The 10 Best Anime Series on Hulu

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The 10 Best Anime Series on Hulu

Hulu has an excellent reputation for having an incredible collection of TV simulcasts, and impressively, this has extended to anime for several years. These, of course, come packaged with the service’s trademark commercials, but you could default to far worse places to find your anime fix: there are currently more than 300 series available on Hulu, besting Netflix by a fairly significant margin. The selection isn’t anything to scoff at either; there are a lot of classics mixed in with more obscure fare for those wanting to wet their feet in less well-known shows.

Below you will find our personal guide to the best of the best available on Hulu, tailored to appeal to a variety of audiences. It’s a wonderful place to start for newbies, and you can’t go wrong with any of our cherry-picked selections here.

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1. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure

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Original Run: 2012-Present

Watch on Hulu

For some time, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure has been the anime I turn to when I need some R&R. Not that anything about it, at least at first glance, is particularly chill. It’s an anime full of men built like classical sculptures arguing as loud as they can over psychic battles they’re having, seemingly in molasses-slow time. What feels like hours encapsulates little more than a minute in JJBA’s universe. The anime is so much more than that, though; it’s a journey that spans a century and obliterates the rules of how to tell a traditional adventure story, taking liberal inspiration from Indiana Jones, Versace, classic rock, and any other fleeting interest of mangaka Hirohiko Araki to make an explosive hodgepodge of fast-paced absurdity, a language you’ll pick up on quickly and soon fine cozier than Sailor Moon. There’s a reason JJBA continues to be one of the most influential pieces of media to come out of the anime world. – Austin Jones


2. Cowboy Bebop

Original Run: 1998

Watch on Hulu

Every debate over whether or not Cowboy Bebop—Shinichiro Watanabe’s science-fiction masterpiece—is the pinnacle of anime is a semantic one. It is, full stop. Its particular blend of space-based cyberpunk intrigue, Western atmosphere, martial arts action, and noir cool in seinen form is unmatched and widely appealing. Its existential and traumatic themes are universally relatable. Its ragtag group of bounty-hunting characters are complex and flawed, yet still ooze cool. The future it presents is ethnically diverse and eerily prescient. Its English dub, boasting some of America’s greatest full-time voiceover talents, somehow equals the subtitled Japanese-language original. Its 26-episode run was near-perfect, and episodes that might have been filler in another series are tight, taut, and serve the show’s thesis even as they do not distract from its overarching plot, which is compelling but not overbearing. It’s accessible to new hands and still rewards old-timers with every repeated watch. Yoko Kanno’s magnificent, jazz-heavy soundtrack and score stand on their own. Its opening credits are immaculate. It’s an original property, not an adaptation. It feels like a magnum opus produced at the pinnacle of a long career despite being, almost unbelievably, Watanabe’s first series as a director. It is a masterwork that should justly rank among the best works of television of all time, let alone anime. We eagerly await a rival. We’re not holding our breath (though Netflix recently made a live-action adaptation). —John Maher


3. Kimi Ni Todoke

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Original Run: 2009-2011

Watch on Hulu

It’s hard not to be cynical about anime at times—many are so carefully focus-grouped to pander to specific audiences that they can feel clinical in their expression of human emotion, even when they lean on the sentimental. Every once in a while, though, a show comes around that feels genuine in its tenderness and undeniable in its honesty. Kimi ni Todoke is one such show. A romantic comedy in the purest sense, Kimi ni Todoke follows a young girl named Sawako Kuronuma who is feared and ostracized by her classmates because of her resemblance to Sadako from Hideo Nakata’s The Ring. Contrary to her appearance, Sawako is a mild-mannered and gentle person who has a hard time standing up for herself.

After meeting an open-minded boy, Kazehaya, on her first day of high school, Sawako begins a quest to broaden her social prowess My Fair Lady-style. Much like Eliza Doolittle, Sawako becomes an asset of many people’s lives and eventually the object of Kazehaya’s affection. Kimi ni Todoke eschews clichés endemic to most shoujo series and depicts a truly equitable relationship, one built on closeness and genuine feelings as opposed to cheap tricks or contrived storytelling devices. It’s one of anime’s most quintessential romances. —Austin Jones


4. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

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Original Run: 2009-2010

Watch on Hulu

For many, Brotherhood is the essential anime experience, and it’s easy to see why. A more faithful adaptation to Hiromu Arakawa’s mega-popular manga series, Brotherhood contends with loss, grief, war, racism and ethics in mature and unique ways, ahead of its time in nearly every aspect. What’s more, the show is paced perfectly, with neatly wrapped arcs that lead into each other and bolster a greater global narrative on selected themes. Brotherhood is just the right length, never overstaying its welcome and proving how versatile and malleable the conventions of shounen anime can be.

Brotherhood has a sizeable cast of characters all of different nationalities and ideologies, with motivations that often oppose one another—the show manages to use these moving forces to form factions, alliances and foils that flow in multiple directions, paralleling the often messy, always chaotic nature of human relationships during wartime. The show’s emotional core revolves around the plight of the Elric brothers, Ed and Alphonse, two alchemists sponsored by the authoritarian Amestris military. It’s not your classic military drama, though, as Ed and Alphonse quickly learn how far Amestris’ authoritarianism stretches.

Where Brotherhood excels lies in the sensitivity it expresses for every one of the characters’ fighting for their desires and contending with their mistakes, with particular highlights on the plights of minorities and women. Ed and Alphonse struggle with the fallout after attempting forbidden alchemy to revive their recently deceased mother. Later, their childhood friend Winry is portrayed heroically for acting as an emergency midwife. Scar, initially introduced as a brutal serial killer, is one of the last remaining indigenous Ishvalans, an ethnic group purged during a colonial war at the hands of Amestris—his odyssey continues to ring more and more resonant as we stray further into a post-terror world. It’s why the series continues to wow today: it eschews cliche to make cogent points on human consciousness. —Austin Jones


5. The Heroic Legend of Arslan

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Original Run: 2015

Watch on Hulu

Hiromu Arakawa is perhaps the finest mangaka of our time, and the diversity in her work is exemplary of why. Though not nearly as recognizable as Fullmetal Alchemist, The Heroic Legend of Arslan is equally filled to the brim with political intrigue, societal commentary, and tragedy. Based on a novel series by Yoshiki Tanaka—itself based on the Persian epic poem Amir ArsalanArslan follows a prince on the run after the sacking of his kingdom’s capital. As he attempts to gather allies for his cause, Arslan toils with slavery, the death of comrades, religion, and other grim realities of war. It’s an epic in the truest sense, and it balances its dense violence with equal grace and pensiveness. Arslan is a treat for anyone who’s a fan of mature depictions of conflict as well as anyone looking for beautifully animated action sequences—strategy reigns supreme over power levels in the kingdom of Pars, and it’s a treat every time to see a carefully planned victory pan out. —Austin Jones


6. Hunter x Hunter

Original Run: 1999-2001

Watch on Hulu

There are countless shonens (and American TV shows, even) that focus on a group of young characters using supernatural abilities and deductive reasoning to problem-solve. Hunter x Hunter is a rare find among this homogeneous archetype because of its attention to detail and emotional investment. This anime is filled with whimsical subplots that don’t always end with a major event, but let you know characters in this world were alive before you started watching them.

Hunter x Hunter begins with Gon Freecss, as he sets out on a journey to become a Hunter. He’s your typical savior-figure protagonist unique to shonen, but fortunately he keeps the annoying, repetitive mantras to himself. His determination to see the best in people becomes a marvel of the series, and his dedication to others drives the plot. He makes friends with a young boy from a family of assassins, and their polarized dynamic creates a connection that makes the series inspiring. The compelling relationship between these two boys demands emotional investment from you. Yoshihiro Togashi, who wrote and illustrated the manga, emphasizes their youth and inexperience by pitting them against much older, more experienced villains, and introduces powerful mentors that help them evolve. He’s meticulous about tailoring his characters’ abilities to their personality, but everyone draws their strength from resolve. The feats of pure determination you’ll witness in this anime will change you.

Togashi has struggled with a medical condition for some years, but he claims the manga is far from over. Hopefully, the remastered anime gets a seventh season soon.—Jarrod Johnson II


7. Mushi-shi

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Original Run: 2005

Watch on Hulu

In contrast to almost all other television anime, Mushi-Shi trades frenetic action and slapstick comedy for a languorous, thoughtful tone. Feeling at times like it was made by a more adult-centric Hayao Miyazaki, the almost plotless show drifts through scenic worlds and places emphasis on atmosphere and theme. While certainly an acquired taste, the show’s maturity makes it stand out amongst a sea of anime targeted at adolescents.—Sean Gandert


8. Ouran High School Host Club

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Original Run: 2006

Watch on Hulu

Largely a satire of the shoujo genre, Ouran High School Host Club blatantly employs and often twists our expectations of animated romantic comedies. The story follows Haruhi Fujioka, a normal girl attending the illustrious Ouran Academy on a hefty scholarship. A pragmatist who disagrees with shallow lifestyles, she’s mistaken as a boy because of her disheveled hair and slouchy outfits. She ends up indebted to the school’s host club, where they all slowly realize Haruhi is a woman (not that she hid it, per se) and is tasked with masquerading as a man to serve as a host until she pays back what she owes.—Austin Jones


9. Slayers

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Original Run: 1995

Watch on Hulu

It’s easy enough to imagine a high fantasy setting, one replete with wizards, dragons, and treasure, but a bit harder to conceptualize a comedy among such typically self-serious setpieces. For anyone who’s ever played Dungeons & Dragons with their closest friends, though, it’s pretty easy to envision—tongue-in-cheek jokes at the expense of the NPCs, hijinks ensuing from failed rolls that sometimes lead to far more interesting story beats than successes, and grand “screw you” moments in which you drop your most overpowered ability on a mob of orcs. No show captures this feeling quite as accurately as Slayers, the classic sword-and-sorcery comedy that follows the hyper-talented but greedy sorceress Lina Inverse on her many quests spelunking for treasure and undoing world-destroying enchantments (sometimes of her own doing). Though in part a parody of genre-definer Record of Lodoss War, modern viewers will only find it a few degrees away from a more standard fantasy viewing when compared to the overtly genre aware isekai of today. It holds up as one of the most consistently hilarious shows around while still managing to feel compellingly plotted with an original heart of its own. —Austin Jones


10. xxxHolic

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Original Run: 2006

Watch on Hulu

The all-female manga artist group Clamp practically ruled the airwaves throughout the ‘90s and early 2000s thanks to its diverse, genre-defying works, effectively uniting the carefully delineated market demographics of young male and female viewers. xxxHolic remains one of Clamp’s best to this day, thanks in part to the iconic wish-granting witch Yuko Ichihara, around which the show revolves. After visiting her enigmatic storefront, Kimihiro Watanuki agrees to work as her assistant in exchange for the removal of his ability to see spirits, which plague his everyday life. The show’s episodic structure belies inner narrative complexities—it gradually reveals an ambitious dual storyline with its sister series Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, a fantasy-adventure series that was published simultaneously alongside xxxHolic. Despite its inherent connection to another show, xxxHolic stands on its own as a stylish, innovative urban fantasy. —Austin Jones



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