In what has probably been the most stressful month of my life, I’ve realised how there are certain shows that are perfect for forgetting the world you’re in and completely relaxing. Where some like to read a book by a fireplace on a rainy day, I prefer shutting out all social media and focusing solely on one of these five shows. Whether it be their breathtaking scenery with incredible attention to detail or cleverly crafted atmospheres connecting with the sound design of the scene, these are five great shows for relaxing.
Non Non Biyori
Picture perfect landscapes combined with carefree episodic plots
12 Episodes | 2 Seasons | Aired Fall 2013 | Produced by Silver Link.
Possibly the first show people would think of when referring to a relaxing anime, Non Non Biyori epitomises a feeling of serenity and tranquillity through its countryside scenery. Embracing a natural colour palette featuring a variety of greens and greyish browns, they contrast these cleverly with the vibrant clothing of the main cast. In a similar fashion, the actions and personalities of the characters breathe life into the scene, everything in the frame moves and sways with the wind. Every screenshot I take of this show could be seen in an art gallery, this peaceful rural town holds a sense of community and nothing feels out of place when surrounded by such a naturalistic setting. Encompassing these idyllic backdrops with a happy-go-lucky cast aged from seven to “around 14” and viewers get a taste of an easygoing life in the country. Not to mention the well written and smoothly paced comedy which completely embraces the exuberance of youth prominent in this series. Furthermore, there’s another season: Non Non Biyori Repeat which acts as a second season without necessarily forcing a shift in time between the two.
Lighthearted situations with eccentric characters in an ordinary world
12 Episodes | 1 Season | Aired Spring 2016 | Produced by J.C.Staff
One of the more recent shows on the list, Flying Witch really surprised me with how effortlessly it achieved a feeling of easiness. Following a witch who moves into a rural town unaware of her supernatural kind, instead of wielding her powers to fight evil or save the universe, she restores a garden. With such a clean and refined art style we come to expect from the studio, everything feels pristine and perfect without making the village seem empty or not lived in. This series showcases a free-flowing pace featuring scenes of intensity and those of laid back conversation. The show clearly takes inspiration from Kiki’s Delivery Service in both its establishing of fantastical themes and down to earth writing to keep characters relatable and familiar. No matter what background you come from, the cast of Flying Witch will make you feel welcome and invite you into their home for a collection of wondrous antics with a group of peculiar characters.
Energetic and dynamic characters achieve a surprisingly relaxing aura
13 Episodes | 2 Seasons | Aired Spring 2009 | Produced by Kyoto Animation
For those who know about K-On but haven’t seen the show, this might seem like a weird choice but I implore you to hear me out. This story focuses itself around a vastly diverse cast (in terms of personality) developing a formidable bond through a shared interest of making music. To avoid disappointment for music buffs, this show uses music as a storytelling tool. However, the story being told is well worth the sacrifice of a couple music references. Prioritising their “tea time” over band practise shows that this is a character driven anime which steers itself towards clever character development with the comedic styling of the dynamic cast. On top of that, the visual direction is incredible and an often overlooked element of Slice of Life series. The “comfyness” that envelops this show is achieved through consistent warm lighting and the trademark style of character design and animation of Kyoto Animation. K-On creates a character-viewer bond as if it’s nothing, by focusing so much detail on the facial expressions of the band members the ridiculously lighthearted conflicts still hit hard. Fret not though, these moments are few and far between, ensuring a relaxing and “fuwa fuwa time”.
Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge!
An active and enthusiastic high school life can just take so much effort
12 Episodes | 1 Season | Aired Spring 2016 | Produced by Silver Link.
Have you ever seen a character so carefree and exhausted that the title can’t even be translated into English well? Say hello to Tanaka-kun, the protagonist of his own show based on his respectable laziness. Don’t worry too much though, he’ll be asleep by the time you’re finished. Moving away from the warm focused lighting of K-On, this show applies a vibrant colour palette in its backgrounds presenting various greens, blues and reds often in the form of grass and flowers. Avoiding a dangerous concoction of colours, the character designs are simple often wearing white shirts to establish a sense of normality within the main cast. Following the daily life of a self proclaimed “listless” Tanaka, he does everything in his limited power to avoid all activity and action to seemingly no avail. Enjoy this heartwarming tale of high school life where apprentices, sports and relationships are just another occurrence interrupting valuable sleeping time.
Kiniro Mosaic (KINMOZA)
English and Japanese culture within a happy go lucky school life
12 Episodes | 2 Seasons | Aired Summer 2013 | Produced by Studio Gokumi
Here’s where a personal preference becomes really prominent and why the phrase “Opinion Piece” is in the title. This cutesy, hyperactive show is about the friendship between a Japanese girl, Shinobu, and the English girl whose family provided her brief home-stay, Alice. With years passed since the home-stay, Alice and her friend Karen move to Japan. Now attending the same high school, what was a friend group of three becomes one of five. Being demonstrated from the very first episode, Studio Gokumi really knows how to craft backgrounds to evoke the feelings of the characters. While the visuals is clearly not the key focus, everything in this show looks adorable which is a huge bonus for me when I want to chill out. This show is about as heartwarming as it gets, devoid of complex story lines and the dreaded high school fan-service, Kiniro Mosaic is a simple, funny and entertaining show. I feel like these kind of shows that are thrown in the “generic happy high school series” receive unfairly poor reviews and if viewers took time to look for the positives beneath the charming visual style instead of branding it coming into the show, a lot of people would find themselves enjoying them more than they expect. All in all I find this show funny, visually appealing, engaging and relaxing. Who knows, maybe I’ll talk more about Kiniro Mosaic more one day.