May 19, 2024


Sapiens Digital

Crunchyroll – Review 2020 – PCMag Asia

Anime fans are spoilt for choice now when it comes to video streaming services. Crunchyroll is one of the best-known names in the space and for good reason. It offers over 1,200 series, many simulcast shows, and an ad-free tier. Note that Crunchyroll caters specifically to anime fans; if you want to watch cartoons or other animations, this is not the best service. Also, if you prefer dubs, rather than subs, you will be disappointed that the vast majority of Crunchyroll’s library only has the latter.

What Can You Watch on Crunchyroll?

Crunchyroll’s library breaks down into anime and dramas, with the former being the bulk of the content. Shows are distributed across many genres, such as action, adventure, comedy, drama, fantasy, music, mystery, romance, and sci-fi, just to name a few. Top shows include Attack on Titan, Death Note, FLCL, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Hunter X Hunter, One-Punch Man, several Naruto series, and Yuri!!! on Ice. Crunchyroll also produces original anime series, including A Place Further Than the Universe, In/Spectre, and The Rising of the Shield Hero. Other Crunchyroll originals such as the Meso-America based Onyx Equinox and 1870s-Japan era Meiji Gekken: Sword & Gun are set to premiere soon as well. There are too many shows on Crunchyroll to list them all out, but you can find the complete list of them on Crunchyroll’s all shows page.

Other anime streaming sites fill some of Crunchyroll’s coverage gaps, while still offering many of the same shows. For instance, Hulu has most of the non-original shows mentioned above, plus Cowboy Bebop, some Dragon Ball series, and Trigun. Netflix has many of the same popular titles too, in addition to acclaimed platform-exclusive anime such as Devilman Crybaby, Cannon Busters, and Castlevania. DC Universe has shows specifically within the western DC universe such as Batman: The Animated Series, Harley Quinn, and Titans.


Crunchyroll, like most other dedicated anime streaming services, maintains a library of simulcast shows. Simulcast episodes are available for streaming, in most cases, about an hour after they originally air. Currently, Crunchyroll has about 40 simulcast shows in its library, including Ace of the Diamond, Black Clover, In/Spectre, My Hero Academia, and One Piece. You can keep track of all the episode releases with Crunchyroll’s simulcast calendar. Funimation and Hulu also offer simulcast series.

Dramas on Crunchyroll include a live-action Death Note adaptation, some Ultraman shows, and even some of Bruce Lee’s catalog. These are certainly not the main draw of the service, but some audiences may appreciate their inclusion.

A dedicated anime streaming service, such as Crunchyroll, should work well for you if that’s the only thing you care about. However, if you or someone else in your household wants to watch popular shows and movies (or even other animated series) then you’re better off choosing a streaming service, such as Netflix or Hulu, that also includes mainstream content. For instance, Netflix’s top originals include Bojack Horseman, Stranger Things, and The Witcher. Hulu has some popular exclusives too, such as The Handmaid’s Tale and the Veronica Mars reboot. Disney+ is a good option for family-friendly shows and animations, with shows such as The Mandalorian and Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

Pricing and Platforms

Crunchyroll offers both a free and paid tier. The free version is ad-supported and doesn’t include simulcasts or access to all of Crunchyroll’s anime and manga. Crunchyroll’s $7.99-per-month premium tier removes those limitations. Notably, all tiers support 1080p streaming.

Note that Crunchyroll is owned by Otter Media, a subsidiary of AT&T’s Warner Media. Otter Media also owns an anime streaming service called VRV, which bundles all of Crunchyroll’s content, plus several other channels’ worth of anime (Hidive), cartoons (Boomerang, Cartoon Hangover, Nicksplat, and Mondo), and gaming (RoosterTeeth) content.

Subscribers have a few options for combining Crunchyroll with VRV. One is Crunchyroll’s Super Fan Pack for $14.99, which includes everything on VRV and Crunchyroll, plus discounts at the MunchPak and Right Stuff Anime stores. You can also sign up for a free, ad-supported VRV account and link your existing Crunchyroll (free or premium) profile. Yet another option is to sign up for VRV Premium ($9.99 per month) to get full access to every channel on VRV, including Crunchyroll. This plan gets rids of ads, too.

Other anime streaming services charge a similar price. Funimation‘s premium version, for example, costs $7.99 per month. It too offers a free, ad-supported version. A DC Universe membership costs $7.99 per month too, while VRV’s premium plan is $9.99 per month. Hulu’s ad-supported tier costs $5.99 per month, but you can pay $11.99 per month to get rid of ads. Netflix starts at $8.99 per month, but we recommend that people subscribe to Netflix’s $12.99-per-month Standard plan instead, which unlocks 1080p streaming and two simultaneous streams.


Mainstream video streaming services also charge a similar monthly price. Disney+, for instance, is $6.99 per month, while Amazon Prime Video is $8.99 per month. CBS All Access’s ad-supported tier is $5.99 per month, but it offers an ad-free tier for $9.99 per month.

One unique aspect of Crunchyroll is its apparel and manga shop. Here you can browse merchandise that suits a holistic weeb lifestyle, such as books, figurines, clothes, and home videos (if you want physical media to complement your streaming). Funimation has a store as well, but Crunchyroll’s shop was the only place we saw Japanese snacks available for sale, perhaps to live up to the service’s delicious name.

Crunchyroll is available on many different platforms and devices including media streaming devices (Chromecast, Apple TV, Roku, and Fire TV), mobile phones (Android and iOS), and several gaming consoles (Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and Wii U). Crunchyroll is notably missing support for the Nintendo Switch and no longer supports the Xbox 360 or the original Wii. Hulu offers both on-demand and live TV streaming on the Switch.

Crunchyroll on the Web

Crunchyroll’s web interface is quick to navigate and features a distinctive gray, white, and orange color scheme. However, the amount of information on any one page can be overwhelming. The interface feels more like an online forum board than a dedicated streaming service. You navigate the experience via a top menu for Shows, Manga, News, Games, and Store. In the upper right corner, there’s a button for your Queue, a Random button (a delightful feature which serves up the first episode of an unknown show), and your profile icon. The Queue lets you sort saved shows by data accessed or data added, but you can’t sort entries alphabetically or search the list.

The profile area lets you update your basic information, add info about your anime-related interests, and customize your profile photo. You can also set notification and content preferences (such as hiding mature content or setting a default language), as well as view payment history details.

On the shows page, you can sort all of the anime and drama titles by Popular, Simulcasts, Updated, Alphabetical, Genres, Seasons, or Release Calendar. When you hover the cursor over a show’s thumbnail, you can directly add it to your queue. Clicking on the show brings you to its detail page, where you can browse available episodes, see user ratings, and find simulcast information.


The main playback interface is cluttered, so you should watch videos in the full-screen mode to avoid distractions. By default, the space surrounding the content is filled not just with ads, but user comments, a carousel for episodes in whatever show you’re watching, recommendations for other shows, and links to other Crunchyroll content such as news and browser versions of anime mobile games. The quality of those games themselves, of course, is going to vary.

The video player itself is mostly on par with the competition. In addition to the standard playback and volume controls, there’s a next episode button and a gear icon for selecting the playback resolution and subtitle language. Unfortunately, you don’t get rewind or fast-forward buttons and you can’t customize the subtitles’ appearance. Funimation’s presentation is a little prettier and has more convenient touches such as the ability to skip forward and back a few seconds. Acorn TV allows you to customize closed captioning directly from the player.

Crunchyroll took a strangely long time to move over from obsolete Flash to a more modern video player, and compatibility issues did crop up when testing the manga reader on the web. Fortunately, the video player itself works just fine, with smooth playback over PCMag’s Wi-Fi network (15Mbps download).

Crunchyroll on Mobile

We tested Crunchyroll’s mobile app on a Google Pixel 3 running Android 10. The app uses the same orange and white color scheme as on the web, which creates a consistent look across platforms. At the top of the app, there’s an overflow menu for accessing account settings on one side and a search bar on the other. The Account setting section is fairly basic. The only real customization option is to change the app language and manga viewing quality. The side menu also has lots of external links to other Crunchyroll apps such as its Manga App, News App, and Store. CBS All Access integrates its store directly in the app. There’s also a link to the VRV app, but the link forwarded to a broken URL at the time of testing.


The top navigation menu of the app has four items: Home, New, Anime, and Manga Shop. Crunchyroll divides the Home section into a My Queue (essentially a list of shows you save for watching) and My History lists. The New section organizes shows in two categories: This Season and Updated Episodes. Titles are listed in alphabetical order, but we would like to see the ability to sort by genre or popularity, for example.

The dedicated Anime section has all these filter options that the New tab lacks. You can sort by popularity, release season, title, or genre. The Manga section can also be sorted by Newest and Featured.

Features and Accessibility

One important distinction between Crunchyroll and Funimation is their respective support for subtitles and dubs. A few years back, the two services entered into an agreement that sent subtitled content to Crunchyroll and dubbed content to Funimation, with the idea of simultaneously building both of their libraries. While that agreement is no longer in effect, the divide of subbed and dubbed content remains the same. At the time of publishing Crunchyroll only has about 50 shows in its library with English dubs.

Crunchyroll does not support offline downloads on mobile devices, which is a significant limitation. Most other mainstream video streaming services support that feature, including Hulu (ad-free), Amazon Prime Video, and CBS All Access (ad-free). At least the service meets the standard for simultaneous streams, allowing up to two devices to view content at the same time. BritBox outclasses Crunchyroll here, with support for up to five concurrent streams.

We would also like to see Crunchyroll adopt more sophisticated parental control tools. We like that you can filter mature video and manga content in the settings, but there’s no way to lock those settings down. Perhaps, given the size of the library, the ability to whitelist those series a parent deems appropriate for their child would be helpful. Crunchyroll should also add support for multiple user profiles under one account. Additional profiles would help Crunchyroll users keep their queues organized and allow them to better tune their profiles.

Crunchyroll and VPN

A VPN is an excellent way to protect your privacy online from malicious actors and your ISP. One other benefit is that they can help you spoof your real geographic location when online. Many video streaming services, as a result, do not allow you to use a VPN since streaming rights are often locked to certain regions. Some services are simply not available to residents in other countries than the US or Canada. The inherently international nature of Crunchyroll’s content made us wonder whether a VPN connection would prevent us from streaming.

Fortunately, we experienced no major issues watching anime with our test Windows device connected to ProtonVPN servers in Denmark and Canada. Even if your VPN works with all your video streaming services today, that’s no indication that it will in the future. Many video streaming services keep trying to find new ways to detect and block VPN traffic.

Anime for All

Crunchyroll is an impressive anime streaming service because of its overwhelming catalog size and strong support for simulcasts. It also has exclusive original anime series and novel extras such as an apparel and manga shop. That said, it is missing offline downloads and relatively few of its shows support dubs. We won’t designate an Editors’ Choice service for anime streaming just yet, until we’ve had the chance to reevaluate each service. Both old and new competitors have advantages. For instance, VRV bundles all of Crunchyroll’s library, plus several other channels-worth of anime and cartoons, while Funimation offers superior support for dubbed content.

For general audiences, Netflix is our Editors’ Choice pick for on-demand streaming because of its top-notch originals and excellent features. Hulu and YouTube TV are our Editors’ Choice winners for live TV streaming, since both offer a broad range of channels and capabilities at a reasonable price.

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