The best way to support the anime industry is to purchase DVD/Blu-ray copies of all the shows, but that isn’t quite financially feasible for most. The next best thing would be to purchase a subscription to a streaming service, but those come at a cost too. While some may turn to other unofficial sources on the web, it is worth considering that there are free and legal options available for those who are willing to watch some advertisements in exchange for their dose of quality Japanese animated entertainment. While this certainly will not rescue the struggling industry, the people who help create and deliver this content to you will still earn something from the ad revenue. At the very least, streaming from official sources will keep your conscience happy.
Crunchyroll is arguably the most well-known worldwide anime streaming service. With over 25,000 episodes of content, they have one of the largest catalogues available. Since February 1, 2016, however, Crunchyroll has decided to make older titles exclusive to premium users in response to “the increasing cost of content and fluctuations in the Canadian exchange rates.” Therefore, non-premium users have access to all currently airing titles, one week after the episode airs, for a 13-week period before it becomes exclusive to premium subscribers only. This makes Crunchyroll a good choice for watching ad-supported simulcasts for free, but those who want access to their library of other titles will have to buy a subscription. Also, the ads on their videos tend to be very frequent, long and repetitive which turn some people off. Recently, they signed a long-term partnership with Funimation, so many titles are now shared between them.
Funimation is another big name in the industry, and also a great choice for streaming anime for free. The American foreign licensing studio is a leading distributor of anime in North America. Since they have both free and paid services, it can be challenging to tell whether or not a show is available to free users when browsing their catalogue. Another caveat is that the service is only available for viewing on a web-browser, since a FunimationNow subscription is required to use their apps on other devices. Nevertheless, they have a considerably wide selection of catalogue titles available for free users to enjoy. As I mentioned earlier, they are now partnered with Crruchyroll, so some content is now shared between the two services.
DAISUKI is a fairly underrated anime streaming service with a pretty good selection of recent anime. The website is run by Anime Consortium Japan Inc. which is a part of the parent company BANDAI NAMCO Holdings Inc. They do offer both free and premium services, but most of their titles are available for free with ads.
UPDATE: A notice has been released that Anime Consortium Japan Inc. will be ending their steaming platform “DAISUKI”, effective October 31, 2017 at 11 a.m. Japan Standard Time.
Viewster is another great source for free and legal anime. And unlike the options previously mentioned, the service is completely free. They have a wide selection of anime and also offer lots of other international series, films, and documentaries.
Tubi TV (Subs)
Tubi TV is another completely free service supported with ads. Claiming to be a free-of-charge competitor to Netflix, they have a massive selection of titles across many genres, including a pretty good collection of anime. In order to provide you with this content, they have partnerships with both Crunchyroll and Funimation.
Crackle, a Sony network, is also a completely free purveyor of cross-genre commericial-supported content. They have a pretty small anime catalogue, but their selection of shows changes frequently, so it is worth taking a look, especially if you enjoy watching your anime dubbed in English.
Viki is a website for watching international shows, although it’s mainly for streaming Asian dramas. They have a ridiculously small selection of anime, but I thought I’d mention it on the off chance that one of those few shows pique your interest.
Lastly, don’t forget to take a look at the anime selections of subscription services you may already have. For example, Netflix has a pretty decent collection of anime and the selection on Amazon Prime is not bad either.
Please note that a lot of this information is only relevant to North America, specifically to Canada, since the licenses for the shows are region specific.
Which streaming service is your favourite? Discovered any others that we missed? Feel free to share in the comments.