Netflix anime can be quite overwhelming if you are approaching it blind or as a newcomer. Why do I say this? Because there is SO MUCH anime on Netflix between shows and movies, it can be incredibly hard to pick a place to start.
This can be so intimidating it can keep some people away from the genre completely (which is a shame because these films and shows are often intense, insane, and immensely enjoyable). You have everything from giant robots battling aliens to kids dealing with school (and ALSO aliens). That is half the fun of anime, as a matter of fact. The simple feeling that it follows no rules and just wants to entertain, which Netflix already does quite well.
Now if we were to pick over the very best anime on Netflix, we would be here for days because there is SO MUCH, but we thought it might be fun to throw you together a list of the best Netflix original anime it would give a better jumping-off point to bridge you to the rest of their massive anime selection.
Remember, anime is quite versatile, so there will be something here for every type of genre fan.
(List is numbered but presented in no particular order, as they all shine in unique and different ways)
Even non-anime fans are in love with Aggretsuko because of how relatable the protagonist is and her struggles in work and dating life. Retsuko is a anthromorphic red panda who lets out her work frustrations by singing death metal in a karaoke booth. Moreover, she soon faces an unrequited love. Sanrio is known for their cute characters, but seeing a new side to the characters is refreshing.
Aggretsuko is a satirical take on toxic work culture and the struggles of a millenial, especially a woman, in the modern world. This makes the show not only relatable on a spiritual level but also provides the audience to de-stress by watching the protagonist deal with her stress…aggressively.
15) Violet Evergarden
If there is one thing Violet Evergarden is known for, it is its art. It even won the Best Animation Award from the 2019 Crunchyroll Anime Awards. A beautiful story combined with a beautiful animation puts this anime on the list!
Violet is a former child soldier who starts working in the Auto Memory Dolls industry -- a group of ghostwriters writing for people who cannot express emotions in letters. Despite not understanding human emotions, Violet starts to work as a ghostwriter to understand her major’s last words to her.
14) B: The Beginning
In just 12 episodes, B: The Beginning shows its audience multiple stories that consists of a syndicate and an elite investigator. Chasing the infamous serial Killer B, Keith Flick -- the investigator -- soon uncovers bigger secrets from secret organizations to terrorism and human experiments.
B: The Beginning makes it into the list for being the perfect binge-worthy anime with a dose of thrill and suspense!
Ever since Netflix made Kakegurui available worldwide, it has become one of the most popular anime to date. The manga has been adapted to an anime and even a live-action adaptation since then. It even has a spin-off manga published called Kakegurui Twin.
A completely unique school anime, Kakegurui is a story of gambling and manipulation. Set in the elite school, Hyakkaou Private Academy, where status is everything for the children of the elite, the students learn the art of high-stakes gambling and peer manipulation. To win is to gain prestige, and to lose means being at the bottom of the social ladder. It’s unique concept and thrilling storyline puts Kakegurui on the list!
Why don’t I have four friends and a suit like that? Shit, why don’t I have four friends?
While putting this one here is a slight exaggeration and I can appreciate that (this new Voltron has been rebooted for Netflix, so this is not technically a Netflix original as it is rebooted from a classic anime show) but they still handle it with such style and coolness that you cannot help but feel it is the reboot this classic science-fiction cartoon needed to make it adaptable to life in the 2000’s.
When it comes to Netflix anime, I had to start with a new one that was also still a classic, if that makes sense (which it will to anime fans).
Also, any show where robotic tigers manned by humans forming together to make a giant robot that battles evil is an awesome show, fact!
10) 7 Deadly Sins
That’s one of those “do I look like I am f*cking around” type of faces.
I will admit, it was late one night and I was just cruising “the Flix” as I call like to call it for something to watch. I saw the decidedly odd pic they used for the thumbnail on this show and just went for it. Come to find out, going at 7 Deadly Sins blind makes the show even better because what I can tell you, it is NOT what you expect it to be.
This title helped kick off the “original Netflix anime” influx we get now, so we praise it for that reason, but the actual show about a princess who forms together a ragtag group of disbanded (evil!) knights to help reform and fight for her kingdom against a newly risen threat is just great TV, animated or not.
9) Blame (Movie)
Like spiders, only 3000 times more nightmare inducing.
When making a list of the best anime on Netflix, specifically original anime, we had to include this original anime film with all the shows on this list because the movie is BADASS.
Quick spoiler-free synopsis taken directly from Netflix:
Inside a vast, self-replicating city bent on eliminating all life, mysterious loner Killy emerges to guide a remnant of humanity desperate to survive.
How can you NOT be into that concept? And the “lone wanderer” they speak of is just so badass, he kinda reminded me of a mix between Jubei from Ninja Scroll and Akira. Blame is a fast-paced movie with lush and gorgeous visuals that all fans of the genre NEED to see!
8) Cyborg 009: Call to Justice
Yes, that is a baby and a pacifier doing some ill magic. That is the kind of gold you’re dealing with here.
Much like with the Voltron example, we use the term ‘Netflix anime’ a little more loosely here because this show is based off a prior manga and TV show that already existed. Netflix just did that cool thing they do where they pick up an older show people loved and rework and reboot it back to life like some anime Frankenstein.
In Cyborg 009, cyborgs (a favorite of anime) are forced to rise up and fight against a superhuman who essentially appears out of nowhere, hellbent on manipulating life to his every, deadly whim. While the trope of “cyborgs against superhumans” has been done many times over, there is a reason for that.
Because when it is done REALLY well, we get stuff like THIS as a result!
I love when giant mechs bust out love philosophy on me.
Another one of the best anime on Netflix that just happens to be about mechs fighting invading aliens (as mechs fighting ALL THINGS is the basic premise for anime as a whole), Kuromukuro throws a cool little spin on it by having the main character being a samurai from MANY ages ago awoken to learn the ways of the mechs and help destroy the invading Xenos.
What this show pulls off so well is the initial culture shock of our protagonist and how we see that eventually, above all else, duty calls and he knows he is needed.
And samurai mechs fighting evil alien overlords is another “can’t lose” concept.
6) Magi: Adventure of Sinbad
I wish anime would stop objectifying men like this! (Sarcasm font feminists, chill.)
Though I will admit, I was a bit thrown off by the idea this Netflix anime original, but once I accepted it and got more into the story, it hit me how well “The Voyages of Sinbad” actually works as an anime retelling.
What makes Magi so cool is it is actually taken from an Arabic collection of Middle-Eastern tales (which is where our lead, Sinbad comes in) and features some stellar fight scenes, some really cool magic element, as well as some frightening beasts that anime already and has always done so well.
And don’t pull a me and write this one off because you think it is based on a cheesy old series our parents would watch at the theaters.
They reinvent the wheel with this one and to their credit, it works.
He looks like Robocop if Robocop went on “Pimp My Ride”.
I won’t lie to my fellow geeks. When I first peeped the art style of the Netflix original anime, ID-0 I wasn’t exactly smitten. It had a kind of “Sailor Moon” thing to it (not my type of show but not talking shit, either) that tossed me a curveball, but once I got past that and gave the show a shot on its merits, I found myself fully engrossed with the tale of Miya Mikuri who essentially gets saved during a space mission which kinds of end up being a kidnapping which actually slowly reveals itself to be much more complex than that.
To tell you any more would ruin the reveals and surprises, but don’t let the initially cute surface throw you off like it did me. A much cooler story lies between all the sparkles and ribbons (and some of the mech designs on this show are some of my favorites ever, looking at you, Fa-Loser. When you see it you will know what I am talking about.
4) Neo Yokio
You don’t understand, the use of giant Toblerone candy bars in this show is GENIUS!
Neo Yokio cracks me up. Created as a sort of satire of modern anime by lead singer of the band Vampire Weekend (who my cousin’s band, Ra Ra Riot toured with, NAME DROP), Neo Yokie takes all the normal tropes you see from anime and sort of flips them so things that aren’t supposed to be funny are and things that are supposed to be funny sometimes aren’t.
As a matter of fact, there is SO MUCH going on at any one time in this show it would be impossible for me to tell you anything. Think of every anime cliche’ ever (talking robot butler, food obsession, over-the-top reactions to tiny things, mechs, awkward exchanges) it is all here and done perfectly, right down to the art which nails the anime aesthetic perfectly (because it is an anime, even though it is both a love-letter to AND a mocking of the very genre it is in.)
This show is worth it alone just for the giant Toblerone bars (again, you will understand once you see it).
3) Knights of Sidonia
Come to find out, the animated version of the movie Gravity is just as good as the original.
Wait, is this show based on the Muse song of the same name, or is the Muse song named after the show, somehow? That is something I will probably never have answered, but I started watching this show because the song is just SOOOOOO f*cking amazing, and the show, while not as balls-to-the-wall as the Muse song, is still a rip-roaring romp through space, as we see a “hero rise up” (common theme of anime) and save the world from what very well could be impending doom.
The other appealing aspect of Knights of Sidonia is there are interweaving plots, so you are not just following said hero. We also see what happens when a siege by many falls upon the backs of few, and the burden that can bring with it.
And the stellar (see what I did there, steller, as in ‘pertaining to outer space’) animations and battle scenes are well worth the (basically free) price of admission.
2) Devilman Crybaby
Holy shit, this anime came out of nowhere recently and BLEW MY MIND. I grew up quite familiar with the Devilman series and thought it was fun at times, but wasn’t nuts about it so when they mentioned a Netflix original reboot, I was kind of ho-hum, but I could not have been more wrong.
Truth is, enough people came on the comment thread asking why it wasn’t included, so I had to go watch it and it was so twisted and unique (and very STYLISH, think Persona games) that I watched the entire run of the (all too short) show in ONE SITTING and I agree. Pretty amazing.
So there are demons, and orgies, and this one dude who turns into a devil and cries a lot and rips people apart but is also good, and there are demons who rip people apart but are bad, and the show mentions that the show came from another show, and only Devilman can see the demons sometimes but Devilman looks like a demon to regular people so…
Well, just watch the show. The commenters were very much right on this one!
Very VERY Honorable Mention:
The face you make when you find out you are a Demi-human.
If you were to ask most people what their favorite anime originals were on Netflix quite a few would most likely say Ajin-Demi-Human because the shit is just so cool. About a race of superhumans who rise up (the Ajin) with great powers and start a battle against humanity.
Our lead on the show (much like Attack on Titan) is an Ajin (regretfully), but he wants nothing to do with the lifelong battle between the Ajin and humans, and that strikes up a very complex inner battle with himself about which side he truly belongs to and what his real purpose is.
Which also works as a great metaphor for people growing up and maturing and feeling lost in the adult roles that are thrust onto them against their will.
Sorry, just getting deep on you for a second, I will dial it back for this last one.
Numero UNO) Castlevania
“The Lannisters send their regards!”
This may not be the favorite Netflix anime of the masses, but being raised on the game series this anime is based on and seeing its CLEAR Game of Thrones influence on its sleeve, I can say without question (though WAY too short in length) Castlevania has been my favorite anime original on Netflix, hands down.
Why, you ask?
They provide a backstory for Dracula that actually makes you pity him and feel bad for him. The lead “Belmont” in the show is cocky and brash and very much like Jon Snow if he had a nine inch (censored) and on top of it all, the creatures and the BRUTAL violence genuinely make it an anime that all should be watching. It’s gnarly.
The other thing that makes Castlevania on Netflix so damn perfect is the fact that it, once and for all, proves video games can be adapted into shows and movies and NOT SUCK!
About damn time!