The global coronavirus pandemic has shaken the very foundation of our lives—shutting down entire industries, upending our ideas of social interaction, and sowing fear into our hearts. So, what are we anime fans supposed to do during this terrifying time? Watch anime, of course! We’ve come up with ten uplifting anime that bring joy to our lives and remind us of the best parts of humanity. Here are the top 10 anime to distract you from a global pandemic!
10. Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! (KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World!)
- Episodes: 10
- Aired: January 2016 – March 2016
It can be difficult not being able to hang out with your friends and do stupid things just to make each other laugh, but luckily the bumbling idiot protagonists of KonoSuba replicate that feeling nicely. Kazuma, Aqua, Megumin, and Darkness are supposed to be saving the world from a demon king, but spend most of their time bickering and meme-ing on each other instead. It’s one of the best comedy anime ever made and a spot-on parody of the isekai genre, so watch it on a Discord call with your buddies if you need a good laugh together. And once you’re done, check out the author’s other isekai parody Hataage! Kemono Michi, which adds a professional wrestling theme and adorable animals to the mix.
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: January 2014 – March 2014
Genre parodies can be hilarious, but some of our favorite parodies come from authors making fun of their own properties. Attack on Titan Junior High was so side-splitting because almost all of the same people behind the super-serious original (including the voice actors and the OP band) were at the helm, and so goes for Space Dandy as well.
Shinichiro Watanabe, director of the classic 1998 anime Cowboy Bebop, rounded up over 70 animators and 20 musicians to collaborate on a loose sendup of his magnum opus and told them to go wild (as long as the musicians used styles no older than 1984). The result is a gloriously indulgent sendup of one of the touchstones of Japanese animation, brought to life by some of the very creators who made the original so long ago. If that’s not enough to cheer you up, at least for but a fleeting moment, then nothing will.
8. Smile Precure! (Glitter Force)
- Episodes: 48
- Aired: February 2012 – January 2013
Even if you’re not normally into the magical girl genre, this bright and sparkly sentai show is sure to brighten your mood during these dire days. The five Precure warriors—Cure Happy, Cure Sunny, Cure Peace, Cure March, and Cure Beauty—save the world week to week with storybook-themed superpowers and surprisingly intense melee combat.
Just about any entry in the Precure franchise would be a great choice, but we love Smile because the characters are so lively and the action scenes are a good mix of cutesy girly frippery and Dragon Ball Z style punch-ups. The Americanized version, Glitter Force, would likely be grating for adult viewers, but might be nice to watch with children. Either way, it’s good, wholesome fun!
7. Itoshi no Muco (Lovely Muuuuuuuco!)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: October 2015 – March 2016
If you’re the kind of person who comes up with voices for their pets (and let’s face it, we all do that), you’ll love every minute of Lovely Muco. Muco is a shiba inu dog who lives with her owner Komatsu-san at a glass shop in the countryside and spends her days doing adorable doggy things, narrating her scattered musings in a peppy voice that only the audience can hear. She pulls strings on towels, jumps in the pond, comes up with games to “advertise the shop”, thinks she looks super snazzy in her raincoat, and generally makes us feel happy to be alive. And the best part is that Muco is actually based on a real dog of the same name who serves as the mascot of a glass shop in Akiba Prefecture! We could see Muco in real life one day!
6. Kanata no Astra (Astra Lost in Space)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: July 2019 – September 2019
Although it was largely overlooked last year, Kanata no Astra is absolutely worth your time. At first, it seems like just a road trip story in space with nine kids who need to overcome their differences to get back to their home planet, but there’s a deeper theme of identity running through its tightly paced narrative that resonates with how many of us are feeling right now.
The crew of the Astra are all people who have been told how to act their entire lives, and now is their first chance to explore what their true identities are and how they fit into society. With our jobs, schools, and pastimes taken away from us, now is the time when we may find out who we truly are.
5. Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Tume wo Minai (Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: October 2018 – December 2018
It’s difficult knowing how to process the feelings of stress, grief, and confusion that we’re all grappling with right now, but at least Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai gets it. The mysterious “Puberty Syndrome” that plagues the cast of this anime manifests their anxieties into reality—a local celebrity who is doubting herself becomes invisible to almost everyone, a shy girl who desperately seeks approval online splits into two people, a bullied middle schooler regresses to an infantile state, and so on. They each combat their own problems and eventually come to terms with them, restoring their lives to normal after some self-reflection and a good cathartic cry. It’s just nice to know that your life matters to other people and that you can overcome the difficult path ahead, no matter how long it may take.
4. Eizouken ni wa Te wo Dasu na! (Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 2020 – March 2020
One thing that always lifts our spirits when we’re feeling down is seeing people passionately pour their hearts into a craft or discipline that they truly love, and Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken is twelve episodes of exactly that.
Three high school girls form a film club to produce their own anime shorts and the level of creativity, out-of-the-box thinking, and sheer talent that each of them displays in their respective roles (director/environment artist, character artist, and producer) invigorates us to get back into our own creative pursuits. You can even feel the same kind of passion from the animators who made the show itself, as the setting that these girls live in is just as vibrant and imaginative as the worlds they bring to life in their club.
3. Dr. Stone
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: July 2019 – December 2019
Dr. Stone uses the standard shounen hype template to make scientific advancements seem just as exciting as a clash between superpowered musclemen or a tense card game battle. 3720 years after all of humanity was mysteriously turned to stone, teenage genius Senku reawakens and starts rebuilding society from scratch with only the tools available to a Stone Age society. One of the first big arcs involves curing a village priestess’ chronic pneumonia with painstakingly handmade antibiotics, showing that human ingenuity and teamwork can overcome anything—even a devastating disease. It’s exhilarating!
2. Yuru Camp△ (Laid-Back Camp)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 2018 – March 2018
With the constant stress of either being cooped up at home or running ourselves ragged at an essential workplace, all of us are searching for relief and comfort. And, since Yuru Camp is pretty much the comfiest anime ever made, it’s the perfect show to put you at ease.
The Outdoor Activities Club spends their time camping together, staring at the stars, swapping stories, learning more about one another, and generally being adorable. Plus, the OP is a jaunty Motown-inspired number that’ll get you tapping your feet in no time. If you miss the great outdoors and spending time with friends, give Yuru Camp a try!
1. Itai no wa Iya nano de Bougyoryoku ni Kyokufuri Shitai to Omoimasu. (BOFURI: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, so I’ll Max Out My Defense.)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 2020 – March 2020
Bofuri is a testament to the power of online friendships and finding joy in a virtual world. Newbie gamer Maple tries out a brand new VRMMO and somehow stumbles her way into the top ranks by putting all of her skill points into defense and using unusual strategies to unknowingly break the game. She makes new friends and becomes closer to her best pal Sally through their adventures as the Maple Tree guild, proving that you don’t need to be physically present with another person to spend quality time with them. In this time where many of us are relying on online games for almost all of our social interaction, it’s wonderful to know that those relationships can be just as fulfilling as those in the real world.
Other good options for binge-watching include SSSS Gridman or Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann if you need some hype in your life, King’s Game if you’re craving a horrendous horror hate-watch, or any JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure series if you just want to dissociate into a world where any problem can be fixed with enough fabulous poses and punching ghosts.
What did you think of our list? Which anime are you watching during this unprecedented time? Let us know in the comments, and thanks so much for reading!