Classic Anime Series You Can Instantly Stream

Stacey Nguyen

Read Time 3 minutes

Violet Evergarden and My Hero Academia might be the biggest names in anime at the moment, but fans can’t forget the cornerstone series that got them hooked to the bold and colorful animation style. We’re talking about shows such as Pokémon and Inuyasha. While undoubtedly beloved, these shows required some careful planning and scheduling to enjoy once upon a time.

Back before the days of streaming, you may have waited for your favorite anime to air during after school or late night Adult Swim hours. Now, it’s easier than ever to (instantly!) stream them online through services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Crunchyroll. Get your laptops or TVs ready — we’ve compiled a list of old-school anime series that you can watch right now.

1. Sailor Moon

With glam outfits, splendorous transformation sequences, and insatiable plots, Sailor Moon hardly reflected middle school life. Still, it made us believe that we too could fight evil by moonlight and win love by daylight. And right now, you can indulge in the sparkly nostalgia of your childhood by binging all 200 episodes of the iconic anime on Hulu.

2. Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy Bebop re-imagines the western in a futuristic society in 2071. In the classic anime, Earth is uninhabitable, and space cowboys chase after criminals for rewards. Though it only lasted one season, the series has been critically acclaimed for its stylistic and intellectual rigor, incorporating genres such as film noir and examining philosophical questions about existence.

3. Pokémon

Pokémon is a decades-old franchise, so there have been many different versions of the series. To start from the beginning, we’d go back to Indigo League, which you can stream on Netflix right now. In this iteration, you’ll see how Ash starts his Pokémon adventures with Pikachu, Brock, and Misty. Indigo League also introduces side characters such as Team Rocket, Professor Oak, Officer Jenny, and Nurse Joy. While it’s only one season, there are well over 50 episodes for you to enjoy.

4. Inuyasha

Inuyasha has it all — adventure, romance, comedy, you name it. It’s reminiscent of The Wizard of Oz, but with a demonic twist. In the anime series, a young girl named Kagome learns that she’s the reincarnation of an ancient priestess when she gets transported into feudal Japan and encounters a half-demon named Inuyasha.

5. Naruto

Adapted from one of the top-selling manga of all time, the anime reimagination of Naruto is just as iconic as its source material. The series follows the adventures of an orphan whose body becomes the vessel for a spirit demon. As he trains to become a ninja, he dreams of becoming the Hokage, or leader, of his village.

6. Ouran High School Host Club

In this wacky series, an unassuming aspiring lawyer dresses up as a boy to work at a private school host club in order to repay her debts for shattering an expensive vase. While it only lasted one season, there’s enough of the goofy, cheerful anime to pick you up even on your lowest days.

7. Dragon Ball

Even if you’ve never watched this series, you might know it through the various memes that it has inspired (such as Dragon Ball Z’s “It’s Over 9000.”) Derived from the Chinese folk tale Journey to the West, Dragon Ball tells the story of a young boy named Goku, who explores the world for the seven magical Dragon Balls. The series is still going on, but you can still stream its earliest episodes from the late eighties.

8. Bleach

Bleach begins like any other fantasy coming-of-age series — with a young hero who’s reluctant to assume full responsibility for his or her powers. In it, a high school student named Ichigo is able to see spirits and eventually acquires superpowers from a Death God who rounds up lost souls to the Soul Society.

9. Astro Boy

Astro Boy, which premiered on Fuji TV in 1963, embodies the term classic anime since it’s the first Japanese TV series to capture the aesthetics of anime. Set in the year 2000, it tells the story of Dr. Tenma, a scientist who loses his son in a car accident and develops a robot in the image of his late child.

10. Lupin the Third

A wildly comedic action series, Lupin the Third details the misadventures of the grandson of a notorious thief named Lupin. The original anime ran from 1971 to 1972, but the series has received several different iterations throughout the last five decades.

11. Yu Yu Hakusho

Taking inspiration from horror and Buddhist mythology, Yu Yu Hakusho moves from tragedy to adventure. In it, a troublemaker sacrifices his life to save a child and ends up becoming a detective for demon and apparition cases on Earth.

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