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The best anime to binge on Netflix

By May 11, 2023May 12th, 2023No Comments11 min read
Characters from the list of best anime on Netflix, from Ouran Host Club to Devilman Crybaby

2023 is turning out to be a banner year for anime, and we haven’t even hit the summer season (we’re all ready for season two of Jujutsu Kaisen.) From Skip and Loafer, to Trigun Stampede, and the latest season of Demon Slayer, there’s been no time for rest when it comes to both new and returning series. Yet, for those who either prefer to wait until the completed season is out to binge or don’t have streaming services such as HIDIVE or Crunchyroll, there are still incredible anime available to watch.

We’ve picked 17 of the best anime available to binge now on Netflix.

Beastars, 2019 — 24 episodes

You either get Beastars or you don’t, and the ones who do are the lucky ones. With just two seasons and a kinetic style that utilizes the studio’s 3D animation with aplomb, Beastars is a delectable ride of indecency, growing pains, and the suffering that comes from a society possessing an incessant need to put everyone in neatly labeled boxes. A hybrid of humor and heart, the series is best rebuking norms, similar to its characters, and best enjoyed for its ability to blend genres. It’s an addicting series that pulsates with energized pacing and non-stop intrigue. [Ally Johnson]

Blue Period, 2021 — 12 episodes

Blue Period is one of Netflix’s best anime adaptations to date. It tackles themes such as identity, self-worth, the difference between hard work and talent, and, of course, what even is art. All it takes for Yatora Yaguchi to change his entire life is seeing a graduating senior’s artwork one day in a classroom. From that moment, he decides to go to art school – even if that means having to start from the basics. Yatora’s perspective tugs at your heart and makes you want to try just as hard as he does to do your best. The anime does an excellent job of translating emotional panels into animated scenes so you can’t help but watch the next episode. [Kayla Lupoli]

Cowboy Bebop, 1998 — 26 episodes

This classic anime can be easily described as a mix of a Western, a Space opera, and a detective noir. But the adventures of Spike Spiegel and his crew of legalized bounty hunters as they travel across the Solar System catching criminals and looking for their next paycheck is one of the most remarkable animes in the Netflix catalog. Its highly acclaimed animation is matched by complex and well-developed characters. Audiences get to know the crew of Bebop with refreshingly self-contained episodes that feel, at times, like slices of life in a cyberpunk near future that is both recognizable and mysterious. All of this is accompanied by a soundtrack that blends jazz, rock, and blues and that is sure to stay in your brain. Also, Ein the data dog is very cute. [Pedro Graterol]

Cyberpunk Edgerunners, 2022 — 10 episodes

Studio Trigger very rarely misses. With the recent releases under their belt that are tapping further into the mainstream like Promare on HBO Max and the standout short of Disney +’s Star Wars Visions, the studio tries their hand at a video game adaptation for Netflix. If you want to be technical it is also an adaptation of a tabletop RPG and William Gibson’s Neuromancer, but the series Cyberpunk Edgerunners is co-produced by the AAA game publisher CDProjekt Red and lovingly recreates the frenetic neon hellscape of Night City, perfectly illustrating the dystopian norm for teenager David Martinez as he acclimates to a life of odd jobs and body mods once he parties up with a ragtag group of mercenaries. Trigger’s blind optimism in the face of a nihilistic affront to the human senses is a perfect foil and escalates the tension and action sequences in this single-season rush of blood to the head. It makes for an ideal onboard to the video game’s world for new players, and a perfect launch pad for discovering that maddening, volatile enthusiasm of Trigger’s work. The show makes it clear this dystopic future is not a fun setting. It is bright, loud, messy, and dark, but damn if those characters don’t have aspirations in spite of it all. [Evan Griffin]

Den-Noh Coil, 2007 — 26 episodes

Mitsuo Iso makes the list twice, with his first appearance being the underrated Den-Noh Coil. Iso is known for being a key animator for The End of Evangelion Asuka’s fight sequence. Den-Noh Coil may not reach the same magnitude either in terms of scale, but the science-fiction elements and lovable characters make for a constantly engaging watch, with a story and art style that differentiates itself from the masses. [Ally Johnson]

Devilman Crybaby, 2018 — 10 episodes

Masaaki Yuassa is one of the most visually distinct and unique anime directors working right now. While his most acclaimed works might include Crunchyroll pieces like Ping Pong and Keep Your Hands Off Eizoken, and certainly hit the anime zeitgeist with Mind Game, he has some gems as centerpiece anime Netflix exclusives. Devilman Crybaby, the ten-episode remake of the classic 70s Go Nagai manga, is a lean and mean fast track to gut-wrenching drama and bloody tragedy as Akira gets overtaken by the power of the devil, but retains his humanity. The result is his antihero alter ego, Devilman, taking on both devils and men, an effort which, shocker, proves the power of humans to be the most exceedingly devilish of them all as is expected in any horror genre piece centered around the Man transforming into Monster, but adapting a Go Nagai work must mean it will also be an absolute bummer. Yusassa and his studio Science Saru use their full toolbox in this series with deathly sharp linework, ferociously quick movement, and sadistic rhythm where tacky rap battles and bloody vengeance feel like a refreshing reprieve from the macabre world of devils and hatred, coming together in a very esoteric and dire piece of animation work. [Evan Griffin]

The Disastrous Life of Saiki K, 2016 — 50 episodes

Few shows are as consistently, minute-to-minute hilarious as The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. The series follows Saiki, an apathetic psychic, who only wants to be left alone in order to enjoy his coffee pudding and favorite series in peace. Of course, he isn’t given the chance, surrounded by an eclectic group of would-be friends, ranging from a perverted medium to an all-around perfect girl, and Nendo, the one person his psychic ability fails to work on. Rather than rest on funny, the series builds throughout its seasons with layers of world-building, culminating in a satisfying and surprising conclusion that is as outlandish as it is cleverly plotted, the seeds having been laid since the very start. [Ally Johnson]

DoroHeDoro, 2020 — 13 episodes

What do you get when you combine magic, mushrooms, and a man in a lizard’s mouth? Another classic from MAPPA, Dorohedoro! The show revolves around Kaiman, a human who lives in the Hole and was cursed by a magic user so that he now has the head of a lizard. Along with his friend Nikado, he sets out on a mission to find out which magic user cursed him. The 3D animation might not be for everyone, but it works for the fight sequences and brings a fun aesthetic to the anime that wasn’t in the manga. Dorohedoro takes you on a trippy adventure full of mystery and devils, but it also dives into the complicated truth behind certain characters’ motivations. [Kayla Lupoli]

Erased, 2016 — 12 episodes

Wanting to relive the past with what you know now as an adult is a mental trap. It inhibits progress because you shut down the proactive, life-affirming steps you can take right this second to instead fantasize about events that can never be changed. What makes a show like Erased so unique in that sense is that it certainly leans into the wish fulfillment of time travel but at a heavy cost. It unravels the true nightmare of being stuck in the prison of what you remember, in this case, a cycle of death and kidnappings, that can only be confronted and addressed by the present, not by going back to arbitrarily “change” things.

Erased, now stunningly seven years old. is a work of modern brilliance. And the best part is that it’s a single, standalone season on Netflix that is practically designed to be consumed as a hyper-long movie. You don’t have to commit much of your precious time to absorb this show, but you might find yourself wrestling with it a long time after the final credits roll. [Jon Negroni]

Great Pretender, 2020 — 23 episodes

An original series, Great Pretender is a caper heist story about two con men set around three major cases. Wit Studio produces yet another kinetic story with mesmerizing fluidity. While the story isn’t breaking any rules, the production is next level with distinct character designs and vibrant scenery. It’s a show that understands the genre, managing to imbue the artistry with the same level of pulp and comic book panel synergy as the plot calls for. [Ally Johnson]

Kimi ni to doke: From Me to You, 2009 — 27 episodes

A sweet and heartfelt slice-of-life romance, Kimi ni to doke: From Me to You excels in escapism. An isolated girl who is ostracized due to her resembling the girl from The Ring, her life begins to change following the kindness shown to her by one of her classmates. But the series finds its real warmth not just in the sweet, if standard, boy meets girl aspect, but in the friendships she makes with two other girls in her class who are similarly judged and gossiped about. Patient with its story with hilarious minimalism used to depict the characters at their most obtuse, it’s a sleepy watch, made for the late hours when all you need is something for winding down. [Ally Johnson]

Komi Can’t Communicate, 2021 — 24 episodes

Few shows demonstrate the immense charm of Komi Can’t Communicate. Even less do so in its first episode like this slice-of-life series, based on the manga by Tomohito Oda. Following Komi, a painfully shy high schooler, as she befriends Tadano who promises to aid her in making more friends at school, the show exudes warmth for its characters, even in its sillier moments, with Komi and Tadano being the beating heart as they both learn through one another, Komi finding strength in Tadano’s kindness in particular. With a colorful group of supporting characters, the romance is the definition of a slow burn, but every moment forward is earned. [Ally Johnson]

Monster, 2004 — 74 episodes

Monster is an unsettling but compelling tale about a surgeon’s convictions and just how murky convictions are when weighed against something truly inhuman. The story centers around Dr. Tenma, a surgeon who once saved the life of a serial killer and after discovering this resolves to right this wrong. Monster is a bit of an older series compared to other entries on this list, but this is a series that has yet to find a rival in its ability to terrify without having to delve far past the reality we live in. Madhouse is the studio that brings us the adaptation of Naoki Urasawa’s work – and very fitting that the studio that gave Death Note its elevated status in animation did the same for what is in some ways, the thinking person’s version. A thriller that isn’t afraid to show the darker sides of the world, Monster is the perfect way to let an anime crawl under your skin. [Travis Hymans]

One Punch Man, 2015 — 12 episodes

If there’s a single takeaway from traditional shounen anime, it’s that the main character will be an ideal male hero who adolescent boys look up to. But what happens when there is irrefutable evidence that he will never find a worthy opponent? You get a truly overpowered protagonist who constantly questions his own purpose in life. One Punch Man is a self-aware, satirical take on some of the most popular anime, manga, and even American superheroes. If you’re looking for a story filled with comedy, action, and a hint of social commentary on bureaucracy and mob mentality, Saitama’s journey in One Punch Man is here for you. [Alyshia Kelly]

Ouran Host Club, 2006 — 26 episodes

If you went to high school in the mid to late 2000s, you’ve already heard of Ouran High School Host Club. But if you haven’t, this anime takes the harem trope and spins it on its head. Haruhi is a scholarship student at Ouran Academy, a super elite school for rich days. One day, she accidentally breaks an expensive vase that the host club owns and is forced to join the club. It’s a romantic comedy that goes all in on the tropes for each member of the host club. And there’s a beach episode that makes you wonder just how rich all of these kids are. If you like Skip and Loafer, you should definitely binge this! [Kayla Lupoli]

Toradora, 2008 — 25 episodes

Hang in there once starting Toradora, because despite a slow start once it takes off (around episode six) there’s no stopping you from binging the rest. With an increasing spark and greater tension developing between all five of the main characters, the series is at its best when marrying the romance with the protagonist’s constant self-discoveries. The balance of playful humor, animation style, and drama is deftly handled in a way that’s disconcerting until it’s masterful. [Ally Johnson]

The Orbital Children, 2022 — 6 episodes

With only six episodes (it was released as two feature films in Japan) The Orbital Children hits the ground running. A thrilling, action-adventure set in space by Mitsuo Iso, the series contains his penchant for grounding grandiose science fiction through youthful eyes who see as much as they’re able to comprehend. Kenichi Yoshida provided the character designs while Toshiyuki Inoue is the main animator, culminating in a visual spectacle. There’s no time to waste as we watch these characters try to survive in a breathless race to the finish.[Ally Johnson]

Allyson Johnson

Based in New England, Allyson is co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of InBetweenDrafts. Former Editor-in-Chief at TheYoungFolks, she is a member of the Boston Society of Film Critics and the Boston Online Film Critics Association. Her writing has also appeared at CambridgeDay, ThePlaylist, Pajiba, VagueVisages, RogerEbert, TheBostonGlobe, Inverse, Bustle, her Substack, and every scrap of paper within her reach.

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