Anime’s popularity in the West has come a long way since its introduction in the 20th century. Though anime dates back to early 1900s Japan, the art form didn’t reach America until the 1960s, nearly two decades after the conclusion of World War II, starting with Astro Boy in 1964. The premiere of Astro Boy was a game changer in terms of bringing anime to the United States, and the next few years saw series like Kimba the White Lion and, of course, Speed Racer all appeared on television to close out the decade.
In the fifty years since, anime has grown from a niche art-form in the West to a fandom with a massive backing. The influence of series like Dragon Ball Z or Gundam helped to inspire major blockbuster films like The Matrix and its sequels or Pacific Rim. Shows like Cowboy Bebop and Death Note have attracted fans even from outside the world of anime, falling love with the world of both series and eventually moving onto other series. Movies like Ghost in the Shell and Akira have both taken from and contributed to western culture, with the former credited for inspiring filmmakers such as the Wachowskis and James Cameron, while the latter gave way for films like Looper, Inception, Chronicle, and Midnight Special.
Throughout the 2000s and again starting in 2012, Cartoon Network’s Toonami block was often seen as the gateway into anime, an easy way to start watching anime and to dive into Japanese culture. Since its revival, it’s become a new staple in American households for teens and 20-somethings around the country. But, perhaps more appropriately, the age of the internet has allowed for fans and newcomers alike from around the world to start watching new and old series from the start, reveling in the best the art-form has to offer.
If you own a Fire Stick, you have the option to grab some fantastic apps for watching anime on your television. Whether you’re looking for an app straight from the Appstore, or you’re willing to dive into the world of sideloaded apps, we have a list of seven of our favorite anime-streaming applications for your Amazon Fire Stick. Let’s dive right in.
We’ll kick things off with five of our favorite apps from the Amazon Appstore. These are easy to download for your Fire Stick, since they come from the official Amazon-supplied app store, and generally are polished, well-designed, and offer a wide variety of anime to pick from. We’ll be staying away from some streaming services like Netflix, which do offer anime alongside their normal programming, to instead supply apps that are focused first and foremost on anime (with one exception that we’ll get to below). These apps don’t require additional installation methods, VPNs, or anything else that our two unofficial apps may require below. With that out of the way, let’s dive into our picks for the five best anime apps on the Appstore.
Anyone who’s spent time watching anime, checking out fan sites online, or just reading about nerd culture in general has likely heard of Crunchyroll. The platform that helped to popularize anime online in the mid-2000s, Crunchyroll has grown from a small startup out of California to the premiere place to watch anime, online or on your television at home. With over 900 anime to select from, along with dozens of simulcasts with Japan, it’s the premiere place for catching the latest and greatest in action, comedy, and drama. Some of their content is free, but to unlock the full platform, you’ll need a premium subscription through Crunchyroll. Premium allows you to access those simulcasts, watch in higher quality without ads, and of course, get access to the entire content library available through Crunchyroll. At $6.95 per month, it’s cheaper than Netflix or Hulu while also giving anime fans exactly what they want.
Viewster advertises itself as a way to get free television and movies online, but a lot of their library is actually made up of anime. Unlike Crunchyroll, everything offered through Viewster is free to watch with ads, and that includes both their anime and non-anime content. The trade-off here, of course, is that you’ll likely find plenty of their library to be made up of smaller shows, or older offerings that some fans may be less familiar with. If you’re looking for the newest seasons of mega-hit anime, you probably won’t find them on Viewster, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth grabbing the app for your Fire Stick. In addition to their library of streaming anime, you’ll find plenty of geek-friendly content that keeps you streaming for hours.
Pronounced “verve,” VRV is a sister company to Crunchyroll, alongside other channels like Machinima, Rooster Teeth, and Fullscreen, and it functions more like a cable conglomerate than an independent streaming service. Almost all of the anime on VRV actually comes from Crunchyroll, including the same simulcasts, the updated streaming anime, and so much more. If you’re already a Crunchyroll subscriber, you might want to consider looking into picking up VRV as your premium service for your Fire Stick. As a VRV subscriber, you can gain access to all the standard Crunchyroll stuff, plus original shows like RWBY and gen:LOCK, which will appeal to any fan of anime looking for some new original content, and live-action shows like My Brother, My Brother, and Me and Mystery Science Theater 3000. For just $3 more per month than Crunchyroll, you add a ton of extra value to your streaming platform.
Crackle is the exception we mentioned up top, since on its face, Sony’s free streaming platform is largely based around offering movies and television shows from Sony Pictures’ wide library of content. However, in addition to movies like Alien or The Big Lebowski, you can also check out a full library of anime in their television section, including content like Assassination Classroom, Afro Samurai, Samurai Champloo, and much more. Everything did include ads, unfortunately, but the inclusion of those pesky ads also meant that everything was above the board and completely legal. Crackle, like any other streaming service, changes their library every so often, so just because something is on there now doesn’t mean it will be there permanently. If you see something worth streaming, you’ll want to jump on it as soon as you can.
Like Crunchyroll, Funimation used to be part of VRV’s lineup up until November 2018. Now on its own, Funimation offers their own streaming option, FunimationNow, which gives users the entire library of Funimation content now separated from Crunchyroll and VRV. Funimation is home to some of the biggest, most popular anime online today, including Dragon Ball Z, One Piece, Cowboy Bebop, Attack on Titan, My Hero Academia, Sword Art Online, and so much more. Funimation stars at $5.99 per month, and while it’s unfortunate the library was pulled from Crunchyroll and VRV, it’s still worthy of consideration if only for its sheer size.
Official apps are great and all, but we have two more suggestions before we wrap up this article. Both of these options aren’t available on the Amazon Appstore, and you’ll need to open up your device for sideloading apps for both apps. Whether you’re looking for a standalone app to stream free anime from the web, or you’re a Kodi user looking for the perfect add-on for your jailbroken Fire Stick, these are our two favorite unofficial apps for the Fire Stick.
If you’re just looking for a straightforward application that doesn’t require the need for Kodi, FireAnime is the perfect option. Developed by an unofficial modder, FireAnime was designed for Android TV and Fire OS, and it’s the perfect application for streaming anime online to your device. The app has a solid interface, making it easy to discover and find new episodes and shows for binging, and the app is regularly updated through the platform’s subreddit online. As of this year, the app now supports outside video players like MXPlayer or VLC, and can stream from multiple options online. The app is still a work in progress, but we’re excited to watch it evolve throughout the rest of 2019.
Not to be outdone, Masterani Redux (repo link) is a great option for those who are using Kodi on their Fire Stick. Created about a year ago, Masterani Redux is a standalone add-on for Kodi that can be supported whether you’re using stock Kodi or a full build. Based on the original Masterani add-on, the big change here by developer Wilson Magic comes down to API support. Whereas the original version uses an API to grab videos, Redux skims the actual anime streaming site to get links to content, which means you can get access to the newest shows faster than ever before. If you don’t already have Kodi installed on your device, you’ll want to check out our guide to installing Kodi on your Fire Stick. If you haven’t installed Kodi and you have no interest in adding a powerful open-source home theater suite to your Fire Stick, you’ll want to consider using FireAnime above.
Using a VPN
For those users looking to use either FireAnime or Masterani Redux, you may want to consider using a VPN. Though some users risk their privacy by choosing to stream pirated content without the protection of a VPN on their device, we highly recommend using a VPN service to protect your data, especially if you’re using one of the less-than-legal services on this list. Though having a VPN on is very rarely the wrong choice, the privacy it adds to your device isn’t needed to enjoy your favorite services regularly. And although we also say that the less information you give internet service providers and online companies, the better, the truth is that a VPN won’t be right for everyone.
However, if you’ve found your way to this page, it’s probably because you’re using your Fire Stick for something that isn’t a standard application available through the Amazon Appstore. Be it basic piracy apps like Showbox or Terrarium TV, or more complicated applications like Kodi, which allow you to fully load your Fire Stick with a new interface, along with thousands of applications and add-ons to completely change how you watch movies forever. These systems are easy to set up and use, but there’s a big reason why people turn away from them: they aren’t entirely legal. While thousands of users get away with consuming pirated content on the internet every day, it’s important to keep in mind that not everyone gets away with piracy. If you’re caught by your ISP, you can land yourself in some hot water, including losing access to your internet or even facing major fines from groups like the MPAA.
So, if you’re looking to consume pirated content on your Fire Stick, the best way to go about keeping yourself safe from getting caught is to use a VPN. Most popular VPNs weren’t necessarily designed with piracy in mind, but they do support keeping your internet use secret so that you can catch up on the latest hit series online without having to pay for cable or subscribe to yet another streaming service. To check out some of our favorite VPNs, check out our guide to using VPNs on the Fire Stick here.
So, which apps did you decide to add to your Fire Stick’s library of software? Are you sticking with paid subscriptions, or are you an avid fan of Kodi looking for new add-ons and builds? Let us know in the comments below which apps you chose to use, and keep it locked to TechJunkie for all sorts of Fire Stick tips, tricks, and guides!