Do you ever just want to sit down and watch an anime that makes you smile? A show that helps you laugh and push the world back to arm's length? In a previous post, I suggested 5 light-hearted anime series to fit the bill. Here are five more shows that are my go-to series for humor or big-heartedness.
Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun
This series follows the "adventures" of Umetarou Nozaki, a manga writer who specializes in teen romance. The funny thing is, he's a huge, hulking male student with almost no understanding of how teenaged girls think. This gives you your first introduction to the kind of humor that is Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun.
In the opening scenes, Chiyo Sakura is trying to summon the courage to confess her feelings to Nozaki. When she's finally able to get him alone in a classroom, she fumbles the delivery and is left stammering. Nozaki's a kind-hearted young man, so when he thinks he's figured out what she's trying to do, he whips out a piece of cardboard, writes "Thanks for everything," and adds his autograph. He's mistaken Sakura for a fan trying to say how much she liked his work.
When I first watched the show, I thought this kind of humor might get old, but you know what? It never did! The writers kept coming up with clever and interesting ways to play off characters' misunderstandings. To add variety, sometimes the character is the joke. Mikoto Mikoshiba, for example, has a habit of approaching a group of girls and using pickup lines that the girls receive well. The trouble is, after delivering something so flowery, he panics, blushes, and has to retreat.
Then there's Yuzuki Seo, a young woman who plays basketball so hard that even the varsity male players are afraid of her. I mean, literally afraid: they run away when she tries to help them practice. She doesn't see the problem, because she's even more socially unaware than Nozaki. In another hallmark moment, she tries to explain just how sensitive she is to others' feelings -- as she's walking between a couple trying to exchange lover letters and between the camera and some students trying to stage a group photograph.
I really enjoyed the situational and character-based humor, but even better? None of the characters were mean-spirited. Seo so aggravates one of the basketball players that he can't sleep at night, but she never intended to upset him. So, we end up with clever and light-hearted humor that makes me want to watch this series over and over.
You can buy it from one of the Amazon link below, or you can watch it streaming on Crunchyroll.
Available at Amazon!
The Devil is a Part-Timer
Okay, I have a confession to make: when this series came out, I skipped it. I mean, the description said it was about the devil -- yes, the devil -- coming to Earth and needing to get a job. As someone with a theology major, this just didn't strike me as being a premise that would translate well into comedy!
I was wrong.
To be fair, the description was a little light on some important details. The main character is called Satan, but he lives in a parallel dimension on an island named Ente Isla. There, he and his lieutenants (with names like Lucifer and Alsiel) are trying to take over the kingdoms that are defended by the Church of the Divine. So, the main character isn't the Devil as mainstream Christianity would define him; he's more the Demon King of his realm.
The defenders, led by the hero Emilia Justina, finally defeat the Demon King's armies and corner him in his castle. Faced with certain death, he flees the dimension with only loyal general Alsiel.
Care to guess where he ends up? Yep, Earth. Specifically, modern Japan. Sasazuka, in particular.
After taking the name Sadao Maou, he sets out trying to rebuild his kingdom. His new demon layer? A one-room apartment on the second floor run by the landlady Miki Shiba -- who seems to know way more than she should about Maou. He needs to generate cash to build up his resources, so he gets a job at MgRonald's (their arch-enemy is a Sentucky Fried Chicken that just went in across the street). He soon learns that the hero followed him to Earth, and her name now is Emi Yusa. She has to work at a call center to make ends meet.
The show makes good use of the situational humor, like the Devil -- previously rule of a dark realm in Ente Isla -- struggling to sell more pepper fries because he wants his franchise to finish first in the regional competition. Fortunately, it doesn't over play its hand by relying too much on that kind of situation. Yusa adds a lot of humor and some surprisingly poignant scenes; other characters from Ente Isla appear to wreak various kinds of havoc. For all of the extra-dimensional characters, though, my favorite is the Earthling Chiho Sasaki, a high school girl from Earth, who also works at MgRonald's. Of course, she falls in love with Maou without knowing his origins. The show manages to keep this light (I mean, falling in love with the Demon King? That could have a serious down-side!) while still giving us some touching moments.
I liked this show way more than I expected. If you skipped it for the same kind of reason that I did, it might be time to give it a shot!
You can buy it from the link below, or you can watch it streaming on Crunchyroll.
Available at Amazon!
"Only the strong dine on bento." So says the Ice Witch in the first episode.
But that quote a) doesn't give you any idea of what the show's about or b) portray it as a comedy, which it most assuredly is. So let's set the quote aside for a moment that talk about the show. We meet You Satou, a young man who's just started going to a private high school. The story starts with him regaining consciousness in a grocery store, and he really can't remember what happened. He ends up in a hospital, and his dad won't let them admit him (his dad's kinda strict and is a bit of a cheapskate). The nurses let him stay overnight out of pity.
On the way to school the next day, Satou meets Hana Oshiroi, who we later learn is a melodramatic germophobe, but she seems to have taken a liking to Satou. As the first episode unfolds, we find out that Satou was injured because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The place? The grocery store. The time? Lunch (bento) mark-down time. At a certain time every day, the "God of Discounts" (a store worker) marks down the left-over bentos to half price. That's when the "wolves," folks willing to fight -- and fight hard -- for half-priced meals launch their assault.
One of the most powerful wolves is called the Ice Queen, and she turns out to be a student who's one year ahead of Satou. Sen Yarizui is also the president of the Half Price Lovers Club, and at the start of episode one, she's the only member. I bet you can guess by now who the two new members will be!
Yarizui is best known for her white hair, red eyes, big black boots, and black tights. Why would I mention her tights? Because that's the last thing most people see when they're competing with her for a bento -- as she's swinging her booted leg around to knock them flat.
So, now we know what the show's about, and it sounds so violent! Is it really a comedy? Yeah, and the violence is part of it. The violence is comedic and can't be taken seriously. I mean, a petite, white-haired girl leaping eight feet into the air to deliver a round-house kick to a hulking man's face can't be taken seriously! Not only that, but they play the whole idea of battles over half-priced bentos with a hilarious seriousness. The show builds a mythology around wolves, who compete for the half-priced food but who follow a code of honor; around the Ice Queen, who implements that code with cold precision; and around outsides who are willing to threaten order to get their meals. Add characters with gently humorous quirks -- seeing the shy Oshiroi cheer on the wolves to the point of saying she'll attend their funeral if it comes to that -- and you have a delightfully different comedy.
You can buy the series from Amazon (see below) or watch it streaming on Funimation.
I should note: There is some, let's say, near-adult content in this. It's nothing explicit, but if fanservice offends you, you might want to stay away from the middle episodes at least. And probably the later ones, too!
Available at Amazon!
Amagi Brilliant Park
This show sets its comedic tone in its very first shot. Isuzu Sento, in her usual, very serious tone, is asking the narcissistic but very capable Seiya Kanie on a date. For whatever reason, she really, really doesn't want him to refuse, so she takes steps to increase the odds he'll say yes.
She points a loaded flint-lock musket at his face.
This is our introduction to Amagi Brilliant Park, which is not only the name of the series, but is also the name of the amusement park Sento wants to visit with Kanie. It's not a romantic date. Sento's desperate to save the park, and she knows that Kanie had great organizational skills. He is, in effect, her last gasp hope of driving attendance high enough to appease the bank that holds the loan on the property.
Kanie meets Sento for the date, and when he tries to leave, she draws her rifle from under her skirt (and no, the show never really describes the physics behind or under the Sento-rifle-skirt). This convinces him to visit. So, he ends up touring the park, which is in clear disrepair. He gets into an argument with one of the mascots, and in the ensuing fight, he discovers something he can't believe: the mascots like Moffle aren't people in costumes, they're actually creatures. Moffle's a giant mouse with a terrible temper, Macaron is a huge sheep who's lazy and uninspired, and Tiramie is a giant cat with an unhealthy appetite for adult magazines. There's also a princess (Latifa Fleuranza) who's sickly, and it's this detail that completes setting the stage: the park exists so elicit the joy of its visitors, and the princess, the live mascots, Sento, and the rest of the cast live off the energy of those positive emotions. That means if they lose the park, they'll likely fade away and perish.
Despite that "bit of a downer" detail, the show really is light-hearted. We get to follow the misadventures of Kanie and Sento as they try to save the park. The characters are the best part, and a lot of the humor derives from their failings and bad habits. Threading its way through all of this are Kanie's half-memories of the princess and a promise he made years and years ago, which seem impossible given her age. Combined with Kyoto Animation's artwork, this show hit my comedy sweet spot!
You can buy Amagi Brilliant Park from Amazon (see below) or watch it streaming on Crunchyroll.
Available from Amazon!
One Punch Man
There's a chance you might not agree that One Punch Man is can be classified as "light-hearted." And to be honest with you, I debated myself whether to include it here. What's the argument against? Well, it has way more than its fair share of blood and gore. Growing up as I did on X-Men's Dark Phoenix Saga and similar works, comic-book and animated violence is just part of the background. Dramatic, sure! But I don't see it as an impediment to comedy. And since One Punch Man does such an excellent job of poking fun at its genre, I decided to include it.
The show follows our hero, Saitama, who decides to be a hero just for the fun of it. Good thing, too, because his physical prowess is not only unparalleled, it borders on unknowable. The first episode starts with Saitama saving a little girl from a character that bears such a strong resemblance to something out of Dragon Ball Z that I can't believe it's accidental. After showing just how mind-blowingly powerful the villain is, Saitama destroys him utterly with a single punch.
And immediately feels dejected because fighting villains isn't a challenge anymore.
I'm not sure there're many super hero tropes that One Punch Man doesn't lampoon. In the episode "The Lone Cyborg," we meet Genos, another dynamic and engaging character, who is so impressed with Saitama's abilities that he begs to become a disciple. We meet evil ego-centric scientists, strange and powerful monsters, and even a hero's professional association that doesn't recognize Saitama's abilities because they're so far off the charts. And all through it, our hero just wants to live a calm and quiet life and earn enough money to pay rent and buy food. Oh, and finding an enemy that needs more than one punch to defeat would be nice, too!
One running gag that kept me on the edge of my seat (judge me as you will!) was the question, "Just how powerful is Saitama?" Is there a monster that can even injure him, much less defeat him? Is there another hero who can top him, even if he's not in the least bit interested in competing with them?
And will he ever have a peaceful day where he can just walk down to the corner store without being assaulted by giant mosquitoes or towering giants?
I won't spoil the punchline by giving you the answer, but I'll say this: it was worth sticking around until the end to find out!
I may have laughed more often on average during this series than about any other. I know I'm a bit of an odd duck, but I think you might like this, too.
You can buy One Punch Man from Amazon (see below) or watch it streaming on Amazon Strike!
Available from Amazon!
What Do You Think?
What do you think of these give shows? Are there any you would add to the list? Any you'd like to contest? Let me know in the comments!