Japan Curiosity’s Essential Guide to Watching Anime in the UK Part 1

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Watching anime in the UK has never been easier. And while it may not really be an excuse, I believe that a lot of piracy stems from people not knowing where they can watch Japanese content, either new shows or the classics. Yet right now there are hundreds, nay thousands of hours of anime waiting for you, all legit and legal, and most importantly all supporting the industry. So we present to you our handy guide to watching anime in the UK.

Crunchyroll
Price: from £free
The mack daddy of anime streaming services and a mainstay for any UK otaku, Crunchyroll currently offer over 450 anime titles for streaming. To access the full HD library is a mere £4.99/mth, but should you opt for the free option, you can watch many of the titles in standard def if you’re happy to put up with a few ads (You may also find some platform restrictions on free accounts, for example free streaming is not available on games consoles). The service boasts both a solid selection of simulcasts as well as a huge backlog of completed series. Popular titles include Naruto Shippuden, Twin Star Exorcists, God Eater and JoJo’s BIzarre Adventure.

What else do you get: As well as a robust anime selection, the app also offers many Japanese live action dramas. You also get access to Crunchyroll manga, which holds hundreds of titles. To top it all off paid members also get discount in the Crunchyroll store, which stocks accessories and apparel, cosplay items, figures, stationery and so much more

Platforms: Website, iOS, Android, Windows 10, PS4, PS3, PS Vita, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U, Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire

Crunchyroll

Funimation Now
Price: from £3.99/mth
New kid on the block Funimation Now is already making huge waves in the UK. You probably know the name Funimation anyway, best known here for their Dragon Ball dubs, and their streaming service has been available in the US for quite some time, we were ecstatic to see it come to this side of the pond. Much like Crunchyroll they have a massive selection of both older series and brand new, currently streaming the likes of My Hero Academia, Assassination Classroom, Death Parade, Yu Yu Hakusho and Hellsing Ultimate. The current pricing structure gives you all the content subbed for just £3.99. For dubs, it’s an extra 3 quid at £6.99

What else do you get: Not a lot else, but for under £4 with the amount of content they’re offering, what do you expect?!

Platforms: Website, Android (iOS, Windows 10, PS4, PS3, PS Vita, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U, Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire are all planned)

FunimationNow

Animax
Price: £4.99/mth
Launched back in 2013, Animax do not have the largest anime library, but they still have a nice selection of titles. They also have some exclusive content, such as GoHands shows K, Coppelion and Mardock Scramble. Like the other services, they do offer shows currently airing in Japan as well as finished series. Being honest, from personal experience my time using Animax wasn’t great. I used the service to watch a few of their exclusive shows, but had trouble signing up, and then found their Android app to be extremely unstable (the PS4 app is better, but still not great). I’d say for under a fiver, it’s worth the entry cost to binge their exclusive content, but many of their shows can be found elsewhere, so I cancelled my subscription fairly quickly

What else do you get: Well, nothing really.

Platforms: Website, iOS, Android, PS4, PS3, Apple TV

AnimaxTV

Viewster
Price: £free
If you have no spare revenue whatsoever, Viewster have you covered. Completely ad-supported, there was a paid option for this service for a time as part of the short-lived Omakase service, which has since ceased. Outlaw Star, .hack//sign, Kekkai Sensen, Durarara!!, Gintama, Prison School, Snow White with the Red Hair, need I go on? And it’s free! My only bugbear is how the ads are served. Rather than being at the beginning or end of the show, or at an interval in the show, they are just shown every half an hour of you watching. So for example if you watch on 22 minute episode, 8 minutes into the next one is where you will get your ad. It can be a little jarring but is ultimately worth it for the amount of content you get

What else do you get: On top of Japanese animated shows, Viewster host a large selection of live action movies (no blockbusters, but i did spot The Lawnmower Man on there). They also have a sizeable sample of South Korean live action TV and a few US shows, alongside a bunch of web content from the likes of The Escapist and SMOSH Games.

Platforms: Website, iOS, Android, Xbox 360

Viewster

DaisukiDaisuki
Price: £free
Another legit free service, Daisuki allows you to watch many current series without parting with any cash. While it is similar to Viewster in that the available platforms are limited, and the library is not as expansive as other services, this app doesn’t have ads. You can watch all of their content for free with no interruption. Last year’s smash One Punch Man was simulcast on this service, as well as 2016’s instant classic Erased. Not a particularly salient point, but this app also has my favourite interface of everything I’m talking about today

What else do you get: It’s free… with no ads… stop being greedy, move on to the next section!!

Platforms: Website, iOS, Android

Netflix
Price: from £5.99/mth
Streaming goliath Netflix is not specifically for anime, but it’s still a great place to watch some. Their library has grown significantly in the last year, and it just seems to continue to get better, whether that be taking you back to the 90s with Rurouni Kenshin or Ghost in the Shell, streaming modern classics like Psycho-Pass or Steins:Gate, or jumping in with new exclusive content like Knights of Sidonia or Ajin. There really is something for everyone.

What else do you get: Well, speaking of something for everyone, as mentioned Netflix is not just for anime fans. They have over 2500 films and TV shows in their library, there’s bound to be something for everyone in the household, not just the Otaku. Plus the ability to set up multiple profiles on one account means that everyone gets their own queue, watch tracking and personalised recommendations

Platforms: Website, iOS, Android, Windows 10, PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U, Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire

Netflix

Amazon Prime
Price: from £5.99/mth
This is one to watch. They don’t have a big anime selection now, but with anime streaming becoming more popular in the UK as we move forward, I believe this is something Amazon are going to double down on. Up until recently all they had was Digimon and not a lot else, but March 2016 saw them release Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress (the brand new anime from the Attack on Titan team, Wit Studio) exclusively on Prime. This is a big move, and i think indicative of a big change in Amazon’s programming.

What else do you get: As with Netflix, this is not an anime service. It will give you access to hundreds of movies and TV shows, including exclusives like Fear The Walking Dead and Mr. Robot. It’s also worth noting that if you pay annualy at £79 (which is only £7.12 more than if you pay monthly for a year) you also get free one-day delivery on Amazon orders, as well as their awesome same-day delivery service (I ordered my Evangelion 1.11 Blu-Ray on a Sunday morning, I watched it that afternoon!). This alone is worth the cost of entry for some people.

Platforms: Website, iOS, Android, Windows 10, PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U, Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire

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Honourable mention – YouTube
Price: £free
Everyone knows YouTube, but what everyone may not know is that there are anime series available in their entirety on there. And I’m not talking random people uploading it, it can be found on official channels. Funimation’s channel for example has the whole of cult anime Texhnolyze available for viewing, and Fullmetal Alchemist. Daisuki at one point also had the entire first season of Sword Art Online up, although that is sadly no longer available. It can be a little trickier to find amongst the organised chaos of the world’s largest video site, but it is there for those who seek it. A few official channels that you might want to bookmark: Cardfight Vanguard, Future Card Buddyfight, Gundam.info

What else do you get: People unboxing things and cat videos

Platforms: Website, iOS, Android, Windows 10, PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U, Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire

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There are more options than just this of course, Google Play, iTunes and Windows stores for example have anime titles you can buy, but those in the list above are what I consider the essential services. And I think those services make a pretty strong case against the argument that anime is not accessible over here. All the paid services have free trial options too, so you can see which ones are right for you. i’d also like to take a second to shout out the website http://because.moe/uk. If you visit that site and type in an anime, it will tell you instantly which service is streaming it. At this point in time it doesn’t include Funimation Now but I have tweeted them and it is something they are working on. Update: Funimation Now is now on because.moe in beta, I like to think it was my tweet that instigated it, so you’re welcome :p

Of course, digital isn’t the only platform to get your fix, we’ll get more into that in part 2. For now, happy streaming!

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About Author

I've never lived in Japan, or worked in the industry, and I'm certainly no expert. I'm just a guy who writes about anime for fun. Unashamed DBGT fan. El Psy Kongroo