[Editorial Tuesday] Streaming Your Way Through Anime: Which Service Suits You?

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Kids these days don’t realize how lucky they are! Gone are the days when anime fans had to watch hard coded VHS tapes which eventually evolved into fansubbed torrents that were hard subbed. But now, there are limitless ways to obtain and watch anime legally all through the strokes of a few keys and costing less than one box set of anime. The future is streaming and it has opened up the amazing world of anime to a wider audience thanks to prices almost anyone can afford.

But which service reigns supreme? Don’t worry, this article is meant to serve as a comprehensive guide to making sure you readers choose the service that best fits your needs based on the top five current streaming services.

Offerings:

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Many of the names on this list are fairly well known, but for those readers who are unfamiliar with streaming, it is important to understand what each service has to offer along with the pros and cons of choosing each service. Not every service is the same and many offer different payment options and plans so sometimes it is hard to decide. Let’s break each service down to make it easier to understand.

Netflix:

A staple of streamers and quite possibly the father of the streaming revolution, Netflix’s humble root lie in niche titles that were once extremely hard to find. Movie buffs raved about the service and it soon became mainstream. The service was one of the first services to create streaming apps for consoles and phones and thus began a craze.

Today, Netflix boasts a huge library of movies, television shows, documentaries, and more recently, anime. While many of the titles available are currently viewable elsewhere, the company has become more aware of how profitable the anime industry can be. Recently, Netflix has branched out into offering a select few shows as exclusives including a collaboration with Production I.G. to create an original series. So while Netflix seems to be lagging behind anime-wise, the future seems bright for the company.

Hulu:

For being in the shadow of Netflix for so long, Hulu has done quite well. The service is most popular for its fast releases of episodes for mainstream television series but has also accumulated a quite a large library of anime titles as well. Many of FUNimation’s older and more popular series can be found on the service as well as simulcasts. Many of the anime listed are also offered in both subs and dubs, making this service quite versatile. Hulu’s movie library isn’t as robust as Netflix, but its television offerings are top notch as well as the service’s new exclusive series.

While Hulu certainly beats Netflix on the sheer amount of series offered, Hulu has yet to form the same partnerships that Netflix has in creating original content. Perhaps this will change in the future, but regardless of original content, Hulu is a solid choice for a well-rounded family.

Daisuki:

The web browser-based streaming service is perhaps the least well-known of the bunch, but Daisuki has a leg up on everyone in price since its offerings are completely free. The library isn’t that large, but the service does like to keep up on the latest seasons of anime along with offering some from previous seasons. Since the site has a partnership with Bandai, many of the anime available are also owned by Bandai which means plenty of Gundam for mech fans. Most of the titles are simulcasts, which is great for anime fans on a budget.

While Daisuki doesn’t have the extensive collection of anime that many of these other services have, their price can’t be beaten and the service is a great supplement to any of the others. The only downside is that the site features subs only. Sorry dub fans!

FUNimation:

Considering FUNimation is the leading publisher of anime in the west, their streaming service is definitely worth checking out. Simulcasts are updated weekly with subs while the dubs take just a little longer, but still relatively fast. A good 90% of FUNimation’s simulcasts are unavailable elsewhere, giving the service quite an edge along with access to dubs for fairly newer titles unavailable on DVD or Blu-ray yet.

One of FUNimation’s best features consists of their free option as well which allows users to access new episodes of simulcasts in standard definition. Free users may not be able to binge a series though because older episodes are deleted, but at least people can still keep up with newer series without worrying about their budget.

Crunchyroll:

Probably the most well-known amongst anime fans is Crunchyroll. With hundreds of series including such classics as Captain Harlock and Princess Knight along with simulcasts, there is always something to watch. Crunchyroll offers the most simulcasts of any streaming service with includes both subs and dubs. This service simply cannot be beaten in selection and variety which is why it continues to thrive to this very day. In fact, many of the older anime on Crunchyroll are out of print, making the service the only way to watch some series.


Pricing

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Netflix:

Over the years Netflix has continued to raise its prices and has probably to most unique pricing plan in comparison to the other services. While each plan includes access to videos without commercials, the difference in plans is based on the number of simultaneous screens allowed to use the service at once with 4K only available for premium users.

The Basic plan featured at $7.99 a month only allows one user at a time to use the service which means if another person in the house wants to watch a movie while you are watching My Hero Academia, they will be unable to do so. The next step up is the Standard plan which costs $9.99 a month and will give users access to two screens at once. This plan seems to be Netflix’s most well-rounded plan and best for small families. The Premium package is the most expensive, costing $11.99 a month, but doubles the amount of screen use to four and also offers ultra HD for 4K televisions.

Hulu:

Two basic plans are offered at Hulu that are relatively easy to understand. The first plan costs $7.99 a month and gives users access to at least one stream (though many have reported streaming to three devices at once), but also features commercials. The commercials can be quite annoying sometimes and often appear in awkward places within an episode, but they are bearable for those on a budget.

To get rid of those annoying ads and maximize viewing time, the $11.99 per month plan is best. If you can afford to spend the extra $4 a month, having no ads is worth it.

Daisuki:

The easiest service is Daisuki since it offers no paid service at all. The only caveat being that commercials will regularly appear in episodes, but it’s a small price to pay for access to free anime! All videos are even in HD!

FUNimation:

What’s great about FUNimation’s plans are that they know how anime fans think and based their pricing accordingly. The free plan grants access to simulcasts a few episodes at a time and in standard definition which is great for users who are already paying for another service, but don’t want to miss out on exclusives. The other two plans are custom made for anime lovers.

FUNimation smartly created a sub packaged only for those uninterested in dubs for only $4.99 a month which grants access to their entire library in HD. This is a brilliant move and it is quite strange that Crunchyroll doesn’t offer the same sort of pricing, but that may be because many of their titles simply aren’t dubbed at all.

The third plan is an All Access Plan that costs $7.99 a month and gives users access to dubs as well as subs. This is the most comprehensive plan for fans who wish to watch their anime dubbed and in HD. This is a great way to get new fans into anime.

Crunchyroll:

While Crunchyroll technically has a free service, many of the shows offered are already featured on Daisuki which is most likely why those shows are free. The standard payment plan is monthly at $6.95 being paid each month, but money can be saved if months are bought in advance. The three-month plan only saves a few dollars at $19.95 for every three months, but the yearly plan can save viewers almost $30.

The yearly plan costs $59.95 and is worth paying the money up front if at all possible. The savings of doing so could pay for another streaming service or whatever other anime merchandise is wanted.


Accessibility:

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Netflix:

Being the powerhouse service that it is, it’s no wonder that Netflix offers streaming from every type of electronic available. If it has access to the internet, that device most likely can play Netflix. The only downside depends on what plan is being paid for. If someone is in an airport watching Pokemon and their partner is at home and wants to watch Yu Gi Oh, that situation can be quite tricky. Before committing to a plan, be sure to discuss how often those in the household will use the service.

Hulu:

Probably the best when it comes to devices and plans, Hulu is also offered on every device imaginable and seems to be able to support multiple streams. It is unclear how many streams Hulu can support at once since many users have reported the use of up to six simultaneous streams, but the official stance taken by Hulu is one stream at a time. Still, the service is quite solid and available on the go.

Daisuki:

While the primary way to access this service is via their website, they do offer an app available on iTunes and Google Play Store. So far, though, the service is inaccessible via console or streaming sticks such as Chromecast. We’ve reached out to Daisuki to see if they plan to expand their service to these devices in the near future.

FUNimation:

FUNimation’s service is available on most well-known consoles and devices with the exception of the Wii U and PS Vita, though to be honest, these consoles are some of the least supported when it comes to online apps. Still, the service is most impressive and works relatively well across all platforms.

Crunchyroll:

As an anime only streaming service, Crunchyroll does well for itself as it is offered on every device that Netflix and Hulu are available on with the exception of the Amazon Prime Stick, though this will most likely change in the near future. Crunchyroll also offers simultaneous streaming across multiple devices as well as an easy to use layout.


Final Thoughts

Based on the facts above, Crunchyroll seems to be the clear winner, but there are advantages to augmenting it with Hulu and Netflix. The latter two services offer more than anime and feature their own exclusive content with Hulu picking up more K-Drama and J-Drama series. Crunchyroll also offers several J-Drama series as well giving it an edge over FUNimation’s service. For the person who can afford this triad of services, this is the ultimate package.

Those of us who have empty pockets must turn to alternate means and fortunately Daisuki offers fairly new content for free and in HD! While access via console is unavailable making it hard to stream to the TV, that’s the price to pay for a decent free service. FUNimation can augment Daisuki’s free content with its free Basic plan which provides several newer episodes of each series for free. When the series updates, an episode is taken down so viewers will need to keep with the series from the beginning in order to take advantage of this service. Crunchyroll also offers several series for free, but most of these series are offered on Daisuki for free already and come with commercials.

If one service is all that one can afford, Crunchyroll or Hulu are the clear winners. Crunchyroll has a vast library of anime ranging from older classics to simulcasts and Hulu also offers a huge library, but lacks in simulcasts with regular network television shows to make up the difference.

Everyone’s needs are different and so let this article be the guide to help those curious about which service is the right fit for them.

Nikki Flores

Writer

Author: Nikki Flores

You may know me by my witty and excellent prose, but I assure you there is a real person underneath this brilliant exterior. As a graduate of Purdue University with a degree in English Literature and a minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies, I traveled to Okinawa, Japan in search of the One Piece. Together my crew consisting of a white dog named Yuki, an evil cat named Kyubei, the wise feline Pickles, and my ever supportive husband Aaron, we travel the globe seeking life’s greatest treasures. Oh, and I’m sure one day I’ll eventually meet Trafalgar Law in the New World. I hope. Please? *pout*

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