Japan Curiosity’s Essential Guide to Watching Anime in the UK 1.5 HD Remix

It was a little before this time last year that I sat down and penned our Essential Guide for watching anime in the UK. I saw all of the anime that we had available to us, and it was good. So I sat and scrawled all the different places you could catch the latest that Japanese animation had to offer, but a lot can change in a year. I’ve watched the landscape of anime shift over the last 12+ months, and felt like the guide could definitely use a refresh. Most of the changes are for the better, with only one sad loss we’ll get into. So without further ado, I present our Essential Guide To Watching Anime In The UK Mk II.

Price options:
Free Membership – FREE (Limited content, ad-supported)
Premium Membership – £4.99/mth (Access to all content and simulcasts, ad-free, HD streams, available on more platforms, discount in Crunchyroll store)
Premium+ Membership – £8.99/mth (same as Premium with added free shipping in Crunchyroll store, VIP Convention Perks for Crunchyroll events, and early access to beta features)

If you ask me, Crunchyroll is still the undisputed king of anime streaming in the UK. Since our last count (which was already over 450) Crunchyroll have added 200+ shows to their library. This is thanks in part to their new partnership with Funimation. They now share the licenses for 100s of shows, with Crunchyroll carrying the subbed versions and Funimation streaming the dubs. The catalogues have not merged entirely at this point, there is still the odd show that’s exclusive to Funimation at the moment, but that gap is closing, plus once I’ve run through those few exclusives left I will be able to cut my monthly anime bill down a little by just using Crunchyroll.

The best part is even with all this new content, the pricing structure hasn’t changed. You can still watch in standard definition free, with ads, or for just £4.99/mth you can get all the content in HD, ad-free. This service is a must for any anime fan, they simulcast the latest Japanese hits like Dragon Ball Super and Boruto, have a great selection of series from the last few years like Psycho-Pass and Death Parade, and even some classics like Rurouni Kenshin and GTO. And on top of that, you get access to their live-action library and their manga catalogue. That’s a lot of content for a fiver!

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

Funimation Now
Price options:
Free Membership – FREE (Limited content, ad-supported)
Premium Membership – £4.99/mth (Access to all content and SimulDubs™, ad-free, HD streams) [or £49.99/year]
Family & Friends Add-on – £1.99/mth (can be added to Premium membership to allow 3 additional simultaneous streams on the account)

Crunchyroll and Funimation are very much two sides of the same coin, especially since they joined forces a few months back. But while Crunchyroll plays host to a myriad of Japanese language content, Funimation is there for those who prefer not to have to read their favourite shows. Dubbed anime is the name of the game here, and similarly to their subtitled sister service, they offer both older content and SimulDubs™, meaning that for many new shows there is next to no wait for the English language version. Also, as with Crunchyroll, they have an ad-supported free membership, although the number of shows available is limited. To get the full-fat version it is £4.99/mth. Their current SimulDub™ selection includes My Hero Academia, Gamers, 18if and Lupin III Part 4.

They were relatively new on the scene in the UK when we first wrote our essential guide, so the platforms on which you could watch were slightly limited. I’m pleased to say that it is now available on most platforms, so has become a far more convenient and viable option than it perhaps was previously, and there are still more apps to come.

Platforms: Website, iOS, Android, Windows 10, PS4, Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire

Price options:
Registered Membership – FREE (Limited content, ad-supported)
Premium Membership – $3.99+/mth (Access to all content and simulcast, ad-free, HD streams)
Extras – 1080p and Additional Simultaneous Streams (Each extra is $1 on top of the initial $3.99)

It was Funimation Now hitting UK shores last year that prompted me to write our first essential guide, and now in 2017, we have a new challenger that inspired me to put fingers to keys. You’d be forgiven for not knowing the service is available in the UK because all their pricing is in US dollars, but I signed up using my PayPal account and got access to all their content with no issue. The service boasts a cacophony of content not available on any other platform over here including RahXephon, Corpse Party and a personal favourite of mine Parasite Dolls. There is a free option just like the others if you just want to dip a toe, which allows access to limited content (no simulcasts, no dubs) and as always there are ads here.

HIDIVE is currently only available through a browser, and the website is still in beta so you may encounter the odd hiccup, but they’re well worth checking out, even if it’s just for their 7-day free trial. They have a great selection of shows both old and new, dubbed and subbed, and they have Parasite Dolls (I can’t begin to express how surprised I was to see this in their library!). I see a lot of potential in this service so watch this space

Also, shout out to their social media team, as I was checking a few things for this I had a little trouble accessing their mobile site, but I tweeted them and they responded within minutes with a workaround and let me know when everything was back to normal

Platforms: Website

Price: £4.99/mth [or £3.99/mth with 6-month commitment]

My personal history with Animax is not great. I had issues with their app, and problems cancelling my subscription, and since I wrote my last essential guide I have not used the service so it’s difficult to comment on this one. But I would be remiss not to include them in this list. They do have a great selection of titles, while researching this I noticed they have The Vision of Escaflowne and Full Metal Panic on there, which I can’t lie is tempting me to dip back in.

They follow the same pricing model as their main rivals, a free ad-supported service, and a premium service which gets you their simulcasts quicker and removes adverts. I know I mentioned that my experience wasn’t great, but I would recommend trying their free service and forming your own opinion. Their library is nowhere near the gargantuan size of the juggernauts that are Crunchyroll or Funimation, but they still have some great shows on offer, it would be a shame if you were to miss out. Plus a lot can change in a year so the service may have come on leaps and bounds.

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

Price: FREE

Although their inventory has shrunk somewhat since we last wrote one of these, Viewster is still the best service for otaku on a tight budget. Entirely reliant on ad-revenue rather than your pennies, for no entry fee you get access to Space Dandy, Gunslinger Girl, Haikyu!!, Another, Food Wars, Erased and more. Being a fan of older anime, I’m currently watching 1994’s Key The Metal Idol on there. There’s also plenty of Korean drama and left-field documentaries available for you to enjoy. What more can I say on the matter? I feel bad giving Viewster such a short entry compared to everyone else because it is awesome, but ultimately it’s free, take it.

Platforms: Website, iOS, Android, Roku, Xbox 360

Price: FREE

If you are reading this after 31st October, you might as well skip this section. Just as we celebrate the birth of a new service in HIDIVE, here we mourn the loss of an old friend. This is another reason why I wanted to write this article, to pay tribute to this service, which while still active as I write this, is closing down at the end of this month. Much like Viewster, Daisuki is ad-supported and all of its content was free to view. Last year I spoke of my fondness for this service not just because it didn’t cost me anything, but also because the UI on its app is gorgeous.

It is worth noting that their content is still available for the time being though, so if this article finds you well before the fateful day that its servers are shut off for good, you can still enjoy One Punch Man, Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, and Eromanga Sensei at no cost.

Farewell, good friend

Platforms: Website, iOS, Android (for now)

Price options:
1 Screen – £5.99/mth
2 Screens + HD – £7.99/mth
4 Screens + Ultra HD – £9.99/mth

Netflix became a lot more relevant in the anime world recently. At the beginning of August, they announced a huge slate of anime they had acquired as well as some Netflix Original content. In the near future, we will have titles like Devilman Crybaby, LeSean Thomas’s Cannon Busters, B: The Beginning, and a show I really cannot wait for, KyoAni’s new project Violet Evergarden, all available on the streaming giant’s service. When you consider that Netflix is something that almost everyone has (or at least has someone’s password for), this is pretty big news, and potentially a massive boom for the anime industry.

There is a little controversy surrounding Netflix’s push into Japanese animation though. Unlike the key anime services, Netflix doesn’t offer simulcasts for the shows they have the rights to, once every episode of a series has aired on TV in Japan, they then put it up in its entirety here. So by the time I get the aforementioned Violet Evergarden on my TV, Japan will already be said and done with it. Now I have a massive backlog of anime I want to watch, so for me waiting for new anime isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world, but many members of the community are annoyed by this, and maybe rightly so. That’s perhaps a topic for another day.

But no matter what you may think of their release timings, the simple fact is that every man and his dog has a Netflix account these days, and getting anime alongside all the other great movies and TV shows they offer is ultimately a good thing. If you want HD you need to do have to go on to their £7.99 package, but the selection of anime is already quite robust. You can dive in right now and watch Cowboy Bebop, Attack on Titan, Trigun and Black Lagoon just to name a few, and I for one look forward to that library expanding.

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

Amazon Prime Video
Price: £5.99/mth [or £79/year]
I said last year this was one to watch and looks like I was right. This year Amazon jumped into the anime streaming world with two feet, bringing shows like Re:Creators, Scum’s Wish and Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul among others to UK screens. They still don’t have as much as Netflix, but certainly, more now than they did last year. What’s interesting to note is that they have launched an anime service in the US, called Anime Strike, something that has not gone down particularly well with our Stateside brethren because it’s an additional $4.99 on top of what they’re paying already for Prime. The service boasts around 155 anime titles, some of which are available as part of a standard Prime subscription in the UK. It is unknown at this point if Anime Strike is coming to the UK. If we hear anything we’ll let you know, although I don’t know if I’d be happy to pay on top of Prime, and there has been a lot of backlash, so hopefully, Amazon rethinks their strategy.

So considering we don’t have Anime Strike here it’s hard to recommend Amazon solely for anime purposes (also, there is no “anime” category on their apps, so it can be tricky to find), but it’s another one like Netflix that does give you a lot of other content. So if you’re looking for a catch-all service that everyone in the family can use (plus you get Prime delivery, so you can get those anime Blu-rays with same day delivery) and Netflix’s catalogue doesn’t tickle your fancy, maybe give Prime Video a look.

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

Honourable mention – YouTube
Price: FREE
Once again, we’re giving an obligatory shout out to YouTube. While it is not by any stretch my number one recommendations for finding anime, you will occasionally find content uploaded by distributors completely free. Funimation have uploaded Texhnolyze to watch for free and Gundam.info is an official channel that upload new Gundam content regularly. To quote myself from last year “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”.

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

And thus concludes this list. As before, there is anime available on other digital platforms, Google Play have all of season one of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex which you can buy as a whole series or piecemeal for example, or you can buy The Devil is a Part-timer on iTunes or the Windows Store in the same fashion, but the services listed above are the ones that anyone with a penchant for anime should be checking out. We’d also like to (again) throw a shout out to because.moe an anime streaming search engine designed to easily let you know what service is carrying any particular series you’re looking for. We will be getting to the other ways you can enjoy anime in the UK aside from streaming in part 2.