The 10 best anime series on Netflix in January 2022


If you’re looking for fun content to help you brush up on your Japanese, good news – there’s a ton of great anime on Netflix right now. 

While learning Japanese from anime (which simply means “cartoons”) on its own can be tricky, it can certainly be a great tool to help boost basic understanding. Anime series offer a massive catalogue of animated works, and often draws non-learners to begin learning Japanese.

Whether you’re looking for action and adventure in a fantasy realm or a heart-wrenching high school drama, you’ll find it among the many anime series on Netflix. This article is here to help you sort through the best of the best to choose your next binge-worthy series. 

From robots to romance, here are the 10 best Japanese animes on Netflix in 2022

1. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (2009-2010)

Tomatometer: 100%

Genre: Dark Fantasy, Drama, Action

While it’s hard to choose just one best anime on Netflix, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood has to be near the top of the list. The series follows the Elric brothers, a pair of young alchemists who lost limbs (and more) as children trying to revive their deceased mother with alchemy. They are searching for the Philosopher’s Stone, which they believe will help them get their bodies back. 

While the world is fantastical, what makes Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood so beloved is its emotional grounding. The show ultimately deals with grief and the complicated nature of war – while also featuring magic, exciting action sequences, and monstrous humanoids. 

It has a tight 64 episodes that closely follows the manga it’s based on, so you get the full story with a satisfying beginning, middle arc and end, no clip shows or filler.

Worth noting: The reason it’s called Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is that there was an earlier adaptation of the same manga simply called Fullmetal Alchemist, but the 2009 version with the longer name is the one you want. The older version strayed more from the original material and the show quality suffered for it.

2. Hunter x Hunter (2011-2014)

Tomatometer: 93% (audience only)

Genre: Action, Adventure, Coming of Age

The series follows a young boy named Gon Freecss who finds out his father Ging, who he thought was dead, is actually alive and well. Not just alive, Ging is a legendary ‘hunter’ – an elite person whose work includes finding people and things, solving mysteries, and protecting knowledge, like a bounty-hunting spy. 

Gon decides he wants to follow in his father’s footsteps, goes to take the first exam to become a hunter, and quickly shows a natural talent for the job. From there, as you might expect, hijinx, adventures, battles, and mysteries ensue.

Hunter x Hunter is a classic shounen anime. (Shounen really means anime targeted at young boys, but is used practically to refer to PG adventure shows, often with a young boy as their main character. Think Dragon Ball Z, My Hero Academia, and Naruto.

The 2011-2014 series is probably the best of the adaptations of the Hunter x Hunter manga series and is widely beloved. The show is exciting and well put together, with lovable, fully developed characters.

3. Attack on Titan (2013 – present)

Tomatometer: 95%

Genre: Action, Post-Apocalyptic, Dark Fantasy

With the second half of its final season scheduled to be released in 2022, Attack on Titan has managed to sustain both mass and critical popularity for the duration of its four-season run. With strong storylines, great animation, solid voice acting, and an exciting, dark premise, the show deserves the hype it gets.

Attack on Titan takes place in a post-apocalyptic world, where the remainder of humanity lives within a few walls, having been ravaged by giant monsters called Titans. 

The show opens as the hero of the show, Eren, sees his town attacked and his mother killed by a Titan. Vowing revenge, he signs up for a military unit that specialises in fighting Titans – only to discover that he himself can turn into a Titan. What does it mean? What are these Titans, anyway?

4. One-Punch Man (2015-2019)

Tomatometer: 100%

Genre: Superhero, Comedy

The anime One-Punch Man is based on a popular webcomic about a superhero who’s grown bored of being a superhero. The issue is, he’s become so powerful that he can defeat any opponent with a single punch. 

In print, the manga has sold over 30 million copies and been nominated for several awards. The animated series has also been hailed as an excellent send-up of the shounen genre.

With just 2 seasons and 24 episodes, it’s a quick and easy series to watch. One-Punch Man gets great critical reviews and has become a fan favourite thanks to its great sense of humor, unusual hero, and unique animation.

5. Violet Evergarden (2018)

Tomatometer: 100% (audience only)

Genre: Coming of Age, Drama, Romance, Post-War

This 13-episode dramatic miniseries based on a young adult novel follows a teen girl in a post-war fantastical world. After serving as a soldier, she has now become a ghostwriter for those struggling to express their feelings. The show is about her reintegration into society and struggle to find purpose while healing her emotional and physical wounds.

6. Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995-1996)

Tomatometer: 100%

Genre: Mecha, Action, Post-Apocalyptic

Probably one of the most talked about animes of all times and a classic of the mecha genre (show that include giant fighting robots, essentially), Neon Genesis Evangelion can be divisive, but is a must-watch for any anime fan. 

The series takes place in a world once devastated by alien ‘angels’. It follows a troubled young man who trains to fight in the mech suits used to keep them at bay – but devolves into a psychological exercise that leaves the watcher wondering where the show ends and the pure philosophy begins. 

Full of meditations on loneliness and alienation, and marked by a devolution from fully fleshed-out animated series to drawings and flashes of information, whether you love it or hate it, the series has become iconic. Its release led to a rebirth of the anime genre, with increased popularity and a greater focus on going deeper into the human psyche.

7. Aggretsuko (2018 – present)

Tomatometer: 100%

Genre: Comedy, Music, Slice-of-Life

Aggretsuko is a unique, slightly more adult anime – in that it’s about a dissatisfied office worker (who happens to be a red panda) who works out her frustrations through death metal karaoke. At once relatable and off-the-wall, Aggretsuko is an unusual but lovable series – especially but not exclusively for those who have felt underappreciated and overworked at a desk job.

8. Death Note (2006-2007)

Tomatometer: 100%

Genre: Crime, Horror, Action

A darker, more mysterious entry into the shounen genre, Death Note is about a high schooler who finds a supernatural black notebook with the power to kill. He begins using it to kill off high-profile Japanese criminals, and a detective squad is formed to hunt down the mysterious criminal mastermind.

With elements of horror and mystery, it’s a gripping show that stands out as one of the best anime series on Netflix.

9. Your Lie in April (2014-2015)

Tomatometer: N/A

Genre: Romance, High School Drama

A real tearjerker, this 22-episode series follows a young man who was once a piano-playing prodigy, but has been unable to play music since his mother’s death. The show is about him finding music again and learning to reopen his heart. 

Based on a popular manga, the show is about relationships, trauma, and ultimately love – plus, it has a lovely soundtrack.

10. Yasuke (2021 – present)

Tomatometer: 92%

Genre: Historical Fantasy, Samurai, Action Adventure

Created by American-born, Tokyo-based producer, director, writer, and animator LaSean Thomas (The Boondocks, the Black Dynamite animated series, The Legend of Korra), this is an exciting new entry into the anime canon. It places real-life historical figure Yasuke into an alternate reality with magic and modern technology. 

In real life, Yasuke was an African man (likely from Mozambique) who was brought to Japan as a slave by an Italian Jesuit in the sixteenth century. In Japan, he met a powerful feudal lord – Lord Oda Nobunaga – and ended up in his service, ultimately witnessing his death in a famous historical event.

In the series, the same is true (with some minor embellishments), and now Yasuke’s a legendary ronin, 20 years after the assassination of the feudal lord, trying to retire but being called back into action to help a sick child.

An original Netflix anime series, Yasuke has received critical acclaim in its 6 episodes (so far) and drawn a significant international following. The series was recorded in both English and Japanese from the get go, boasting an excellent cast in both languages, with Oscar nominee LaKeith Stanfield in the title role in the English version. Whether you choose to watch in English or Japanese, you’re sure to experience a unique, exciting anime series well worth watching.

Special mention: Naruto

While Naruto didn’t make this list, it’s definitely worth a watch too. The show is about a young boy whose body contains the powerful spirit of a fox demon who terrorised the town on the day he was born. 

The boy, Naruto, desperately wants to be accepted by his village and become a top-tier ninja. Naruto follows his journey from outcast to young ninja as he finds mentors and makes friends. Naruto: Shippuden, the sequel, returns to their village several years later as the young ninjas have become young adults who go on much more serious adventures that challenge their bonds and morality. 

While the show is exciting, with great battle scenes and exciting powers driven by the forces of nature, its popularity comes from its heart. The show ultimately is about fitting in, friendship, community, and the ties that bind people, villages, and nations together  – and what keeps them apart.

It’s one of the most popular shounen anime series both in Japan and on Netflix. Here’s why it didn’t crack the top 10: 

  • Lower critical and audience scores
  • A lot of filler and clip episodes (between Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden, there are roughly 800 episodes, so it makes sense that the animators had to occasionally recycle material)
  • While the original Naruto series is on Netflix, Shippuden is on Hulu! Who wants just the first half of the story?

Nonetheless, Naruto certainly makes the list of our favourite anime series on Netflix, even if it isn’t necessarily the best of the best. Worth a watch.

And those are the best anime series on Netflix right now

Grab yourself some dango, settle into the couch, and enjoy!

What do you think? Which will you choose? You can’t go wrong with any of these wonderful series – just don’t forget the subtitles.

Hold on! Anime is better when you understand Japanese

So why not learn some? We’re Busuu, the language-learning app. With us, you’ll learn Japanese 4x faster – all it takes is 10 minutes a day. What do you say?

Emily Duncan is a Canadian writer, comedian and avid language learner currently based in New York City. Emily’s first language is English, she’s fluent in French, speaks some Irish, and is currently learning Japanese and Spanish. Emily loves dogs, iced coffee, and cooking experiments.