I recently learned that Crunchyroll has decided to stop offering ad-supported streaming services. What does that mean for anime fans? It means that there will no longer be any free new anime through Crunchyroll. Via some quiet extended rants on other anime blogs, I’ve already expressed how deeply disappointed I am with this decision by CR. I think I’ve already ranted enough about how this is going to deter new anime fans from trying anime and is a big step backwards for anime access for everyone, so I will just leave it at that. But these new events did get me wondering, what anime is available for free? I’ve had paid subscriptions to Funimation and Crunchyroll for a while now, so I never really thought beyond those two giant streaming services. I went on a little investigative adventure, and boy did I find a treasure trove at the end! So here is a short list of streaming services you can enjoy anime with that’s totally free! (and legal!)
Pluto TV is probably the most convenient free anime option. It’s just an app that goes right on your smart TV and it includes a wide variety of channels. This eclectic entertainment app has everything from home hunting TV shows to American Gladiators, and it also has a few channels for anime. Using this app feels very much like using Ye Old Timey Cable TV, and the re-runs from the Home and Garden Channel or HBO definitely help with that nostalgia feel. Though the anime channels don’t have a whole lot of variety, if you love bingeing one anime series for hours this is the place for you! Like watching a regular local TV channel, with Pluto TV you do not need to click on the next video to see the next episode. One little annoyance is that like a local TV channel there is no going back and watching an episode that you missed, you just get to see what is currently “airing” on the channel.
Tubi is like an odd cross between Netflix and Pluto TV. Tubi is also an app for your smart TV, but it has an user interface more like Netflix. Like Pluto TV there is a lot more on this app than just anime. If you are looking for an all in one entertainment app this could be great. If you were really just looking for anime, all the extra viewing litter that you have to wade through could get a bit annoying. Like Netflix, there is search options and you can select whatever anime you want to watch from a list of thumbnail images without having to wait for it it be “airing” on a channel. The variety of anime available on this app is significantly better than what you might find on Pluto TV, but you do lose that bingeing convenience that Pluto offered. So, if you’re willing to put out the extra effort of using the TV remote, your reward is a lot more anime!
This website really surprised me. I had heard of RetroCrush.tv before, but I really didn’t know anything about it. I happened to stumble on it as I was actually investigating to see if HiDive was free (it’s not). That’s when I read an article by PC magazine that mentioned that RetroCrush.tv was a free source of anime. So earlier today I looked it up (it’s really tricky to get search engines to look for it, definitely do not search for RetroCrush.com) and when I finally did get to the correct website I was blown away! There was so many different anime series, and the series are really good too. I spent an hour just clicking through their offerings going “Ooo! I haven’t seen that in forever! What?! there was a second season to that? Oh, I wanted to see that!”. And unlike Pluto TV or Tubi, RetroCrush.tv is nothing but anime! In fact, RetroCrush.tv’s offerings were so tempting I nearly got distracted into watching the anime Vampire Princess Miyu instead of writing this post!
Anime DVD Swap
You could always rely on the kindness of strangers. Never forget that anime fans are everywhere and could be closer than you think. Reaching out to anime fans in your area IRL could be a great way to make friends and if you have even one anime DVD that network of fans could be your in road to an entire world of anime viewing joy. One of my favorite things about my anime club at university was the swapping of anime DVDs at the weekly meetings. I got to see so much more anime than I could have afforded to buy simply by sharing with fans.