I’m an east coaster. I live in the northeast and right now it’s hella cold and I’m hella over it. Whether there’s snow gently cascading to the ground or if it’s simply brick outside, one of my favorite things to do is turn on my space heater, huddle under a mass of covers and binge watch some anime.
As fellow nerds, I know at least some of you can relate! If you’ve never watched anime a day in your life, that’s also cool! Newbs and veterans alike may have the same issue I always do: what the heck do I watch?
So! Today, to save anyone who suffers from that anguish, I am bringing you a (very) basic starter kit of anime to watch when it’s cold out. Whether you’re a beginner or a thoroughly seasoned anime fan, these categories and titles will ease you into the distinguished world of anime like a hot bath and a cup of cocoa. I’m going to name a couple of categories, then an anime I recommend. I’ll only get into one anime for each category, or else this list will be pages and pages long. I’ve watched a lot of anime in my day, people. A lot.
Let’s get started!!
Another thing I like to do when it’s cold out is dig into something warm. Or anything really, I just love food.
There’s a ton of food anime out there and a signature trait of most anime: the food looks absolutely delicious. A doe-eyed character lifts something so mundane, like rice or an egg, to their mouth and it’s animated so beautifully and they enjoy it so thoroughly it makes your own mouth water. Napkins, please. Or just a bowl, thanks.
So I like to have food on hand for those delicious moments! An anime that’s simple and cute but conveys the joy of a good meal is Amaama to Inazuma or Sweetness and Lightning. After the passing of his wife, a middle-aged father, Kouhei, has been taking care of their young daughter, Tsumugi. Although he is doing his best, with his busy job as a teacher, he has a hard time making her homemade and nutritious meals. After a chance encounter at the park, one of Kouhei’s students, Kotori, offers the two a meal at her mother’s restaurant, where (because Kotori’s mother ends up being away) they all begin to cook a meal together. Thus the trio learns to cook together from then on! There are plenty of anime that dig into food, but this is one of the cutest that I’ve seen. The dynamic between the trio is very sweet, with Kotori and Kouhei closely following the cooking instructions and little Tsumugi doing her best to learn, keep up and stay entertained! There’s a paternal feeling as you watch that makes you feel as if Kotori is Kouhei’s daughter along with Tsumugi. Mistakes are sometimes made in the kitchen and at times the series deals some more sensitive issues, but it always does so with a lightness and a love and understanding for all of its characters that makes you feel good about the interaction. Plus the food they make looks awesome.
Runner Ups: Shokugeki no Soma (Food Wars) (which is wild in itself, watch that too), Gourmet Girl Graffiti
Let me tell y’all, I love me a good josei or a good shoujo. Both, both is good.
Josei anime are aimed at an older female audience. Normally these anime feature slightly (or much more, depending on what you’re watching) mature subject matters, which is a bit different than typical shoujo which is aimed at girls, but can sometimes still have similar subject matter. There are some true gems in the josei category that have made me laugh, cry and even reexamine my own life and relationships. One of the staples of the josei genre is Nana. Nana was one of my favorite anime when I was in high school. It centers on two 20 something women who are making their way in Tokyo…with the same name, Nana! Nana Osaki and Nana Komatsu could not be any more different, one girly and obsessed with love and the other punk and chasing her music career. They’re different, but they work. It’s a pleasure to watch them grow together and heart wrenching to see them struggle through their trials. Make no mistake, while there are triumphs, there’s also lots of drama. I quickly grew attached to them and I longed for more when I finished the series. Since Nana was already completed when I discovered it, I binged watched it every day after school until I was done. The music of the series is also melodic and beautiful and something that I frequently rocked out to as a high schooler and now. I usually don’t watch anime more than once. I watched Nana twice and I will be watching it again very soon. I recommend you do the same!
Runners Up: Sakamichi no Apollon (Kids on the Slope), Nodame Cantabile (both of these are music based and wonderful)
Slice of Life
There’s a special category that I give certain shows, and that category is ‘chill anime’ but most of the time they’re just called slice of life. Slice of life anime are very relaxed sometimes silly, sometimes serious anime that deal with more everyday or not so everyday stuff— it really depends on the show! An old favorite of mine is a show called Hyouka. This centers around Houtarou Oreki, an energy conserving (ie. lazy) student who joins the Classics Club at his school and therefore meets Eru Chitanda, who is his exact opposite— curious and willing to deeply search for answers to her questions! The club sets out to solve a mystery related to their club room and it is super fun to watch Houtarou being dragged along for the ride, but also learning to be a little more social and slightly less lazy. Slightly.
I’ll admit that it has been some time since I’ve watched Hyouka, but the characters were so relatable and endearing that I remember them well, along with the phrase “I’m curious!” You’ll know what I mean when you watch. The show is calm and soothing without being boring. You can watch it as the snow kisses the ground and have a gentle laugh.
Runners Up: Lucky Star, K-On
I could go on and on with these and more anime that I’ve fallen in love with over the years. But now it’s your turn to do it too! So sit back, stuff yourself under a layer of comforters and grab a mug of tea (with honey and lemon, obvi). Whether it’s the beginning of your journey or you’re well versed in anime, kick back and enjoy these titles—here’s hoping they’ll lead you to many more. Stay warm!