Anime being available on YouTube is literally the beginning for every baby weeb in the late 2000s era. Like, we didn’t have the plethora of streaming sites back then, that we have now. And if you were a real anime fan, you knew that the only way to watch our favorite anime online back then was through YouTube, where a singular Naruto episode was divided into 7 parts and 240p was the height of HD viewing. But we’ve come a long way since.
Now, YouTube actually does end up hosting a number of anime legally, with some of the most popular anime available to watch fully, for free. Like, it is wild that I can just simply watch the entirety of Sailor Moon through YouTube alone, no subscription service needed. And it isn’t the only anime available on it. There are so many classic anime uploaded on YouTube by media houses like Viz Media, alongside some new popular ones like Spy X Family that are being simulcast.
This is amazing because not everyone has the money to pay for subscription-based streaming services such as CrunchyRoll or Netflix. With rising inflation, those sites have just increased their fees exponentially so free anime on an accessible site? Definitely comes through in a pinch. Or maybe you’re just a newcomer to the anime scene and want to start with classics, but don’t necessarily want to commit to paying subscription fees for something you might not end up liking.
So, being able to view some of the best offerings in anime for free on YouTube is definitely a great option. And it’s not like there are slim pickings either. Some of the anime that the anime community grew up on are on YouTube right now. But if you wanted to work your way through the rankings, here are the top 10 best anime available on YouTube for your viewing pleasure. Let’s get into another round of Get Ranked!
10. Fairy Tail
Fairy Tail is one of those anime that was mentioned right alongside the ‘Big 3 of Shounen’, back in the day. Like, it’s popularity was insane for the time. And for good reason. Fairy Tail was Shounen–adjacent, while still having a relatively fantastical feel to it and slightly darker tones to its counterparts. It stars Lucy Heartfillia, an up-and-coming Celestial witch who ends up joining the Fairy Tail, a wizarding guild with an odd reputation.
With its epic storyline, amazing roster of characters and hype fight scenes, it’s a great introduction into anime for anyone who loves the magic of something like Dungeons And Dragons.
9. One Punch Man
This is one of the newer generation anime that is available on YouTube, and happens to be a bestseller. Created by the infamous ONE, One Punch Man stars, well, One Punch Man. Or Saitama, a normal salary worker who trained himself for a year to be the strongest being there is, capable of destroying any enemy with a single punch. And when you’re that broken in power stats, people who want to rival you are bound to happen.
It’s easy to see why One Punch Man soared in popularity. The humor in it is on point, and yet it still has a relatively engaging plot. And if that sounds like your thing, you can watch it right now on YouTube!
I’m not going to lie to you. When I saw that the entirety of the OG Beyblade series was free to watch on YouTube, I actually screamed in excitement. Listen, you could not leave your house back in the day without kids rioting around a poorly made Beystadium and going crazy. Which, yeah, the series was just that fun. The adventures of Tyson and the Bladebreakers going into the Beyblade World Championships always got you hyped up, with a genuine plot that works for 3 whole seasons.
I mean, it’s worth watching for the nostalgia and amazing soundtrack alone. Beyblade remains one of those core series that really shaped my love for anime and I’m really happy I can watch it anytime now.
Though I didn’t grow up on Inuyasha, I was lucky enough to find it available on YouTube. And really Sesshomaru was all the convincing I needed to get right into it. Based heavily on Shintoism and Japanese folklore, Inuyasha starts out as a love story between Kikyo, a priestess in possession of the Shikon Jewel, who falls in love with Inuyasha, a half-Demon. Initially, they are manipulated to betray each other, leaving Kikyo dying from an arrow wound. But then she is reincarnated as Kagone Higurashi, a teenage schoolgirl who is taken back in time to the Sengoku Period, once again becoming the catalyst for a war between the Yokai and the Humans. As she struggles to survive a demon, she and Inuyasha reunite once more.
I love how much Inuyasha pulled from religion and mythology, and yet still remained somewhat grounded in it’s fantastical aspect. And we always love a strong female protagonist in the form of Kagone!
6. Hunter X Hunter
Hunter X Hunter is practically a ritual for any anime lover out there. And for good reason! Set in a world where humans can be Hunters tasked with bounty hunting beasts or even treasures, Hunter X Hunter revolves around Gon Freecss, an orphan who lived on Whale Island. Gon was told to be an orphan, but he later learned that his father, Ging Freecss not only lived, but was one of the most accomplished Hunters of his time. And so, he leaves behind his caretaker, Kite, and his home, to participate in the Hunter Examinations and follow in his father’s footsteps. However, that particular road is not an easy one.
I was honestly surprised to see how easy it was to access Hunter X Hunter, considering how it’s still a very popular anime. But hey, not looking a free gift horse in the mouth here!
5. Revolutionary Girl Utena
It’s amazing to me how no one ever really talks about how, well, revolutionary Revolutionary Girl Utena actually was. This sounds weird but if you’re a Neon Genesis Evangelion stan but were hoping for stronger female characters, then Revolutionary Girl Utena is easily going to appeal to you. The main character is Utena Tenjou, who encounters a ‘Prince’ in her childhood and vows to become a ‘Prince’ herself. And one day, she is scouted to participate in a sword wielding competition, all to become the fiance of Anthy Himemiya a.k.a the ‘Rose Bride’ who has the potential to change the world.
This is not a casual anime watch, despite being on YouTube. I think Revolutionary Girl Utena is one of those series that can completely catch you off guard with how hauntingly fascinating it is.
What, you expect me to not mention Naruto, when I am the biggest Naruto stan to ever exist? Maybe that’s an exaggeration but I was so happy to learn that I could relive my childhood by watching Naruto on YouTube. And not just Naruto Shippuden, but the OG Naruto. Where we end up seeing the backstory of how Naruto Uzumaki was just this orphaned kid reviled by the village he called home, for something he couldn’t control. But we also get to see how he went from prankster to genuinely serious Shinobi, with a support system that has his back.
Naruto was absolutely the beginning of an amazing era for me, making me a proper Shounen fangirl. And I’m happy to see that it continues to get fans, even after 2 decades of it airing.
3. Death Note
Death Note was one of those anime that you recommended to baby weebs once they felt like they wanted to experiment outside the Shounen realm. They wanted something serious and dark and not as ‘Power Of Friendship’ based. Death Note certainly delivered, with a protagonist like Light Yagami who suddenly gained the power of a Death Note, being able to call upon a Shinigami named Ryuk and kill people he deemed unworthy. Of course, those deaths don’t go unnoticed and world famous Detective ‘L’, is put on the case.
I still think Death Note holds up as a gateway for more ‘mature’ anime. It deals with death, deceit and what truly makes a hero, a villain. And hey, you can watch it in its entirety on YouTube as we speak!
2. Spy X Family
A new and extremely popular anime series that is available to watch for free? Yeah, I couldn’t believe it either but Spy X Family continues its world domination! As it should, considering it has all the checkmarks for a great anime. Aka a found family in the form of the Forgers, where the father, Loid Forger, is a talented spy, and the mother, Yor Forger, is a deadly assassin. And that isn’t even mentioning their daughter, Anya Forger, who is a secret Esper who knows of their secret identities, but not the other way around. And so, shenanigans ensue!
Spy X Family was the breakout hit of last year, and it isn’t hard to see why. It’s cute while still being really fun and interesting. Not to mention its wholesome aspect. And we could all use a little of that in our lives.
1. Sailor Moon
Sailor Moon was probably the first anime I ever watched, and I’ve never moved past how much it influenced me. I mean, western cartoons were great and all, but Sailor Moon was so iconic with it’s female heroine aspect and girls that were fashionable but also fierce. Its story revolved around how the Sailor Senshi were the guardians of space reborn in modern–day Tokyo and how they found their way to each other again, it was all so different and unique. Sailor Moon put the Magical Girl anime on the map.
So, imagine my surprise when I saw that the entire series is available to readily binge on YouTube. And not even the reboot, which, yeah, Sailor Moon Crystal is great and all. But nothing beats the OG series. Nostalgia galore!
So, these were only a few of the best anime you can find on YouTube right now. And there are surprisingly many more that are available to view for free, with a variety that any weeb would be happy to indulge in! Happy watching!