Netflix, unlike other streaming sites like Hulu and HBO, is really trying to cater to anime fans. It has realized that giving international audiences legal access to an already lucrative industry is a good move. Only in recent weeks (at the time of writing) has Netflix announced that it will give us a live-action Cowboy Bebop and bring Neon Genesis Evangelion to the site, which is crazy; no other site has been able to do this. Sites like Crunchyroll have been around for years, but Netflix has really shown its mettle in achieving the impossible. Not only that, but Netflix has been bringing out their own ‘Netflix Original’ anime like Violet Evergarden and Devilman Crybaby.
Fans have mixed feelings about Netflix’s anime; some feel that they’re good, some think that they are corporate garbage. I personally think that there’s a mixed bag going on here and the quality has improved over time. Some ‘Netflix Originals’ bored me to tears while others made me cry with joy. There are different studios, stories, and styles out there to choose from so you will find something to watch no matter what. There are not many releases but nonetheless, here are all the ‘Netflix Original’ anime ranked in terms of best and worst. All of these are binge-worthy but who comes out on top as the best of the best? Read on to discover which to skip and which to binge based on their critical scores.
20 Worst: Forest Of Piano
Rotten Tomatoes: 76%
Forest of Piano has a classic but intriguing premise; two boys from radically different backgrounds cross paths through their talent at playing the piano. While the protagonists are well-built, and the music and artwork are beautiful, the pacing and storytelling feel off.
There’s a stuttering feeling once the first arc is complete that is off-putting.
Frankly, I was bored watching this, which is exactly not what you want when creating art. Also, can we stop having characters talk during performances? It’s annoying.
19 Best: Voltron: Legendary Defender Seasons 5-8
Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
‘Voltron was made by Dreamworks animation studio, so it isn’t an anime!’ I hear you furiously typing in the comments. I know this, but it is based on an anime series, so I’m including it. I personally am a fan of the Voltron series despite some of its slip-ups. At the end of the day, it has a great art style, fantastic characters, and some interesting plot points. Plus, it’s over, so you can binge-watch the entire thing to your heart’s content and not have to wait for future episodes. Watch out for some spicy fandom dynamics and ship wars.
18 Worst: Fate/Extra: Last Encore
My Anime List: 6.4
Another title in the Fate series, Fate/Extra: Last Encore takes us to an artificial academy populated by Earth-projected human souls who show signs of being Masters. Only a certain amount of souls will get their servants, with dire consequences. How does our protagonist get his own soul? Why does he have a bloodstained past? The plot makes it hard to understand so good luck figuring it out. Despite the brilliant dialogue and art style this seems to be another flop for the new age of Fate.
17 Best: B: The Beginning
My Anime List: 7.6
Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Stunning animation and cool fight scenes meet cop mystery in this anime. B: The Beginning shows us genius detective Keith Flick join a team of investigators as mystery serial criminal "B" starts his spree. There are mysterious allies, targets, and forgettable villains galore to watch as we get an in-depth view of detective work and police procedures. Sometimes the plot and the police routine have trouble marrying together, but it is overall a good ride.
16 Worst: Sword Gai
My Anime List: 6.1
So getting a sinister demon sword for an arm can’t be the best thing to happen to you (or a plot) but that happens to our protagonist Gai. Not only that, but he must take down another sinister demon sword that eliminates anyone who uses it. There are few memorable characters and the music does not lift the scenes or the story, which is a huge negative. The animation can look plastic but the CGI is thankfully kept to a minimum.
15 Best: Neo Yokio Pink Christmas
Rotten Tomatoes: 8
While Neo Yokio was the story of a man trying to find love, supernatural events, and better fashion choices in Neo Yokio’s high society, Pink Christmas is the festive special of the series.
Last Christmas, I gave you my (pink) heart.
Pink Christmas sees Kaz deal with the secret Santa competition, family visits, and sinister plots. A solid feel-good distraction with an interesting ending, this Christmas special is worth a watch once you finish binging the series on Netflix.
14 Worst: Last Hope
My Anime List: 6.4
Scientist Leon Lau created an ecological disaster seven years ago; he nearly wiped out the entire human race. Supposedly Godzilla meets Gurenn Lagann meets Pacific Rim, which sounds awesome but is not executed well. This futuristic sci-fi romp has bad CGI and is pretty lackluster story-wise. If you do still want to sink your teeth into this series, it is worth multitasking at the same time since you won’t miss much in terms of the story.
13 Best: Aggretsuko
My Anime List: 7.7
Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
If you have ever worked in an office or retail, then this is the show for you. A surprisingly bitter and salty show from Sanrio, Aggretsuko is far too relatable for modern young working folks. Tyrannical bosses, gossipy colleagues, and a desperate desire for more are just some of the themes we tackle in this highly-successful series. I really love this show and admire that Sanrio had such insight into the minds of young’uns like me. Prepare to look into a magnifying glass of society and laugh through the pain.
12 Worst: Hero Mask
My Anime List: 6.5
A string of passings occurs, all connected to a mysterious mask. Sarah Sinclair and James Blood investigate. Action ensues. A polarising Marmite series, Hero Mask is either loved or hated. Some hate it for ripping off James Bond, not investing us in the characters, and having a rather standard plot.
Others loved the action sequences, music, and art style.
This will go either way, so we suggest checking it out and deciding for yourself if this is a quality or sub-par series.
11 Best: Devilman Crybaby
My Anime List: 8
Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Based on the original '70s Devilman manga, Devilman Crybaby is a dark, bloody, intense story about a soft-boi demon man and a brutal war against darkness. Devilman made headlines and shocked viewers, but it proudly flew in the face of ‘normal’ Netflix anime. The buckets of blood and grown-up themes are out to show the gross and overindulgent nature of being human. It has canonical gay relationships that are treated with respect and tries to subvert traditional masculine ideals. If anything, that’s something to give kudos to.
10 Worst: A.I.C.O. Incarnation
My Anime List: 6.9
In a town that is the center for scientific advancement, a Burst causes the local community demise and disaster. In enters a girl and boy, who must go to the source to save the world. The plot is a little slow and a little light for its subject matter, but the production value is good. I’ve seen a lot of complaints about the English dub, but not many anime have a good English dub. This is another good pick for a Sunday binge watch but just don’t expect too much and watch it in Japanese.
9 Best: Hi Score Girl
My Anime List: 8.1
Did you spend all your free time in arcades as a kid? Do you miss that high of rocking the top spot in the high score list and defending your title? If so, this is the anime for you.
A kid who stinks at sports and school meets his gaming match in the form of his richest female classmate.
While I personally think the art-style and choice of using CGI all the way through is an interesting choice, it can put some people off as it’s not anime’s usual style. Prepare for nostalgia.
8 Worst: Sirius The Jaeger
In a supernatural version of imperial Tokyo, a group called the Jaegers hunt vampires going after the Ark of Sirius. If you want a mindless binge with action, smooth visuals, and cool character designs then this one is for you. There is not much going on here in terms of plot or character development but if you know this going in then you’ll have a good time. Grab some snacks and drinks and burn through some free time.
7 Best: Aggretsuko: We Wish You A Metal Christmas
My Anime List: 7.4
Let’s get one thing straight; I love this anime special. I love Aggretsuko and its characters as well as this Christmas episode. The characters are lovable and still full of that sweet social commentary that the series had. This feel-good fluffy Christmas episode immediately follows up from where the series ended, so it is worth watching the whole show before diving in. It is sweet, wholesome, and Haida is a babe as always. I totally ship Retsuko and Haida.
6 Worst: Baki
My Anime List: 7.6
Baki takes us into the world of underground martial arts to follow Baki, the international champion out to surpass his father’s legendary status. The problem is that escaped convicts are out to take him on. This show takes you back to testosterone-fuelled '90s fight anime and it’s great. Do not expect a crazy complex plot as we saw in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood or Death Note, but it is an addictive binge watch to check out on your next day off.
5 Best: Violet Evergarden
My Anime List: 8.6
Do you love anime that touch your heart and make you cry? Do you love watching seemingly unlovable characters learn who they are and become their best selves? This is absolutely the one for you. There has been a lot of chat surrounding this anime and for good reason; it’s so good. I have watched anime for over a decade and this series is officially in my top ten. Every episode is beautifully animated, the music is stunning, and the characters are so engaging. You are anxious to know what’s going on with all the characters and it’s an emotional rollercoaster from start to finish.
4 Worst: Lost Song
My Anime List: 7.3
Rotten Tomatoes: 4.9
Two girls with the power to sing go to the capital to show off their skills. If you’ve watched music anime before then you have a pretty good idea of what’s going to happen. There are fantasy elements and sweet visuals to get you hooked and then enchanting music and an interesting plot to keep you watching. For those who watched the series, this anime is considered a real diamond in the rough and is worth checking out when you have time.
3 Best: Violet Evergarden: Special
My Anime List: 8.4
Another lovely episode for Violet Evergarden fans. It touches on many points from the series without feeling rushed and still has that ‘try to make you cry’ vibe. My only complaint about this series is that Violet is asked to do a task with vague instructions, only to be yelled at for weeks until it is finally revealed that the task is completely different; the freelance writer in me actually shouted ‘if you want a good product, give her all the information!’ I know they withheld information for the drama but still.
2 Worst: Dragon Pilot: Hisone And Masotan
My Anime List: 7.5
Are you looking for a cute art-style, off-the-wall humor, and dragons? Look no further, my friend. This series is wonderful, and I am so salty I have to put it in the worst category. This series pulled me in with its cute style, funny characters and modern take on dragons before throwing me for a loop with emotional and dramatic plotlines. Also, there’s a canon gay woman in the show. he writers don’t even make up some ‘they’re just friends’ spiel either, which is refreshing. The trouble with this one is largely that its pacing could be improved (and the humor takes a bit to get used to — it's a little off the wall and may no be everyone's cup of tea).
1 Best: Castlevania Season 2
Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Everyone and their mother has been telling me to watch Castlevania ever since it came out. If you have been in the same boat, I feel you friend.
It has been recommended for a reason and a dang good one at that.
Based on the video game series of the same name, Castlevania is about the last survivor of the Belmont family as he tries to save Europe from Vlad Dracula Tepe. Just watch it, it’s a good time, I swear.