19 Binge-Worthy Anime on Netflix to Get You through the COVID-19 Quarantine
You got the time, I got the recs.
COVID-19. I’m sure you’ve seen that code many, many times over. You might even be sick of hearing about the Corona Virus, ironically enough. And if you’re reading this close enough to its publication, you’re probably at home quarantined. You might be bored out of your mind or might be, hopefully, perusing through Netflix to find something to get you through the days stuck at home. Even as some states begin to reopen their economies, many people are still staying home.
Luckily for you I’m an anime fan who likes to make lists and and has lived a life without being social in favor of watching anime at home. So for your convenience I looked through Netflix and picked out the 19 most binge worthy anime I could find. In lieu of ranking them in some way, I’m just going to list them out.
(Just a side note: This is based on the U.S. version of Netflix, so while many series on this list will carry over, do keep in mind there may be some differences depending on the country)
Here’s how this will go: I’m going to list out the series, give a quick synopsis, and then give you my brief opinion along with a trailer wherever possible. So whether you’re already into anime, are testing the waters a bit or just looking for something new while you have the chance, I’ve got you covered.
I included series that I have already seen and consider good binge watches. So if you’re an anime fan, no complaining that I didn’t include series X because it’s one of your favorites or one you consider essential. If you see a series absent, feel free to recommend it yourself. I also tried to include a bit of everything here. I wanted to keep variety an important factor.
Now, enough rambling. Let’s begin!
*Every series listed here is available in both English and Japanese with English subtitles, though some trailers are in English and some are in Japanese based on what I could find on YouTube. Also do keep in mind since some of these series are older, their trailers are a bit dated as well, but don’t let that dissuade you!
1. Carole and Tuesday
Episodes: 24 (complete)
Synopsis: Tuesday is the daughter of a wealthy politician who dreams of leaving home and making it big in the music industry. So, out in the future on Mars where most things, even music, are made with robots, she leaves home and runs into Carole, a refugee from Earth. Together the two form the duo Carole and Tuesday and start their journey in the music industry!
If you’re a music lover, this one is for you. Helmed by legendary anime director Shinichiro Watanabe, his latest project from 2019 is filled with his love for music (especially western classics) and disdain for xenophobia. “Carole and Tuesday” is filled from top to bottom with diversity of characters (including LGBT characters and characters of different races) and music (from rock, EDM, pop, and ballads). It’s a sweet, lovely tale of two girls trying their best to make it in the music business the old fashioned way in the age of technology. There’s a wealth of interesting characters and good songs sung by those characters, and the finale will blow you away. And it’s all tied in a pretty bow by the legendary Watanabe himself. This was my favorite anime of 2019 and cannot recommend it enough, quarantine or not.
Episodes: 12 (season 2 in production)
Synposis: Legoshi is a wolf in a school filled with other anthropomorphic animals. There, he falls in love with Haru, a small rabbit. A carnivore has recently killed an herbivore by devouring him. Legoshi is a member of the theater club’s crew while everyone is on edge over the murder. Rifts between the carnivores and herbivores quickly become apparent.
Dropping on Netflix two seasons after it originally premiered in Japan, Beastars is unique in all sorts of ways. Don’t let those character designs fool you. Beastars is brutal, and gripping. I couldn’t stop watching it. Yes the characters are all walking, talking animals but don’t let that deter you. It is more than worthy of your time, especially if you’re a fan of good directing and writing. There’s a lot to dig into thematically with Beastars from its jazzy opening theme song (animated in stop motion), to the conflicts between carnivores and herbivores, and Legoshi with himself over his dueling desires to love Haru and consume her. Plus the dub is excellent.
Episodes: 25 (complete)
Synopsis: 10 years before Fate/stay night, 7 mages gather in Fuyuki, Japan to participate in the Holy Grail War; a ritual in which 7 masters will each summon a heroic spirit from history or legend in the modern world, and kill each other for the holy grail, an omnipotent wish granting cup. Lives are on the line as this mysterious war between heroes of legend unfolds.
It’s hard keeping this brief. The Fate/ franchise is huge and there’s a lot to love about it. Instead of including all the adaptations that exist on Netflix, I’ll just lump them all here in this entry, and give the title to “Fate/Zero” because it’s my favorite, and I think it’s the best one. People often ask what the best watch order is for this franchise and worry not! You can start right here! No prior knowledge of Fate/ is required to enjoy the whole story. Everything you need to know is explained to you.
That said, as for this anime itself, this is for the people who are looking for something more *refined.* It’s more intellectual, political, and philosophical. There isn’t much room for comedic relief. It’s not a “big brain” title, just asks a lot of hard hitting questions about war, heroes, justice, equality, etc. Of course there’s plenty of action too. A great cast of well written characters and dialogue crafted by Gen Urobuchi (we’ll talk about him again later) based on Kinoko Nasu’s iconic franchise, stellar animation, music, directing, and outstanding voice acting in both languages. Get in on the hype.
*If you enjoy “Fate/Zero” my recommendation is to move on to the next title on Netflix “Fate/stay night Unlimited Blade Works,” and then “Fate/Apocrypha.” After that it’s all you.
Episodes: 20 + special (season 3 in production)
Synopsis: Retsuko is a red panda living in an adult world as an accountant. But she has a secret she can’t tell anyone. At night she goes to a karaoke bar and sings the most brutal metal tunes!
Like Beastars, Aggretsuko features animals as the cast, but unlike that particular title, Aggretsuko is much more easy going. It’s light, casual, and the episodes range between 15–20 minutes instead of the typical 24 for an anime episode. It’s episodic in nature with simple overarching story lines. It’s a humorous take on “adulting” that we can all relate to. There’s a little Retsuko in all of us. A harsh boss, pushy and annoying co workers, officious parents, and social media are all things we deal with at some point or another. And what better comedic and real catharsis for a red panda than the brutalist of brutal metal? I can’t recommend this one enough for people just looking for something easy to breeze through in a day (or half of a day).
5. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Synopsis: Edward and Alphonse Elric committed the ultimate taboo among alchemists; attempt human transmutation. Ed lost his arm and leg. Al lost his entire body, his soul now bonded to a suit of armor. Now the two search for the Philosopher's Stone in an attempt to restore their bodies, fighting through a government conspiracy that could threaten the world along the way.
If you’re already familiar with anime, you’ve probably already seen this title by now. Often hailed as the greatest anime ever made, it notoriously sits at number 1 on MAL’s list of highest average rated anime and on Anime Planet’s list of top anime. There isn’t anything I can say about “FMAB” that hasn’t already been said. But if I need to reiterate, it has superb animation, memorable music, a large cast of great, well written characters, and an intricate plot to dig your teeth into. Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, the English dub is singled out as being one of the best too. I really cannot add more than that. If you’re at all into anime, then you have probably seen this. If you haven’t, then hurry and get to it. If you’re interested in anime but haven’t gotten too into it, then hurry and get to it. It represents everything great about anime. Yes, it’s somewhat lengthy at 64 episodes but now is the perfect time to see why this series is such a classic.
6. B: The Beginning
Episodes: 12 (season 2 in production)
Synopsis: In the fictional nation of Cremona, a mysterious killer designated B has thrown the nation into chaos. The Royal Investigation Service, a brilliant detective, B, and a supernatural criminal organization all intertwine to reach their goals.
For those of you who are on the fence about anime and don’t feel like diving into a foreign medium, this one is for you. The themes, characters, and story are very much aligned with what you might see on American live action television. The supernatural, crime investigations, and even a hospital, all carried by a cast of police officers, a cunning doctor, a lazy but brilliant detective, and a few supernatural beings. It’s like an anime version of “CIS mixed with Supernatural.” It’s also good if you’re looking for a good cat and mouse story. There are twists and turns, beautiful action scenes, and a good dose of suspense. What more could you want if you’re looking for something new?
7. Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans
Episodes: 50 (complete)
Synopsis: 300 years after the great Calamity War, Mars and Earth exist as two separate planets, but Mars is still virtually dependent on Earth for economic assistance and many humans on Mars are poor. Kudelia Aina Bernstein, a Martian Noblewoman, employs the civilian security company Chryse Guard Security (CGS) to transport her to Earth to negotiate the independence of her nation, Chryse, from Earth. But the Earth Military organization Gjallarhorn, attacks CGS in an attempt to halt the Martian independence movement. During the attack, Mikazuki Augus, an orphan, enters the fray with a hastily repaired robot, the legendary gundam Barbatos.
Mobile Suit Gundam is a daunting franchise for anyone to get into. It spawns many, many anime adaptations dating back to the late 70s, but Netflix has us covered with an independent series in the universe to introduce some people to Gundam. They are giant robots piloted by humans. They belong to the genre of anime we call “mecha” since these giant gundams are mechas. If you think this idea is childish, you may be partially right, since the anime are really advertisements to sell Gundam toys and models. But don’t let that dissuade you. The Gundam franchise is filled with epic stories about war that can appeal to multiple age groups. Iron Blooded Orphans in particular, is an action series all about seizing independence. If a 50 episode epic about spacial war and colonization doesn’t interest you, then I don’t know what to say.
8. Violet Evergarden
Episodes: 13 + one special episode + one film
Synopsis: Violet awakens in a hospital with both her arms mechanically replaced. She fought in a brutal war as a powerful weapon. At the final battle, her superior Major Gilbert told her “I love you.” Now the war is over and Violet tries to adjust to a normal life as an “auto memory doll,” a ghost writer of letters for the illiterate population. During her time as a doll, her goal is to find out what Gilbert meant when he said those words.
Violet Evergarden has a premise that could put people to sleep, but it’s sometimes derided as being a bit *too* dramatic. But nonetheless, “Violet Evergarden” is my favorite anime from 2018. It might sound dull but its episodic nature keeps things fresh. I won’t say too much about its content because I wrote a full analysis of it already. But this series is perhaps the most beautifully animated on this list, and its story is captivating. It teaches us the importance of communication, something that might be relevant now more than ever. It will make you cry between moments where you’re in awe of its splendorous animation and directing, coupled with the enchanting soundtrack composed by Evan Call. Give this one a watch if you’re looking for something stylistically mature, but dramatic and engrossing throughout.
- The special OVA episode is a separate listing on Netflix and can be found as “Violet Evergarden Special Episode.” The film is titled “Eternity and the Automemory Doll,” also a separate listing.
9. Kill la Kill
Episodes: 24 (complete)
Synopsis: Ryuuko Matoi enrolls at Honnoji Academy in the hopes of finding the killer of her father. Her only clues are half the giant pair of scissors used to kill him, and the talking uniform she wears. At Honnoji Academy, Ryuko encounters her eccentric homeroom teacher, a new friend living in poverty, and the ruthless student council president Satsuki Kiriyuin. Do any of them know something about her father’s death?
Airing at the end of 2013 and beginning of 2014, Kill la Kill stormed the anime scene when it debuted as the first work by new studio Trigger. With it came memes about how it saved anime, fan art, and various analysis about its themes and content. It’s no mistake to call “Kill la Kill” a modern classic. It is one of the more controversial picks on this list, as one of the main plot points involves women stripping down to gain more power (which has led to various discourse about whether it’s sexist or liberating). Still, though, it’s a wild ride from beginning to end with a unique directorial style, an iconic soundtrack composed by Hiroyuki Sawano (“Attack on Titan,” “Seven Deadly Sins,” Blue Exorcist”), iconic animation by Gainax child Studio Trigger, and highly praised voice acting in both languages. If you’re looking for something a bit more niche with a unique flare, you should definitely check this one out.
10. Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Episodes: 12 + 2 recap films and one sequel film (complete)
Synopsis: Madoka Kaname lives an ordinary school life until one day she and her friend Sayaka have a run-in with their classmate, the mysterious Homura Akemi and a weird animal creature, who asks them if they would like to become magical girls. But Homura tries to kill it. There’s more to being a magical girl than meets the eye.
Don’t let the cutesy promotional art fool you. “Madoka Magica” is deceptively cruel, and that should be obvious once you know the writer is the same man who wrote the “Fate/Zero” novels; the man I mentioned earlier, Gen Urobuchi. Urobuchi (nicknamed “The Urobutcher” by fans), is notorious for putting his characters through grueling trials, and the adorable looking Madoka is no exception. This is the series that popularized the new “Dark Magical Girl/Deconstruction” genre/fad that anime saw in the following years after it aired in 2011. Add Akiyuki Shinbo’s crazy and unique directorial style and Shaft’s artsy animation style and you have a recipe for an intense ride. Give this one a looksee if you’re into the idea of cute magical girls getting tortured.
11. Soul Eater
Episodes: 51 (complete)
Synopsis: Maka Albarn is a human master of Soul Eater, a weapon. Soul has the ability to transform into a scythe to collect the souls of evil humans. Their goal, shared by the goal of all master-weapon pairs at Death Weapon Meister Academy (founded by the grim reaper himself), is to collect the souls of 99 evil humans and one witch (in that order) to make their weapon a “death scythe,” a weapon used by Lord Death himself.
Sporting a healthy mix of action and comedy with a sprinkle of fanservice, “Soul Eater” is easily digestible. If you’re already into anime, this should come as no surprise but for those who are on the fence, “Soul Eater” remains one of the most common gateway anime. It’s juvenile and will probably appeal more to the younger viewers reading through this list, but nonetheless, it’s iconic, an easy watch, a good representation of the average anime, and has a solid production staff behind it. There’s a pureness to its innocence.
I must also confess this is a bit of a nostalgia pick since this is the anime that got ME into anime! I binged this myself when I was a junior in high school, ON NETFLIX! It’s been a mainstay on the platform for years, and that makes it worthy of enough embrace to include it on this humble list of mine.
Episodes: 24 (Complete)*
Synposis: Mikado Ryugamine moves to Ikebukuro where his friends warns him of the insanity of the city. The Dollars, a notorious and mysterious gang. The Yellow Scarves and Blue Square gangs. Izaya Orihara, the information broker. Shizuo Hiwegima, the superhuman bartender. Simon, the Russian sushi owner. Celty the Dulahan who rides a motorcycle. And a mysterious pharmaceutical company. How do they all connect?
Durarara is a weird beast. But the creator is also responsible for the time hopping “Baccano” so that should be expected. Durarara is the kind of show that just pulls you in and eases you into a thrill before you know it, starting off slow but gradually picking up steam without notice. The story suddenly shifts perspectives from time to time, and a unique factor about it is that each episode has its own narrator from the cast. This isn’t a show about characters. It’s a story about Ikebukuro. But there are things that connect, as different people share the same experiences.
I decided to check it out on a whim because it’s a renowned classic in the anime fandom, but was pulled in immediately and I binged the first 12 episodes in one day. It’s the kind of series that sneaks up on you. It takes a variety of twists in turns and seeing the other characters make cameos in each other’s stories is very entertaining. The way things tie together won’t be the way you expect. I wish I could say more, but what can you say about a city? Too much and too little. That’s the kind of series it is. There’s a large cast and it can be hard to keep track of all the names sometimes, but then again, you got some time to learn them all!
- There is a sequel, “DurararaX2" that is 36 episodes, but is no longer on Netflix. It is available on Crunchyroll and Funimation in both languages for subscribers.
13. Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet
Episodes: 13 (complete)
Synopsis: In the far future, Humanity has left Earth and taken to the stars, forming an advanced society in space, where they are in perpetual war with a squid-like alien race known as the Hideauze. Ensign Ledo is a teen soldier on the front lines, but after falling into a wormhole, he ends up on a water covered planet, which his A.I. combat unit reveals to be Earth. Ledo is taken in by a ragtag group of humans still on Earth on their ship the Gargantia. How will this shake things up?
Okay, last time I’m gonna mention Gen Urobuchi but I really am a fan of his. This series, though, is a bit different than his usual dark content. Urobuchi explained on the show’s website that it was aimed at teens and young adults about to enter society. It’s far more light hearted than his usual fare. There are still a few dark twists in there but overall it’s easier to watch than “Zero” or “Madoka.” Check this one out if you’re in for some adventurous sci-fi by a good writer.
14. Kakegurui the Gambler
Episodes: 24 (complete)
Synopsis: Hyakkaou Private Academy is an elite private school for the children of the wealthy and well connected in the business and political worlds, but there’s something else that makes it unique. After classes, the students engage in various types of gambling. The winners are on the top, humiliating the “house pets;” losers who have accumulated mountains of debt. Enter Yumeko Jabami, a mysterious transfer student with piles of cash and an addiction to gambling who decides she wants to gamble against the powerful student council.
This is your obligatory trash pick. Every list has to have one of these. Kekegurui is a bit of trashy fun to get your gambling freak on! If you love thrilling gambling matches, psychotic characters, and sexual imagery and innuendo, then this is the series for you. It’s two white hot seasons of a brilliant yet crazy gambler clawing her way to the top by constantly snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. The stakes are high and your heart rate will match! While it isn’t elegant by any means, you can’t deny how fun it is.
15. Kengan Ashura
Episodes: 24 (complete)
Synopsis: Kazuo Yamashita is an aging and average businessman from a respectable corporation, until his boss calls him in to help him represent Oma Tokita, a street fighter. Unknown to Yamashita until now, there’s a shadow world where prominent businesses hire skilled martial arts fighters to combat each other in secret with incomprehensible betting amounts on the line. The Kangan Association, which oversees all of this, decides to hold a tournament. Each company will send one fighter, and the winner’s representative will become the next Kengan President! Do Yamashita and Oma have what it takes to tackle this new bloody world?
This is your sports pick. “Kengan Ashura” is a bloody martial arts show that takes things to the extreme. While there is betting that goes on like in “Kakegurui,” those bets are meaningless here. This is a show about strength. Brute strength and full, unbridled testosterone-filled masculinity. Indeed there are few female characters to speak of, and as I once said elsewhere of this series “Kengan Ashura” is best described like its characters; strong, masculine, block-headed, goofy at times, and after nothing but sheer entertainment. If that kind of brutal world has you pumped, then look no further. There is some odd 3D but you get used to it pretty quick. The animation is actually very versatile and is helmed by one of anime’s biggest players, Seiji Kishi, a master director of numerous popular titles. One of the biggest problems with this one is that after it’s over you’ll be wanting more!
16. Ouran High School Host Club
Episodes: 26 (complete)
Synopsis: Haruhi Fujioka comes from a modest background but her smarts get her into the elite private school Ouran Academy. While looking for a quiet place to study, she stumbles into a music room populated by the high school’s host club, a group of the school’s most popular boys who entertain the school’s girls! When she accidentally breaks an expensive vase, they tell her she can pay off the debt as a member, disguised as a boy!
“Ouran High School Host Club” is a name that will make the heart of any longtime anime fan swoon. Airing in 2006, it is now a staple in the anime fandom as a classic with progressive values. The director Takuya Igarashi would go on to helm “Soul Eater” and “Bungo Stray Dogs” (some of studio BONES’ most beloved series). He has a knack for seamlessly switching between laugh-til-you drop comedy and heartstrings-pulling drama on a dime. On the surface, it’s definitely a wacky comedy with a colorful cast of characters, but by episode 2 you’ll find much more than you bargained for. Bullying, family issues, societal norms of gender, and of course, how the rich treat the poor. It is one I routinely come back to again and again. This is one you can binge more than once!
17. 7 Seeds
Episodes: 24 (complete)
Synopsis: Natsu suddenly awakes on a sinking ship with no memory of how she got there. She is suddenly saved by Botan, a mysterious woman who takes her and two others, Arashi and Semimaru to an island full of unusual wildlife. The group discovers that they are part of the government sponsored “7 Seeds Project,” which cryogenically froze several young people in teams in the hopes they would carry on the human race after it is wiped out by a meteorite. Now Natsu’s team and the others search for a way to survive on this new Earth, with the secrets and hints the government left behind about the 7 Seeds Project.
Looking for that post-apocalyptic series to get your survival instincts going? This is the one for you. And perhaps a bit too timely given our current situation. “7 Seeds” is about a bunch of teenagers forced to survive in a new world, all while navigating the new world’s mysteries and trying to forge relationships in the process. It’s a mix of survival thriller and character drama. If you’re a fan of series like “Lost” then you should definitely give this one a look. To be honest it caught me a bit off guard with how much I got sucked into it. “Are these teams ever gonna gross paths?” “Will any of them die?” “Will they form different factions based on how humans should survive?” All questions I asked myself while watching, and there’s a healthy dose of engrossing character backstory of the cruel fates of those both before and after the meteor. It will take all the twists and turns that usually come with a series involving a bunch of teenagers thrown into survival mode.
18. Blue Exorcist
Episodes: 25* (complete)
Synopsis: Rin Okumura and his brother Yukio are raised by Father Shiro Fujimoto, an exorcist, until one day he is possessed by a demon and dies. Rin and Yukio are the sons of Satan, and by the time Rin (who inhereted Saten’s powers) manages to get into the prestigious True Cross Academy, he finds his brother is already a high ranking exorcist and one of his teachers! Together, Rin, Yukio, and their fellow students work to protect Asaia, the human realm, from Ghenna (the demon realm), with Rin vowing one day to defeat Satan.
You’ve heard about the children of gods, and maybe demons, but have you heard about the sons of Satan himself? Not only that, they want to defeat him and become exorcists! This is your wild “badass religious characters who fight demons” anime. It’s got rocking opening songs, a delightful cast of characters, and interesting premise, laughs, and some layers of typical anime tropes for good measure. It’s worth checking out if you’re interested in “Exorcist Action” series with comedy thrown in. I obviously do not want to spoil the plot but it takes some interesting turns (as a series about the son of Satan training to be an exorcist should).
- Note that an OVA and a film both exist but are not on Netflix, and unavailable to stream as of this writing. There is a second season that retcons part of the first season titled “Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga” that adapts a story arc from the original manga. It is not on Netflix but is available to stream if you’re interested after seeing the first season.
19. Angel Beats!
Episodes: 13* (complete)
Synopsis: Yuzuru Otanashi awakens one night in front of a school building. He has no memory of who he is or why he is there. All he can remember is his name. And the first thing he sees is a girl with a giant gun, pointed at someone else! She informs him that he has died and is in the afterlife. But she and her friends aren’t going to take that lying down! They’ve resolved to defeat the student council president known only as “Angel,” get to God, and take over this world!
At last we reach the end, and while these aren’t ranked in any particular order, I saved my favorite for last. I can gush over this one all day because it’s my favorite anime of all time, but I’l save that for another day. I’ll just tell you why it’s a good one. It has a bit of everything. There’s the two big things the creator Jun Maeda is known for; laughter and tears, stellar animation, even now, but definitely for its time, an enchanting soundtrack, and killer action, and a sprinkle of romance, all wrapped in an interesting story with an interesting world. I saved this for last also because it has a bit of everything. It’s a culmination of this list in a way, a blend of all the topics discussed so far. I obviously don’t want to spoil the story for you, but should you pick this one up, you’ll probably be bawling like a baby at the end. It’s a universal series with a bit of something for everyone, which is why it’s so easy to recommend.
And there you have it! 19 binge worthy anime you can watch on Netflix. I understand, again, that I might be a bit late as some of the country reopens, but I know we’re in for a long haul and there’s still a wave of binging awaiting us. So whether you’re a hardcore anime or you’re on the fence, I KNOW you have free time, so give it a try!
CORRECTION: Entry number 7 has been added. The previous version of this story missed it.
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