Spring is officially in bloom! If all the vibrantly green plants and buzzing critters didn’t make that evident, then my allergies sure as hell did. Since I have been in an odd Spring-like mood recently, I wanted to share with you my top five favourite feel-good anime serials from 2018 that also happen to be perfect for seasonal viewing amid the pinks and yellows of this dusty time of year.
I will openly admit that I didn’t watch that much anime in 2018. It was a tough year for me, so I focused more on surviving rather than indulging my otaku interests, which kind of blew because there was some decent content that came out last year (I’m currently playing catch-up with a lot of them). Nevertheless, with the titles that I did manage to sink my interest into, I was pleasantly surprised by how many of them I adored enough to add to my “Must Buy” list.
A couple of the titles that I shall be sharing have received mixed reviews from around the blogosphere and I can understand where those less-than-thrilled opinions come from. Hell, I may even agree with a few of them. Nonetheless, all of the shows on this list have a little something for just about every watcher and I think their positives far outweigh the negatives. So, if you’ve been on the fence about an anime in my list, try to keep an open-mind and check out three reasons why I believe you should take the plunge with it.
05. Laid-Back Camp △
Laid-Back Camp (ゆるキャン△) is a slice-of-life series about a group of high school girls who enjoy camping very much, and how their interest brings them together in camaraderie with joyful, fun vibes. Honestly, when this began simulcasting last Winter, I wasn’t interested in it because I’m not someone who likes camping. Yet, a fellow blogger’s first impressions convinced me to watch the pilot, and I was hooked henceforth.
The first of three reasons to watch Laid-Back Camp is that it has everything that I love in a slice-of-life: amazing, positive friendships; morsels of wisdom for making the most of a potentially negative situation; lovely animation; and warm-hearted laughter. The essence of feel-good is incorporated in this series. So, if you like shows that can make you feel good, this is the one to see. Another reason to watch is the food! American camping food is disgusting. But the food in Laid-Back Camp is so fucking scrumptious, OMG. I’m beginning to realise I just may not be a fan of American cuisine. Asian cuisine on the other hand, gimme all of it! Lastly, the characters are all very cute and entertaining in their own ways. My favourite is a pink-haired lady who is obsessed with food; in other words she’s a kindred spirit. So, if you like cute girls who have more depth to them aside from their “kawaii” qualities, then this is a good pick.
04. Kakuriyo -Bed & Breakfast for Spirits-
Kakuriyo -Bed & Breakfast for Spirits- (かくりよの宿飯) is a josei, supernatural, slice-of-life series about a girl who finds herself in the realm of ayakashi (collective name for yōkai, or Japanese supernatural entities), where she must work either at a local inn or marry the inn’s demonic owner in order to pay off her grandfather’s ridiculously large debt. I’m a sucker for supernatural, slice-of-life narratives (Natsume’s Book of Friends has fucking spoiled the hell out of me in that regard), so watching this became a no-brainer for me. While many people didn’t like this show (the second half mostly), I adored many, many things about it.
My full review for this anime will be going up tomorrow. In the meantime, some of the reasons why I feel this is worth watching pertains a lot to Japanese culture. Most of the episodes are interconnected while being uniquely episodic and they’re all about helping people. If you’ve studied Japanese culture or history, the practises of helping people while following certain social customs is quite interesting! Kakuriyo is actually very revealing in regard to it. Reason number two are the aesthetics. I love historical Japan and this anime has beautiful aesthetics related to it, whether it’s the attire, the building designs, the food, or the characters themselves. Thirdly, I really want to say food (again) because, WOW, the food is glorious, but instead I will say the music. I loved the music so much as it uses the koto and shamisen to create very traditional notes and sounds that complements everything else in each episode quite wonderfully.
03. After the Rain
After the Rain (恋は雨上がりのように) is a seinen, romance series that is about an adolescent girl who has strong feelings for her thirty-something boss at the diner where she works part-time. The series is about how she deals with those feelings and the interactions between the two individuals. The PVs for this series had my attention right from the start because the visuals are gorgeous! Then I watched the first episode and knew within my heart that I would love this series for a very long time to come.
I’m obsessed with Japanese literature. This whole series is essentially an homage to Japanese literature, which brings me to reason number one as to why you should watch it: it’s an excellent exhibition of the Japanese narrative style. It can be achingly slow and simple while still managing to be breathtakingly profound and contemplative. My second reason also relates to Japanese literature as the main male lead, Daisuke Kondo, is a big reader. He makes tons of references to Japanese authors (my favourites, most of them) and he’s even a struggling writer himself. Thirdly, it’s fucking gorgeous! I know I already said that, but this title haa some of the very best animation released in 2018, more so for pluviophiles (rain lovers).
02. Tada Never Falls in Love
Tada Never Falls in Love (多田くんは恋をしない) is an original slice-of-life, romantic comedy anime that is about a dude named Tada who bumps into a transfer student named Teresa. He gives her a helping hand when she finds herself lost in the city and this kicks off the foundation for a sweet and soft friendship. Tada was another series I was eyeing due to the striking animation reveals. Upon watching it, the artistry had stolen my heart and the characters soon afterwards.
Number one reason to watch this series is Nyanko Big. He’s Tada’s giant, floofy cat that likes women and hates boys and he’s FUCKING ADORABLE! I also like that Nyanko Big has a regular and steady appearance in the series rather than just being a one-time acquaintance. In fact, there is a whole cute-beyond-belief episode dedicated to the little guy. Second reason should not come as a surprise as I mentioned it above, but the artwork is so beyond beautiful that my descriptions probably won’t due it justice. The palettes consist of bright colours associated with Spring, like verdant, pink, and cerulean, with landscape shots done in watercolour style. Lastly, it deals with an array of human emotions in a genuine manner without losing it’s feel-good spirit, which can be difficult to do considering some of the topics and most of them pertain to the interpersonal connections we make.
01. A Place Further Than the Universe
A Place Further Than the Universe (宇宙よりも遠い場所) is another original slice-of-life, adventure series with strong comedic elements. I refrain from calling it a straight comedy because it’s more a drama that isn’t afraid to make people laugh along the way. It follows a young girl who is determined to go to Antarctica in order to find her missing mother, and the group of gals she shanghaies into going with her. I almost passed on this series because I thought it sounded so outrageous, and if you really think about it, a bunch of high school girls going to Antarctica is kind of silly. Even so, I’m happy I stuck by it because it became one of the best anime that I have seen in a long time.
First reason to watch this: the friendships. These girls all have very different lives and experiences and personalities. Sometimes they get along great, other times they argue a lot. Yet, the more they learn about one another along their chaotic journey, the closer they become. The bond they formulate is a saving grace for one of the characters later on when she is hit with a heart-breaking reality. Next, the show says it’s about making the most of your youth, and I don’t believe that the point is in all of the different things that you do, but the people you meet and the lessons you learn so that when you do get smacked by adulthood, you are more prepared for it and wiser when the challenges get notched up. Sometimes making the most of your youth is just growing the fuck up. Lastly, this is the only anime that I have ever seen that had made me cry so fucking much in a way that was unbelievably cathartic. That specific scene/sequence of scenes was, honestly, the most sincere and raw fucking thing ever. Yes, it is emotionally intense and defeats the point of feel-good, but what happens afterwards is everything that a slice-of-life should be about.
Honourable Mention: Yuri!!! on Ice
Yuri!!! on Ice (ユーリ!!! on ICE) is a sport (figure skating) anime that I finally picked up last year, mostly due to Karandi’s chatter about it. It’s about a guy who returns to the ice-skating finals a year after a terrible loss. Plot things happen and he is fortunate enough to be coached by a fellow skater whom he idolises the most. Man, I didn’t think I would like this show at all, but goddammit, it was brilliant. The reason this is an honourable mention is because while I watched it in 2018, it originally released in 2016.
My first reason for watching this is going to be the same as my focus for the series review: it smashes stereotypical gender moulds to smithereens and it’s fucking fantastic! There are guys in this series who participate in a sport that is typically identified as being inherently feminine. Due to that association, males who partake are viewed as homosexual, but this series shows us how idiotic that notion is, and it made me grin from ear-to-ear every time. Secondly, the themes are so inspirational, especially if you have ever found yourself second-guessing your talents or skills with something that you are very passionate about. It shows that dedication and hard-work are key, but also having belief in your own potential. This is done via people who aren’t talented at their trade straight out of the womb, making it far more approachable and engaging. Lastly, I’m going to have to say the scene where Yuri is drunk. Funniest shit ever. If I could frame a short segment, I would frame that one.
I will be doing a full review for two of the serials on this list, Tada Never Falls in Love and Kakuriyo -Bed & Breakfast for Spirits-, within the next few weeks. I also would like to do one for After the Rain, but only after I finish my re-watch so that I can do a review that I will be happy with. Honestly speaking, this was a difficult list to narrow down. I originally had ten titles, but I knew if I stuck to that then you’d be reading this post until Summer.
What did you think of this list? Have you seen any of the titles mentioned, or are you interested in seeing them? Do you have recommendations for shows you watched in 2018 that you felt were fantastically feel-good? Are there any shows here you’d specifically like to see a review for?