As much as I love things that make me sad, sometimes you need something that just lets you unwind and enjoy a simple, fun story. Anime excels at creating these stories, so much so that the term “feel-good anime” has become fairly ubiquitous. These shows can take many forms, but their defining characteristic is that they make you feel happy on a fundamental level. They don’t challenge or engage you in any significant way, but you enjoy them nonetheless. These stories employ lighthearted tones, lovable characters, and, importantly, very little real tension or struggle. The characters have challenges to overcome, but there is never any doubt that they will succeed. Feel-good shows won’t satisfy a hunger for intricate mysteries or gripping drama, but they serve as a pleasant distraction from life’s darker moments. I don’t want to dive into the philosophical ramifications of these goofy stories, as that would betray what they’re all about. Instead of overthinking them, I will briefly share my three favorite feel-good anime and explain why they bring a smile to my face.
Konosuba is a show about the worst party of adventurers ever to grace the pages of fiction. All four of the main heroes have serious personality issues that often prevent them from being as successful as they should be, but their struggle only ever comes across as charming and hilarious. The series’ consistently light and playful tone keeps everything feeling fun even when the protagonist is gruesomely killed. Twice. These characters may be idiots, but it’s impossible not to love them. When they fail, you laugh. When they succeed, you cheer. No matter what these morons are doing, it’s sure to make you happy.
This is a pretty dumb show under the guise of a smart one. The basic idea is that two genius siblings are brought to a world where everything is decided by simple games. They then decide the obvious course of action is to take over the world and challenge God to a chess match. The show may set up high stakes for many of these games, but Sora and Shiro’s attitude towards everything neutralizes any tension that could be established. They don’t lose. Period. This isn’t presented as a stubborn declaration of pride, rather as a statement of fact. With that knowledge, the show devolves into watching the siblings’ silly shenanigans as they trounce every opponent they come across. Also, there’s fanservice. Like, a lot. All in all, No Game No Life sacrifices its potential for intellectual stimulation for all around fun. Nothing wrong with that.
I went into this show for the first time expecting an incredibly shameless, shallow mess about a lesbian and her pet titty dragon. I ended up being exactly right… save for the “shallow” part. Like the other two shows I’ve mentioned, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid does not shy away from fanservice. Look past that though, and you’ll find an incredibly sweet story about family that hits closer to home than it should. The conflicts in this show are incredibly mundane despite its wacky premise, and include moving, fitting in at school, and understanding your friends’ emotional needs. None of that ever gets too heavy though, as the cast’s wacky misadventures keep everything goofy and fun (for the most part). I highly recommend you check it out if you haven’t, just make sure you don’t lewd the dragon loli.
So those were three of my favorite feel-good stories, what are some of yours? They don’t have to be anime! Just tell me what tales put can put a smile on your face no matter how many times you experience them.