Anime to Watch When Life Has Got You Down

Life is dark and full of terrors. One of the ways that I’ve often turned to anime over the years is for a momentary escape from of it. A way to watch people in situations either far better than I could ever hope for, or situations that are similar but with characters that are able to handle it far better than I ever could. The world can be a dark place, and some might argue that it’s been getting worse and worse all the time. As I am traditionally pessimistic about life, the universe, and everything, I don’t tend to gravitate towards some of the more positive things in my life when things get a little too dark.

However, being the avid watcher of anime that I am, the positive things I do look for usually end up being these wonderfully animated drawings from Japan that we enjoy oh so much. So today I wanted to share with you a brief list of shows that I both like to recommend to others and watch myself, when I’m feeling down, unmotivated, or just looking for a pick-me-up to get me through the rest of the day.

Ladies, gentlemen and others, my name is Arkada and welcome to Glass Reflection where today we are going to be taking a brief look at some anime to watch when life has got you down. If we are going to be talking about uplifting anime, or at least anime that is so chill it makes you feel that way too, then we might as well start with one of my favourites: Aria The Animation. Aria has a bunch of great elements that make forgetting about the world easier. For starters, it’s not on Earth. While it looks very similar to Earth locations, specifically the city of Venice, it actually takes place on a planet that’s been terraformed to suit purpose.

Don’t worry about the more sci-fi setting though as, despite its fantastical roots, much of the show likes to forget that the modern tech or even the future tech you’d assume to be in such a setting even exists. This leaves our main cast to live peacefully without much more than the natural elements of the city and each other to keep going. The story revolves around several water-based tourist guide companies and three young Undines who are learning to pilot the gondolas of the city to provide a helpful service to the residen.ts. The show is a combination of strong character narratives for the girls, combined with plenty of individual one-off stories about the people they meet and interact with while they train and work. The girls themselves offer varying personalities, from the harsh and cynical to the talented but distant, as well as the extremely curious yet carefree, which all combine to bring this fun and relaxing tone to both the world and the stories told in it.

Anime to Watch When Life Has Got You Down
Anime to Watch When Life Has Got You Down

Put simply, Aria is like warm soup for the soul. While some might not enjoy the slower pace, if you take your time with it, relaxation will come. But if you think that this whole list is going to be full of 100% wholesome feel-good anime, then you don’t know me or how I make lists all that well. I like variety, and in this case sometimes when I’m feeling down and crappy, I find helps is to watch someone who is having a worse time than me overcome their own difficulties. Enter Onizuka. Great Teacher Onizuka is a series that historically has been a bit difficult to get a hold of, but it is not out of print and – in the US anyway – is fully available for streaming. Stupid Amazon for not offering the series in Canada….

Eikichi Onizuka is a former delinquent, a current college student, and a guy who desperately hopes that he can somehow, some way land a teaching job. Why? Well he might tell you that it’s because a part of him desperately hopes that he’ll be able to help kids in a way that he wasn’t when he was in high school. He’ll be someone who can help out those kids when no one else can or will. He might also tell you it’s because high school girls are hot and getting a bride much younger than him is an enticing proposition! Onizuka’s antics are refreshing to watch because he’s almost a textbook example of a guy who knows what rock bottom looks like. He’s never had good luck, solves most of his problems through violence, and now that he’s trying to clean himself back up he has hurdle after hurdle placed before him because of his past.

Students don’t respect him at first, he gets blackmailed, he suplexes the vice-principle before he’s even hired…well, that last one was because the guy called some former students trash rather than attempting to help them. and that struck a cord with Onizuka. A bit extreme, yes, but it is kind of his calling card. He’s not the stereotypical teacher, which makes it slightly easier to disconnect from the scenarios that he’s involved with and just marvel at the solutions that he ends up coming up with. This makes the series good watching if you want to see how others are able to pick themselves up to help not just themselves but also those around them. Of course, if the older artwork and somewhat crass nature of Onizuka isn’t to your tastes, another series about a guy who overcomes tough yet relatable challenges is Space Brothers.

To extremely simplify, this show is like what would happen if you made a 99-episode series about the Mario Brothers wanting to go to space, but then make Luigi your protagonist. Except to be fair, Space Brothers is far and away better than that. In reality it’s about Nanba Mutta, whose younger brother will soon be the first Japanese man to land on the moon. Nanba, like his brother, has a dream to go to space, a dream he got as a child when the two brothers saw what they believed to be a UFO flying over Japan. But Nanba has…shall we say some unique motivational problems with getting his life together, hence why his younger brother is all set to take a rocket to the moon and he is…well, nowhere near that level. The show in its entirety tells the lengthy but detailed story of how Nanba is attempting to follow in his brother’s footsteps. Detailing his admission to JAXSA, Japan’s version of NASA, and how he copes with attempting to reach the same level as the brother who surpassed him.

Now you didn’t mishear me when I said the show has 99 episodes. It’s not something you can tackle in a day and admittedly the length might turn off a number of people, but as something to just turn on for a few episodes over time, there are few things better. The struggles that Nanba puts himself through are some of the most relatable you’ll find of late and, for a pick me up after a long day of work, it does extremely well. When I first made a video about Barakamon several years ago, I tried to describe it as a Dumpling show, a show that takes a common element such as a cute girl character and used that element to wrap around a filling of whatever uniqueness the show itself offers. While some dumpling shows have fillings of marshmallows, music, or friendship, Barakamon has a filling of artistic hardship.

But it’s the dumpling dough in the shape of the young girl Naru that makes the show not only worth watching, but one that is a satisfying treat for those dark days of artistic roadblock. Handa is our fairly accomplished, but still has much to learn, calligraphy artist who finds himself completely out of his element after a violent altercation with a judge lands him out in the country to cool off his head and also keep it down for a while until the whole thing blows over. Problem is he still has to work and be artistic, despite being out in the boonies. He also happens to be almost a stereotype of an “artistic mind”, as he has no inspiration or passion to work on what he is known for. Something I can occasionally relate to. But, as a dumpling show, he has the fluffy girl Naru to help him out of his slump.

Not just by being an absolute bundle of joy, but also by helping to bring Handa to a relaxing place that makes it easier for his mind to calm down and find his passion again, only to lose it by the next episode. But it’s the constant back and forth that not only helps to relax Handa, but also the audience. Plenty of the things Naru shows us come in the form of life lessons, ones we might already know but take for granted. It helps us get to a calm and relaxing place just as much as it does for Handa, so if you need that kind of pick-me-up it, then it might just be to your tastes. While Aria has its sights set on being the closest thing we have to an animated feeling of what living on a cloud might be like, I wanted to finish off with two final shows that bring much of that feeling a bit more down to Earth. Non Non Biyori is like the light and fluffiness of Aria combined with the dough-like setting and characters of Barakamon. It stars a small group of girls who attend a school in rural Japan.

The school is so small that they are basically the only students and their teacher is more of a caretaker and advisor as they are all in different grades and different stages of learning. While there are plenty of aspects to this multi-season series worth mentioning, a lot of them can be summed up purely by the character of Renge and her attitude and outlook on life. Renge is someone who can wake up every day and have a new and (to her) exciting adventure that we get to witness alongside her. We get to see her joy, her wonder, and sometimes her very unconventional thought process to most situations.

She’s just so friggen cute. Ultimately Non Non Biyori is one that I like to offer up to people who don’t like the idea of traditional slice of life shows, because while it holds many of the genre’s hallmarks, it shows them off in a fairly unique way to make every episode exciting and memorable. My recommendation for this being the best slice of life series ever is only stopped short by our last series. One which my own fans should have seen coming a mile away. If you want a series that makes you feel relaxed and laid back in times of need, then of course my highest praise goes to the show with that very concept in the title. Laid Back Camp does very similar things as something like Non Non Biyori. Not to sound like a slight to the former, but Laid Back Camp’s presentation and charm far exceeds everything in its genre.

It is a series that is so much more than a group of high school girls going camping. In fact, very little in the show itself has the group of them on a singular camping adventure together, as it instead likes to weave stories about their experiences between one another. While some are off experiencing their first group campsite in one place, another (usually the sturdy Rin) is off elsewhere showing us the joy of camping solo. The relationships between the girls are also surprisingly well-built considering we witness most of them meeting for the first time on-screen. While some of them can come off as a bit cliché, for what they offer, they are still extremely polished characters who end up appearing as highpoints in their clichés and not just run-of-the-mill members. Laid Back Camp is the kind of show where, if I were a doctor and thought I could use anime to calm a patient and soothe anxiety, I’d prescribe this series. It’s an immensely charming and fluffy show that exists in a rose-coloured world about the joys of camping. But it’s not so rose-coloured that you couldn’t see the possibility of these situations actually occurring if you had that kind of luck and patience.

This makes the series a calming remedy for our stressful lives. With luck, at least one the anime I have showcased today has piqued your interest. I’ll be putting links in the description for the shows that have legal streaming options available for those who require them. So thank you for watching this video. I hope you enjoyed it. And a very special thank you to my patrons, who not only support my work in general, but who also allow me to do what I do. I love and appreciate you all. Specifically though, as I like to do, I want to give particular shout-outs to patrons Siri Yamiko , Ryefan Boneapart, Rune Jachobson, Joshua Garcia, Calhoonboy , Richard Bradley, and Hector Mon-te-mayor for being especially awesome. You guys are great! And until next time – ladies, gentlemen, and others – watch more anime…and stay frosty.


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