Known in their community as AniTubers, this special breed of YouTube creators specializes in dissecting anime both microscopically and globally. They review series, break down elements in narrative, explore character psychology, study the art of animation, analyze industrial patterns, and otherwise set out to be the evidence that anime (and by extension, manga) might possibly be a worthwhile expenditure of time and cognitive energy.
This article is about them. Specifically, I’m going to be covering nine of the most popular (and my personal favorite) AniTubers. My hope is to provide some simple exposure, for your own benefit as well as the creators’ themselves. In doing so, your interest might be piqued enough to delve in further and find favorites of your own.
A couple disclaimers:
I am not going to be qualifying the creators of AMVs, ASMVs, abridged narratives, musical cover artists, original music artists, voice actors, cosplayers, channels that only cover anime peripherally (i.e. WatchMojo), editors of sakuga (compilation videos of high-quality animation clips), or anything else that does not directly analyze anime in some broader context. I want to review each of these AniTuber subsets individually, as each are deserving of their own lists.
Many of these upcoming AniTuber personalities have secondary channels or have been around longer than I mention. I am moving forward purely on the statistics and values of their main channels. Likewise, I do not have the time to watch every video from all of them, so in my brief content synopsis, please understand that if I mention “this guy has clean material,” I am making a generalization. It is possible somebody I label as “clean” might swear in a couple videos or show a clip of an erotic anime somewhere in the history of their channel. As you’ll come to discover, many of these guys have been around for years, and each fit into a localized political and ethical climate unique to their community.
Lastly–and this is mostly an observation I made while doing research–all nine entries are men. It occurs to me how skewed this might seem, but I was largely looking at numbers when I created this list. The lack of a female presence in the community could be telling of the audience, but I’m not sure. At any rate, it’s disheartening, and I will be familiarizing myself with some female AniTubers in the near future to round out my exposure.
Lifespan: 6 Years
Inventory: 370+ Videos
Favorite Anime: Soul Eater, Anohana, a million other things
Content Warning: Swears liberally, shows lots of ecchi
“Greetings ladies, gentlemen, and others (including, but not limited to, our future robot overlords).”
Glass Reflection is considered one of the pioneers of reviewing anime on YouTube. He wasn’t the first, but he might as well have been, since most audiences won’t be able to name somebody who came earlier. One comment I read in my research labelled him as “the IGN of anime reviews,” and that’s accurate enough. Reviews are this guy’s wheelhouse, most of which he delivers in his signature red military jacket, or vest and tie. You will not see Glass deviate from his reviews or formulas very often if you seek out older videos, but he’s been adopting more variety in the last couple years.
Glass specializes in comedy and romance, but with 373 videos under his belt, he’s obviously not a two-genre pony. (Yep, I said that.)
Largely respected by his cohorts, Glass Reflection is still active and kicking out new material on the weekly. His videos possess a consistent, self-aware sarcasm that makes me laugh, and he’ll sometimes say random things that nobody, including himself, understands. He is known for the phrase “the ending is paramount,” as he believes the overall quality of a series is irrevocably sullied if the ending does not deliver.
Here’s a link to his newcomer’s guide to the Fate franchise, which he considers more complicated than the Kingdom Hearts series–a comparison which is undoubtedly nightmare fuel for some people reading this article.
Lifespan: 6 Years
Inventory: 142 videos
Favorite Anime: Fate/Zero, Baccano!, Wolf Children, Perfect Blue
Content Warning: Swears liberally
“Anime is trash, and so am I.” “TOURNAMENT ARRRRCCCC!!!!”
Armed with a quick wit, a British accent, and humor of various shades, Gigguk stands alongside Glass Reflection as another of the oldest AniTubers in digital history. While he started in similar fashion to Glass Reflection, with simple anime reviews as his bedrock, Gigguk has long since deviated into his own style and identity, focusing far less on reviews nowadays and more on his passion projects. If he does review something, it’s more often a focused case study of one specific element of a show, rather than the broader scope of the series/movie.
Gigguk encompasses many different types of series in multiple formats, so pinning down one as his “thing” is virtually impossible. He maintains a side-project called “Evabridged” with a few other AniTubers, which is an abridged parody of Evangelion, but most of his time is dedicated to creating videos that analyze genres (shounen, more often than not), how to fix various quirks of films/shows, and the meta-context of culture and the duality of influence between anime and the world around it.
In terms of presentation, he’s easy to understand, edits his videos with relevant cuts, and casts humor in a few consistent patterns. Most notably, he’ll play with voice edits to create a variety of comedic effects, such using a distant voice for when he’s “talking to a crowd” (who will sometimes interrupt or boo him) or an echoing effect for emphasis.
He also understands how to write and direct physical confrontations to mean something substantial in narrative. Refer to his “Brilliant Fight Scenes” videos here and here. Also, look at this video about the evolution of anime’s presence in the public consciousness.
Lifespan: 3 Years
Inventory: 300+ Videos
Favorite Anime: K-On!, Ponyo, Evangelion, Shirobako, pretty much anything by Studio Trigger
Content Warning: Swears liberally, has no qualms with any immoral aspect of a series as long as it’s written or animated well
Digibro: The prolific, vulgar older brother of the community, exists in a nebulous dimension of simultaneously being loved and hated by everybody. People like Digibro typically get on my nerves, but for some reason he himself does not. I honestly can’t explain why.
It’s hard to pinpoint Digibro’s specialty in terms of video content, as he’s a jack of all trades. The only things that resonate immediately and consistently are his unintentional brand of condescension, his almost unhealthy enjoyment of analyzing things, and how precisely he informs you about what he does not like–Sword Art Online and The Asterisk Wars, especially. He dedicates an imbalanced amount of time to talking about a series’ aesthetic victories or failures, which has led people to criticize that it’s all he cares about. (It’s not.)
Digibro maintains an astronomically high opinion of himself, or at least of his YouTube creations and taste in anime. He has one of the widest nets of influence of anybody on this list, possessing several channels outside his main one, being a frequent contender on various podcasts, and having a quickly identifiable brand as somebody who wears pajamas and sunglasses almost everywhere. Also: he notoriously uses little music in his videos, as he considers it distracting if not relevant.
Narrowing down only one or two suggestions for viewing material is tricky, so I’ll just link to some of his most popular items. I’ll spare you his multiple rants on SAO, as they can and will take several hours to wade through. Here’s a half-hour splurge about how to recognize a bad anime after only one episode, and a more digestible seven-minute exposition on what constitutes an anime.
Lifespan: 3 Years
Inventory: 105+ Videos
Favorite Anime: Uncertain, probably Mob Psycho 100 and Cowboy Bebop
Content Warning: Clean
Best known for his “Spotlights” series, The Canipa Effect (or just “Canipa”) is an AniTuber who specializes in head knowledge of persons involved with the creation of a project. In other words, you’d better be good at keeping up with Japanese names, because he throws them at you like candy.
Canipa is the friendly, socially-awkward middle child of the AniTubers world. Despite being good at what he does, he gets less attention than his more eccentric peers, and he’s still finding his identity in the culture. That said, I love The Canipa Effect. He’s one of my favorite AniTubers, and his attention to the otherwise neglected elements of anime creation make him stand out in a way the others don’t.
Choosing to focus only slightly on reviews, Canipa instead orbits around peripheral subjects, like musical composers, key animators, background artists, and the relationships/histories of development studios.
He is somebody who, through research and intuition, understands anime as a business, and thus has a lot to say about it in that form. Canipa grasps the politics, economics, and international climate of anime in a way other AniTubers typically don’t.
Lifespan: 4 Years
Inventory: 900+ Videos
Favorite Anime: Uncertain
Content Warning: Cusses a ton, makes crude jokes (I’ve watched relatively few of his videos compared to the other entries, so tread with caution.)
This one is probably the most controversial entry on the list, as he barely classifies as an AniTuber, but he’s got an unbelievable amount of subscribers and positive feedback, so I think he warrants the position.
The Anime Man, or Joey, is a Japanese-Australian creator who lives in Japan as of a couple years ago and speaks fluent Japanese. Consequently, he’ll occasionally make videos where he speaks more Japanese than English. With over nine-hundred uploads, he’s covered a lot of territory.
Unlike other people on this list, The Anime Man has much more physical presence in his videos, choosing to do a lot of sit-down talks with the camera, so he’s more easily recognized than most other AniTubers. He also keeps a consistent blog, allowing more insight and emotional investment into his personal life, including his romantic relationship with fellow YouTuber, Akidearest.
With such a bloated number of videos, it’s hard to say The Anime Man specializes in anything. He’s got a lot of quirky, random uploads and really enjoys close-cuts of his face when making jokes. He also adds a lot of typical anime effects to his videos, in the vein of action lines and the like. He’ll jump from talking about morality and anime to reading random haiku for eleven minutes without warning. I really enjoyed a recent video of his where he gives commentary on Japan’s recently released “Top 100 Anime of All Time” List. You can watch that here.
Lifespan: 1 Year
Inventory: 38 Videos
Favorite Anime: Dragon Ball, One Piece, a lot of shonen
Content Warning: Clean
If The Anime Man’s 900+ videos seems a bit too daunting to wade through, Super Eyepatch Wolf doesn’t have nearly as many. What he does have, though, is my favorite voice of all the AniTubers.
Watch just a couple of his videos and I think you’ll join the standing opinion that he would make an excellent best friend. He utilizes a therapeutic tone during his videos, keeping the pace slow and contemplative, as if he’s telling you a secret about yourself that you didn’t know. He is one of the younger AniTubers in terms of channel lifespan, and only recently began to rise in popularity, though he has done so at an incredible rate.
What Wolf excels in is a specific classification of review which he dubs the “Why You Should Watch” series, wherein he conducts a case study highlighting all of the positive reasons you should consume a series. Some examples are Berserk, Hajime no Ippo, and even Western series like Samurai Jack. He’s got a strong understanding of the shounen genre and its currently fragile status transitioning between generations.
While Wolf seems to have his formula structure down-pat, he’s still figuring out which niches he belongs in and which waters are left relatively unexplored by his older contemporaries. In pursuit of these things, he’s slowly building new series, like his videos exploring the fall of major franchises, such as Bleach, and discussing the generally obscure concept of horror in the medium.
Perhaps his most noteworthy praise came from aforementioned Digibro, who Tweeted: “I think Super Eyepatch Wolf is my favorite anime YouTuber.” Coming from an AniTuber veteran, this alone speaks volumes of the personality and intellect behind Wolf’s creations.
Lifespan: 2 Years
Inventory: 150+ Videos
Favorite Anime: I think he specifically avoids answering this question
Content Warning: Swears liberally
Like Digibro, Mother’s Basement gained a name for himself by hating Sword Art Online and dismantling it to his heart’s desire. However, unlike Digibro, Basement isn’t generally regarded as a jerk, which is funny because they’re pretty good friends.
Mother’s Basement finds his place in the AniTuber paradigm by micro-analyzing to a level his peers do not. In particular, he’ll dissect anime openings/endings (including this one about Haikyuu!!’s fourth OP, which is a personal favorite of mine in the last few years), and individual scenes, looking for marks of symbolism, thematic appropriation, foreshadowing, and other narrative or artistic effects which might influence the actions or meanings of something beyond the surface. More recently, he’s begun comparing anime adaptations to their source material in an attempt to recognize how they’re better, worse, or simply different from one another.
Outside of these focus subjects, Basement will just publish things on a whim, with no prior classification and no promise of making a series out of whatever he’s working on. He’s also dipped his feet in several podcasts over the years, including his own, which has played host to many other people mentioned so far on this list.
Lifespan: 3 Years
Inventory: 140+ Videos
Favorite Anime: Texnolyze, Aria, Mushi-Shi, Legend of the Galactic Heroes
Content Warning: Swears occasionally
Best known for spoiler free reviews and his “Genre Bite” series, AnimeEveryday is an analyst who caters to films more than ongoing series, though he definitely covers both. AE puts a lot of time into excavating the more subtle aspects of the medium, like cinematography, atmospheric mood, and stylistic evolution.
AnimeEveryday is one of the least popular on this lineup, and his videos don’t have the same streamlined flavor as the rest (he’s getting better, though) but the content is commendable on its own. He’s also not afraid to mix things up and do something weird, such as his “Anime Roulette” series where he goes into a random anime, with literally zero expectations beforehand, and provides commentary along the way.
There’s unfortunately not as much to say about AE, considering he doesn’t post as much as other AniTubers, but what he does put out is generally solid and worth looking at, especially if the above-mentioned focal points are of interest to you.
Lifespan: 3 Years
Inventory: 5,600+ Videos
Favorite Anime: Fate/Zero, Tokyo Ghoul, One-Punch Man
Content Warning: Not entirely certain, but not clean
I’ll be honest, I actually didn’t know who this guy was until I started writing this article. But apparently I’m the only one, seeing as he has a solid amount of subscribers and a… Wait, no that can’t be right. There must be an extra zero in there… Huh. Nope, that’s real.
Over five thousand, six hundred videos. In three years. What even?!
From what I’ve gathered, Chibi falls for a series and then latches onto it, hard. He seems especially capable in the realm of theory-crafting: looking at the overt and hidden details to see if he can predict what will happen in a narrative. He’s also the only one on this list who regularly enlists manga as a source of review material.
With such an insane amount of videos, it’s understandable that he’s done a review of almost every genre that manga and anime have to offer, with no discrimination for ongoing series, movies, OVAs, or anything in-between. Basically, if Chibi likes it, he reviews it. And he likes a lot of things.
Something I did notice is that he’s similar to The Anime Man in that he doesn’t actually clip together videos most of the time, instead recording himself talking about whatever the subject of the video is for that day (or hour, probably). This makes his material better for listening, rather than watching.
I hope you’ll take some time to look into even one or two of these incredible content creators. There are more–many more–that I did not unwrap.
As for my personal recommendations: If you’re looking for just one or two YouTubers to follow for the time being, I suggest The Canipa Effect and Super Eyepatch Wolf. They are wonderful people who release wonderful material, and I think you’ll find yourself not only satisfied, but also impressed with the quality of their videos when they drop into your inbox.