Netflix has transformed the way we watch anime. With a growing library of original titles, it’s a treasure trove for anime fans. Whether you’re a seasoned otaku or just starting to explore this vibrant world, Netflix’s original anime series offer something for everyone. From gripping stories to stunning animation, these shows are more than just cartoons – they’re a gateway to diverse narratives and captivating worlds. Let’s dive into the 13 best Netflix original anime series that you shouldn’t miss.
It’s important to note that not every anime series on Netflix is a Netflix Original. Many are licensed titles, available only for a limited time and in specific regions.
1. ‘Castlevania’ (2017-2021)
“Castlevania,” adapted from the popular video game series, revitalizes the lore of Dracula in a dark, gothic setting. It’s not just an animated series; it’s a rich tapestry of horror, drama, and action. The story centers around the last surviving member of the disgraced Belmont clan, Trevor Belmont, trying to save Eastern Europe from extinction at the hands of Vlad Dracula Tepes himself.
The series excels in its detailed artwork, complex characters, and a narrative that expertly blends dark humor with emotional depth. Each season escalates in intensity, presenting a world where moral ambiguities play a significant role. The animation style complements the show’s grim tone, with battle scenes depicted in a visually striking manner. “Castlevania” is a mature, engaging series that has set a high bar for anime adaptations of video games.
2. ‘Devilman Crybaby’ (2018)
“Devilman Crybaby” stands out as a masterpiece of modern anime for its bold storytelling and unique visual style. This series reimagines Go Nagai’s classic manga, delivering a narrative that’s both emotionally charged and deeply provocative. The story dives into the psyche of Akira Fudo, who becomes Devilman, possessing the powers of a demon but retaining the soul of a human.
This transformation leads him through a harrowing journey of battling other demons and grappling with moral dilemmas. The animation is raw and unorthodox, perfectly mirroring the show’s intense and often disturbing themes. What sets “Devilman Crybaby” apart is its willingness to explore complex topics like human nature, societal breakdowns, and existential dread, making it a standout piece in the anime genre.
3. ‘Beastars’ (2019-)
“Beastars” offers a unique perspective in the world of anime, set in a society of anthropomorphic animals. It’s a profound exploration of societal issues, identity, and the complexity of interpersonal relationships. The story revolves around Legoshi, a large but timid wolf who navigates life in a world where carnivores and herbivores coexist with underlying tension.
The series is known for its deep character development, as each character wrestles with their internal struggles, societal expectations, and personal desires. The animation style is a blend of CGI and traditional techniques, creating a visually distinctive experience. “Beastars” excels in its narrative depth, tackling themes like prejudice, love, and the struggle to fit in, making it a thought-provoking and emotionally resonant series.
4. ‘Baki’ (2018-2020)
“Baki” is a high-octane anime that delves into the world of martial arts like no other. Centered around Baki Hanma, a fighter training to surpass his legendary father, the series is a relentless display of strength and combat. What makes “Baki” exceptional is its intense and creatively choreographed fight scenes, showcasing a variety of fighting styles from around the world.
The characters are larger-than-life, each with their unique abilities and backstories, adding to the show’s dynamic nature. The animation is gritty and raw, fitting the brutal and unyielding tone of the series. “Baki” is more than just an action anime; it’s an exploration of the limits of human strength and the spirit of competition, making it a thrilling watch for fans of the genre.
5. ‘Aggretsuko’ (2018-present)
“Aggretsuko” is a delightful and insightful anime that resonates with anyone familiar with the struggles of modern office life. The series follows Retsuko, a red panda who deals with her daily work frustrations by singing death metal at karaoke bars. This unique premise sets the stage for a series that’s both humorous and relatable.
The animation is simple yet expressive, perfectly capturing the nuances of office dynamics and the challenges of adult life. “Aggretsuko” balances its lighthearted moments with themes of empowerment, self-discovery, and the pursuit of happiness. The series’ charm lies in its honest portrayal of the mundane aspects of life, making it a refreshing and endearing show.
6. ‘Dorohedoro’ (2020)
“Dorohedoro” is an anime that defies conventional categorization, blending dark fantasy, comedy, and a dash of mystery into an unforgettable experience. Set in a grim and bizarre world, the story follows Caiman, an amnesiac man with a reptile head, as he seeks to regain his memories and understand his true identity.
The series stands out for its unique world-building, populated by a cast of eccentric and memorable characters. The animation style is gritty and matches the show’s surreal and often violent narrative. “Dorohedoro” is a whirlwind of a show, filled with unpredictable twists and turns, dark humor, and a deep, engaging mystery at its core.
7. ‘Blue Eye Samurai’ (2023)
“Blue Eye Samurai” is a newer addition to Netflix’s anime lineup, but it has quickly made its mark with its engaging storytelling and historical depth. Set in feudal Japan, the series revolves around a mixed-race samurai who seeks to avenge the destruction of his clan. It’s a tale of honor, revenge, and identity, infused with action-packed sword fights and a deep understanding of Japanese culture.
The animation is crisp and vibrant, bringing to life the era’s beauty and brutality. What sets “Blue Eye Samurai” apart is its focus on a protagonist who grapples with his mixed heritage, offering a fresh perspective on the samurai genre. The series is a gripping blend of historical drama and martial arts action, making it a standout title.
8. ‘Kakegurui’ (2017-2019)
“Kakegurui” takes the high school setting to a new level with its focus on gambling and psychological manipulation. Set in an elite school where students’ status is determined by their gambling skills, the series follows Yumeko Jabami, a seemingly innocent student who reveals her love for high-stakes gambling.
The animation style is bold and dramatic, fitting the series’ intense and often unnerving tone. “Kakegurui” excels in its depiction of mind games, strategic gambles, and the extreme lengths students go to maintain their status. The series is a thrilling ride into the depths of addiction, strategy, and the human psyche, making it a compelling watch.
9. ‘Cyberpunk: Edgerunners’ (2022)
“Cyberpunk: Edgerunners” immerses viewers in the vibrant and dangerous world of Night City, a place teeming with cybernetic enhancements and neon-lit streets. The series is a visual feast, with its detailed depiction of a futuristic world where technology and humanity intertwine in complex ways. It follows the story of a street kid turned mercenary, navigating a world of corporate giants and cybernetic crime.
The animation is top-notch, capturing the essence of the cyberpunk genre with its gritty, stylish visuals. “Cyberpunk: Edgerunners” is not just an action-packed series; it’s a thought-provoking exploration of themes like identity, power, and the cost of ambition in a technology-dominated world.
10. ‘DOTA: Dragon’s Blood’ (2021-)
Based on the popular video game, “Dota: Dragon’s Blood” brings to life the rich lore and epic battles of its source material. The series is a grand fantasy adventure following Davion, a renowned Dragon Knight, as he becomes embroiled in events that could change the world.
The animation is vibrant and detailed, perfectly capturing the scale and intensity of the battles. “Dota: Dragon’s Blood” is more than just an adaptation; it expands the Dota universe with new stories and characters, while staying true to the game’s spirit. It’s a series that combines epic storytelling, strategic combat, and a deep dive into a world filled with magic and myth.
11. ‘Carole & Tuesday’ (2019)
“Carole & Tuesday” is a heartwarming story set on a colonized Mars, focusing on two young women from different backgrounds who come together to make music. The series is a celebration of creativity and friendship set against a backdrop of a futuristic society.
The animation is beautiful and expressive, complementing the series’ emotional depth. “Carole & Tuesday” is notable for its original soundtrack, featuring a wide range of musical styles and memorable songs that are integral to the story. The series explores themes of ambition, the power of music, and the challenges of chasing dreams, making it a moving and inspiring watch.
12. ‘Kotaro Lives Alone’ (2022)
“Kotaro Lives Alone” is a slice-of-life anime that tells the story of a young boy living alone in an apartment complex. The series is a blend of humor and poignancy, capturing the innocence and resilience of its young protagonist. Kotaro’s interactions with his neighbors reveal a world of compassion, community, and the different forms of family.
The animation is simple yet effective, highlighting the characters’ emotions and the everyday beauty of life. “Kotaro Lives Alone” is a touching portrayal of childhood, independence, and the impact one small person can have on the lives of others.
13. ‘Vinland Saga’ (2019–2023)
“Vinland Saga,” an adaptation of the acclaimed manga, offers a gripping foray into the world of Vikings, melding historical accuracy with rich storytelling. This isn’t just an animated series; it’s an epic narrative of revenge, exploration, and the pursuit of a dream. The story follows Thorfinn, a young Viking warrior, on his quest for vengeance against the man who killed his father. As the saga unfolds, Thorfinn’s journey becomes one of self-discovery and reflection on the true meaning of revenge and honor.
The series is notable for its meticulously detailed animation, bringing the Viking era to life with remarkable authenticity and visual flair. The characters are deeply developed, each adding complexity to a story that challenges conventional notions of heroism and morality. The battle scenes are both brutal and beautifully executed, reflecting the harsh realities of the times. “Vinland Saga” captivates with its blend of historical drama and philosophical depth, setting a new standard in the anime portrayal of historical epics.
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