Anime in Australia: Legal streaming options

If you’re an anime fan in Australia, your selection of legal streaming sources is slowly getting better. Here’s a rundown of what’s on offer.
Image: Danny Choo

23/06/19 Mary writes: It’s been a while since I wrote this, but Alex asked nicely if I’d update it to be more current. So I’m back!

Australia is slowly gaining more on-demand, legal streaming of TV shows. ABC’s iView leads the way but each of the commercial channels have their own online streaming. Foxtel has also entered this field, with a pay to access service. If however your preferred viewing is not shown on any of these providers what options do you have?

Anime is one of these niche programming choices. ABC and other channels do show some current anime programming. It’s nearly always dubbed and they don’t tend to offer episodes on their catchup services. It has long been the way that you either had to know someone who already owned the anime or be willing to buy based on recommendations.

Now however there are a range of choices for online viewing of anime which are both completely legal and will not break the bank.

When I originally wrote this guide, there were only three anime specific streaming services in Australia. Madman’s Animelab, Hanabee and Crunchyroll.

Since then, we’ve seen anime streaming options emerge on the “mainstream” streaming services, especially Netflix.

Madman’s Animelab


This site is a successor to Madman’s Screening Room. Animelab is free to sign up for, but if you opt for the free tier, you will be served ads in-between programs, and you’re limited to subtitled shows in standard definition only.

If you want dubbed programming or simulcast with Japanese airings, or content in full HD, you’ll need to opt for Animelab’s subscription tier. This costs $6.95 per month or $69.50 per year, with access to the full library of titles to stream.

For device support, you can view programs from a PC, or Android or iOS devices. Console support covers Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. Selected Samsung and Sony TVs can directly access AnimeLab, and it’s available for the Apple TV and Telstra TV as well.
The interface is pleasant, with a synopsis of the program displayed before you select the program. It is also very easy to see how many episodes are available and of they are subbed or dubbed.
There are no Australian ratings on any program which range from PG to R based on the physical released versions.
Online: www.animelab.com

Hanabee

When I first wrote this guide, Hanabee had only just launched its web-based streaming site, for free with no ads but only a limited selection of titles.

Sadly, it seems that the service never got up to speed. Tweets from Hanabee indicated that it shifted its service to a new domain, but there’s nothing there any more, and the primary site is simply a sales site for pop culture merchandise, including some anime titles.

Crunchyroll


Crunchyroll is an American site which does provide a subset of their programming for Australian access.

It has both pay and free access areas. The free version was tested for this review. Localised ads are included when we watched free versions. This can include ads for more mature Anime series within titles suitable for a younger audience.

The premium tier pricing sits at $7.99 month or $11.95 per month, giving you wider access to both anime and manga titles, HD content (720p/1080p) and discounts from the Crunchyroll store.

On the free tier it’s hard to find anything that isn’t simply subtitled, so if you want fully dubbed, you’ll probably need to pay.

They do simulcast of some programs, typically on the paid tier.The browsing is easy and playback is not a problem. It is possible to narrow searches down by simulcasts, recently updated, alphabetical, genres and seasons. It is however expected you know what the genres are as there is no explanation for some of the more specific anime genres. Short synopsis of each show and how many episodes are very easy to see. There are no Australian ratings displayed.

Crunchyroll is very good at informing if you will be able to view a particular show. If it is only available to pay members it states this. If select episodes are not available for a while this is stated as well. If a particular show is not available in your region you will not see it as an option.

Crunchyroll supports a really wide array of devices for viewing content, listed as Wii U, Chromecast, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Playstation Vita, Apple iOS, Android, Windows Phone(!), Apple TV, Fire TV and Roku Box. If you’re thinking that you’ve never heard of a “Roku Box”, well, neither had I. Turns out that they’re the company that makes the hardware in the Telstra TV box, so if you’ve got one of those, you’re good to go with Crunchyroll.

Online: www.crunchyroll.com

Funimation

It’s actually a bit tricky to sign up for just the free version of Funimation, because it pushes the paid version pretty heavily when you sign up for an account.

Funimation has free and paid tiers at $6.59 per month. The paid tier gives you ad-free access to its programming library, as well as offline access, so you can stack up a queue of programs to watch while travelling or when you don’t have Wi-Fi access.

Funimation lets you dive into its full library of shows either alphabetically or via genre. There’s also a range of simulcasts for the paid tier to enjoy.

I tested Funimation on a laptop, but it’s also available for other devices. Funimation doesn’t make this easy to discover, but there are at least apps for iOS and Android devices, as well as some set-top boxes. In the US, the Apple TV — but only the 4K model — is listed as supported, but it’s apparently “coming soon” for Australian anime fans.

Online: www.funimation.com

Netflix

When I first wrote this guide, the only way you could get Netflix access in Australia was via VPN. Now there’s no specific need to do so, with most of Netflix’s anime and anime-inspired shows available to Australian audiences. This includes anime-style shows such as Castlevania, as well as specific Japanese shows such as the anime Godzilla movies. No surprise — Alex is a big fan of those.

Netflix doesn’t charge any extra for the anime it has, but finding it on site can be a bit tricky.

Netflix has apps for just about everything, including most consoles, many smart TVs, and set top boxes including the Apple TV, Telstra TV and Fetch TV. The odds are pretty good that you’ve already got a Netflix subscription, so it really feels like a bit of a free “extra” to have anime on there.

One quick tip: If you travel, Netflix adjusts the content library to the country you’re in. That means that if you do take a holiday in Japan, your library of available Japanese language titles, including anime, expands quite a lot.

Online: www.netflix.com

Amazon Prime Video

Amazon’s streaming video service has a small selection of anime available to stream. You can pay for Amazon Prime Video by itself, or with an Amazon Prime account, which also gets you free shipping if you shop with Amazon locally a lot.

Amazon Prime Video has quiet a lot of anime, although you’re more likely to just spot the many Pokemon series it has. Dig a little deeper, and you’ll find shows such as Dororo, RWBY, Chi’s Sweet Adventure and DIVE!! amongst others.

You can’t access Amazon Prime Video for free on an ongoing basis, but there is a free trial available

Online: https://www.primevideo.com/

Stan

Like its competitors, Stan doesn’t totally ignore anime, although its selection isn’t immense, or easy to find for that matter. Its search is not great for finding anime shows!

Again, it’s fine if you’re already subscribed to Stan for other purposes. At the time of writing, the classic version of Robotech is available to stream.  There’s no free tier, but you can grab a trial subscription to see if it has what you want.

Online: https://www.stan.com.au

SBS On Demand

Not a service you might immediately think of as being anime centric, but the online streaming service of SBS intermittently has anime shows and movies available to stream. It can be a little hit and miss, and it’s sometimes tough to actually find shows.

SBS On Demand costs nothing more than your email to sign up to, so it’s at least a truly “free” service for Australian users.

Online: https://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/

ABC iView

ABC’s iView platform isn’t a dedicated anime service, but it does host some anime (or anime style shows) for viewing. As an example, at the time of writing, Sailor Moon Crystal, Dragonball Super, Sword Art Online and Voltron: Legendary Defender are all available to stream for free for Australian users.

While it’s not anime, you should also watch Bluey on iView. Alex is weirdly obsessed with that show and won’t stop raving about it to me. But it is very cute.

Online: https://iview.abc.net.au

Verdict

There’s never been a better time to be an anime fan in Australia, although subscribing to all these services can quickly stack up.

Mind you, buying these shows on physical media is even more expensive, and who has the space for all those discs?

None of the services offer every possible program you could want to see. I would like to see some older programs for example.

Still, the range of choice is very high, and it’s very easy to access. If you are a fan of anime and haven’t checked out any of these sites I would recommend doing so.

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