There may have never been a better time to be a fan of anime than right now. Although the popular Japanese artform goes back at least 100 years, anime is enjoying an all-time high in fandom around the world. And, as is the case with most things, an increase in demand equates to a sizeable increase in supply. Never before has there been more anime series and films for us to enjoy. Furthermore, for the first time in history, we have tons of sources for viewing anime content, absolutely free of charge.
Not only is more anime being produced in 2020 than ever before, but it also seems like there is a new free anime streaming site popping up every single day. What was once a niche genre has become one of the most popular mainstream forms of entertainment. What used to be primarily of interest to youths in Japan is now a worldwide phenomenon. It is only natural, then, that anime would go the same way that all other forms of popular media are heading nowadays – free streaming.
Once upon a time, if you wanted to watch anime, you would have to pay for it by the DVD or VHS. This is, thankfully, no longer the case. With the rise of the free streaming revolution, anime is easily accessible. In fact, it seems as if it could be even more accessible than Hollywood blockbuster movies, as production companies that specialize in anime often do not have the same level of money and influence over what happens to their content as, say, Disney or MGM. That means that anime fanatics from all over the world have a seemingly endless supply of free streaming sites to enjoy films and series from their favorite Japanese animators.
In fact, there are so many free anime streaming sites that it can sometimes be difficult to figure out which ones are worth your time and which ones are duds to be passed over and forgotten about. Additionally, with so many anime streaming sites on the web, the bar has been raised. It is not enough anymore to merely provide streams of a few anime titles. The best anime streaming sites in 2020 will offer something else – a social component, a solid archiving structure, beautiful site design, and an unrivaled library of as many anime titles as you could imagine.
And that is where I come in. Because there are so many free anime streaming sites, it can be a daunting task (not to mention an extremely time-consuming one) to figure out which sites deserve your attention. Which is precisely why I have parsed every reputable free anime streaming site on the web, bringing forth only the best of the best, so that you don’t have to.
So, in that spirit, where does a site like the cleverly titled Anime-Planet (a play on the popular American nature network, Animal Planet) fall on the spectrum? Well, let’s delve in and take a look, shall we? Because Anime-Planet is one of the most popular free anime streaming sites on the web – not to mention one of the most unique – but is it truly deserving of its stature?
The word anime is Japanese for “animation.” Technically speaking, in Japan, “anime” can refer to any kind of animated media. However, outside of Japan, of course, the term refers strictly to a certain style of animation – one that is uniquely Japanese – and it is often characterized by fantastical themes, vibrant and over the top characters, and colorful graphics. The earliest commercial iterations of what, today, we would refer to as ‘anime’ date back to 1917.
The peak of the anime style, though, culminated in the 1960s, most notably with the works of Osamu Tezuka, who is often credited with playing a large role in pioneering the style of anime that would come to global prominence throughout the rest of the 20th century and into the 21st.
Alongside the surge in popularity of anime came the parallel art form of manga. Especially in the 1970s, manga – a stylized version of Japanese comic books and graphic novels – would come to lay down the foundation for the future of anime, that which we see today. Plenty of anime titles and series, in other words, are based on the manga of the 70s. Many of the tropes, characters, and thematic elements (such as the sub-genre of giant robots known as mecha) are all rooted in these late 20th century works of the manga.
The two mediums are often grouped together, then, and, thus, it should come as no surprise that most reputable free anime streaming sites also offer free manga e-books. Which is precisely the pairing that the community of superfans behind Anime-Planet has decided to provide. Founded in 2001, Anime-Planet claims to have been the very first online anime and manga recommendation database.
The site was created by fans, for fans, and allows users to create sprawling lists of their favorite titles, as well as connect with one another, leading to the discovery of new titles based on other peoples’ lists. Anime-Planet is entirely run and operated by a community of passionate volunteers, and they are very easy to contact should you want to contribute in some way to the cause.
Today, Anime-Planet boasts millions of unique monthly users, and the site seems to support itself through light advertising that does not get in the way of its excellent user experience.
Speaking of user-friendliness, Anime-Planet is expertly designed. In fact, anime site or not, it is rare that you come across a free streaming site that looks this good and functions as well as Anime-Planet. From the very first moment I landed on Anime Planet’s home page, I was taken aback by how well designed it was. Greeted by a large animated banner depicting an appropriate space theme with shooting stars and supernovas soaring around the site’s logo (which is fixated within a planet resembling Saturn), it is hard not to be impressed by the interactive and welcoming nature of this site.
Below the banner, scroll down a bit, and you can immediately begin browsing Anime Planet’s robust library of films and series. Browse titles by what’s popular this week, recommendations (if you like this, you’ll probably like this…), or the top new picks of the season. There is also a convenient site menu bar at the very top of the page that lets users navigate the site by choosing Anime, Manga, Characters, or Community. The site is every bit as professionally designed and easy to use as it is novel and fun.
In addition to over 45,000 legal (the site’s emphasis, not my own) full-length streams, Anime-Planet offers an equally impressive library of manga. So, it is safe to say that anime and manga fans will be hard-pressed to run out of content on Anime-Planet. Not only can you watch anime and read the manga to your heart’s content on this site, but you can keep track of what you have seen/read and what you hope to get to next with its excellent and helpful user and community features.
Make lists, view the lists of others, discover new content, or participate in Anime Planet’s thriving community. You can visit the site’s very active forum, read reviews of anime or manga, keep up with the site’s announcements in its news section, check out some community issued reading or viewing challenges, or partake in the site’s very own Discord chat. For fans of anime and manga, this site is something of a promised land. I love how interactive and community-based Anime-Planet is, making it something of a free anime streaming site that meets a free anime social network.
Desktop and Mobile Experience
Unfortunately, at the moment there is no app form of Anime-Planet. That being said, the site seems to work just as well on mobile devices as it does on your desktop or laptop computer. It is perfectly optimized for mobile browsers, which means that you can enjoy all of your favorite anime and manga titles no matter where you are.
Suggestions that I have for Anime Planet
Honestly, this site is very well done. The only suggestion that I have for Anime-Planet: please make an app!