If you’ve ever been a fan of anime, you’ve probably spent more time than you’d like searching online for a site to stream from. On the top of the priority list is quality video and accurate subtitles, unless you’re lucky enough to be fluent in Japanese. It’s probably also nice if the site you go to is void of viruses, has a fast server, and just generally doesn’t come off as sketchy.
To avoid all this, we’ve put together a list of anime you can watch on YouTube. The collection is fairly expansive, from the earlier series of the century to a few ongoing now in 2016.
It’s worth noting that some of these shows, like Ghost Stories, are also officially available for streaming on the anime site Crunchyroll, and fans who want to make sure they’re doing what they can to support creators should start there. Otherwise, get to it.
‘Classic’ and completed anime on YouTube
1) Great Teacher Onizuka (1999)
Literally at the turn of the century, this anime follows delinquent bike gang leader turned high school teacher, Onizuka. His ambitions include becoming the world’s greatest teacher and meeting sexy high school girls. It’s as outrageous as it sounds, with the right amount of inspiration and heartfelt moments.
Number of episodes: 43
Genre: Comedy, School
2) FLCL (2000)
FLCL, pronounced “Furi Kuri,” is stranger than most anime—but don’t let its wackiness fool you. It’s short, but within its six episodes are themes about maturing and adulthood. Toonami also announced in March that it would be bringing back two all new seasons of six episodes each. So if you haven’t seen the original, check it out. YouTube’s got your back.
Number of episodes: 6
Genre: Action, Comedy
3) Hajime No Ippo (2000)
Makunouchi Ippo, a high school teen devoted to helping his mother run the family fishery, often falls victim to bullying while on business errands. After a particularly brutal beating, a professional boxer rescues him, taking him to his boxing gym to dress his wounds. Finding inspiration there, Ippo asks him to train him. Out of skepticism, the professional boxer agrees on the grounds that Ippo can complete a nearly impossible task within one week. Thus begins Ippo’s boxing journey.
4) Beyblade (2001)
If you grew up watching Toon Disney or battling your own beyblades, you might find a bit of nostalgia here as YouTube carries the entire first season (in English). The show follows the main protagonist Tyson and his teammates: Kai, Max, Ray, and Kenny. Calling themselves the Bladebreakers, the quintet tour the world from China to the U.S. to Russia competing in international tournaments to become world champions.
Number of episodes: 51
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sports
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5) Samurai Champloo (2004)
The dynamic character interactions in Samurai Champloo are reason enough to watch this anime. Fuu, Jin, and Mugen—a waitress, ronin, and rogue, respectively—set off across Japan in search of a mysterious “Sunflower Samurai.” Their journey is a constant battle of tolerating one another and yet still looking out for each other. Plus, set in an alternate Edo period, there is no shortage of beautiful scenery and backdrops.
Number of episodes: 26
Genre: Historical, Adventure, Action
6) Death Note (2006)
Death Note tells the story of Light Yagami, an incredibly smart—and incredibly bored—high school student. By chance, he obtains a deadly notebook, the Death Note, dropped by an equally bored shinigami, or death god. With the Death Note, Light pledges to purge the world of evil, playing God to a corrupt society. Although the arrival of world-renowned detective L throws a wrench in Light’s plans. Death Note has plenty of plot twists and will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Number of episodes: 37
Genre: Psychological, Thriller, Supernatural
7) The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya | Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu (2006)
Like FLCL, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, has a strange storyline. It seems like a typical high school, slice-of-life plot on the surface, but leading lady Haruhi Suzumiya is so eccentric that it’s anything but. Haruhi drags her friends into her self-created club, the SOS Brigade, exploring all things supernatural, alien, and time-travel related. Interestingly, it can also be watched in two different orders and still somehow make sense—or, at least, as much sense as it can.
Number of episodes: 14
Genre: Comedy, School, Mystery
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8) Hellsing (2001)
When it comes to vampire anime, Hellsing ranks as a classic of all classics. The series boasts a charismatic and chaotic main character named Alucard, known for his signature red trench coat and smoking gun. He’s a powerful vampire of the Hellsing organization, a group dedicated to eliminating supernatural threats. In a fatal fight, Alucard catches a young policewoman, Seras Victoria, in her dying moments. Giving her an ultimatum, he offers her a chance to live on as a vampire and join him in his battle against the vicious monsters terrorizing England’s population.
9) Spice and Wolf | Ookami to Koushinryou (2008)
Spice and Wolf tells a unique tale, focusing heavily around trade, shopkeeping, and economics. It takes place in an alternate historical Japan with European influence. The story follows the journey of a merchant, who dreams of opening his own shop one day and a wolf spirit who’s been reduced to folklore. Their business partnership shows off an angle not too often shown, while leaving room for a budding relationship and interesting story.
Number of episodes: 13
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Historical
10) Hetalia Axis Powers (2009)
Taking place during the two World Wars, Hetalia: Axis Powers personifies the nations involved, capturing them into adorable military figures. Each episode is bite-sized, running only five minutes each. The anime primarily focuses on Germany, Italy, France, the U.S., Great Britain, Russia, and China, and retells history in a satirical manner. Each character also has exaggerated stereotypical traits, such as Italy’s love for pasta.
Number of episodes: 52
Genre: Historical, Parody
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11) Soul Eater (2008)
While most anime takes place in Japan, Soul Eater actually takes place here in the United States. The fictional Death City of Nevada houses the Death Weapon Meister Academy, or DWMA, that the main characters attend. There, students learn to become meisters of death weapons or to become the death weapons themselves. Working in pairs, each meister-weapon duo aims to acquire 99 human souls and one witch soul to elevate the weapon’s status to a death scythe worthy of shinigami use.
Number of episodes: 51
Genre: Fantasy, Supernatural, Action
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12) Steins;Gate (2011)
Mad scientists and crazy gadgets sum up the gist of anime Steins;Gate. Considered one of the absolute must-watches of anime, Steins;Gate tells the story of an eccentric trio committed to wild inventions in hopes of reaching a scientific breakthrough. When they finally achieve one, it’s in the form of a “phone microwave” that allows them to send emails into the past and alter the future. Steins;Gate 0, a spinoff show, is reportedly in the works to provide an alternate ending to the original series. It was originally released in video game form in 2015 for the PlayStation 3 as a visual novel. Players read through the story, presented with characters and passages to make decisions about how to branch the plot next.
13) Trigun (1998)
If Vash the Stampede is near, chaos can’t be far behind. It’s not that Vash is a bad guy per say, but the $60 billion bounty on his head draws plenty of violence wherever he goes. Followed through life by two employees of the Bernardelli Insurance Society who do their best to keep property damage to a minimum, Vash travels the world searching for the cure to his amnesia. Trigun built a rabid followings thanks to Cartoon Network and its staggeringly creative shootouts. Punctuated with humor and thrilling action, Trigun is considered a classic for a reason.
Number of Episodes: 26
Genre: Action, Adventure
14) Yona of the Dawn | Akatsuki no Yona (2014)
Yona of the Dawn is a story of redemption, following the sheltered and privileged princess Yona of Kouka. She is forcefully thrust out of the kingdom after her cousin and first love, Suwon, murders her father King Il. Narrowly escaping with her body guard Son Hak, Yona discovers the reality of poverty and strife in Kouka all while questing to regain the throne.
Number of episodes: 24
Genre: Adventure, Action
15) Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans (2015)
The Gundam franchise began in 1979, and has since produced hundreds of episodes in different series. The struggle in Iron-Blooded Orphans takes place 300 years after the great Calamity War between Earth and its outer colonies. A young aristocrat of the terraformed Mars detests the conditions the Martians are forced to live in and recruits an army of guards—comprised of child and teenage soldiers—to protect her in her mission. An English dubbed version will also begin airing on Toonami starting June 4.
Number of episodes: 25
Genre: Mecha, Action
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16) Oh! Super Milk Chan (2004)
Anime is a hotbed of absurdist comedy, but often translation issues keep some of the stranger material from crossing the sea. Oh! Super Milk Chan is thankfully an exception. Following Milk, a 5-year-old superhero with a bad temper and habit of drooling, as she fights evil alongside her friends, on paper the show sounds like it’s for children. Behind the colorful imagery, however, lay dark comic moments satirizing politics, culture, and anime itself. If the idea of the Powerpuff Girls with a dark anime twist appeals to you, you’re ready to enjoy Oh! Super Milk Chan.
17) Nijiiro Days (2016)
Cute and carefree, Nijiiro Days follows four high school friends, simply trying to get through their studies while having some fun and romance. It starts off with main protagonist Natsuki, who falls for a female Santa who bestowed him with a pack of tissues while he was crying over his ex-girlfriend on Christmas Eve. He later finds out that that Santa is a classmate named Anna, and pursues her head over heels. Meanwhile, his three friends are always meddling in his adorable, but sometimes cringe-worthy attempts to woo her.
Number of episodes: 24
Genre: School, Romance, Comedy
18) Berserk (1997)
Berserk is a pitch black fantasy anime, that often finds itself closer to the horror genre than anything resembling adventure. The original twenty five episode series, known as “The Chronicles of the Wind Blades” was critically acclaimed for its stunning soundtrack and nightmarish world building. While the animation feels dated by today’s standards, often cutting corners with still frames, the series beautifully uses a jumping timeline to tell a tale of a mercenary named Gut, and the horrors that shape his life. Berserk is not for the squeamish, so this recommendation comes with a heavy trigger warning for violence and images of assault. But for fans of Game of Thrones no anime will scratch your itch for dark fantasy the same way.
Number of episodes: 25
Genre: Action, Horror
19) Slayers (1995)
When you’ve exhausted today’s greatest hits, check out Slayers, one of the most popular anime series of the 90s home video boom. In a world ruled by swords and sorcery, Lina Inverse is known as a powerful, yet just mage. The only problem is her legend and reality don’t match up. Lina’s an obnoxious goofy, whose recklessness often leads to massive collateral damage during her adventures. Joined by swordsman Gourry Gabriev, the duo heads out on adventure fighting powerful mythical beasts, thwarting evil, and inspiring absurd laughter in viewers with every madcap adventure. The series almost made it to Fox Kids, but the amount of content that would have needed to be edited out made it impossible. Thank god you can watch it on YouTube now.
Number of Episodes: 26
Genre: Fantasy, Comedy, Adventure
Anime doesn’t have to feature otherworldly monsters and super powers to be compelling, as the crime thriller Black Lagoon makes abundantly clear. Centering around a team of pirates known as Lagoon Company, this series combines John Woo style gun ballet with good old fashioned heist dynamics. Packed with explosive shootouts, stylish escapes, and some of the most lovable anti-heroes in all of anime, Black Lagoon is a roller coaster of hyper stylized violence that demands repeat viewings.
Number of Episodes: 24, includes the first two seasons but missing season three.
Genre: Action, Crime
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.