Taking a peek at Official Online Anime Streaming Sites

Posted on June 27th, 2010 by Ryu Sheng |

This post is a follow on from the Manga Viewers post I did when I launched the site a week ago.

For this post I choose four different streaming sites, all of them are legal and the official sites. However when I got into looking at the sites I was disappointed, since in the end the four sites were reduced to one.

First off lets go with the worst out of the lot, drum roll please…..

Funimation, congratulations on winning the worst streaming site in the world!!

funi

This is why they’re the worst, for over a year now anyone from the UK who visits the Funimation video site gets a nasty note telling them to take a hike cause they aren’t american. I think most of us British fans have given up on Funimation ever sorting their site.

So moving on, next up we have the best of the sites…..

Crunchyroll, congratulations on winning the top prize!! But that’s not really saying a lot considering your competition ha-ha.

crunchy

Crunchyroll as we all know started life as a fansub site who then went legal. I’m not a huge fan of the site, but there’s no denying that they’ve improved loads of late.

The general design of the site is horrendous, though it is memorable.It’s bright orange through out, which usually makes my eyes hurt. At the moment though they’re doing background adverts for the new Airbender movie which mutes it a bit.

The free account is really annoying (which I think is the purpose), it’s covered in pointless ads. The video quality is pretty bad as well, I found it a bit blurry at times and the subs seemed a bit flaky.  You also have to wait a week for the latest episodes. Though I suppose without those annoying bits there’s no incentive to pay for the premium services.

Crunchyroll offer three separate services: Anime, Drama and All-Access, naturally with differing prices.

The Anime and Drama passes both cost $6.95 a month, or $4.99 if you buy them in 12 month blocks. Which in all fairness isn’t to badly priced which considering most of the illegal sites costs between $5-20 a month. Though admittedly there’s is a download service.

The All-Access pass is $11.95 a month, and combines both the anime and drama sides. However for us brits shouldn’t get this due to it not being cost effective since there’s only a few drama shows available to us. The Anime pass however really is worth it.

While it’s true that there are a lot of anime currently unavailable, these are reducing over time. Also the list is region checked for your account, so if you login from the UK you’ll only see the UK shows. You can still get to the other shows, but all you’ll get is a message saying it’s not available in your area.

The quality of the videos is considerably better as well. Of course it has the crappy version free accounts get, but it also has what they’re calling enhanced definition and high definition streams. I used the trial to check them out, and frankly there’s a huge difference in the quality. That alone makes it worth the couple of quid to get the anime pass.

Then of course there’s the added bonus of not having those damn annoying adds at the beginning and middle of the episode your watching.

The subtitles are far from perfect, but a I said previously they’ve improved a hell of a lot of late. For example when I first started using them the subs were abysmal, worse than even the worst speed subs, or the worst HK-DVD. They’ve come along in huge leaps of late and the subs quality has gone up a lot.

I have a lot of issues with Crunchyroll (mainly personal experience), but if I ignore those I have to say that it’s well worth buying a subscription.

Next up we have the UK Anime Network, the only UK streaming site. When this was announced I got all excited about it, thinking we had a UK version of Crunchyroll in the making. Depressingly that’s not the case.

ukan

In truth it’s nothing more than a partnership with Crunchyroll. On the one hand it’s a boon since I hate the designs and layout of Crunchyroll, but it’s also a bit depressing that it’s not a new venture.

While the site itself isn’t plastered in adverts, you do need a Crunchyroll account first, and you will get the adverts at the beginning and middle. I also find their statement:

Welcome to UKA’s streaming anime section – this is where you can watch all the latest anime direct from Japan thanks to Crunchyroll.

In order to watch this content, you need to have a Crunchyroll account. You can sign up for an account (which includes a free trial!) by clicking here.

So why browse for your anime on UKA? Simple – we’ve already filtered the content available for the UK, and assigned our own genres to each show, making it even easier to find and watch legally streamed anime on your PC!

So sit back, relax and enjoy the very latest shows right here on the UK Anime Network ^.-

A bit miss-representing since Crunchyroll also filters the content so you only see what you can access. The only thing they did that was worth it for me was fixing the categories. Crunchyroll’s categories are bit screwed up, UKAN fixes them a bit.

In the end they’re nothing but a Crunchyroll branch office, but it does mean if like me you hate the main site you can give your eyes a rest 😀

The layout for the video area is okay, but I think it would have been better to leave it as an alphabetical list like CR had originally. Making the list a page of screen captures just looks crowded and a bit messy.

I also noticed some really bad lagging at times with the few test streams I watched.

Anime News Network is the last streaming site I looked at, and like the previous one it was a disappointment.

annv

Truthfully ANN was the site I would have laid money on making a streaming site. For a little while they did go that way, however for what ever reason they threw in the towel and basically bought a Crunchyroll franchise.

The way they handle the streams is a bit different from UKAN and I have to admit I do prefer it this way.

annv2

As you can see in the screen shot above they list their series alphabetically, then have a synopsis of the show with link to the ANN entry. Finally they have the episodes they have screenshots in a line from one to what ever. If you look at one of the entire, just under the last image to the right, you’ll see a slider. This is used to bring the other episodes of the series into view.

Sure it’s a gimmick, but it’s a good one that’s functional. Sadly though ANN hasn’t gone into full streaming like UKAN did. Rather they only have a limited number of shows on their site. There’s nothing on the site to say if they’re only keeping those titles or rotating them.

As with the UKAN site the streams all have those adverts at the start and middle of the episodes, which can be bloody annoying if it starts at a crucial moment.

In the end it’s only worth going with CR, even with their horrid site designs. The anime pass giving you access to the HD and ad free versions of the streams makes it worth while.

Before you ask, yes there are three notable sites missing from my list. Hulu, YouTube, Bost TV.

Hulu is only accessible from the US so I can’t get anything from them, and they aren’t a dedicated anime streaming site, rather a normal TV streaming site, much like Joost used to be.

YouTube isn’t listed for several reasons. Firstly it isn’t a dedicated anime site, and secondly the quality of the streams usually worse than the SD version on Crunchyroll.

As for Bost TV, again they weren’t listed for several reasons, primarily, they’re dead. By dead I do mean dead. The website has gone and there’s been nothing from them since they lost out to Crunchyroll after Strike Witches and Blassreiter (which admittedly were a lot better than Crunchyroll’s versions).

Secondly, the way you bought the shows from them was enough to make me cringe. You had to buy points which you then used to buy episodes or season passes. In the end though you always had to buy more points than you needed, which to me was a kind of theft so I would never have used them.

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