I mean, if your soul is really that tired, you could argue that just about any anime can stitch it together until it falls apart again (and the cycle continues anew). However, a special kind of “stitch” or therapeutic anime is needed for adults or even younger people whose very lives have become figurative baggage they must carry every day.
And thankfully, there are anime that can soothe and mend. No matter what kind of pressure or burden you’re carrying right now, there’s a lot to learn from these following kinds of anime. There’s a whole genre for them called Iyashikei, and there are also a few select therapeutic anime from other genres that can also chip in for when life gets you down, and you need a more relatable protagonist.
Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku
Wotakoi is an anime about a couple of couples, and their common point is that they’re all otakus. Seeing as they’re Japan’s shunned version of nerds or geeks, their navigation in their working adult lives has been tricky, with the main cute otaku girl Narumi having terrible luck with dating due to her otaku background.
So, she decided to get together with her childhood friend, Hirotaka, who’s also an otaku, and the anime chronicles the start of their rocky relationship and how they eventually became serious about each other.
It’s a feel-good story with no drama or complications, just a day-to-day interaction between couples with a more unique background compared to the usual ones. If anything, it can help you feel more accepting toward yourself and whichever quirks you have.
Kotaro Lives Alone
Now, for something heavier, too heavy that tears will flow eventually. Kotaru Lives Alone can be a real tearjerker sometimes. It’s about a boy who has lost his parents and must now live alone in a world controlled by adults. It sounds simple, but Kotaro’s uncanny maturity and naive wisdom will surely evoke some long-forgotten hopes and virtues you had back when you were younger.
Because you’re literally watching a child forced to become an adult (in a cute way, nonetheless), and because of Kotaro’s surprising maturity and intact integrity, he also ended up schooling all the tired and jaded adults around him regarding how to live their lives.
As the viewer, you might also pick up some wise lessons or two from the way Kotaro lives and his outlook on life. And for adults who missed a huge part of their childhood or children who were indoctrinated into adulthood too fast, this anime will surely tug at your heartstrings. You can watch this anime on Netflix, among many others.
Space Brothers, simply put, is about childhood dreams and goals. This tale of two brothers explores what it means to give up on your dreams and pursue them to the very end. Both of them, Mutta and Hibito, have the same dream of becoming an astronaut and reaching Mars and the moon, respectively.
However, as they grew up into adults, only Hibito was close to fulfilling their dream, while Mutta just lost his corporate job. But the disillusioned Mutta only saw this failure in his career as another opportunity to catch up to his brother and aim higher than the moon.
If you haven’t already guessed, Space Brothers is an inspirational journey about how one can always rekindle his original goal or plan from childhood. For that matter, we’re sure a lot of adults will find it relatable.
Barakamon is an important lesson in humility and slowing down to appreciate the finer things in life. And this kind of wisdom was told through a vain young adult’s success and failure. The said adult in question is Seishuu Handa, a rising star in calligraphy.
Due to his success at a young age, his ego got inflated a bit, and a veteran in his field had to knock him down a few pegs– a notion to which he lashed out. As punishment, Sei’s father exiled him to a remote and provincial town where he learned to be humble and shake off his pretenses as an artist.
The target audience is pretty obvious here as conceit and arrogance are quite common among talented and privileged young adults; Sei’s meditative and introspective countryside experience is likely something a lot of us needed to relate to.
Usagi Drop leans into heavier territory with its father-daughter tale involving common decency and compassion in a world where most adults will leave a child to die if it’s more convenient. The anime begins with Daikichi Kawachi attending his late grandfather’s funeral.
To the 30-year-old man’s surprise, his late grandfather left a lovechild behind, and even worse– no one in the family wanted to adopt her. So Daikichi took it upon himself to adopt his er, aunt, despite having no childcare experience.
The premise alone is enough to kindle a drama, but what propels the anime further is Daikichi’s struggles as a single parent and how the meaning of family was redefined back to basics in a warmer and more unconditional manner. Usagi Drop is definitely a cute Anime to watch on a cozy, rainy afternoon.
March Comes In Like A Lion
You could compare March Comes In Like A Lion to Kotaro Lives Alone since it’s also about a boy’s journey and struggles with a dysfunctional childhood and the lack of familial care. The major difference is that March’s main guy, Rei Kiriyama is a teenager already.
Rei, being only 17 and a reclusive introvert, naturally took care of himself poorly. This change after Rei meets three sisters who became determined to turn his life around, all the while he juggles his budding shogi career.
It leans less on the cutesy or chibi characters but more towards the complexity of emotions, especially for people who came from dysfunctional family backgrounds.
My Roommate is a Cat
You know why this is relatable. The rest of the title isn’t even needed; just “Cat” would’ve pulled in any viewer who lives with a feline companion who may or may not be their slave master. In any case, My Roommate is a Cat holds a more endearing story.
Subaru Mikazuki is a young adult in his early-20s who’s also a reclusive introvert (there’s an emerging pattern here). His parents died when he was young, and since then, he’s been used to a life of solitude; his only companion is a cat named Haru he adopted after seeing her wander his parents’ graves.
Meanwhile, the cat is worried (from its perspective) because while Subaru takes care of her, Haru is worried about Subaru’s capacity to care for himself (a common issue about cat owners, it seems).
Still, the two of them try to make it work, as all cat owners must do for their spoiled baby predators.
Vinland Saga Season 2
Quite an unlikely choice, but if you managed to get past the rather stressful and action-packed first season of Vinland Saga, you’ll be treated to the best lessons on healing, masculinity, strength, and pacifism that an anime can impart.
Come Vinland Saga Season 2, Thorfinn’s journey went from a formidable warrior to a slave and then to a farmer who has chosen to make amends for all the people he’s killed and all the lives he’s ruined. It’s still sprinkled with plenty of Viking drama and politics, but the main focus is the protagonist’s redemption and therapy after a childhood spent chasing revenge and war.
And even though we’re all well past our feudal era and we’re no longer killing each other for land (sort of… okay, maybe we’re still doing that), Vinland Saga’s farming arc is a thought-provoking journey about peace and the hardships of life that just about any jaded individual will understand.