September 21, 2009

Bento Bako Weekly: Streaming Anime Online

More articles by »
Written by: Kristin
Tags: , , ,

Like Ninjas? Nabari no Ou (Part 1) releases from FUNimation on September 22, 2009.

Hello, and welcome to another lunch box!  This week we’ll be looking at different places where you can find anime online, free and legal!  Long have fans suffered, their only way to watch new anime as it aired in Japan being fansubs and torrent sites.  The companies have finally listened, and now offer quickly available and translated anime right on your browser.  It’s slowly transforming the industry and the fans, and also the content of certain websites.

We’ll start out with the quickly booming Crunchyroll.  Crunchyroll offers ongoing Japanese anime series, with English subtitles, within hours of their airing on television networks.  The site is free, but for a fee you receive several perks – immediate viewing of new episodes (otherwise you may have to wait up to a week), sometimes one hour after they air on TV in Japan; HD streams; and no video advertisements.  Prices aren’t too bad, for those of you who must have your new episodes as soon as possible – you can subscribe monthly for $6.95, three months at a time for $19.95, or one year for $59.95.  When you first sign up, you get a free 2-week trial to check it out.  Along with current shows, the site also hosts a plethora of others, like Last Exile, and even Captain Harlock.  On top of that, they also host a selection of live action dramas (Korean, mostly).  The site has other features, including a forum, minigames, and user uploaded videos (like game trailers or movies).

Hulu, where many people already watch their television these days, also hosts some anime.  But unlike Crunchyroll, Hulu does not have a direct rapport with Japanese studios, so they don’t do simulcasts or otherwise air currently running shows in Japan.

Or, if you prefer, Joost also hosts some videos (hosts many of the same shows Hulu does, but has individual channels for Viz Media and Anime Network).

Adult Swim hosts the videos (under their “Action” tab) for (some of) the shows they currently hold licenses for (Big O, Full Metal Alchemist, Death Note, Ghost in the Shell).

FUNimation streams previews of their new shows, and also hosts full episodes for some.  They also have the permissions to stream new episodes of One Piece (simulcast, on and Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood.

Viz Media streams subtitled episodes of Naruto Shippuden a week after their airing (

Netflix also offers some anime (and films) on their instant streaming list (obviously you have to have a Netflix account for this), on your computer or, if you have Xbox Live Gold, off of your 360.

The Anime News Network has also been regularly adding streams to their website, both dubbed and subbed.  However they don’t host them (all) directly on their site; rather they’re sort of borrowing them from sites where they are hosted, like Hulu, Joost, and YouTube.

Drama Fever hosts many Korean (live action) dramas (including the wonderful Goong/Princess Hours manga adaptation, and the highly rated Jumong).  They have acquired licenses for the US and Canada to stream these shows.

And, of course, there’s YouTube.  Several sponsors stream multiple legitimate shows on their personal channels.  Anime Network, Bandai Entertainment, FUNimation Entertainment, GONG: Switch on Anime!, MANGA Entertainment, and 4Kids TV.

Of course it wouldn’t do to forget that you can also find anime right on your TV through your cable box.  FUNimation has its own premium channel that airs anime 24 hours a day (with some select shows available On Demand).  Adult Swim still shows a handful of series late on Saturday nights (in horrible early morning time slots, but that’s a conversation best saved for an angry rant).  The Anime Network has several titles listed for On Demand through specific providers.  Occasionally you can even find a free episode on the PS3’s Play Station Network (most recently the first episode of the newly released Gunslinger Girl: Il Teatrino, but don’t go running for it, because it’s no longer free as of 9/17) or in the Xbox Live Marketplace.  You can also buy individual episodes through both the PSN and Live.  When I do anime reviews, I’ll make it a point to direct you to any streaming sites for the series, if they exist, so you can check them out whenever you wish!

Also, remember that the sites I have listed have contracts with distribution and television companies to legally stream this content.  There are other streaming sites, but you should be careful when using them.  Several simply take fansubs and stream them on their site, without giving any credit.  Fansubbers typically support official streaming, and often cease their own subs when an official stream is produced.  Streaming sites like My Soju and have been known to run with neither legal distribution rights nor permission from fansub groups; those are the sort of places to stay away from.

Next time: A crash course in Japanese honorifics while I compile a list of vampire anime and manga




  1. Holy cats, that’s a lot of streaming Anime, Batman!

  2. @Kris-chan: Hmm, interesting. Despite all of these streaming sites, I still get the general impression that torrents and other downloading techniques make up a larger percentage of the viewing-delivery methods than streaming. Maybe I’m wrong? Is there any information to get a rough percentage breakdown of the various delivery preferences? Or how the percentages are changing over recent years? I’m very curious.

    Personally, I prefer torrents because the anime or live-action dramas tend to be at a higher-quality resolution than the streaming (which may be equalizing over time too), and because I don’t need to be online continuously to watch them (especially if I can watch the AVI files on my living-room TV via my DivX player). Hehe, I’m also not a fan of video-stream lagging, skipping or distracting website content. But that’s just me. ^_^

  3. Kristin

    No, I totally understand that. People like having a copy they can watch whenever and wherever they want, which is why I think the streaming sites won’t get rid of the torrents all together. There have also been complaints about some of the subbing’s quality (ie: that fansubbers do a better job than the streaming sites). But the reason torrents existed (and were tolerated), was because there were no alternatives. Now the companies themselves are providing the alternatives, and it’s been a huge step in the right direction. Though I don’t think they’re quite where they need to be yet. They just started, after all.

    I don’t have any numbers. But I can tell you that Dattebayo, the biggest Naruto fansubbing group, ceased their fansubs of the series when the official streams began. In fact, torrent quality dropped on all shows that are now streamed, because the bigger groups stopped their fansubs. You can still find them, but many are done by knock-off groups, or groups that simply reuse Crunchyroll’s subs.

    I think it’s important to support the companies when it’s clear they’re listening and attempting to adjust and adapt. But I do understand your point of view as well.

  4. Jason

    I love Ghost in the Shell! It has to be one of my all time favorites! Normally I catch it on Adult Swim but I am thinking that my X-Mas list will be heavy with related items this year! Torrents are great but some times you just wanna have that package in your hands and smell the new DVD goodness!

  5. Hey, I love tv, I don’t even know how many tv I follow. Anyway thank you for a sweet blog, I will try to read it daily.Have a good day.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Website Protected by Spam Master