Self-quarantine and social distancing have been a wild ride. Some days I feel like I’m on top of the fucking world and on others, I sort of just want to build a fort in the corner of my bedroom or giant ass closet and hibernate until the ugliness of the world finally goes away. Since I can’t really do the latter without my cats tearing down said fort or stealing it from me entirely, I do something else that helps almost as much. I binge-watch things that make me smile, laugh my ass off, and provide me with a sense of hope that things will get better one day.
The social medias have been a bit of a toxic playground for negative and unhealthy thoughts as well as fuel for the flames of despair, so I try to avoid it as much as I can. Instagram has cat memes that I have been living off of for the past week and Twitter is for all of my Daevabad reading rants. During my brief visits, however, I have seen many people who are floundering with isolation. Empathising with how incredibly challenging social confinement can feel at times, I thought I’d share some of my favourite anime titles to watch during times of great sadness or solemnity.
Originally, I had approximately thirty to forty serials on the list, but the idea of talking about all of ‘em was daunting. So, with some assistance from my nephews and my cousin, we narrowed down the list to fifteen total. I tried to include a little bit of something for everyone and we also made sure that the shows are available for streaming on legal platforms. If you’re feeling stuck or just need something to help you mentally escape your environment for a bit, consider picking these up. All of the anime here are completed and are marvellously binge-worthy. Check ‘em out, my Chums!
Ouran High School Host Club: A shōjo romcom series revolves around a bunch of rich kids who shanghai a scholarship student (and thus middle-class) to join their host club where they act like idiots while formulating great friendships and helping the people they stumble across. While the series gets a lot of shit, it is funny and entertaining. Some segments are so obnoxiously ridiculous that humour just spews out of it like geyser. I’ve re-watched it numerous times and never get tired of its comfort. It’s available on Hulu, Netflix, and Funimation.
School Rumble: A shōnen romcom that follows the students of Class 2-C at Yagami High School, along with their loved ones, this series is also another that delivers on the buckets of laughter. It’s pretty standard in terms of the characters. You’ve the simpleton dudette who’s into the popular dude and the rough, delinquent who’s got a soft heart and they all share feelings for one another in various ways. It’s a wholesome series and its simplicity is actually one of its best traits. It does a good job of combining shōnen humour with shōjo fluffy romance. Fans of Fruits Basket and GTO may get a kick outta this one. It’s on Hulu and Funimation.
GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka: Of course I put this on the list! It’s one of the greatest comedy anime ever! A seinen comedy show about a former leader of a biker gang who decides he wants to become a teacher. What began as a means of getting close to young hot girls soon becomes a passion for helping kids understand that they aren’t trash no matter how fucked up their lives are. This is packed to the brim with fantastically crude humour, unlikely friendships, inspiration and wisdom in how to deal with life’s many BS moments, and so much more. The dub isn’t half bad either. Catch it on Crunchyroll and Amazon Prime.
The Pet Girl of Sakurasō: Another seinen comedy with romantic moments, The Pet Girl is one of my favourite feel-good serials that focuses on kids who are in college struggling to get their careers and futures into gear. It deals a lot with uncertainties that college folx face, along with insecurities in romance and self-confidence. The balance of confronting these more serious issues with a light-hearted and usually inappropriate bouts of humour is excellent. I find it to be wholly inspiring, especially when I’m dealing with my own bag of fear with relation to the future. The animation is superb and there are a crapton of cute kitties too. Give it a try over on Crunchyroll.
Flying Witch: A shōnen slice-of-life that is the ultimate carefree binge series. It follows a young witch who leaves her parents to live with relatives to continue her witchy training. This is such a chill anime. We watch Makoto (the witchy dudette) as she practises spells and flying around on a broomstick while she spends time with her loved ones. For people in search of something that won’t destroy their feels and that doesn’t require a huge intellectual investment, this is a perfect series for you. The animation is beautiful, the musical score vibrantly cheery yet mellow, and there’s a black cat who is SO FRICKING CUTE. Also good for people who like anime scenery porn. Stream it on Hulu and Crunchyroll.
Hunter x Hunter: This shōnen adventure anime is about a kid named Gon how sets out on a grand journey to become hunter so he can find his father. One of my favourite parts of HxH are the characters. There are so many morally grey people in this series and they really help enhance this story of a boy searching for the father who abandoned him. While it sounds heavy, and the series does have some emotional moments, the bulk of it is quite feel-good and inspirational. Plus, the different places Gon visits along with the battles he has make for great escapism. It can be found on Crunchyroll, Viz, and Hulu.
Restaurant to Another World: This seinen fantasy series is about a restaurant that becomes a doorway to another world during the weekends, and all sorts of fantasy folx visit for yummy izakaya grubs. I love this series because of the food and also because of how food offers so many of the patrons a sense of comfort during times of stress or sadness, something I believe most of us can relate to at the moment. It’s a feel-good show about people who learn to help one another to varying degrees. My heart feels so warm from its homeliness. Plus, it makes me want to cook delicious grubs. Can’t go wrong with that. Visit it on Crunchyroll and Funimation.
Princess Jellyfish: A josei comedy that follows an average almost thirty-something girl that loves jellyfish and how her life turns upside down when she tumbles into a beautiful crossdressing rich kid. It’s a good-natured romp about self-acceptance and self-love, no matter the age, the physical appearance, or the hobbies that a person has, and that is why it’s one of my fave anime of all-time. Plus, it’s fricking funny as heck. Princess Jellyfish is the epitome of feel-good and I highly recommend this series for any otaku searching for a binge-worthy vacation from reality. Check out the theatrics on Funimation.
Magi: Adventures of Sinbad: The shōnen fantasy adventure prequel to Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic, follows the wild adventures of Sinbad from when he was a youngster travelling the world, making friends via his eccentricities. You don’t have to watch the previous instalments of Magi to be able to enjoy Sinbad. This is a great show with pleasant adventures and fantasy battles while portraying a story of a youth growing up in a world where his naivety helps the people around him to mature and grow with him. Also, Sinbad is a mighty fine-looking dweeb, so if you’re into the husbando types, this may tickle your fancy. Adventurous journeys are facets I adore in anime. So, Sinbad’s mostly oceanic trek is mighty entertaining. Available on Netflix.
Skip Beat!: This shōjo romcom is one of my most beloved franchises. It follows a young girl named Kyoko who decides to enter the entertainment business to defeat her former best friend in glory after she discovers that he’s sort of a giant asshole. Skip Beat! is laugh-your-motherfucking-ass-off-funny at times, which is why it’s the perfect thing to watch during quarantine. You’ll be too busy laughing at her outrageous shenanigans to really think about the world ending. Jokes aside, it’s a cool story about learning that sometimes the best vengeance is just being happy in the pursuit of your passions. As well as via befriending your former best friend’s rivals. Please go laugh your ass off with Skip Beat! on Crunchyroll. (My cousins and I write mature fanfic for this series, if you’re interested in them, drop a comment).
Yuri On Ice: A sports (figure skating) series about a guy who fucked-up in an important skating competition and is about to give up hope when a recording of his practise session goes viral on the internet and then his mentor arrives in Japan to turn him into a fabulous winner. This entire series is about how defeats don’t define our self-worth or our capabilities at accomplishing really brilliant things in our lives. It’s got a lot of love and warmth and heartfelt inspiration to go around while being sandwiched in between scenes of carefree camaraderie. Also that romance is too pure for this world. Be fabulous like Yuri by watching it on Crunchyroll and Funimation.
Laid-Back Camp: It’s a seinen slice-of-life about a handful of girls who find one another and then go on camping adventures together. There’s no real concrete story to it, but it does have themes of building friendships on shared interests (and not being afraid to make those friends) while providing some cool scenery shots and places for travellers to go camping if they find themselves in good ol’ Nippon. Even so, the best part is ALL THE CAMP GRUB! Look it up on Crunchyroll.
Space Brothers: My son (the show) is so phenomenal. It’s about two brothers in a futuristic setting on Earth who are trying to become astronauts and the many trials and tribulations they face in its pursuit. It’s such a well written anime. While it’s not a comedy like the other things I’ve mentioned, it still has an abundance of feel-good segments, as well as some emotionally evocative ones, and a few more where you shall get comforting laughter. At the end of the day the series is about the dedication that goes into following one’s passions, which includes sacrifices, the support and compromises that loved ones make to help, the disappointments and failures, and so much more. I recommend this for watchers who seek an anime with more substance in its storytelling. It’s available on Hulu, Crunchyroll, and HIDIVE.
Natsume’s Book of Friends: Ah, I saved my absolute favourites of fucking all-time for last, and of course, it includes Natsume. A shōjo supernatural series about a young boy named Takeshi Natsume who has the ability to see supernatural beings. This is not a laugh-out-loud show, but it is one with so much depth to it and its characters, an anime that is about life and what it means to be alive as much as it does to be dead, and the sincerity of the struggles that goes with trying to survive to the best of your abilities. It has many moments where the heart strings are tugged and yanked on, yet it also has many more segments that will provide comfort, empathy, relatability, kindness, and just this incredible sense of companionship and hope in a time where it’s really fucking difficult to hold on to most, if not all, of those things. If you binge anything from this list today, let it be Natsume’s Book of Friends, which can be found on Crunchyroll.
Initial D: MY ULTIMATE SON OF ALL SONS. A seinen sports (street racing) anime that follows a broomstick of a boy named Takumi Fujiwara and how he becomes on of the finest drift racers around. Anyone who has followed my blog for a while shall know how profoundly deep my love and obsession for Initial D runs. For me, it’s the finest anime to have ever been made, and mind you it’s one of the cheesiest fucking things ever, which only adds to its gloriousness. The things that make Initial D so damn good is that it’s about an underdog of a brat who’s so apathetic about life until he discovers what it means to have ambition. That small flame ignites into a wildfire of passion and possibilities. As an immigrant kid who really had no prospects of a decent future that really stuck with me. Plus, I related to Takumi so fucking much as a fellow street racer who knew jackshite about cars but could race like the baddest motherfucker around. So, yeah, if you want cheesy ass entertainment that is also wholeheartedly inspiring and somewhat badass, for the love of all things that aren’t dying, watch it. It’s on Hulu and Funimation. The three Legends films can be found exclusively on HIDIVE.
I had a few more titles I really wanted to add to this list, but they aren’t available for legal streaming anywhere, at least not in the US, so I ditched ‘em. However, if you want to find creative means of watching these then shoot me a DM on Twitter or Instagram and I’ll send ‘em your way.
Chums, if you have any feel-good binge-worthy anime to add to this mix, please drop them in the comments for visitors to check-out. I’m sure there’s a whole crapton of stuff out there that I haven’t seen yet myself that others may really appreciate.