Rilakkuma and Kaoru is that perfect mix of cute and profound that you’d expect from a Japanese show about a woman living with teddy-bear roommates. The first episode is about cherry blossoms, but really, it’s about loneliness.Actually, the best term I can find to describe this show, and I’m not joking, is “slice-of-life.” The stories are endearing and intimate. You won’t be able to help but relate to the main character as she deals with being single while her friends are in relationships, her apartment building being demolished and she can’t find another affordable place to move into, her stressful job, etc.I have never seen a show combine this many absurd elements (the woman lives with three goddamn teddy bears), with so much realism. And all of this is done in an easy, quiet tone.
Mushishi is one of those shows that you watch one episode at a time to relax after a long day of work. It’s a slow, atmospheric animation about a world where peculiar plant-like creatures called Mushi live alongside humans who are usually unaware of them. Think of Mushi as the most basic form of life. While being purposeless, they can unintentionally have a wide variety of effects on humans, sometimes helping them but always at an unforeseen cost. Ginko is a traveler who studies Mushi and on his way helps villagers with their problems.Each episode is an independent short story about a chapter of Ginko’s travels. The stories feel weirdly the same as folklore you grew up with. They are comfy, they hold a few moral lessons at the end of each one, and they’re sometimes scary and thought-provoking. Despite being “anime”, this show might as well be a genre on its own. It holds none of the stereotypes surrounding anime, and it’s really just a collection of solid short stories coupled with great animation and an amazing soundtrack. If you’re tired and need a show to watch late at night with a loved one or by yourself, pick an episode at random and see for yourself how great of a show this is.