I need happy things to watch
November 11, 2016 6:09 PM   Subscribe

I need happy, upbeat, fun cartoons or anime to fill my time, so I'm turning to AskMe for recommendations.

With the recent passing of my wife, I’m now all alone in our house in the far suburbs of Atlanta, with no friends or family close by. I have our three dogs to keep me company, but they aren’t exactly great conversationalists. I need something to distract me after work, especially now that it's getting darker earlier. I’m still not in a place mentally where I can sit still on our couch long enough to read a book or watch a feature length movie, but I can sit at the computer and watch something funny and short online.

I want something fun and happy and animated to watch, something without too much drama or loud voices or anger or, well, anything that isn’t happy. I want the anime/cartoon version of Yotsuba&, if that makes any sense.

I have Netflix and Crunchyroll, but I’m not familiar enough with the current crop of cartoons or anime to sort through the mountain of stuff to find the little bits of happiness that I need. I’m willing subscribe to other services or to buy DVDs if that’s what it takes. I just need something happy in my life. So, what are the happiest cartoons and anime out there? I'll even consider something not quite so happy if it's really well done, but I can't/won't be able to watch anything about sadness or loss.
posted by ralan to Media & Arts (23 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
I'm sorry for your loss, ralan. When I'm in the dumps, I like to watch Bob's Burgers. Bob himself can be a sad sack on occasion, but he cares so much about his family and the rest of the characters (Linda especially) are happy and kooky enough that they more than balance him out. The only episode I'd avoid is "Hawk and Chick."
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 6:21 PM on November 11, 2016 [8 favorites]

If you have Crunchyroll, I heartily recommend Yakitate!! Ja-Pan. Sorry I can't link. It's about a young boy who bakes and is on a quest to create a definitive Japanese bread. It is sweet and funny and there's a lot of interesting stuff about different types of bread and how they're made. The episodes are short and although there's some competition between the bakers, the overall tone is very happy and warm.

I am sorry for your loss.
posted by little mouth at 6:24 PM on November 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

If there was ever a time for Steven Universe, that time is now.

Trigger warning: it is sometimes poignant/bittersweet, and one of the more poignant themes of the show is the fact that the main character's mom had to give up her corporeal form in order to bring him into the world, which means that the people around him are dealing with loss and he is dealing with never knowing someone who was so important to his identity and family. But those events are very much in the past in terms of the overall storyline of the show. And the show is so upbeat and kind and optimistic in general that I think it's at least worth mentioning here.
posted by Sara C. at 6:35 PM on November 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Avatar: the last airbender is very funny but also has great stories and character arcs as well as a cast of animated characters who are all of different ethnicities. It's really wonderful. It's on Netflix last time I checked.

I'm so sorry for your loss.
posted by Ziggy500 at 6:46 PM on November 11, 2016 [4 favorites]

Lovely Muco is about a goofy Shiba Inu mix dog and her human, whom she loves very much. It's gentle fun.

Bananya is about cats that live inside bananas. The episodes are 3 minutes long, so not a huge time commitment, but also one of those things that you can watch with your brain turned off.

Miss Monochrome is hard to explain, but it features some pretty surreal humor.

Polar Bear Cafe is another relaxing watch. A polar bear runs a cafe, which has various regulars, such as a panda, penguins, and a llama.
posted by needled at 6:58 PM on November 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

Virtual hugs.

Not necessarily recent and sorry for no links but I would check out The Devil is a Part-Timer which is about the devil of another universe getting so led to earth and having to get a job.

Also have watched Ouran High School Host Club a few times. There are a few moments of seriousness but plenty of humour.

Last Airbender is a favorite, though I was not as big of a fan of the second one about Kora.
posted by MandaSayGrr at 7:08 PM on November 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Big Buck Bunny is a free CG short film, made as a pilot project with the free open-source Blender animation software.
posted by XMLicious at 7:41 PM on November 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

My son watched it and I fell in love with it. Gravity Falls. Just two sweet siblings.

I was at a point where everything we watched had a zillion despicable people and I had no one to root for.

You don't even hate the bad guys in this one, and you love the good guys.
posted by ReluctantViking at 8:02 PM on November 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

Hi ralan, I'm really sorry to hear about your loss.

I'm a fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender too, and although it has a lot of happy and fun moments (it was geared for kids under 12), I wanted to note that the setting is in a time of war, and some episodes do deal with loss/death and conflict and anger. So it might not be totally ideal for what you're looking for right now. One particular example: one of the stories in the episode "The Tales of Ba Sing Se" is about how one of the characters memorializes the loss of his son. (I also wrote a comment on the some of the more heavy aspects of the show, for a recent AskMe by Eyebrows McGee asking about family TV for 5- and 7-year-olds.)

I wish I could offer some other recommendations but I'm pretty out of the loop on most media these days; I hope you'll find some good suggestions here that will help you.
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 8:28 PM on November 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

Lemme see, running through CR's available shows...

Yuri!!! On ICE is currently airing, it's about ice skating and it's beautifully animated with actual gay characters, it's wildly popular right now but actually for good reason.

Toriko has lots of yelling but it's a shonen show about giant muscly dudes so that's to be expected. Mostly though it is utterly ridiculous and silly and all about completely bizarre food and powering up to hunt weird food and cooking weird food and competing with other enormous muscly dudes to get to other food and also the deep abiding love between Toriko and his little chef buddy who tags along with him.

The aforementioned Bananya is, yeah, about cats who live in/are bananas? *shrug*

Baby Steps is a sports anime about tennis. I found it unbearably boring but there's definitely no violence and the only yelling is grunts on the court. And there are some well-rounded female characters and some interesting international representation, and a cute slow-burn light romance.

Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun is an incredibly funny show about a high school guy who makes a shoujo manga and the various people in his life and the girl who has a crush on him. It is way funnier and more delightful than that description makes it seem.

Chi's Sweet Home is a solid show about a little kitten and her various adventures! She lives with a family who has a little boy and there are neighbor cats and it is precious as heck.

Silver Spoon is a great show about a guy who moves to the country to get a degree in agriculture. Lots of great detail and interesting character development while being seriously about farming and nature and stuff.

Usagi Drop is an unbearably sweet show about a guy who adopts a little girl, but it might hit too close to home right now because it deals with what happened to her mom and stuff. (Albeit in a gentle and loving way.)

Princess Knight is classic vintage Tezuka and very charming. Certainly some conflict but it's of the fairytale kind.
posted by Mizu at 8:41 PM on November 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm so sorry for your loss. Take care of yourself.

I loved Avatar: The Last Airbender. It's bright, happy, and silly 90% of the time, but I will second ragefinder's warning: the main character is dealing with major loss due to a war, and though this isn't brought up often, it is brought up (though dealt with in a way that's light enough to be watchable by young children). Its sequel series, The Legend of Korra, is brilliant but much darker in tone -- would not recommend for you right now.

I'll be a bit more specific about Steven Universe, too: the loss of Steven's mother is treated exactly like mourning a death. There are some episodes (especially in the latest season) featuring storylines about the characters coping with that. Nothing makes me happier than Steven Universe, but I would be very careful about it right now. You should be able to watch the first season pretty safely.

I second the recommendation for Polar Bear Cafe. It's laid-back, quirky, cute, and has wonderful terrible puns.

Lastly, Adventure Time perhaps? I've only watched some of it, so if others could chime in to OK or warn off the rest of the seasons that'd be great, but from what I've seen every episode is ten straight minutes of zany goodness. It's funny, ironic, and smart. Definitely one of those cartoons that's really written for adults.
posted by stellarc at 9:54 PM on November 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Sorry for your loss, ralan, my thoughts are with you and your late wife.

When I am depressed, I look for the most lighthearted movies there are. I've seen the entire Tinkerbell series. However, avoid the last one, about the Neverbeast. It's too poignant at the end. Aladdin was good, as was The Little Mermaid. And anything My Little Pony, of course. I comfort myself by reverting back to childhood anchors. And I know you're looking for cartoons, but I saw several comedies that took me away from my troubles recently: The Man Who Knew Too Little, Bowfinger, and Talladega Nights. (They're all a bit raunchy, though).
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 10:02 PM on November 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

This season on Crunchyroll: Poco's Udon World, WWW.WAGNARIA!! (and the previous Wagnaria series), Clasicaloid (maybe).

Previously on Crunchyroll: Flying Witch, Sweetness & Lightning, This Art Club Has a Problem, Amanchu! The Morose Mononokean, Non Non Biyori, Is The Order A Rabbit, Sabagebu!, Tanaka-kun Is Always Lazy.

These are at least some of the anime I've watched recently-ish that I consider light, funny, or just awww without being too genre specific. I've probably seen at least an episode or two of most things on Cruncyroll in the past couple of years if you have particular likes or dislikes.

I tend to watch a lot of anime
posted by zengargoyle at 2:45 AM on November 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

A warning about Sweetness & Lightning - one of the main themes of the show is a father and his daughter coming to terms with the recent death of his wife / mother. So several episodes show them expressing or feeling their grief as they are reminded of her absence in their lives. I was affected deeply by some episodes even as somebody who has not experienced a recent loss, so I would approach this series with caution.

Poco's Udon World also has a similar theme of family loss and coming to terms with it - in this case the main character's father recently passed away and so he comes back to his hometown to sort through the old family house and the attached udon restaurant. Going through the family belongings, and even just walking around town, triggers old family memories, including his mother who died when he was young. So again, approach with caution.
posted by needled at 4:24 AM on November 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Nyanbo! is airing this season. It's a spinoff of Yotsuba& and it's literally Danbo × cats. Light and charming 5-minute 3D animations over real-world environments, plus lots of cats. It is probably as close as you're going to get to an actual Yotsuba& anime series since the mangaka has declared he does not want it to be animated.
posted by ardgedee at 4:36 AM on November 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

Seconding above recommendation for Gravity Falls. Quirky, delightful, sweet, with a lot of truth, and truly heartfelt. less saccharine (sorry!) than Steven Universe and geared toward a teen, young adult audience. It will help.

On the anime front: Uchuu Patrol Luluco is a strange little jumble of joy, creative and hyperkinetic, with a cute art style. it's super short too, each ep being like 9m long, from Trigger.
posted by Queen of Robots at 7:47 AM on November 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Let me add my condolences for your loss. If a virtual hug from an internet stranger helps, consider it sent. :)

Not anime and not current, but one of my favorite things for a laugh is the Pat & Mat series produced in the Czech Republic starting in the 70s. It's a stop-action animation about two hapless workers and their misadventures as they take on little projects. The episodes are each about 5-10 minutes long, with music but no dialogue. Generally what happens is that one of them comes up with a project he wants to do, such as build a bookshelf or repair a sink, then starts on the project without really knowing what he's doing, but happily confident in his abilities. Things inevitably go wrong, and the cobble together solutions, first bit by bit then wholesale, until they end up with some crazy Rube Goldberg-esque outcome. It's cute and amusing and always manages to put a smile on my face. :)

You can just Google Pat and Mat or search for it on Youtube.
posted by leticia at 8:35 AM on November 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Sorry for your loss my friend. As one-off diversions go the first thing that popped into my head was The Cat Came Back -- very funny but admittedly the theme is a little dark and deals with mortality (think Wile E Coyote-style malicious intent)

Re-watching that led me to The Duck Song which put a smile on my face.
posted by raider at 10:04 AM on November 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

I often revisit the Moomin anime when I am feeling depressed. The old dub is not that terrible either, sans that butchered opening.
posted by Young Kullervo at 11:23 AM on November 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Wow.. thank you everyone for the suggestions. I now have a fairly long list of shows to help me pass the time, and a lot of them would have never even crossed my radar otherwise.

If anyone thinks of anything else, feel free to add it here for as long as comments are open, or just MeMail me.

And thank you everyone for the condolences. This has been very hard, and finding little bits of funny or cute or silly now and again does a lot to help.
posted by ralan at 4:56 PM on November 12, 2016

Shaun the Sheep is a plucky adorable sheep scampering around a farm solving problems in gorgeous claymation. They come in short episodes on Netflix and also now a movie.
posted by metaseeker at 5:19 PM on November 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Happy (or at least non-dramatic) anime is totally my thing. Of the things on crunchyroll that nobody has mentioned here are my picks:

You and Me is a pretty good choice, I think. I also think Haikyu!! is a pretty great sports anime. There's some sports-related drama (will they win or lose?! etc) but no people-related drama.
posted by that girl at 8:19 PM on November 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm sorry for your loss.

I'm here to second Yuri!!!! on Ice, WWW.Wagnaria (the recent season is called WWW.WORKING I think), Monthly Girl's Nozaki, and to suggest Ore no monogatari!! which had me laughing and laughing.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 11:52 PM on November 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

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