There’s a lot more that comes from watching anime then seeing the credits roll at the end of each episode. There’s an entire culture seeping through the cracks that represents this industry. Fans want more and others fans give more. Reviews, fan art, dedicated websites, resources, information, dedication of talent, so on and so forth. There may be sources I list that don’t necessarily fit the bill of what you’re looking for. Pirating versus legal buying. Fan art versus official art. Covers and dubs versus originals and subs. I’m not here to say which one is right. I’m here to both list everything I use as an anime fan to get more of what I love, and at the same time ask others if they also have found any cool people, places, or things that anime fans would enjoy.
Where do I discover new anime?
Anichart – While there are a few ways I personally decide the next anime I watch. The easiest way is to just jump on the hype train of whatever anime is about to come out, or is currently airing. Anichart is a nice information-based website that shows upcoming/current anime with their promotional artwork, synopsis and a quick list of facts. It also, very conveniently, shows when the next, or premiere episode will air with countdown clocks attached to each anime. The website is well-designed giving you multiple ways to view it, and even register to. From there you can even highlight each anime with a color depending on if you plan to watch it later, are currently watching it, or don’t care to watch it at all. It’s a very useful tool to just decide on what’s next and remain current. Now, Anichart doesn’t let you WATCH the anime, which brings us to our next step.
Where do I legally find and watch anime?
Crunchyroll – This is my most credible and honest recommendation. Crunchyroll is the “anime” version of Netflix except there is also a “free” version. No matter what, you have a HUGE catalog of anime to choose from, but they specialize in having episodes that air in Japan available world wide mere hours after the Japan air date. Since anime is based in Japan, all current anime will most likely have no english dub voice acting, meaning if you are watching new stuff, it’ll be with the original Japanese voice acting and Crunchyroll translators spend those couple hours of transition cranking out the English subtitles.
The free version of Crunchyroll only restricts access to episodes that are less than a week old. This means you can’t watch the latest and greatest if you’re the type who want to see an episode the moment it airs. Besides that, the only other things with the “free” version is that you’ll have ads attached to your videos and you have to watch them in SD. If you pay, then you get their newest material as well as the disappearance of ads and full high definition quality. On a personal note, SD and HD doesn’t make quite as big of a difference in anime than it does filmed formats, but HD still does look more crisp. Crunchyroll is entirely legal, whether using the free membership or not.
Funimation – This is the second best source to watch current and old anime. They have quickly come to rival crunchyroll, but they are still behind purely in quality, and their offering is a bit more restrictive for non-paying members. As such, my recommendation is to only use Funimation if Crunchyroll doesn’t have that anime available.
Where do I “not so legally” find and watch anime?
Kiss Anime – This is the streaming site most people use who can’t afford Crunchyroll. They technically have more anime available, but the quality and subtitle consistency will have MUCH more varied results. They also let you download the episodes, but I wouldn’t recommend this website for the purpose of downloading, only streaming. I only know of it’s popularity and have checked out the site just to write up this article, but I don’t personally use it.
Nyaa Torrents – This is the most popular torrent downloading website that’s entirely dedicated to anime. It’s content is virtually limitless. If it exists, it’s on this website. Even with one particular anime, they will have dedicated files to download for different languages, video formats, quality, and more. I pay for Crunchyroll as well just in case I don’t want to download something or it’s just to check a brief clip of an episode, but if you are talking permanent storage, and not being at the mercy of the dreaded “buffer” on streaming videos, Nyaa has all the resources. Just make sure you have a lot of space. HD 20 minutes episodes range from 300 – 600 MB each.
Where do I track and organize the anime I watch?
Anime Planet – This, and the next website I list are both 100% satisfactory sites that do the same thing. They allow you to create a profile and navigate a database of every single anime that exists, and mark how many episodes you’ve watched, as well as your rating of that anime. Also, on both of them, you have a profile that you can edit that shows many things about your anime taste such as your favorite anime, how much time you’ve spent watching anime, and auto-generated statistics. It’s kind of fun to just see your little space in the anime internet community. Anime Planet has a much more appealing look to it, and they have the added benefit of being an official partner of Crunchyroll, making it one of the only fan-made websites that link to an official source. Anime Planet is the one I use more because I like it’s look, and it seems to be on it’s way to becoming the more all-encompassing website.
My Anime List – This was the original “Anime Planet” The first popular website to make a simple, yet deep way to track your anime progress and create a profile. While Anime Planet is outshining My Anime List with official partnerships and it’s updated look, My Anime List has the more active community. Because of this, I run profiles on both. I update Anime Planet the most, but if I want to see what others think of a particular anime, My Anime List’s forums are ten times more active than Anime Planet’s. Basically Anime Planet = official, clean, and sleek. My Anime List – classic, busy, vocal.
Where can I follow news about anime or see new anime announcements?
Anime News Network – This website also boasts a way to organize your anime, but it’s more of a side feature.. Their best thing is that they have the most active and intensive news editors that report on everything going on in the anime industry as well as written reviews of current anime. Every day there will be dozens of news articles that report on new developments, some of which include new anime announcements, or trailers for upcoming anime. You sometimes learn about things unintentionally so I highly recommend making a daily visit to this website and just scrolling through the news stories. Who knows…one day you’ll see the fated “Director of *your favorite anime* announces new anime!” headline. You don’t want to miss that now do you?
Crunchyroll News Section – Crunchyroll also has a pretty updated news section that has almost the same volume of news reports as ANN. So if you have extra time in your day and want another vantage point on the latest announcements, just head over to Crunchyroll and click the “news” tab. Crunchyroll’s look is a bit cleaner, but Anime News Network puts a bit more writing into each story to hit the ‘net. The community is roughly the same with Anime News Networks getting just a smidgen more comments per story.
Where can I read or watch other people discuss anime?
Glass Reflection Video Reviews – This is easily the most frequented youtuber who regularly posts reviews of both current and old anime. On slow months he’ll have one or two reviews, and on busy months he’ll sometimes crank out 4 or more. Whether his personality fits your bill is unfortunately not always your choice since he seems to boast the highest quality of reviews in terms of camera, effects, narration, and voice quality. Here’s a sample video review of his on Fate/Zero.
Gigguk Anime Overviews – Gigguk has become more of a “make one awesome video and disappear” kind of person. Unlike Glass Reflection’s Arkada who is very serious, Gigguk is a hilarious commentator and shines the most when he just unleashes his full comedic repertoire on anime culture in general. Gigguk hasn’t posted a review in over a year, but he did just recently post his 2014 overview which, as long as he keeps those up, he’ll always be a favorite of mine.
The Anime Planet/Galaxy – This is a reviewer much in the vain of Gigguk who boasts a crisp, comedic style. The natural charisma of his voice work definitely helps instantly pull you into his reviews. He is also the founder of The Anime Galaxy on youtube which is a noble collaborative effort to bring all sorts of youtubers together to discuss anime.
Chibi Reviews – Major props to this youtuber who, compared to all of the others, has the highest sheer quantity of videos he uploads. Some reviewers have a hard time managing one review for a whole series, this guy posts multiple videos per day covering single episodes. Without a doubt, he is one of the most consistent and frequent uploaders in the anime community. Now his editing is pretty much nothing. It’s basically this guys just watching an episode, grabbing his camera, and talking off the cusp. He’s really good at it however and is a great virtual companion to listen to as you progress through certain anime.
Lathan Crowe (On Hiatus) – As each day passes, it seems like Lathan Crowe’s hiatus from anime reviews may be permanent. And that is an absolute shame because I have never seen anything like his reviews. They are effortlessly hilarious and EXTREMELY well produced. Unfortunately, he hasn’t put out an anime video since November of 2013.Here’s his brilliant Madoka Magica Review.
Wrong Every Time – For written reviews, or those who just can’t stand “hearing” people talk about anime, this guy is your guy. Not content with just reviewing, the writer of this blog also writes numerous introspective looks into the themes of particular anime. His taste may not always align with yours, but he’s very vocal in his comments and doesn’t shoot down those of differing opinions. Even the occasional blind Bleach fanboy somehow doesn’t arouse his anger. His written work is the best I’ve come across in the anime blogging scene. Here’s my personal favorite piece by him about the profound Chimera Ant Arc in Hunter X Hunter.
Otaku VS – This guys specializes in anime comedy with dozens of humorous topics that he creates. While some videos are hit and miss, it’s nice to see someone put so much effort into the anime culture, and do more than a typical review video. Here’s a recent video of his dubbed “The 6 Girls You’ll date in an Anime.”
Where can I find more things the relate to the anime I love?
Forunesia – You like those opening and ending songs at the ends of each anime episode you watch? Do you wish you could hear the full versions of them? Well, the best place to go is Forunesia, which has quickly become my most preferred anime music website. While their catalog only goes back a year, from here onwards, they look set to being the best source of anime music. Very soon after the songs are released in their full versions in Japan (because most anime OP songs are shortened versions of songs that haven’t even come out yet) they will be on the site usually no longer than a day later. Better more, you can both stream it, or download it in a variety of ways in full 320 kbp quality. It’s very simple. While the full Forunesia network is confusing to navigate, the music dedicated portion of it is a cinch. There are usually 5-10 releases per week and they have the anime divided up into season as well if you want to go through everything currently airing, or from the previous season.
Zerochan – Fanart after dazzling fanart. Zerochan is an anime image website that features the largest pool of anime dedicated fan art on the interwebs. Usually when you google search something anime related, the image results link back to Zerochan before anything else. Zerochan lets you search by anime name, character name, tags, and more. You can register and subscribe to certain anime so that you get an endless feed of artwork from your favorite anime. Make sure if you are checking your updates, that you toggle to “all subscribed” rather than “strict subscribed” because that will enable all character fan arts that relate to that anime appear in your feed as well. Otherwise, if someone only tagged the art with the character, but not the anime, it won’t appear. While the amount of fan art is largely dependent on the popularity of the anime in question, you won’t find any bigger selection for an individual anime than Zerochan offers.
Animenz – If you like the official anime songs, then you’ll probably also like piano covers. No one else has done this more illustriously than the youtuber Animenz. He actually performs in regal concerts worldwide, and his covers aren’t simple “playing the tune on piano” but are extensive, talented reinterpretations that sound amazing even without hearing the original. Here’s his amazing, and recent cover of Unravel, the OP for Tokyo Ghoul’s first season.
Pellek – If Animenz is the piano cover go-to, then Pellek is the vocal equivalent. He boasts tons of anime vocal covers, as well as doing stuff outside of anime. What’s really cool about this vocalist from Norway is that he covers the japanese lyrics in their entirety despite not being a native Japan resident. It’s a true form of what anime can do to inspire people. Here’s a recent video of his covering the second OP of Nanatsu no Taizai.
Best AMVs of All Time – This is a youtube channel dedicated to making a database of AMV’s made by authors around the world. An AMV, for those who haven’t explored this foray of anime fan culture, is a video featuring a song of any kind (rock, orchestra, etc.) and editing video clips from anime or even multiple anime to that song to make one hell of a video. At the base level, making an AMV can result in a sappy love song with a bunch of crying characters making it a melodramatic mess. But there are some creators out there who REALLY know what they are doing and craft amazing videos that make anime seem like the coolest thing ever, and that’s what this youtube channel collects. Unfortunately, the user kind of takes overly extensive measures to protect his videos from all being taken down at once due to copyright claims (a common occurrence for the AMV community) so his library is extremely hard to navigate. I recommend just perusing this list.
Anime Bracket – This is a very interesting website that allows users to create anime-themed “tournaments” where you nominate contestants into brackets, and then fans vote on who wins each round until a single winner is declared. While any user may make a tournament, by far the reason this site became popular is for the Reddit fueled “Best Guy” and “Best Girl” contest that features thousands of votes with hundreds of contestants and repeats annually.