Top 10 Lovely Anime [Best Recommendations]

Top 10 Lovely Anime
Anime can be intense, fantastical and even inspiring. With an ability to present an accurate representation of an artist’s vision and exceed the limits of reality, animation is a valuable medium that can make dreams come alive. Where else can you find a sci-fi series about idols and dancing mecha? (That’s Macross by the way)

However, sometimes we don’t need the ridiculous, but rather, a small hint of fantasy to show us an ideal depiction of reality. These are anime that embrace the word “Lovely”. Whether it’s a reality where a giant like Goda can get a girlfriend in Ore Monogatari or a reality where country life doesn’t just involve racist farmers, anime can take us to a better place. So here’s 10 of those sort of shows.

10. Plastic Memories

  • Episodes: 13
  • Aired: April 2015 - June 2015

Starting with a trio of Dogakobo shows, the studio is responsible for some of the best character animation in the business, with directors such as Masahiko Ohta and Yoshiyuki Fujiwara who have worked to perfect the world of comedy anime. However, unlike the next two shows, Plastic Memories’ comedy is used for a purpose other than making us laugh. Instead, it’s used to balance out the tragedy that’s at hand within the very premise of the show.

In a science fiction world, artificial intelligence known as “Giftia” are brought into everyday life, implemented into society as friends, family or co-workers. However, after a certain amount of time, they hit an expiration date and must be deactivated. It’s an allegory for terminal illness and we must watch as our main character Tsukasa has to deal with losing the girl he fell in love with so quickly. It’s a tragic story but its portrayal of relationships and making the most of our time is absolutely lovely.


9. Love Lab

  • Episodes: 13
  • Aired: July 2013 - September 2013

Love Lab is, as the title of this article implies, lovely. Whilst on the box, it’s a series about learning how to get a boyfriend, in practice, it’s a series about trying really hard to make friends. With Masahiko Ohta’s usual charm that has brought us some of the best comedy series of recent years, Love Lab’s series of jokes balance out the tension involved with Riko’s constant lying. But the real charm here is the characters.

Of course, Riko is undeniably brilliant and works as the perfect counterpart to Maki, but the steady addition of new cast members (a common narrative technique in high school comedies) plays around with a lot more dynamics, giving the series a wider range of character comedy as well as the opportunity to branch out into its excellent abilities with physical comedy, taking advantage of its status as one of the best examples of character animation in the business.


8. Three Leaves, Three Colours (Sansha Sanyou)

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: April 2016 - Present

And as a finale to a wonderful trio of Dogakobo shows, Sansha Sanyou or Three Leaves, Three Colours, is a wonderful slice of charm to the genre of high school comedy series with all-girl casting. We’ve had the “ojousama” character archetype many times before and in the past, it’s often been used as a way to quickly define bullies or generally unpleasant people. However, both Wakaba Girl last year and Sansha Sanyou have different ideas in mind.

Sansha Sanyou follows a rich girl who has been struck by debt and had to learn to live like a commoner. With a lack of social skills and the complete inability to make friends, it’s up to her friends Futabu and Teru to befriend her. The show is airing right now and it’s something that you just can’t stop loving.


7. Invade! Squid Girl (Shinryaku! Ika Musume)

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: October 2010 - December 2010

Squid Girl is an icon. Not only for squid kind, but for comedy anime as a whole. Following an invader from the sea, out for revenge against the humans, Squid Girl quickly assimilates into human society as she’s quickly accepted. It’s absolutely bizarre in the most wonderful way and is one of the reasons Tsutomu Mizushima is regarded as one of the best comedy directors out there.

Comedy anime can often struggle with creating new scenarios and stories for a limited range of personality, but that is something Squid Girl never has a problem with. Each of the characters exist within a huge variety of eccentricities that allows the series to get involved in these lovely character stories as well as these hugely varied plotlines.


6. Barakamon

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: July 2014 - September 2014

Kids are assholes. They’re noisy, annoying and just sit around playing Minecraft all day. But as I mentioned before, anime has the ability to project a new reality. Whilst this reality doesn’t involve dragons or witches, it’s just fantastical enough to portray Naru in a way that doesn’t make you feel like throwing her off a cliff. And that’s what’s lovely about Barakamon. Naru is the perfect cure to Handa’s personal grudges and darkness.

It’s not just a story about improving yourself, but one that shows how country life and opening up our hearts can improve us all. It’s a ‘Dummy’s Guide to Happiness’ disguised within an important narrative. There’s one easy way to describe Barakamon and thankfully it’s scattered throughout this article. It’s lovely.


5. Shirobako

  • Episodes: 24
  • Aired: October 2014 - March 2015

I mentioned Tsutomu Mizushima earlier in regards to Squid Girl and his legacy as one of the biggest names within comedy anime and Shirobako only works to concrete that position. In its rare position of being an anime about anime production itself, it offers a view into the studios that make some of a favourite shows and introduces us to the roles involved. But it’s not as dull as it sounds and the ability to show this large cast come together is something incredibly valuable.

Whether it’s watching Miyamori drive around the city searching for an animator or Zuka going for her next role, it offers a charming view on the anime industry. Not only is it valuable for anime viewers wanting to find out more about the industry, but it’s also a really lovely slice of life series that stands up on its own merits as something exceptional.


4. Cencoroll

  • Episodes: Movie
  • Aired: July 2009

Cencoroll is amazing. Not only is it a great little film about these extraordinary shapeshifting creatures known as Cenco, but its production is amazing as well. The entire film was a solo project by the character designer behind Tsuritama and Digimon Tri, Atsuya Uki. Solo projects are extraordinary and the ability to animate a 20 minute film by yourself is admirable to say the very least. Uki’s direction depicts what could be presented as something dramatic or dark in a really nice way.

It’s a monster movie that’s delivered in an almost surreally calm way. It’s strange, wonderful and extraordinarily creative. It limits dialogue whilst the action is presented through a series of transformations and clashes that you just can’t see elsewhere. It’s rare to see an action series presented in this way and there’s something lovely about the presentation that puts it up there with some of the best anime short films.


3. Silver Spoon

  • Episodes: 11
  • Aired: July 2013 - September 2013

Farm life is hard. Waking up early, feeding animals and checking on crops every morning is enough to kill a person. It isn’t really something you wouldn’t want to see in a piece of entertainment, but whilst Silver Spoon doesn’t gloss over this, it’s quick to provide the good size of the agricultural life, even if most of it is bittersweet. The series doesn’t require our approval or ask for our investment, but rather, presents its world authentically.

There’s nothing lovely about having to raise a pig for the slaughter, but the lessons Hachiken learns aren’t just specific to farm-life itself and deliver something far wider and far more important. The relationship between Hachiken and his classmates is something that just wouldn’t work in any other high school slice of life and Silver Spoon takes every opportunity to offer something unique.


2. Flying Witch

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: April 2016 - Present

Magic realism isn’t an uncommon genre, particularly within anime, but it’s rare that we see a magical element implemented so carefully so as to keep the show grounded. Of course, Majimoji Rurumo follows the same basic premise of a witch staying with a normal family, but the presentation and how these fantasy elements affect a realistic world are entirely different. In this world, the magic side of things is only there in relation to character comedy rather than the narrative itself.

Flying Witch is airing this season and in just a few weeks, it’s already taken the top spot for many people. Much like Silver Spoon, Flying Witch is determined to show a world far from city-life, but with the entirely different goal of creating atmosphere rather than something thematic. Character relationships are at the forefront of Flying Witch and instead of it being specifically about her witch powers, the attitude other characters have towards them are what the series is really interested in portraying.


1. Non Non Biyori

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: October 2013 - December 2013

And finally, standing tall over the genre of Slice of Life is the exceptional Non Non Biyori. Whenever I talk about the portrayal of life in the countryside, it’s always in some relation to this beautiful series. Non Non Biyori has very little interest in delivering a core narrative as the very concept directly contradicts with the series’ approach to narrative as a whole, preferring to give us snippets of what are to be regarded as typical moments and allow them to expand into these smaller anecdotes.

With phenomenal background art and stunning direction, Non Non Biyori’s atmosphere is second to none. The sounds of cicadas and grass swaying in the wind delivers a noticeable difference from the usual sounds of business that we’ve grown so accustom to. Quiet is valuable and by the end of Non Non Biyori you’ll realise just how important it is to creating an ideal world that you’ll want to jump inside your screen so as to never return to reality again. It’s so goddamn lovely that no part of reality can ever compare.


Final Thoughts

So there are 10 of the most lovely anime out there. There’s many more that I could throw onto this list as anime is the perfect genre for giving us these worlds and moments that trump reality in every way possible. Let me know what series you find to be lovely in the comments section below.

Callum May

Writer

Author: Callum May

Hi, I'm Callum or 'Canipa' as I'm occasionally referred to online. I enjoy long walks on the beach, reading dramatic poetry and studying philosophy... or I would if watching anime didn't sound way more fun! Usually focused on watching shows seasonally, I'm always keeping up with whatever's new. I'm also always taking the opportunity to promote the greatest anime of all time, Chronicles of the Going Home Club. Watch Chronicles of the Going Home Club. You can also find me on TheCanipaEffect.com

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