As major streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu become the norm when it comes to watching your favorites films and shows, the distribution of anime has changed. More and more titles, old and new, can be found in the big names of streaming.
There are more legal ways to watch anime outside of Japan than ever before, but the existence of anime in non-anime-exclusive spaces doesn’t undermine the importance of anime-only streaming services like Crunchyroll and Funimation.
After all, they are still the best way to access as many anime titles as possible in one place. But is Crunchyroll or Funimation the best platform for anime streaming? Here’s a detailed comparison between the two:
While anime can’t teach you the way actual Japanese people speak, it can be a good way to practice and pick up phrases if you are interested in learning the language. But for those who like their anime dubbed, Funimation is the clear winner.
Crunchyroll might have some dubs and voiceovers, but this is only for a specific list of works with Blue Exorcist, Durarara!! and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is among the most well-known ones.
In their FAQ page on November 2020 they did mention that they’re working on providing more dubs soon, but the majority of their works are still in Japanese with English subtitles.
Funimation, on the other hand, specializes in dubs. Their library includes hundreds of anime titles with an English voiceover which are often available very promptly after the release of an anime episode. As is the case with most creative industries, Covid has slowed down their dubbing activities somewhat, by they remain the go-to for those who want to watch anime in English as soon as they come out.
Those who use the Funimation app might be particularly irritated about this, since the captions' distracting, dark background can’t be removed within the app. Visuals are very important in anime, so being unable to see a stripe of the screen due to a dark background can be annoying.
Winner of the round: Crunchyroll
Funimation also has a good amount of simulcasts which are available within hours from the original release. What makes Funimation competitive in this category is its own unique feature, called SimulDub.
We’ve already established that Funimation is the best place to go if you’re only interested in dubs. The SimulDub feature takes this one step further by ensuring that the dubbed content becomes available within weeks of the original Japanese broadcast. This feature is available to premium users of Funimation.
Of course, one can argue that “a few weeks later” is not the same as “simultaneous” but being able to provide the voiceover on such short notice is still quite impressive, so we’re giving Funimation a point.
Winner of the Round: Funimation
Depending on what you’re looking for, both Funimation and Crunchyroll have a good variety of anime, with some exclusives. But some might argue that when it comes to the streaming services’ catalogs, Funimation’s focus on dubs might work against them. After all, Crunchyroll boasts over 1200 shows, while Funimation has much less.
Another major difference is that Crunchyroll isn’t limited to anime. They have a range of live-action TV shows such as the Death Note live-action, as well as J-dramas.
Of course, Funimation doesn’t leave live-action fans entirely without options and it is still a good place to watch classic anime such as Cowboy Bebop, given that Crunchyroll tends to focus on newer, trendier titles. Moreover, Funimation tends to have more information about each of their anime, which is a nice perk.
Still, in many spaces where anime fans discuss and exchange opinions, such as Reddit, Crunchyroll is often listed as the preferred streaming service due to its diverse and abundant content. Besides, Crunchyroll also has a manga and apparel store, making it the ideal place for fans of Japanese culture as long as they don’t need dubs, so it definitely wins this round.
Winer of the round: Crunchyroll
Winner of the round: Since both function similarly when it comes to the ad, we’re going to call this a tie.
The standard subscription for Cruchroll was recently changed to $7.99 per month to reflect the enhanced services and variety it offers. For $9.99, viewers gain access to other cartoon channels including Cartoon Hangover, NickSplat, and others. For a monthly $14.99 users additionally get discounts at the MunchPak and Right Stuff Anime stores.
For Funimation, the monthly price is $5.99, but for only an additional $2 a month, users get up to five simultaneous streams, deals in the store, and offline mobile downloads. For $99.9 per year, you also get 2 rentals and an anniversary gift each year.
Although Funimation is has a cheaper option, Crunchyroll has a much more diverse library for just a little more, while also offering manga and other goods. So, while it’s slightly more expensive, this feels justified, making it hard to declare one as better priced than the other.
Winner of the rounds: Funimation, since all its options are cheaper, but Crunchyroll comes close because of its variety
When it comes to choosing between Crunchyroll and Funimation, the answer isn't necessarily easy, since both are top streaming services for anime and other Japanese media. Both have their advantages and disadvantages but this list should hopefully help you make an informed choice depending on the experience you’re looking for.
Judging from discussions within online fan communities, the choice often boils down to what you prioritize: a great variety with subtitles, or a decent, but more limited variety, largely English dubbed.
Personally, as a person whose first language isn’t English, I like to watch the original when I can and I find it hard to understand complaints regarding the difficulty of “reading” a show when it’s subtitled.
The sheer variety of Crunchyroll and the authenticity of listening to the original Japanese makes it more attractive to me, but, understandably, many viewers prefer dubs when they can get them. In the end, the choice is a matter of personal preference. Thankfully, both offer a free trial and certainly free features beyond that, so hopefully, you can make the best of both.