Whether you're new to anime or already a harcore fan, there are two streaming services that you need to know: Crunchyroll and Funimation. One brings you subtitled simulcasts of shows currently airing in Japan, while the other provides dubbed versions of all-time favourites. Either way, you'll have more anime than you'll ever be able to watch. Let's see which one is best for your viewing pleasure.
No longer is anime confined to imported DVDs and late-night time blocks on SBS. Now you can stream almost any anime onto almost any device whenever you want. Let's take a look at the two big players on the field:
- Crunchyroll Premium: This American-based distributor of East Asian media was founded in 2006 by a group of UC, Berkeley grads, and now boasts over one million paid subscribers. Their streaming service, Crunchyroll Premium, is known more for popular subbed anime like Naruto Shippuden, manga, and live-action dramas, as well as simulcasts of newly released shows in Japan.
- Funimation Now: Founded back in 1994, Funimation found its footing distributing the popular Dragon Ball Z series on Cartoon Network in the US. From there, it grew and began to distribute other popular anime shows like Digimon. Presently, their streaming service Funimation Now is known for having a large collection of dubbed anime classics in addition to dubbed versions of some recently released shows.
While you can also find anime on streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, these two services deal exclusively in the popular import. More importantly, Crunchyroll Premium and Funimation Now offer an ad-free experience to subscribers.
Both Can Pretty Much Be Watched Anywhere, but Crunchyroll Has a Slight Edge
As long as you have some sort of internet-enabled device and an internet connection, both services can inject your eyeballs with cartoon awesomeness. Crunchyroll Premium and Funimation Now are available on:
- Apple TV
- Xbox One
- Xbox 360
- PlayStation 4
- PlayStation 3
- Playstation Vita
- Windows Phone
- Roku Box
- Amazon Fire TV
- Kindle Fire
Of course, both services can also be watched in the browser of your choice. Crunchyroll Premium has a few more options up its sleeves, though. You can watch Crunchyroll on Wii U, but not Funimation. And Crunchyroll has more support for oddball streaming platforms like internet-enabled blu-ray players and smart TVs. That may matter for you and it may not.
Both Offer Competitive Pricing and Free Trials
Crunchyroll will actually let you stream on most devices for free, but you'll be subject to ads and the quality will be cranked down to 480p. The shows you can watch for free will also be pretty limited. If you want to avoid all of that, Crunchyroll Premium costs A$6.95/month per month. There are no lock-in contract and you can cancel any time.
Funimation is a bit more expensive at the monthly level, asking $US7.95 ($10) per month. But it also has an annual plan of $US59.95 ($79) per year, which puts it right in line with Crunchyroll. Funimation Now also has an option for those who only want subbed shows for $US4.95 ($6) per month. Both services offer a free 14-day trial, so you can try 'em out and see what you like more.
Crunchyroll Is the Place for Current Shows and Niche Fair, Funimation Packs In the Classics and Dubs
Crunchyroll Premium has over 800 anime in its roster, many of which are popular shows that are still currently airing in Japan, like One Piece, Dragon Ball Super, Gintama, Blue Exorcist, and the recently concluded Naruto Shippuden. It also has a lot of the more niche anime shows, like Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, Fuuka, Schoolgirl Strikers, and Kemono Friends. All of these shows are subbed -- so you have to read while you watch -- but many of them are also simulcasted, meaning you can watch them as soon as one hour after their original air time in Japan. Crunchyroll also has an extensive library of subbed, live-action drama and comedy TV shows, as well as digital manga titles you can read.
Funimation Now, on the other hand, is a more curated experience with its library mostly consisting of subbed and dubbed classics like Fullmetal Alchemist, Cowboy Bebop, Dragon Ball Z, and Yu Yu Hakusho. If a show has both a sub and dub version, you can choose which you prefer. There's less niche and brand spankin' new titles available, but that means there's less stuff to sift through if you're not a diehard anime fan. This makes Funimation a great entry point for someone who's new to anime, or the perfect option for someone looking to relive the magic of after-school cartoons they watched once upon a time.
Both services will cost you $US60 ($79) a year and are pretty much available everywhere, so it's 100% about your personal preference. If you want the hot, new shows, and don't mind subs, Crunchyroll Premium is for you. If you don't mind waiting a bit to see shows, aren't into the niche stuff, and hate reading subs, go with Funimation Now. Plus, both services have recently struck up a partnership where they will each start offering select titles from each other's library. No matter which one you choose, you really can't lose. And if you're a hardcore anime fan that wants all, subscribing to both will literally cover everything.