One of the main ways people in the United States watch anime these days is to stream it online via a streaming service like Crunchyroll or Hulu.

Is the online streaming of anime in Japan as popular as it is in America? I know that the Japanese music industry tries really hard to keep its works off the Internet as much as possible, and they try to get customers to buy physical CDs instead. Is there a similar impact on anime streaming where the anime industry tries to avoid streaming and opt for physical DVDs, Blu-rays, etc. in its domestic domain instead?

Also, most of the time in America, the subbed Japanese version is available for free viewing for anybody.

Do Japanese viewers have to pay in order to stream anime in Japanese? My guess is no, because I wouldn't see why Japanese viewers would be charged to view anime in Japanese when U.S. viewers get to stream anime in Japanese for free.

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    i have a friend in japan and he mentioned both are not available to use IN japan probably bc of licensing troubles or something. cd/dvd/bluray discs are still the most popular medium in japan. so if one wants to watch anime, they usually buy/rent in tsutaya or other shops that sells them. some people record the airing anime and that's legal i think but it has no subs. torrenting/illegal streaming aren't allowed because of a recent law they passed.
    – Bahamut
    Commented Jan 16, 2016 at 10:17
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    I assume by "free" you mean "ad-supported"? Sitting thru 3 to 6 minutes of ads is a cost, but one of time rather than money.
    – RichF
    Commented Jan 1, 2017 at 22:00
  • Yes, that was an unconscious assumption I made. Thanks for pointing that out.
    – Phillip D.
    Commented Jan 6, 2017 at 6:06

1 Answer 1


As mentioned in the article: How Is Online Streaming Doing in Japan?

  • In terms of YouTube and Nico Nico, both services are quite entrenched. Nico Nico's growth has slowed substantially, clocking in at about 2.5 million premium members (they had 2 million in 2013), and 50 million registered users. YouTube, meanwhile, is blowing up, with 70% of internet users reporting having used the service -- ranking it #1 social media website in the country, above Facebook, Twitter, and Japan's local (and more popular) social media service, Line.

  • In terms of premium services streaming professionally made content, Japan is behind English speaking countries in terms of market reach. Hulu famously launched in Japan back in 2011, but didn't manage to secure much Japanese language content -- most of what they were offering was American TV shows. It also cost a fortune (¥2,000 per month, with no free option). After three years, Hulu sold off the service to Nippon TV, who added some more Japanese content, and reduced the price to a far more reasonable ¥930 per month. In March they announced they had over a million subscribers.

  • Netflix only launched their Japanese service in September, but has been doing groundwork for their launch for some time. Pricing the service at ¥650-1450 per month, the company has been spending heavily on marketing, and local versions of televisions from major manufacturers like Sony, Toshiba and Panasonic got those ubiquitous Netflix buttons added to their controls back in the 2nd quarter. The company even partnered with cell phone company SoftBank to easily add the service to users' monthly bills. It's too early to know how well the service is doing, though.

  • It's suddenly a very crowded marketplace for streaming services in Japan. What's more, it remains to be seen whether the aging Japanese public at large even wants subscription streaming services. The country is famously old fashioned in how it consumes media (they still buy enough CDs to keep Tower Records in business over there). A survey conducted in September by JustSystems showed that, among users of Amazon.co.jp, only 6.3% currently subscribe to a streaming service, while 38.8% knew what they were but weren't interested in them. Another 27.7% didn't know what they were.

You can check out this MyAnimeList forum post, which mentions that you can stream anime for free in Japan, just like you do in other countries, however, you would be better off not downloading it from the torrents, due to the Anti-Downloading Law in Japan.

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    I think NicoNico can be considered as official for online streaming (similar to Crunchyroll). They sometimes livestream older anime free for all (I watched Natsume Yuujinchou season 4 on there), but for newer anime, I think it's region locked (I can't watch from outside of Japan even with premium account), and I believe they have PPV (pay per view) feature. For more info, you can look at NicoNico's Anime Portal (in Japanese)
    – Aki Tanaka
    Commented Jan 16, 2016 at 10:49

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