21st century—or maybe you're just curious about it and want to check it out—then RetroCrush is the anime streaming site for you.
RetroCrush specializes in older anime series that might be hard to find these days, like Arcadia of My Youth, Voltes V, and Itakiss. Don't expect a huge anime collection, but the site is constantly growing.
RetroCrush has a user-friendly interface that's similar to Netflix. Better yet, the site isn't plastered with ads and the commercials are kept to a minimum, allowing you to binge-watch your favorite oldies.
When I first discovered Tubi, I thought it was too good to be true. This platform is host to completely legal (non-pirated) movies and TV shows, which includes an entire category for anime.
For a free site, it has a surprisingly solid library. They're mostly mainstream hits, of course, such as Yu-Gi-Oh!, One Punch Man, Death Note, Fairy Tail, and Hunter X Hunter. But there are some lesser-known anime series in between them, too.
With the site's clean interface and minimal ads, it's a great one to check out and bookmark if you care about ethical streaming.
Animeflix recreates the Netflix interface and experience, except it's wholly focused on anime movies and series. If you're used to the way Netflix does things, you'll feel right at home on Animeflix.
You can maintain your own watchlist, of course, and you can browse for new content by genres, but the site can be a little hard to navigate if you're looking for something very specific.
For example, the genres page only lists Action, Adventure, Comedy, Horror, and Slice of Life. However, anime series are tagged with many others, including Drama, Ecchi, Fantasy, Romance, Supernatural, etc. Finding those genre pages can be a pain.
AnimeDao is a solid site for watching anime online, although the interface does feel outdated in parts. Despite that, the search functionality for finding anime series to watch is useful.
You can filter out ongoing series (in case you want to binge-watch completed series only), and the library is divided into dozens of genres, making it easy to find the kinds of anime you'll enjoy.
The site is missing a lot of the cool bling and features of more popular anime streaming sites, but for something simple and easy to use without overwhelming ads, AnimeDao isn't too bad.
AnimeSuge is another run-of-the-mill anime streaming site. This one has a pretty sizable library and a slick interface that makes it easy to find and watch the anime series you're interested in.
With filters for dozens of genres, year and season of release, ongoing and completed status, age discretion ratings, and separation between Japanese and Chinese, you can filter it all down pretty quickly.
Gogoanime is a favorite anime streaming site for many fans, thanks to its large library and frequent updates.
This site has been tracking new anime releases since 2014, divided into Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall seasons. It may not be perfect for all anime users, but it's a good catch-all site for modern anime series across all kinds of genres and tastes.
Be aware that the ads on this site are pretty risque. If you don't like that, you may fare better with one of our higher-ranked sites.
Hime is one of our favorite anime streaming sites and definitely worth checking out if you don't already use it.
Yes, it's a newer site with a smaller library than most of the sites on this list—Hime has only been tracking seasonal anime releases since 2019. However, it ranks this high because it has simulcasts!
Simulcasts allow you to watch ongoing anime series as they're broadcast, meaning you don't have to wait!
Zoro.to is one of the largest anime streaming sites on the web, and it's your best option is you like watching anime with others.
Not only does Zoro.to have several social outlets for community—including Discord, Telegram, and Reddit—but the site has a useful built-in feature called Watch2gether.
With Watch2gether, you can load up an anime movie or episode, have others join you remotely, and all of you can watch in sync. There's also a chat feature where you can share messages, GIFs, etc.
9anime is the ultimate anime streaming site if you don't care about the ethical issues related to pirated streams. It's been around since 2016 so it has quite the track record to back up its run.
Not only does 9anime have a massive library of anime—quite possibly the largest of them all—but it also has the same Watch2gether feature that Zoro.to has, so you can stream and watch in sync remotely with friends while chatting together.
One nice bonus with 9anime is that it supports high-quality video even on older series that are usually stuck at 480p or worse.
Funimation has a massive collection of anime series and movies that makes it one of the best anime streaming sites. Every anime on the Funimation site is completely authorized, so you don't have to worry about legalities or ethical issues.
We would rank this as the number one site, except Funimation and Crunchyroll are set to merge together in the future—and Funimation's library is eventually migrating over to Crunchyroll.
But for now, you can still enjoy the stuff on Funimation's site while it's still around. A good chunk of its library is available to free watchers in 1080p resolution with some advertisements.
Premium users get access to the entire Funimation library, greater video resolutions, and access to simulcasts.
Crunchyroll is our top anime streaming site for one reason only: it's the largest library of authorized anime videos on the entire web.
There's absolutely no piracy on Crunchyroll—so if you're an ethical anime viewer who refuses to support unauthorized streaming, this is one of the most important sites you need to bookmark.
With Funimation merging into Crunchyroll, the full library is only going to grow ever larger as Funimation's anime series and movies make their way over to the Crunchyroll platform.
Unfortunately, not everything on Crunchyroll is available for free. Some series only have a few of their first episodes open to free viewers, while other series are completely locked to non-Premium users.
As for the freely available anime, the viewing experience is ad-supported unless you have a Premium plan (which eliminates all ads). Simulcasts are only available to Premium users.