In this article:
- Most of the “best of” lists you find for anime feature action-packed shows with big, complex narratives. They are masterpieces, to be sure. But not great when you’re in the mood for casual viewing.
- This spoiler-free list of cute anime shows are great for snuggling up with a snack (or a snacc) and enjoying some warm, wholesome stories.
- When I say cute, I mean it. None of these anime shows contain gratuitous fanservice outside of the occasional scandalous hand-holding.
Anime shows are a staple of pop culture, but most of the ones that get dubbed “best of the best” are action-packed and feature grand narratives that are great but too stressful for a casual viewing sesh.
As much as we love Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, thinking about the meaning of life is tiring after a long day of work and when all you really want is a hug, not even Kakegurui characters and their questionable amounts of fanservice will do.
So why not kick back with a cute anime show that will let you turn off your brain cells for a few hours and enjoy warm, wholesome feelings?
10 Cute Anime Shows for a Cozy, Casual Binge Session
1. Toradora! (2008)
Toradora! is a romcom and slice-of-life anime that mainly follows Taiga Aisaka and Ryuji Takasu as they figure out how to make their crushes like them. While both of them are attractive, neither of them is particularly appealing to their crush.
Taiga is an unladylike hothead and Ryuji is a nice guy with an intimidating appearance. Fortunately for them, they each have access to the other person’s crush. Minori, who Ryuji has a crush on, is Taiga’s best friend while Kitamura, Taiga’s crush, is Ryuji’s.
Together, they try to hatch several plans to set each other up with their best friends, but the plan backfires dramatically when both of them realize that everyone else, even their crushes, thinks they’re dating each other.
This cute anime has an adorable art style and a ton of funny moments that will have you laughing your heart out and choking on your melon pan.
2. K-On! (2009)
Speaking of cute anime art styles, few shows are as well known for this as K-On!, a show about five high school girls trying to learn instruments, growing into their identities, and figuring out what they want to do with their lives after high school.
While cute animes aren’t rare, K-On! generated quite the buzz in its day and helped keep Kyoto Animation in the public eye following the release of classics like The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (2006) and Clannad (2007).
K-On! has us joining the girls of the Ho-kago Tea Time Club as they try to keep their club from being dissolved. To do this, they have to form a real band which is hard since their lead guitarist, Yui, can’t even play the guitar.
After falling in love with a Heritage Cherry Sunburst Gibson Les Paul Standard electric guitar, though, Yui finds the determination to become a true rockstar.
The other girls have similar developments throughout the show as well. We watch as Ritsu learns to appreciate the inherent value of being a drummer even if it isn’t a front and center role while Mio grows out of her shell to become the band’s leader.
3. Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku (2018)
Who said cute anime shows are about high school students only?
Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku is a show about what happens to anime lovers after they grow into working young adults. Narumi Momose is a fujoshi who loves otome games but keeps her “weird” under wraps, Hirotaka Nifuji is a gamer who couldn’t care less about otaku stigma,
Hanako Koyanagi is a cosplayer, and Taro Kabakura is a casual otaku who loves bishoujo anime. Together, they get up to all sorts of funny antics that basically boil down to “The Office, but the entire cast is otakus.”
When they’re not thinking of dressing up the guys as girls or coming up with plots to read manga during work hours, these four struggle through the awkwardness of finding love as geeks who don’t exactly have the best social skills.
The set-up of the show might give you some red flags, especially due to the way animes use full-figured women. In Wotakoi, though, we hardly see Hanako in fanservice-y situations.
4. Cardcaptor Sakura (1998)
Does this show even need an introduction? Cardcaptor Sakura is a giant in the shoujo genre that even non-viewers might remember as “that show with the magical tarot cards.”
Cardcaptor Sakura is a wholesome show about Sakura Konomoto who accidentally releases the spirits of the Clow Cards which she then has to recapture using her innate powers with the help of Cerberus, the book’s guardian. But it’s not all drab duty.
Sakura’s cousin, Tomoyo Daidouji, follows her around with a camcorder to record her adventures. The aspiring fashion designer also makes a new outfit for Sakura in pretty much every episode.
While all of the anime shows on this list are extremely tame compared to most anime shows, Cardcaptor Sakura takes the cake when it comes to being kid-friendly. If you’re looking for an anime that you can watch with a small child, this is definitely the one to go with.
5. Kiss Him, Not Me! (2016)
Kiss Him, Not Me! is an adorable reverse harem anime about Kae, a fujoshi who loses weight after getting so upset over the death of her favorite character that she stops eating.
Before you turn your nose up on the show for its admittedly problematic premise, it doesn’t send the message that Kae should be thin to be liked.
If anything, what makes this show heart-stopping is seeing if she realizes that her male friends, despite being fairly great guys, are interested in her only because she lost weight. This show will make you want to root for the guy that values Kae through thick and thin. Literally.
Kae herself is a compelling reverse harem protagonist. Though shy, she displays a lot of agency throughout the show, a far cry from typical heroines like Fushigi Yuugi‘s Miaka Yuki.
6. Kaguya-sama: Love Is War
Since we’re already talking about cute anime set in high school, we can’t skip Kaguya-sama: Love Is War. The show began as a parody of the high school romcom genre that shows like Toradora! originate from.
Instead of being a show about characters who overcome their shyness about admitting they have a crush on someone, Love Is War‘s lead protagonists, Shirogane and Kaguya, already know they have a crush on each other.
It’s just a question of who confesses first.
The two begin an increasingly ridiculous, and hilarious, game of trying to outsmart each other as they try to trick the other person into saying the magic “I love you” words. The show also has an interesting cast of supporting characters.
Chika, the pink-haired girl, is a fan favorite because of how sassy she is and how often she messes with both Kaguya and Shirogane’s plans.
7. Komi Can’t Communicate (2021)
Komi Can’t Communicate is currently one of the hottest anime shows of 2022. Aired just last year, Komi introduced viewers to the titular character who, you guessed it, can’t communicate.
It’s not that Komi-san is mute, it’s just that she’s so anxious all the time that she may as well be. The girl can’t even hold a simple conversation without having to pantomime everything.
While it still has a romantic angle to it, the main focus of Komi is watching Komi-san grow overcome her communication disorder with the help of friends who do everything they can to teach Komi how to connect with others one step at a time.
The show takes a surprisingly mature approach to portraying people with mental health concerns.
Unlike typical mental health shows, this one doesn’t have stressful drama between Komi and the people around her. Additionally, the show has a character of “unknown gender” who the show never interrogates about their identity.
8. New Game! (2016)
Like Wotakoi, New Game! is one of the few slice-of-life shows that feature working young adults. Instead of being regular salarymen and salary women, though, New Game!‘s cast is comprised of the game devs at Eaglejump, a game studio that created Suzukaze Aoba’s favorite video game.
Because of her admiration for the team, Aoba joins Eaglejump during one of their rare recruitment drives and gets to meet the heroes behind her favorite game while also learning that working in the video game industry isn’t the “perfect job” she expected it to be.
That doesn’t mean that New Game! is an overly bitter anime about work. It’s still a cute show that serves as both a love letter to game development and a realistic look at the hardships of working as a game developer.
The show also has funny commentary about work culture in general, such as a scene where Aoba stares at the camera and asks: “Is being a full-time employee just a loophole to make wages lower?!”
While it does have a few fanservice-y moments, they come off as more of that character wanting to unwind in comfortable clothes (or lack thereof) than being creepy.
9. Way of the House Husband (2020)
What do you get when a former yakuza boss decides it’s time to retire and be the best house husband he can be?
A cute anime in the comedy genre that shows the daily life of Tatsu, an ex-yakuza, as he tries to get the freshest fish at the market, win raffles, and show other house husbands that he’s the best one all before his wife, Miku, gets home from her job where she works as a designer.
To make it even cuter, Miku is a magical girl anime fan and Tatsu is extremely supportive of it.
The show is a string of joke after joke that will have you belly laughing throughout each episode. Most of the gags come from Tatsu’s yakuza background because he keeps saying scary mafioso stuff even though he’s just talking about vegetables.
That said, the show does have some touching moments that casual viewers who aren’t familiar with Japanese culture might miss such as the way most people avoid Tatsu for no other reason than his yakuza past, a nod to the ostracization that real former yakuza go through.
10. My Dress-Up Darling (2022)
My Dress-Up Darling is another hit anime show of the year. It’s a romcom slice-of-life about Wakana Gojo and Marin Kitagawa, two high school students who discover that their interests overlap.
Marin is a gyaru, a Japanese subculture known for its members’ blonde hair and tanned skin, while Gojo is an aspiring hina doll craftsman with a gift for sewing clothes.
At first, Gojo is embarrassed about his “feminine” interests because of being bullied as a child for liking hina dolls, but it becomes clear that Marin, an otaku who’s no stranger to being ostracized, doesn’t really care.
Marin and Gojo start a friendship built on their shared passion for clothes. Gojo sews beautiful outfits and cosplays for Marin who happily models them.