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Until recently, if you wanted to watch the best anime on Amazon, you had to subscribe to its subscription service, Anime Strike. Thankfully, that’s no longer the case. Amazon has dramatically beefed up its anime streaming selection with a number of important historical titles you might not expect, and it’s all available to Prime subscribers on-demand. Get your watchlist ready. Here’s our list of the best anime on Amazon Prime.
The best anime on Amazon Prime
Darker Than Black is an oddity. It’s possibly the first superhero take on a slasher movie-style anti-hero. It’s an interesting premise: Ten years ago a mysterious anomaly called “Heaven’s Gate” changed the stars themselves and led to the birth of “Contractors,” superhuman beings capable of great power at a personal cost. Each time they use their power, Contractors are struck with an involuntary compulsion, from eating a specific food to self-harm. Our hero is Hei, a Contractor tasked with brutally hunting down the rest of his kind.
Yu-Gi-Oh! is the epitome of after-school cartoon-watching, having aired on Kids’ WB in the early 2000s. The story follows tenth-grader Yugi Mutou, a timid and nerdy lover of all things gaming. When he solves the Millennium Puzzle, an ancient Egyptian puzzle, he’s granted the ability to transform into a powerful version of himself, Yugi Yami. As Yugi Yami, he duels dark or evil individuals that threaten him or his band of friends. In the Shadow Games, Yugi competes in various battles that take the form of card or dice-rolling games. It’s an exciting series, and if you don’t trust us on this one, just trust in the heart of the cards. —Sherry Tucci
3) Elfen Lied
Elfen Lied dives deep into the nightmarish results of a government experiment on telekinetic energy, leaving gory heaps of exploded bodies in its wake. Lucy is a Diclonius—a mutated human born with horns and telekinetic powers. After escaping from the government, she takes up with two college students who don’t know her identity. As the government’s hunt for her draws near, Lucy’s powers and sanity are pushed to their limits. If you’re squeamish, stay away; this one starts brutal and stays the course.
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When Robotech hit American TVs in 1985, it needed 65 episodes to be syndicated. Accordingly, American producers adapted and revised three different mecha anime series—Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross, and Genesis Climber MOSPEADA—into one set story. This was done by dividing the series into the First, Second, and Third Robotech Wars. If you grew up watching Robotech in America, this is what you saw. If you were born in the ‘90s, here’s your chance to get a taste of what discovering anime was like before video stores opened the gates. Best of all, each season has been remastered, giving you a picture ’80s fans could only dream of. Robotech is an important part of anime history in America. The 1985 series was the first taste of giant mecha combat for an entire generation. The animation is dated, and the storyline is convoluted, but the stories and robot designs still hold up, clearly showing the long shadow its influence casts on everything from modern anime to blockbusters like District 9.
5) Super Dimension Fortress Macross / Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross / Genesis Climber MOSPEADA
If these titles look familiar it’s because you just finished reading about them. Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross, and Genesis Climber MOSPEADA are the original series that were cut into what American audiences know as Robotech. After years of only being available via expensive imports or bootlegs, Amazon has each series streaming in their original, uncut, and subtitled glory. For Robotech superfans, the opportunity to watch these shows without the changes made for American audiences is a massive boon.
Troubled teenager Rin Okamura struggles with all the things normal teenage boys have to overcome. Except there’s one thing not-so-normal about Rin: he’s the illegitimate son of Satan himself. The mortal and demon worlds exist in parallels, Rin learns. He then finds out his father is growing him to become fit for possession so that one day he can overtake him and rule both realms together with Rin. Rin’s got other plans, however, spurring him to train to become an exorcist and defend the human world from Satan when the time comes. —Sherry Tucci
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Calling an anime “mature” often means the content it contains is flooded with gore and sex. ONIHEI is mature in a classical sense, a thoughtful historical drama with thrilling flashes of violence that accentuate the plot rather than drowning it out. Set in the Edo period, ONIHEI follows a Heizo Hasegawa as he investigates a series of robberies and arson hitting the city. Essentially a 1600s cop drama, this gorgeously animated series is a breath of fresh air when you’re all burned out from magic and monsters.
The second series based on the wildly popular Fullmetal Alchemist manga series, Brotherhood sets itself apart from the original series by being more faithful to the source material. If you’re new to the series, it follows two brothers on a quest to reverse a terrible curse that encased one of them in a monstrous metal form. An almost 1:1 adaptation of the manga, Brotherhood features far more emotion and drama due to the inclusion of characters who were left out of the original.
With only 12 episodes, Anonymous Noise is a short series, but this Shojo series is sure to be a hit with romance anime fans. Nino is a shy teenage girl with an incredible gift, her voice. Haunted by the loss of two friends—Momo, her first love, and the composer Kanade, who helped her discover her gift—Nino enters high school hoping one day they’ll hear her singing and return. The plot borders on cliché, but the catchy pop songs make it worthwhile.
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10) Just Because!
Originally only available on the Amazon Anime Strike service, Just Because! has moved to Prime. That’s a win for Sojo fans of all ages. Set during the final semester of high school, Just Because! finds a group of students idly waiting out the end of the year until the surprise return of a former classmate throws their social group for a loop. By making a point of building up side characters, the series manages to avoid the pitfall of another anime high school populated only by the love interests.
Beyond having easily the most fun name in anime, Vatican Miracle Examiner is one of the only anime to explore esoteric Christian theology, even if it often gets things wrong. Viewers join two priests on a journey around the world attempting to validate miracles for the Vatican. The Lord may work in mysterious ways, but so does the devil and humanity, leading Hiraga and Roberto on a dangerous quest in the name of God. A surprisingly subtle approach to the spirit world sets this far apart from other demon-fighting anime.
The Sanshu Middle School Hero Club doesn’t have powers, but these teenage girls have still dedicated themselves to helping people in need. Then one day they’re caught in an explosion of light and teleported into a fight they could never imagine. Using a magic phone app given to them by a secret organization dedicated to the deity Shinju, the girls become magical warriors, finally able to fight evil. But using these powers comes at a great physical cost, taking their sight, ability to walk, and more. Yuki Yuna Is a Hero is surprisingly dark for a magical girl anime and worth a place on your watch list.
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13) Re: CREATORS
Every anime fan has dreamed of jumping into their favorite series at some point, but Re: CREATORS shows the downside of such adventures. Sota is a high school anime fan who dreams of being more than a spectator until he finds himself face to face with his favorite characters in the real world. As more characters from different series enter the real world, Sota must race to save the world from a princess in a military uniform who threatens the world. Drawing from the whole world of anime from magic to dating sims, Re: CREATORS is a bold series with plenty of Easter eggs for eclectic anime fans.
14) Made in Abyss
Riko is an orphan girl who lives in Orth, an island city that surrounds a giant gaping hole deep into the Earth known as the Abyss. While exploring the Abyss, a mysterious and dangerous place that claimed the life of her mother, Riko finds Reg a robotic young boy. The duo decides to travel together deep into the Abyss, knowing their adventure means almost certain death but also a chance to unlock the mysteries of what lies below. Don’t let the cheerful animation fool you; this is a surprisingly mature series, with one of the most compelling stories of any anime on Amazon.
In the land of Mistarcia Gods, demons, and humans walk alongside one another in an uneasy peace. Set 10 years after the events of Rage of Bahamut: Genesis, which is available for rent on Amazon, Virgin Soul has no real main villain. Instead, the show focuses on how the conflict between humans, demons, and Gods impacts its protagonist Nina. Giving away much more would spoil the Virgin Soul’s secrets, but be prepared for an unexpected and unconventional love story within this thrilling adventure.
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.
John-Michael Bond is a tech reporter and culture writer for Daily Dot. A longtime cord-cutter and early adopter, he's an expert on streaming services (Hulu with Live TV), devices (Roku, Amazon Fire), and anime. A former staff writer for TUAW, he's knowledgeable on all things Apple and Android. You can also also find him regularly performing standup comedy in Los Angeles.