The streaming market has passed the mainstream stage and has now entered the specialty range. Most of the streaming services are trying to carve out their own niche. While Netflix, Prime Video, HBO, and Hulu are competing in the upper echelons, services such as Crunchyroll, have been successful in maintaining its popularity whilst separating itself from the mainstream battle. How? None of the streaming services are actually competing for the anime content. Similar trends can be seen via NBC’s ‘Seeso’ (Comedy-only service), and AMC’s ‘Shudder’ (horror-themed service).
If you consider the single most impactful specialty streaming service, Crunchyroll can easily rank among the Top 5. The problem with this streaming service is that it has passed its peak and is now on a decline. Apparently, it couldn’t handle the success, and the animosity among anime lovers can be understood via the ratings on the Play Store app. What started as an online community became a legit anime platform that fell flat on its face after a successful period. Without bashing the brand further, I’d like to move towards sharing information about the site.
What is Crunchyroll?
Crunchyroll is a free/premium streaming app and website that allows you to watch the best anime content for free. While you can upgrade to the premium, that feature is optional if you want some specific features. It’s fair to say that Crunchyroll was in its prime 5-6 years ago. In recent years, the service has deteriorated, and it can no longer keep up with its prime period. Having said that, there are still various reasons as to why you’d still have fun streaming on this platform.
What should you expect from the Crunchyroll App? If we consider Crunchyroll to be the biggest anime streaming platform, it’ll largely be due to its content depth. It has thousands of shows and manga. You can watch popular anime titles and live-action shows. The best part is that you can access the shows just one hour after they originally air on the channel. You can read manga on Crunchyroll if you care to create a premium account. Thus, you can read the latest Kodansha Comics using the simulpub feature.
Crunchyroll might be fairly new to the gaming space, but it does provide a decent number of games for iOS and Android users. That’s the benefit of downloading the app rather than streaming on the website. I’m sure that in the near future, the brand will work on expanding the gaming titles and possibly carve out an ultra-niche within the anime segment.
While Crunchyroll might have lost its touch in regard to streaming quality, there’s no problem in the compatibility department. You can download the app on a wide range of platforms such as Chromecast, WiiU, Apple iOS, Windows Phone, Roku, Google TV, Apple TV, and Gaming Consoles such as Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PS Vita. If you go premium, you can access a massive content library and stream content on all the aforementioned devices.
What separated Crunchyroll from a bunch of anime streaming services is the intention of forming a community. Not to forget, it did start as a community. Thus, the social functionality aspect will always be present on this platform. Chatroom, along with video recommendations and badges, really gives the platform a community vibe. Users don’t just want to stream anime; they want to share their opinion and want to hear from others.
Crunchyroll used to be free, but that’s no longer the case. You can stream any content on the app, but only for 14 days. Post that, and you’ll need to subscribe to the premium service. So unless you’re ready to go premium, I don’t think you should attach yourself to this platform. With shows such as Black Clover, Naruto, One Piece, Dr.Stone, and Fire Force, it’s easy to get lured by the stellar line-up.
Crunchyroll App Information
Crunchyroll has been installed more than 10 million times. If you need numbers, these are enough for demonstrating the website’s credibility in the anime space. As for app size, it depends upon your device. The app was updated on 31st December 2019, and it’s been more than three months since the last update. Thus, the developers don’t seem quite active as compared to other streaming services.
How to access Crunchyroll?
You can download the app from Google Play Store (Android) or App Store (iOS). If not these platforms, you can even opt for compatible devices that I’ve mentioned above. Install the device, sign-up, and you can stream content for two weeks without spending a dime. However, after two weeks, you’ll need to subscribe to the premium service, which costs $6.95/mo.
I like the design of this app, especially the color combination. The orange/white color combination is quite different from the general dark theme apps, which have darker menus and buttons. The app has two major genres ‘Drama’, and ‘Anime.’ Using these two tabs, you can find various content buckets such as ‘Popular,’ ‘Simulcasts,’ and ‘Updated.’ All the content that you see in these sections is placed in alphabetical order.
Unlike Crackle, which has a different interface for different devices, Crunchyroll seems to have a standard layout. Having said that, the app doesn’t have enough information when you compare it to the website, which has news and discussion boards as well. But because of those options, the website does look a little cluttered.
Crunchyroll provides you access to over 200+ anime compatible with a wide range of devices. You can watch popular anime series such as ‘Naruto,’ ‘One Piece,’ or ‘Death Note’ and can even create a queue to keep track of the progress. If you’re new to the anime world, the random option is worth exploring if you’re on a 14-day free trial. Don’t pick the popular anime because you might find it anywhere on the web. Just watch what the app recommends, and you’ll be able to make the decision for yourself.
Crunchyroll is expanding its content base, and that’s an aspect that has kept the audience glued for so long. The introduction of games on the app feels like an interesting start to something iconic. Other than games, forums, and features help you stay up-to-date and learn more about the anime industry in general. There are so many videos other than anime that you can watch on this platform. There are even podcasts and reviews of various anime series and manga.
Plans & Pricing
Crunchyroll is free for only a couple of weeks. The premium service costs $6.95/per month. I know that might not sound like a lot, but niche-genre based streaming services such as ‘Shudder’ and ‘Sesso’ fall in the same category. What’s worse? You get the Hulu + Live TV package for that amount. But if you’re an anime head, I don’t think these comparisons would make much difference. Is the premium worth it? I don’t think so. Why? Because there is a plethora of quality anime streaming websites that don’t charge you for HD streaming.
When I streamed on Crunchyroll app a couple of years ago, I had a pleasant streaming experience. However, I can’t say the same about this past month. I tried watching an episode of ‘One Piece,’ and the stream kept buffering. After every one minute, the app would buffer for two minutes. Though I thought it could be because of internet connection, I was on a 16MBPS connection where other apps such as YouTube and Daily motion were steady. Submitting a ticket is not helpful either because they take forever to address the user’s concerns.
Suggestions I have for Crunchyroll
No denying the fact that it does have a massive content catalog, but with a lack of stable streaming and customer support, it’s quite hard to rely on a premium platform. The ads on the free version are so repetitive that you’d end up memorizing them. Long load times, buffering speed, and crashes mar the app further. I hope the developers pay attention to this and get to work.
If you’re a huge anime fan, the chances are that you’re already subscribed to this service. However, as you’re reading this review, you yourself know that Crunchyroll is only a shadow of its former self. On the other hand, if you’re a new user, I’d recommend you start off with a 14-day free trial. Experience the platform and see if it makes sense for you to go premium. If it does, then $6.95/mo shouldn’t be a major stumbling block.