It’s a new year and there’s new series (and seasons) coming to the Netflix anime library. Expect a mix of new epic fantasy, crime drama, slice of life and horror series to make up (a little) for the loss of major titles in 2022. The biggest get for the streamer is securing all 74 episodes of Monster, the psychological thriller anime series. If you’ve never seen it, buckle up because it’s a fantastic adaptation of the entire manga and well worth a watch.
Whatever mood you find yourself in – or if you’re looking for a place to send the newbie anime watcher – the list has something for you. Offered in no particular order (because if it were, ranked Death Note and Erased would be hard to push out my top spots). Just keep in mind, it focuses on canon anime and is limited to what’s currently streaming.
Note: As this is a list of anime series to watch, no anime movies were considered for this feature. This list applies to U.S. Netflix subscribers. Some titles may not currently be available on international platforms (yet). This list will also be periodically amended to remove series no longer available on Netflix, as well as add anime shows now available for streaming on the service.
High-Rise Invasion centers Yuri Honjo. A high schooler who finds herself in a twisted world of interconnected buildings known as “abnormal space.” Pulled into a wicked situation she chooses to fight back against her attackers. This is a blood-soaked dark story full of sadistic figures hellbent on mayhem. It’s got thrills, screams and a slaughterhouse of insanity.
Oni: Thunder God’s Tale
If you like the trend of incorporating new animation techniques, like say a 3D stop-motion hybrid, into anime visual effects, then Oni: Thunder God’s Tale may be just the thing for you. Based on Onari's Lullaby by Emi Tsutsumi, Oni follows free-spirited Onari on her quest to become like the heroes from (Japanese) folklore. In her quest to unlock her inherent powers, Onari undergoes transformations – that offer lessons on empathy and connection with a light touch.
The pacing is slow, but with 45 minute episodes it covers a lot of ground with fun, action and plenty of emotion pay off to balance the occasional drag. So despite being a fantasy children's story brought to such life and flair that even the crabbiest of diehards will find themselves rooting for Onair and laughing at the hijinx of the odd-ball gods and monsters she encounters along the way. A warm, family friendly story anchored by the consistently stunning animation is the perfect mini-series palette cleanser.
exception takes a walk on the post-apocalyptic horror side with a story about a mission to terraform a planet that goes horribly awry. To escape AI control, humans have taken to space in search of a new home. The crew of humanoid entities created (from the DNA of living people) in a biological 3D printer called The Womb make up the advance party. Just as they arrive to start the work of making a new habitable planet, a misprint turns one crew member into a monster. Soon their ship becomes a hunting ground.
exception is a visual stunner with a unique way of bringing humor, mayhem and action. The story balances complicated questions about what makes someone human with an action-driven, unsettling sci-fi drama. Directed by Yuzo Sato, exception brings to life an original story by Hirotaka Adachi also known as Otsuichi (Goth: Love of Death) with non-traditional animation and character design that may not be everyone’s cup of tea but its original story and immersive pacing makes this a space horror a do not miss.
A surprisingly straightforward adaptation of the Tekken 3 storyline, Tekken: Bloodline follows fifteen-year old Jin Kazama (Kaiji Tang) on his quest to avenge his mother. You don’t have to be a lover of the video game to find this six episode arc worthwhile. It showcases character design and story structure that’s reminiscent of the source’s gameplay but the real lure is in the slow burning reveal of Jin’s family history and his struggle to honor his mother and fight to control his destiny. There’s mystery, intrigue, and just enough fighting to keep things very interesting.
Kotaro Lives Alone
Kotaro Satо̄, a 4-year old boy living on his own, moves next door to Shin Karino, a manga artist. Based on the manga series written and illustrated by Mami Tsumura, Kotaro Lives Alone is the inverse odd couple you didn’t know you were missing in your life. It’s witty, self-aware, and relies on an animation style that only adds to the vibrancy of this adorably engaging ten episode slice of life series.
Little Witch Academia
Little Witch Academia is an underrated gem in the streamer’s library. This anime series directed by Yoh Yoshinari is a pastel drenched delight. Atsuko Kagari longs to be a world-class witch like her idol. There’s only one problem, she’s got a decidedly non-magical background. But the enthusiastic youth finesses her way into Luna Nova Magical Academy, her fav’s alma mater to train. What follows is a blend of lighthearted and hijinx as she attempts to navigate school. The animation is masterful and the characters joyfully entertaining. It’s a feel good watch with just enough depth to intrigue.
Based on the manga by Hiroshi Takashige and Ryōji Minagawa, Spriggan enters the list after only a six-episode debut jam-packed with action, slick character design, and a premise interesting to overcome an uneven start. Spriggan follows Yu Ominae, a 16-year-old super soldier tasked with finding and securing powerful artifacts.
With various military and private groups vying for control of what they see as potential weapons, Yu must defend against all comers if he hopes to comply with his employer’s mandate to safeguard the artifacts. Sticking close to the source, this anime series capitalizes on open-ended storytelling, charismatic characters, humor, necessary violence, and bombastic action sequences. This globetrotting adventure is all about world-building and setting up for adventures to come but still makes the most of its character arcs to be off to a fantastic start both newcomers and fans of the manga and previous movie.
The world feels like it's a bit of a constant dumpster fire. So, it can’t hurt to have a bit of wholesomeness in your end-of-the-world adventure. It’s been a thousand years since humans have been on Earth. AI robots inhabit a city called Eden 3. Their overlords are long gone, but the robots continue to farm the land. Two maintenance robots accidentally wake up a human baby girl from stasis. Her appearance calls into question all their beliefs. The two robots decide to raise the little girl in a safe haven outside the city. Eden has engaging character design brought to life with great voice acting. The story’s simple and sweet. There isn’t much trope subversion but sometimes, sweet is exactly what the post-apocalyptic story needs.
Komi Can’t Communicate
Directed by Ayumu Wantanbe and based on the popular manga series written and illustrated by Tomohito Oda, Komi Can’t Communicate follows Shouko Komi, an extremely popular girl, and socially average Hitohito Tadano. Komi comes off as poised to others at school but in fact suffers from severe social anxiety that makes it difficult for her to interact with others. When Hitohito discover’s beautiful classmate’s secret, he vows to help her achieve her goal of making 100 friends at their prestigious prep school.
Komi Can’t Communicate is a stellar example of a slice-of-life anime. It explores touchy themes with a light-hearted, humorous edge. The characters' personalities are engaging, the various situations they find themselves in at turns ridiculous, humorous or relatively serious but alway relatable. Brought to life with near flawless animation color scheme and impressive character design this series is a well balanced delight. If you’re into slice-of-life anime series, not necessarily into waiting. The full first season Komi Can’t Communicate is now in the anime library.
Death Note follows Light Yagami, a teen who comes into possession of a magical notebook that allows him to kill anyone he wants just by writing their name inside. What comes after is a captivating cat-and-mouse game between him and the investigator intent on discovering who’s behind the deaths. This classic from director Tetsurō Araki is an engrossing exploration of morality, justice, loyalty, honor, and friendship. With illustrations and character design that never go out of style, Death Note is an absolute classic. The world seems intent on being a never-ending dumpster fire. So you can never go wrong with a classic anime series that isn’t afraid to dig into the dark side even as it reminds you that life’s direction is always a choice.
High Score Girl
High Score Girl follows Haruo Yaguchi, a sixth grader gamer, as he encounters a true challenger to his supremacy at the local arcades. Classmate Akira Oono who appears to be practically perfect on every level, best his favorite game, Street Fighter 2. From there this unlikely duo bond over vintage video games that allow them to decompress and avoid the anxieties of their everyday lives. Yaguchi slow learns that Oono’s life isn’t as idyllic as it seems and that he has a lot to learn about himself and life. High Score Girl’s full of funny misadventures, sly life lessons, and acts of ego. Sometimes, you need a coming-of-age story with a side of nostalgia and irony. If you’re a gamer, and have a chaotic internal monologue hyping you up, then High Score Girl may be just the ticket.
One Piece is a long-running shonen anime about Monkey D. Luffy sails with his globetrotting crew of Straw Hat Pirates on their hunt for the treasure One Piece and quest to become the new king of the pirates. Based on Eiichiro Oda’s manga the anime adaptation is full of high action and laughs. With an ensemble made up of an eclectic group of male and female characters, there’s a camaraderie and sense of adventure that keeps the series engaging season after season.
The Orbital Children
Set in 2045 The Orbital Children, also known as Extra-terrestrial Boys and Girls, follows two children born on the moon and three from Earth. The story takes place in outer space (where internet and artificial intelligence are widespread) on a Japanese commercial space station. A massive accident leaves this group of kids stranded with little hope of rescue. They must rely on their wits, limited communications, and what’s available to try and avert further disaster…and possible death.
Written and directed by Mitsuo Iso (Ghost in the Shell, Rurouni Kenshin and Blade Runner: Black Lotus) this two part science fiction series not only takes anime to space, it stares directly into the distance and asks, are humans necessary? Iso takes direct aim at the ticking clock on Earth’s ability to adequately sustain human life. Then it ponders whether humans are capable of doing what’s necessary to save themselves. Although this philosophical schism should come as no surprise given it is Mitsuo Iso, The Orbital Children blends smooth animation, a striking color palette, relatable character design – that puts its excellent voice cast to great use – turning this into a coming of age story and full blown existential (and literal) crisis that shouldn’t be missed.
Record of Ragnarok
If you’re a fan of The Seven Deadly Sins, list mate JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure or the just idea of the gods giving humanity one last chance to prove itself tournament-style appeals, then get into the twelve episode first season of Record of Ragnarok. The pace is binge-perfect, the animation traditional, and the battles over the top (it's a race to seven victories out of thirteen rounds). If we must contemplate our own humanity and face the end, let it be watching 13 champions fight their way through the pantheon of gods.
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
After a demon attack leaves most of his family slaughtered and his sister turned, Tanjirou Kamado swears to save her and avenge his family. He joins a mysterious group calling themselves the Demon Slayer Corps intent on doing anything to exact revenge. If you’ve finished all the few remaining seasons of Attack on Titan the streamer has in its library but still want your fight scenes crisp then give Demon Slayer a go. You won’t be disappointed.
You’re minding your business, living your life. Then between one thing and the next, the world ends; leaving you behind. What would you do? Those left behind are confronted with giant bugs and flooded cities being reclaimed by nature. What a time to realize you weren’t ready for the apocalypse.
December 2021 meant a fourth season for Aggretsuko fans. This slice of life anime is full of subtle lessons about not letting life’s challenges get the best of you. Turns out, ten more episodes following 25 year-old Retsukothe as she deals with the highs and lows of her crap job as a police accountant, lackluster dating life, and life’s frustrations with heavy metal (and her werewolf-esque transformations) as her main outlet surprisingly still isn’t too much of a good thing. The simple art style is a perfect foil for the wry, witty writing and fully-loaded soundtrack. This is one series possibly destined tolist staple as long as it remains in the Netflix library.
Based on the four-issue comic series by Mark Millar and Leinil Francis Yu, Super Crooks debuted on the platform in December. This prequel to the comic series follows Johnny Bolt and his band of crooks as they attempt to pull off the ultimate heist. This world of super-powered people offers a slick opening, simple, yet action-packed story full of quips, quirks, interesting characters, and crisp (Studio Bones) visuals. Although it won’t be to everyone’s taste (if redemption arcs and character growth are your bag then you’ll be left wanting), this 13-episode was definitely a 2021 surprise.
B: The Beginning
The vigilante “Killer B"’s turning the island of Cremona into their personal hunting ground. To catch this escalating killer, the Royal Investigation Service calls its ace – if eccentric – detective Keith Flick back into active duty. But the kills aren’t what they seem and Flick will need to unravel dangerous secrets in order to solve these crimes. If you’re in the mood for a cat-and-mouse detective story – with more than a few science fiction twists – then look no further than B: The Beginning. This visually stunning story offers a blend of mystery and horror for fans who like their anime to take ambitious risks (even if it doesn’t always stick the landing).
Sent to Japan as a hostage, Lelouch, a prince of Britannia, escapes after an encounter leaves him with the power to control anyone. Lelouch becomes the masked rebel known as Zero and begins to mercilessly exact vengeance against Britannia. Code Geass is a genre blend with action, charisma, and just the right amount of bombasticness to carry the story from episode to episode. This alternate history full of mechs and magic is a wild ride.
Set in a grim world, Dorohedoro is a quixotic and disorderly series about a big crocodile man who loves gyoza. It’s almost equal parts comedy and carnage. It’s a bizarre, gory, sci-fi world full of surprisingly compelling characters. With bold color and a brisk pace, Dorohedoro makes the most of its strange world to confuse and entertain.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
Based on the wildly popular manga series, this multigenerational story follows the adventures of a Joestar family member – each with the same titular nickname and endowed with immense psychic strength – as they battle against rivals (and evil) down through the ages. With each new protagonist comes an independent story that expands the universe and keeps the narrative fresh and engaging. It’s sly wit and frequent hattips to popular Western trends add just the right amount of hilarity to this adventure-driven fantasy. With five quality seasons (Stone Ocean being the latest installment) now available on Netflix as of December 1st, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure’s addition to the best of list may just be a bit overdue.
Cowboy Bebop’s set in a world where a hyperspace gateway accident’s left Earth inhabitable. What remains of humanity colonized the rocky planets and moons in the solar system. Fifty years of rising crime prompts the Inter Solar System Police to legal bounty hunting and authorized hunters, known as Cowboys, to track and capture criminals across the system in order to bring them to justice. The series follows the crew of spacecraft Bebop as they hunt down criminals in 2071. This Japanese sci-fi noir and it's now iconic soundtrack and vintage (but still solidly stylish) animation style offers up the space (mis)adventures of former syndicate member and hitman Spike, his former ISSP officer partner Jet Black along with a con artist with memory gaps, a wacky hacker and Ein a too-cute- for its own good genetically engineered Welsh Corgi with human-like intelligence.
The twenty-six episode series offers a genre-blending narrative, visually kinetic action, and audacious good fun for long-time fans and is a great place to start for those new to the anime space. Only time will tell if dropping the entire anime run just ahead of the live-action Cowboy Bebop November 19, 2021 premiere helped or hurt the movie franchise. Be sure to check out how IGN thinks film adaptation stacks up against the source material.
If you prefer your shounen occasionally NSFW and built on a narrative designed to explore themes like prejudice, choice, introspection then Beastars may be the slice of life fantasy series for you. This drama-heavy mystery series digs into the lives of anthropomorphic animals; where carnivores and herbivores are trying to coexist peacefully. If Zootopia-eques that dig into slice-of-life stories and self-discovery are what grab and hold your interest then Beastars is definitely an anime series for you.
Based on a light novel series this thirteen episode show brings to life a story of post-war reintegration into civilian life through the lens of fourteen-year-old Violet Evergarden. This fantasy coming-of-age story tells the tale of the young orphan’s attempt to find purpose beyond soldiering. It's an introspective and touching narrative with a phenomenal score. This series is why phrases like “visually stunning” won’t soon go out of use. It is simply one of the most beautifully animated series around.
Now’s an excellent time to revisit this show then pick up with Violet Evergarden: The Movie added to the streamer on October 13, 2021.
Follow 29-year-old Satoru Fujinuma as he discovers an ability to time travel and ends up in the past trying to solve a murder mystery. This powerful ability he calls “Revival” permits him to jump back to the recent past (a few minutes) to change events and save lives. But after being accused of a murder himself, however, Satoru wakes up, as his younger self, eighteen years in the past. Soon realizing the crime he’s accused of is connected to an abduction and death of a classmate, Sartoru strikes out to unravel the mystery, prevent his classmate’s death, and ultimately clear his (future) name. Erased is a gripping adaptation of Kei Sanbe's full manga run. The story is dynamic and brought to life through gritty and immersive animation. Set aside time, because it’s a binge-worthy series.
Hunter x Hunter
It’s pronounced Hunter, Hunter (the x really is silent). Young Gon sets out to find his missing father. Along the way, he makes new friends, enters a martial arts tournament, and comes face to face with creatures – on his quest to become a Hunter – that any horror prop master would kill to get their hands on. Gon’s enemies have zero chill so between the action sequences and well-crafted story Hunter x Hunter is some of the best shonen anime has to offer, ever. Come for the familiar premise, stay for the character depth, darker tone, and its engrossing and increasingly complex story arc.
The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.
All-powerful psychic Kusuo Saiki attempts to fly under the radar are continually thwarted and result in a high comedy. The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. follows Saiki as he tries to navigate school drama free despite his magnetic ability to attract people. It’s quirky, full of lovable characters, and hijinks. Despite its lighter tone, The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. offers a quality crowd-pleasing story.
Makoto Edamura’s a con man on the run. But don’t think that’ll stop him from falling head-first into new schemes instead of laying low. The Great Pretender is colorful, quick-step, offering all the elements of a perfectly designed heist film. If you like your anime stylish and your character’s too-slick for words, then this Netflix exclusive is tailor-made for you.
New Anime Series on Netflix
January 1, means good things for anime watchers. Slice of life series Kimi ni todoke: From Me To You, enters the library with two full seasons (38 episodes), The Way of the House Husband returns for a second season (20 episodes) and Monster, one of the best anime series of 2000s, beings streaming its first season (74 episodes). Season two of Vinland Saga hits the platform January 9 (24 episodes). Then on January 18, season one of the horror anthology Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre (18 episodes) premieres. Record of Ragnarok (22 episodes) returns January 26 for its second season to close out the month. Five solid series to start the new year. Get your snacks ready.
How We Choose the Best Anime Series on Netflix
The goal is to have a list of great anime series that span many subgenres. We've included a mix of popular classics like Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, along with relatively more obscure titles like The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. Whether you're a complete anime newbie or a hardcore otaku, there's something for everyone here.
Or follow these links for the best of other genres: