Anime Tracking Site Comparison

Recently, a number of people I know were interested in trying out some different anime tracking sites, and I was surprised to find that there wasn’t any readily available information comparing the different sites you can use in order to keep track of the anime which you have watched. I could find some discussions of what people used, but no real comparisons. This post aims to give a comparison of the different sites available, and look at some of their key features. I’m certain that it won’t be comprehensive, and of course if the sites have any major changes, the information may become outdated, but I’m hoping it will be a somewhat useful resource. Aside from MAL which I have been using for some years, I am a new user to all these sites and while I have done my best to test out the different basic features, I may still have missed out on some available functionality. This in itself is perhaps telling because I was unable to find the information as a new user. If I’ve missed something important, please let me know! I’ll do my best to try and have accurate information regarding each site, although I may not update this post indefinitely.

For each site I have looked at the ease of importing existing information, how you can score your shows, the options for tracking your titles (e.g. ability to create custom lists or filters), ability to customise your list design, the site UI, ways of interacting with other users (contacting or befriending them), what sort of details may be available in the database for a particular title, and the forum or community aspects of the site. Different people look for different things when it comes to tracking anime, but hopefully these are some of the important key features. I’ve linked to my profile on each site so you can see how it looks live.

AniDBanidb
Importing existing information: This was possible, but you needed to export and save your data as an XML file and upload it onto the Anime DB website. The import process takes some time.
Scoring: The site uses a 1-10 scale. The site tracks scores with both an average and a weighted average score for each title.
Tracking Options: You can create custom lists featuring manga or anime, which gives you a chance to showcase your favourites. AniDB can be tied into an applet or application which will automatically update your details as you watch shows. This seems to be weighted towards shows which are stored on your hard drive and perhaps is less effective in this day and age where many people choose to stream anime. You can keep track of your viewing start and end dates, which is something I appreciate.
List customisation: There’s no way to customise the appearance of your list. You can sort your list by several available filters like status, weighted score, and average score.
UI: The site design feels like it’s fresh out of 2004. The site doesn’t appear to be fully optimised for mobile, with some site interactions requiring mouse hover instead of being able to be activated via general pointer events, making using some menus impossible with a mobile browser.
User Interaction: You can add friends and send users private messages. You’re able to exchange anime recommendations with your friends, which appears to be unique to this site.
Database: AniDB is very up to date with different fansub groups and their offerings, and all the different ways you could watch a series. The staff and character credits seem to be fairly well updated, even for less popular titles.
Forums/Community: The forums are pretty quiet with only the actual airing anime discussions seeming to have regular post activity, and other subforums going days without replies. The site has an IRC channel which you could use to chat with other users (do people still use IRC?).
Overall Thoughts: This site has good tracking of scores and titles and I like the way that they deal with stats but the design and the whole site philosophy is quite dated.

AniList 

anilist

The list style has been customised via the site dropdowns

Importing existing information: This was really easy as you could just enter your username from another database, and the import was done for you without any fuss.
Scoring: You can choose from a variety of scoring options, a 1-10 scale, a 1-100 scale, a 1-10 scale allowing for decimal points (effectively the same as a 1-100 scale, only missing the lowest options), a 5 star scale, or just smiley faces. It doesn’t make it easy to compare scores with other users, but there’s definitely options to suit your preferences.
Tracking Options: You can choose to have your anime titles default to romaji, English, or 日本語. There’s some good stats breakdown on your profile page, featuring score distribution and also a graph showing your genre preferences (It turns out I have watched an absurd amount of shows tagged comedy).
List customisation: There’s customisation available via some simple dropdown menu options, making it easy to use for someone who is unfamiliar with web design, and there also seems to be a CSS editor, but there’s no readily available documentation on how to make this work, and it doesn’t seem to be integrated properly with the list. I like being able to customise the CSS of sites I use as it gives me a bit of extra control over the appearance, but I appreciate that the dropdowns would be a lot easier for most users.
UI: The site looks clean, modern, and elegant. I did find the search to be a bit laggy because it doesn’t wait for you to confirm your search terms but starts sorting through entries as soon as you put in a letter. Weirdly the mobile version of the site seems to be better designed, and give more options. I could enter a start and end date for a series on mobile but couldn’t work out how to do this on desktop. Most things felt fairly intuitive, but it was hard to find information regarding site functions which I was uncertain about.
User Interaction: You can follow users, and it’s possible to send users a private message.
Database: Newer shows seem to be lacking in information (although I could add Forest Fairy Five to my list, there was next to no information except for the show title and episode numbers).
Forums/Community: The forums are very quiet, there’s threads going back days on the front page. They do have a discord channel if you’re interested in chatting with other users live. I do not have Discord, so I haven’t checked out this particular feature.
Overall Thoughts: This site has a special category for shows called TV shorts. While perhaps this isn’t a big deal for everyone, I really appreciate this as a way to make it easier to find shorts. It’s a fairly crisp, modern design with lots of custom list options but it doesn’t seem like a great place to interact with other users.

Anime News Network
annImporting existing information: There’s no way that I could find to do this. You need to add any previously viewed titles one by one. ANN does have an A-Z database with tickboxes so you can do this more readily than having to search each title individually, but it’s still a real pain. Owing to the requirement to add each title manually, I’ve only added a few titles to my list as of the time of writing this article.
Scoring: ANN actually has word descriptors for each of its ratings, on what is effectively an 0-10 scale. Options range from ‘Worst ever, maybe useful as a sadistic torture device’, to ‘Masterpiece, exquisite beyond words’. This non-numerical way of rating to me seems to put a weight on personal enjoyment over technical factors owing to its wording. You can also rate different versions separately (e.g. English dub & English subtitles) and also add comments for each title.
Tracking Options: ANN has an option to track your physical media (DVDs and Blu-rays) in addition to just keeping track of the shows which you have watched. You can also create your own personal lists featuring different anime or manga.
List customisation: There’s no way to customise your list. The design is barely above plain HTML, so it’s not exactly pretty or modern, but it is easy to read.
UI: I had no trouble finding information, except that the actual adding of anime is somewhat nightmarish. The site is optimised for mobile and is perfectly functional on a mobile browser.
User Interaction: You can find ‘like-minded users’, those who have their lists set to be publicly viewable who have added similar titles with similar ratings. You can PM users but there doesn’t seem to be any way to add friends, and actually finding any contact links at all was challenging.
Database: ANN has very detailed information on their anime entries, with extensive staff credits, DVD releases, and airing dates in different countries. Their information seems to be the most up-to-date of any site I have looked at owing to ANN’s primary function as a news website.
Forums/Community: There’s an active forum community here, especially because ANN is an active anime news site. They seem to have the best moderated forums with rules expecting users to be polite, use a decent standard of spelling and grammar (with leniency towards those for whom English is a second language or those who have literacy difficulties), and create topics with a decent standard of conversation. It’s not perfect, but it seems to be miles ahead of other sites when it comes to what I seek in an online community.
Overall Thoughts: I don’t think this is a great place to track anime viewed, but I do think that it’s probably the nicest community setting, with a good mix of activity, interesting discussion generated from ANN’s regular news features, and a fairly positive forum culture. If I was wanting to get involved in an anime forum community, instead of just have a venue for tracking shows I have seen, this would be my top pick.

Anime Planet
animeplanet
Importing existing information: This is possible, but you needed to export and save your data as an XML file and upload it onto the Anime Planet website.
Scoring: The site uses a 5 star system with half stars, equivalent to a 1-10 scale.
Tracking Options: You can create custom lists on the topics you like, and give reasons for why entries belong in a list. This actually feels like an appropriate venue for listicles. Anime Planet is also unique in having a ‘Won’t Watch’ category, I guess to indicate to other people that a show is absolutely outside of your area of interest. You can easily see the mean score for an anime as well as the score which you have given the show. Anime Planet also has badges/achievements for people who like collecting these. You can favourite characters, staff, and studios. There’s a weirdly detailed character search function, including things like the ability to search via hair colour.
List customisation: There’s no way to customise the appearance of your list, except for the general option to toggle between a cover view (with large cover images for each anime) and a list view.
UI: This was pretty middle of the road as far as the sites I’ve looked at. It was neither super dated or super modern. It would be nice to have a ‘dark mode’ as well as the light mode as I know some people prefer to browse with a black background. The site was perfectly functional on mobile.
User Interaction: You can comment on user profiles and follow other users. There doesn’t seem to be a private message function which I could find.
Database: This site doesn’t keep track of production staff, but they do have information on voice actors. It doesn’t seem to have complete information on some of the currently airing series, but there weren’t whole titles absent from their database.
Forums/Community: Outside of the episode discussion threads, which seem to be somewhat active, the other forum areas are pretty quiet. Anime Planet is linked to several legal streaming services which can make it a good place to find legal sources to watch shows, although these seem to be focused on US options.
Overall Thoughts: While not standing out in any particular area, Anime Planet appears to be competent in every regard. I like the fact that they have badges, as I’m someone who enjoys collecting those sorts of things.

Kitsu (formerly known as Hummingbird)
kitsuImporting existing information: This is really easy as you could just enter your username from another database, and the import was done for you without any fuss.
Scoring: Kitsu uses a 5 star system with half stars, which is the equivalent of a 1-10 system.
Tracking Options: You can add comments to each entry. You can add your favourite shows or characters to a list.
List customisation: There’s no way to customise the appearance of your list.
UI: At present things seem to be a bit messy, but the staff have said they’re planning to make regular updates. It seems modern, but it’s not especially intuitive as a newcomer, and it’s challenging to find information.
User Interaction: You can follow users and post on their pages, but there does not appear to be a method of privately messaging a user.
Database: It seems to be lacking some titles and info. I couldn’t add Forest Fairy Five to my list as it was completely absent from the database in spite of being a title which is being subbed and aired by Crunchyroll this season (it’s a bad anime, but I would have expected to be able to add it to my list).
Forums/Community: Kitsu is currently in a period of flux as they’re changing their look and functionality from the old Hummingbird site, but there’s an activity feed, not forum discussions. The feed seems to be fairly active with new posts and replies going up every few minutes.
Overall Thoughts: It’s a bit hard to get an overall feel for the direction that Kitsu is planning to go, but they seem to be the most modern site with the most short and medium-term planned changes. I didn’t think that it was especially easy either to interact with friends or the community, and I wasn’t super fussed on their present list design. I do think that it would be worth keeping an eye on Kitsu to see how the site develops in the future.

My Anime List

mal

The list style has been customised via CSS

Importing existing information: You can only do this via external userscripts, there’s no official site support for importing lists from other websites.
Scoring: MAL uses a 1-10 scoring system. They do provide some suggested descriptors for what a show of that standard would be like, but I find that the general community tends to just go on what they think the numbers should represent.
Tracking Options: You can keep track of when you started and finished a show and manually edit these dates, which is something that I felt was missing on many other sites. How else would I know it took me nearly 4 years to watch Love Hina to completion? MAL has pages for anime and manga tracking. You can add favourite anime, manga, characters, and staff/voice actors to lists. It’s possible to add comments or tags to each entry. MAL can also be tied into Graph Anime Plus, which gives more detailed stats on your watching habits. Show titles default to romaji of the Japanese title on your list, but you can search English titles.
List customisation: You can choose from a few default list looks or have full customisation using CSS. It’s fairly easy to find information regarding CSS customisation and there’s plenty of premade layouts and tutorials for beginners.
UI: The site design is a bit dated, seeming to have mostly kept its forum site framework from the site’s inception when forums were a lot more popular, but it’s easy to navigate. MAL does have the frustrating tendency to on occasion log you out even though you’ve ticked the ‘remember me’ box. This seems to have mostly been fixed as of recent times, but I never know if I’ll have to log in again in spite of having asked to stay logged in on my computer. MAL has some issues with invasive advertising at times, making it not a great site to use on mobile.
User Interaction: You can add friends and see their recent list updates in a news feed. You can comment publicly on a user’s profile or send them messages privately.
Database: MAL is pretty reliant on other news sites for their info, but there’s a lot of contributors so entries seem to be fairly well-rounded. I have personally suggested some page corrections (e.g. updating character names to official romanisation) which have not been acted on several weeks after they were proposed so the update process after an anime is initially added to the database may be slow.
Forums/Community: The forums are very active, and there’s usually multiple posts made every minute across the forums.
Overall Thoughts: MAL makes the act of tracking what you watch quite easy, although it lacks the polish of some of the other list sites. I realise I may have a slight bias owing to my familiarity with the site.

Overall, don’t be a crazy person like me and sign up for all the anime list tracking websites! I may actually update all of these now because I have all these accounts, especially as I didn’t find a clear personal standout. I think each site has its own pros and cons. Hopefully you can find information in here which will be helpful for deciding what may suit you when it comes to a site for anime and manga tracking. If there’s anything you’d like to share on anime sites you like or dislike, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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22 thoughts on “Anime Tracking Site Comparison

  1. This is a cool post. I haven’t ever ventured forth from beyond the comfort of MAL due to my own familiarity with the site. I like the categories you used to break down each of them. I had been hearing mention of Kitsu here and there and had no idea until now that it was Hummingbird.

    I’d have to agree with your assessment of MAL in that it’s crazy straightforward to update and keep track of what you watch but it has lacked a lot of desired features for years. As a list fanatic, I’d love to have more control over my hierarchy and what I can display but I’m too lazy to migrate elsewhere and it seems like MAL has a larger community than most.

    I could never keep track of updating all of those sites simultaneously – what have you done, haha.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have no idea what I’ve done either! 😀 I don’t think that I’ll obsessively update every site as I complete episodes, but that I will gradually update my info on the sites I use less in small batches. If you’re happy with what you’ve got, definitely don’t go and sign up for a bunch of other tracking websites. That is perhaps my top finding from this experiment.

      There’s so many different things which you could possibly want from a list tracking site, and I definitely didn’t find one site which has them all, but I did find a variety of different features spread across the different sites.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Very interesting post that compares the sites really well.

    I used to use AniDB, Anime-Planet and MAL, but nowadays I tend to just use MAL after changing my online identity to my current one.

    I doubt I’ll be crazy enough to sign up for all these sites again though. Having to keep track of MAL is bad enough 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t really think it’s needful to use all the sites. I can’t believe that you used to update 3 regularly with your old identity (says me who just signed up so I have 6 accounts now), I think that finding one you like and sticking with it is probably sufficient for most people.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree, one site is more than enough in my opinion, especially if you’re someone like me who doesn’t really engage much with the communities (I genuinely can’t stand any Anime forums, far too much arguing and negativity in those for me).

        I used to keep track of all of those sites I was signed up to and it was a chore. I’m not even sure why I really bothered to be honest.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I meant to comment early but this was a great post! Very informative! I stuck to MAL because I didn’t know any other options. But I mostly use 2 mobile apps to help me track. iMAL and Aozora. I like iMAL since it links (obviously) back to my MAL account. I mostly use MAL and my apps to really nitpick at the episodes i’ve watch and started and completed dates of each anime I start. iMAL’s app – i like to add what I’m watching and check off what episode number i’m on.

    The other iphone app i use is Aozora. It also links back to MAL also, but the reason I like having it on my iPhone is that I can set it up as a widget that shows me how many episodes I’m behind, and if I’m caught up there’s a countdown to when the next episode is out. It’s pretty neat!

    Thanks for sharing this post and your findings!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hadn’t really thought about apps too much. I have a lame Windows phone, so the app store functionality is virtually nil! I think that for people who are on the go a lot or tied to their phone, having a specific app could be really useful. Knowing if you’re behind on airing shows could be handy (or stress-inducing, depending on your personality), and this wasn’t a feature of any of the main sites which I’d discovered.

      Liked by 1 person

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  5. Thanks for taking the time to write this – a different kind of post and very useful. Being a non-Japanese speaking fan, it certainly can get confusing remembering all the Japanese anime titles.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Agree with you there. It does bring something different, however updating them can be a bit of a job to do on each site. If they do support xml, then just update the list on one site and then import it over to the other sites. Doing them individually is a pain :(.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m sure that this is a helpful resource post for a lot of our fellow anime fans. As for me, I keep track of my shows manually and by “manually” I mean by handwriting each and every one of them and their episodes. I just have my own system. It’s more hard work, but I like it. Great post! Keep up the good work. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

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