Comparing My Anime Streaming Platforms

Well I caved. I gots me HiDive and now I will officially never finish all the anime I want to watch. I’m hoping this will magically teach me how to either drop anime or be a bit more selective but I’m not holding my breath on either. I just watched three random shows in a row that I picked up on a whim and I loved them all so I’m back in that dangerous, “there’s no bad anime” mindset.

And this is not even the worst type of insanity I have to deal with!

anime crazy

it’s going to be o.k.

This said, when I was pondering the question, I really wanted to get some info on the user experience to see if it was worth my time and money. Thank you very much to everyone on twitter who shared your thoughts. It was very helpful. And that’s why I figured, I would also write a post about it, in case someday someone wants to know about my experience.

Here is my data. I watch anime on Crunchyroll,  Netflix, Amazon Prime and now HiDive. Also, I live in Canada which matters because in some cases in has a pretty big impact on the available anime library. I can only talk from my particular experience. If I it was accessible I would get VRV as it sounds way more practical for my needs but hey, what are you gonna do.

For me there are two main features that will impact me in my choice of streaming service. First the anime library (after all that’s why I’m here) but also how easy it is to find and mark anime for viewing within that library. It’s great that you have a million titles but if I can never find what I want to watch, it’s sort of like not having any.

Second is the player and the experience of actually watching anime on an app. For the record I watch on my computer (rather on my very big TV through my computer) and take unreasonable amounts of screencaps throughout. As such, I will be going by the PC experience rather than the android, iOS or PS4 apps.

This doesn’t matter much but I do prefer subs to the point that I have very little idea of what the dub availability is on any given platform and I will be mentioning subtitles when talking about the players.

I think this gives you all you need to know about where I’m coming from. For each of these two elements, I will give you my impressions along with any specific advantage or disadvantage of the platforms if there are any.

anime library

Post Idea: Top 5 Anime Libraries: Coming Soon!

LIBRARIES

Let’s start with the anime libraries. Here is my order of preference:

  1. Crubchyroll
  2. HiDive
  3. Netflix (very close third)
  4. Amazon

In this case, I believe the order matched the available quantity but I should note that it isn’t entirely based on number of anime alone. I also went with the apps that had anime I actually wanted to watch. Amazon does have quite a few titles but at least in Canada, there really very little I want to see.

Crunchyroll remains the winner with the massive library and regular new anime every season.

UPs

  • It should be noted that the two Crunchyroll original series I have watched lately (Dr. Stone and Tower of God) were both very much to my liking and I am happy to encourage them if they keep investing in such great shows.
  • Crunchy roll has a page dedicated to showing every episode or show that is added in real time making it very easy to see if there is a new series you want to add to your playlist.
  • The service groups all the of the instances of a title together. Meaning that if you find a series you like and add it to your list, it will add all the seasons and ovas or movies available.
  • Crunchy has by far the biggest and most varied library, and when looking through it you can filter alphabetically, by genre or by season!
  • It provides you with a users who watched this series also liked feature on shows and it’s the only place where it’s useful. Amazon and Netflix do the same but I find that for anime, they just suggest all the anime they have every time…

DOWNs

  • I am still very bummed that I can no longer move titles around in my queue to organize them as I want and I really hope they bring the feature back.
  • I find that the search feature can be temperamental making it difficult to find a specific title. You often have to be very precise and make sure you are adopting whatever spelling and punctuation that Crunchyroll happens to be using and I have often had to go through google to find something on crunchyroll rather than use their own search engine.
Beastars ep9-12 (19)

I will never be able to explain how pretty this show was

HiDive is still new for me so maybe I’m just excited about it.

UPs

  • Although not as impressive as the big guys, there seem to be a lot of older shows that are now HiDive exclusives and I was able to add a whole bunch of series I’ve been wanting to watch for a really long time and couldn’t find anywhere. The interface is pretty.
  • The search engine is good as long as you know at least one word of the title.
  • You can sort the library by genre, type and language.
  • You can sort your queue in the same way you sort your library! Awesome.
  • When you click on a title in the library it will open an extra information space (similar to Netflix) with more information about the show and include the MAL rating of the series which I really found useful when going through series I had never heard of. I would love to see a similar.

DOWNs

  • It doesn’t have many simulcasts and the library seems to be growing more slowly than other services.
  • It doesn’t group anything together, not even season. So if one season of a show has a different title (starts we Re: for instance) it will be in a completely different place and you may not realize it….

Netflix Canada does have a decent if not terribly impressive library and I’m happy to see they are actively working on expanding it.

UPs

  • Like for Crunchyroll, the Netflix original series I have seen (Beastars, Saiki s3, Devilman…) were all fantastic. Good job there!
  • Netflix does group seasons together.
  • It has a colossal library of non anime shows if you get tired of animation.
  • It’s probably the easiest library to navigate with a good intuitive search engine and a visually easy search GUI.

DOWNs

  • Although Netflix groups seasons together, it doesn’t always add movies or ovas.
  • You cannot rearrange or filter your playlists without taking and adding shows back in. But it is pretty.

Amazon ha the least interesting anime library to me but I do find that they often have shows not available elsewhere. There’s not much to add. You can filter your playlist alphabetically but that’s it and the search engine is ok but not as good as Netflix.

anime player

I have never watched anime with earphones – seems intense

PLAYERS

The players are going to be a little different. I don’t actually have much complaints about any of them. Crunchyroll use to freeze up on me when I was watching through my Playstation or drop in quality but I haven’t had any of those issues in years really. So instead, I’m going to focus on the features I like. Only pluses here! No wait – I do have a sort of complaint about the Amazon player, well get to it.

This is my favourites order for players:

  1. Netflix
  2. Amazon Prime
  3. Crunchyroll and HiDive

Netflix really has all I want. It has a feature that allows you to skip intros with a click and EDs, even autoskipping them when you are bingeing. Amazon only allows you to skip intros. When you move around on the progress bar it shows a little preview of the image at the given time allowing you to easily find a specific spot in an episode. This can be very useful for people who want to take specific screencaps or make gifs! It’s also the only player that goes from one episode to the next without dropping out of full screen or requiring that you press anything. The quality is always good and I’ve never had any slow down or performance issues.

Basically, the Netflix player is designed for the smoothest bingeing experience which is their business model. And that suits me just fine.

Amazon does have a few great features. You can skip intros and you can go to the next episode while staying in full screen but you have to actively press next or else it drops you back into the smaller player. One of the most striking features of the Amazon player is the subtitles. They are large white and come in a light grey slightly see-through box. On the one hand it makes the subtitles very easy to read which is great. But it’s a bit more obstructive and I find that it makes the viewing experience a little less visually appealing. Not much mind you. I just prefer the classic subtitles used by the other players. It does also offer an image preview on the progress bar.

HiDive and Crunchyroll are both good reliable players without any of the frills above. Although HiDive does give you the option to set subtitles to either white or yellow which is nice and gives you the option to always default to subs even when dubs are available (and vice versa), it’s also not super easy to just skip to the next episode so it sort of ends up on the same level as Crunchy for me.

So in the end this post was not very practical. I really like elements out of all of them and there isn’t one  would drop. I guess Amazon would be the least interesting one and I may have dropped it if I was only using it for anime. The library has many very interesting non anime shows and exclusives and it’s great to have access to prime shipping, especially nowadays. If I could only have one, I guess I would still stick to Crunchy for the volume of anime if nothing else. I do wish they would work on their search engine and bring a few extra features to the player and playlist.

Do you have a favourite platform? Which one is it. And why?

Rini 2020 (12)

Irina

I'm much nicer than I seem, we should be friends!

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30 Responses

  1. This is the reason why I have to pick a show to trial each service with, but from that I’ve found some rather…interesting…anime (you’ve never heard of the “Atelier Escha and Logy” series outside it being a game for a reason, but Junkers Come Home is funky cool in that “90s cartoon” kind of way), to the point where “First show seen on [service]” is hit-or-miss.

    HiDive I haven’t touched since they locked me out in fall 2017 and I haven’t looked back. That said, they used to get at least one obscure anime per season, such as Dame x Pri (which is probably the best-performing HiDive anime on my pre-season lists). Now that Funi and friends is with Sony and Crunchyroll is doing just fine by itself, that no longer happens though.

    Quite a few anime I want to see go to Netflix, Amazon and/or HiDive, to the point where my standard notation on my AniList for these shows is “Dangit, [streaming service]…!” (I then proceed to pester my anime club with these shows.)

    The Crunchyroll player used to be so slow in buffering that it kept me up until 3 am watching Uchuu Senkan Tiramisu (i.e. half-length episodes) and, to make matters worse, the buffering was so bad, watching on phone (several ads per episode) was faster than PC. Thank goodness I got a new computer which got rid of the problem…as for the source of the problem, it was likely Ad-blocker Plus combined with the fact my computer was kinda old anyway.

    Normally, just give me autoplay/skip and not too many ads so I’ll be happy. My ideal player is my regional Funimation sublicensor’s (from before they did their sorta-recent interface update), because it didn’t annoy too much when screencapping and had full screen, skip and volume buttons easily accessible in the centre of the screen. Note I have access to Funi (normally that overlaps with the regional sublicensor, which is awesome because Funi’s player sucks), the regional sublicensor’s and CR without paying but with an additional week’s wait + no movies…plus some weird services that don’t specialise in anime like Tubi TV and Viewster, most of which have died while I concentrate on the bigger services.

    • Irina says:

      I forgot to mention that I have a paid subscription to all these services. I hadn’t thought of how the free versions perform inn comparison. Interesting

  2. ManInBlack says:

    “Let’s start with the anime libraries. Here is my order of preference:

    Crubchyroll ”

    Sorry but that typo made me giggle for some reason…. 😛

  3. wingking78 says:

    I’m only a recent Funimation subscriber, so most of my experience is with Crunchyroll and Amazon, and I vastly prefer the former. These days I pretty much watch everything via the Playstation apps, though I also used CR on my laptop for quite a few years. Amazon is much harder to search, and there’s the constant annoyance of thinking you’ve found something on their channel only to see that it’s pay-to-download or “not currently available” (I started to watch Hell Girl on Amazon once and got about four episodes in before it abruptly became “not available” with no warning – I wasn’t pleased). And then the default settings for Amazon’s subtitles were far too small to actually read on my TV screen, so I had to do a lot of fiddling with the settings to get them looking acceptable. You can’t adjust the subtitle settings in the app though, you have to actually log into your Amazon account to adjust them, so there was a lot of irritating back-and-forth with that, changing settings on one device then seeing how it looked on my TV. Oh, and the most annoying thing of all, that “feature” they have that automatically jumps you right to the next episode when the end credits start rolling. That’s fine for shows that actually end with the credits, but some anime will occasionally run the end credits early and then continue the episode afterward for another 3 or 4 minutes. So with shows I know are prone to doing that, I was constantly battling with the auto-skipper because I didn’t know if I was going to miss a chunk of the episode or not. And I never could find a way to turn it off.

    Now that’s not to say everything’s always been sunshine and roses with CR, but I’ve been much happier with them in almost every meaningful way. An easier to use app, better subtitles, better browsing and searching, no kicking me out of the episode before I want it to, and a much better anime library.

  4. Dawnstorm says:

    Whenever I want to recommend an obscure older show that didn’t get the attention it deserves it seems HiDive has it. Last happened with Joshiraku. The biggest problem I have is my region. In Austria, HiDive is a waste of resources. They have very few shows. I don’t think they even actively support the region and just provide whatever they get rights for in a package deal. With their limited library, it would be best if they just rented or sold individual titles, since subscriptions aren’t really worth it. They probably don’t because the administrative consts wouldn’t make it worth their while. Pity. I like them. (I agree, though, that browsing could be easier. I mean, it’s not much of a problem here since everything they have fits on one page, but…)

    I’ll also say that in Europe (well, Austria for sure) I really, really like Wakanim. They have the same model as Crunchy: subscription or ads and free a week later. And they cover a really good ground. Of course, sometimes they have shows that Crunchy has in other regions. But they usually have the Funi shows. For example, they have Stars Align, and this season they have Kakushigoto. They got quite a bit better lately for me, since they seem to be actively looking for partners. They’re a French company, and have quite a bit experience with streaming (France is the European streaming pioneer; starting out as a video-on-demand company in 2009.)

    • Irina says:

      I think France always had a lot of anime, I remember watching tons on TV decades ago. HiDive doesn’t have that large a library in Canada either buy it’s unusual. Not shows I find everywhere

      • Dawnstorm says:

        I just counted what they have (I knew it wouldn’t take long). They have 18 series and 12 films (9 of which are Votoms). They also advertise shows in the header that aren’t available in my region. So most of the shows they advertise I couldn’t actually watch. Some regions are simply an afterthought, marketing-wise.

        • Irina says:

          Oh, ok we have way more here. But I did go through every single show and movie when I first got it to put together a play list and it took an hour at most

  5. foovay says:

    Crunchyroll was the first anime streaming service I ever subscribed to and I was all CR for many years. However, I finally got a few devices that would work with VRV and now I watch the majority of my anime through VRV – although I am really sorry they dropped Curiosity Stream from their service. Curiosity Stream did a special this last month though and I bought a years sub. That’s for the documentaries I love though. We already had Netflix and Hulu mainly for my hubby who is really into TV and movies – when they started doing more anime, including originals, it became a nice bonus for me. What I watch now depends on what I have set up to watch on. My favorite PC is low on RAM and won’t play the HD anime on VRV – and it’s the only thing that “talks” to the big screen TV. I have a smaller old laptop PC that will run VRV (more RAM) so I watch a lot of anime on that one and I usually have it set up because I play a lot of games on it as well.. And I almost hate to admit it, but my phone gets along very well with VRV so I watch a ton of anime on my phone! (Here I said I’d never do that) It’s just really conveinent, especially when I can lay in bed at night and watch anime until I go to sleep…

  6. Scott says:

    I am a Chromecaster, so that changes my opinions with how video players work on different services and such. Like, I haven’t had any problems with Funimation’s player when using Chromecast to my TV yet. Yet.

    I feel like I am very much biased towards Crunchyroll because that’s a knows quantity for me because I’ve held my subscription to it for the longest time. It’s list a general go to for watching anime things or finding anime things to watch first.

    Netflix and HiDive are tied in my eyes in second for different reasons. HiDive has a lot of older series that I like and Netflix has a lot of originals that I really enjoy.

    I’m not that excited and Funimation yet because their app sucks in terms of usability and organiza. Their catalog is really good and extensive though. I also have Amazon prime so I have their video service and that is a thing that exists I suppose.

  7. Mari says:

    “It has a feature that allows you to skip intros with a click and EDs, even autoskipping them when you are bingeing.”

    Wait, you skip the intros AND ending credits? What heresy is this? Those songs are the best part about watching anime!

    Jokes aside, Netflix has really stepped up their anime game over the past few years. They have a good mix of mainstream action shows, niche/artsy stuff, 90’s classics, and a ton of great exclusives like Little Witch Academia and Violet Evergarden. They even have a ton of anime-inspired Western shows like Castlevania and Avatar: The Last Airbender.

    The main thing I dislike about Netflix is that the interface is just ASS. Shows are organized seemingly at random, and there’s so much dumb shit on it that it can be really hard to find something if you don’t already know what you want to watch. Also, I hate that American Netflix doesn’t have Studio Ghibli films and that all of their anime exclusives come out like half a year after the first episode airs in Japan. I’ve been considering just getting a VPN so I can access Netflix Japan and not have to deal with all that nonsense.

    • Irina says:

      I always get chewed out for not watching the OPs and EDs every time. I do watch the beginning of them so that I can see if they change them around…. I think if I got a VPN my brain would just melt down from the excess of possibilities and they would find me softly rocking in front of my computer…

  8. David Boone (moonhawk81) says:

    Oh, there’s plenty of bad anime out there–it’s just watched by other people. I’m subscribed to Crunchyroll, HiDive, and Funimation, and I never really catch up. Still, that’s not a bad thing, as it constantly gives me something to look forward to. . .

  9. Dewbond says:

    Crunchyroll is my go-to and still remains the best in my view.Funimation really, REALLY needs to fucking step it up.

  10. Djm says:

    I have been a proponent of Netflix in the US for a few years now, in terms of anime. A good number of their Netflix Anime Originals seem almost catered directly to my tastes and sensibilities as an anime fan. B: The Beginning, SAC_2045, Devilman Crybaby, Hero/Mask, just to name a few. So much so, that the other streaming services really aren’t close, when it comes to my personal tastes. Maybe only Amazon.

    For me, it’d be Netflix, Amazon, HiDive and Crunchyroll. That’s just on their anime libraries, alone.

    Here’s the question I’m always interest in. Not so much which streaming platform, but how people watch their anime. I have a PS4, so I am able to enjoy anime on my TV in full 1080p, which never gets old. This is where Netflix really comes strong. However, if you’re someone who is dub-specific, it may not be best, because reading subtitles up close on a computer screen with no other distractions is probably ideal. HiDive however doesn’t have a PS4 app, but they are on VRV, so there’s a workaround.What do you think? Do you think the streaming outlet used to watch anime plays a factor in which site people like to use?

    • Irina says:

      I actually hook up my computer to my big TV and still watch anime on TV like I did when I used my PS4. switched to PC mostly for screencap reasons.

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