Anime To Watch While Quarantined
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Anime To Watch While Quarantined

By Elizabeth Gibson for The J-Pop Exchange

COVID-19 has sparked a global pandemic which has closed many schools and businesses, cancelled events, and encouraged people to stay indoors as much as possible. Millions of people around the globe are facing extraordinary and unparallelled circumstances because of this, and having to stay indoors brings its own challenges. With so many people now staying home to contain the spread of the virus, people are now eager and ready to discover new media to binge during their quarantines.

If you haven’t taken the plunge yet, anime is one way to venture into new television and movie territory. There are so many different genres, and really something for everyone. All you need is one series to get you hooked (and further encourage you to stay home), so here are some different animes for various moods and tastes. So grab the remote, put up your feet, and let’s indulge in some escapism.

If you’re in the mood for:

● Guardians of the Galaxy meets Firefly with a splash of noir themes and spunky jazz music, try Cowboy Bebop. It’s considered one of the best shows of all time (and not just in terms of anime) for a reason. The one-season show follows the futuristic adventures of an easygoing bounty hunter and his partners as they conquer existential ennui, discovering and trying to come to terms with their past, as well as some various villain types. Cowboy Bebop has been labeled my many as a gateway series to the anime medium as a whole.

● something with a silly, supernatural plot where you can turn your brain off while watching, go ahead and try Witch Craft Works. The show is about a seemingly-normal high school student, Honoka Takamiya, and his interactions with his stoic but beautiful classmate, Ayaka, who turns out to be a fire witch. It’s charming and doesn’t feel generic, although there are some silly parts. Despite that, the colorful visuals and the bright magic in the show makes for a fun, non-complicated viewing experience.

● a slice of life high school romance mini-series with some light mystery solving and beautiful, calming animation, give Hyouka a shot. Another high school-based anime, Hyouka follows student Hotaro Oreki and him joining the school’s Classic Literature Club to stop it from being abolished. Over the show, Hotaro and the other characters begin to solve various mysteries to help save their club. The series is very beautifully animated, and offers a calming, pinhole view of the life of a teenager in Japan.

● a nostalgic action-adventure that still manages to portray wholesome moments of friendship, you can always fall back on Dragon Ball. Personally, I prefer the show when Goku was still a child, traveling on his nimbus and participating in the world tournament, rather than in Dragon Ball Z when grown-up Goku is a father to Gohan. Dragon Ball is more plot based, and lends itself better to the slower format. Whether you’re revisiting or watching for the first time, Dragon Ball is a fun watch.

● watching a cyberpunk, police/noir thriller, try Ghost in the Shell. Most critics can agree that, from the entirety of the expansive Ghost in the Shell franchise, the 1995 film is the one that sums up Ghost in the Shell's universe as a whole, particularly when it comes to the philosophical aspects behind it. So my recommendation would be to watch the 1995 film first, then go for the rest if you like it. Although, if you’re in the mood to invest in an anime series rather than a movie, you could alternatively start with Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. This way, you're not jumping in at the deep end, as all the philosophical themes and moral ambiguities are present here, albeit presented in a lighter tone. The show is more action-based than the 1995 film, and covers two really interesting story arcs.

● some historical fiction with a well-crafted plot and good action scenes, try Rurouni Kenshin. The story follows a fictional assassin named Kenshin Himura, who becomes a wanderer to protect the people of Japan. If you tend to gravitate towards more serious, story-driven shows with lots of good, old-fashioned swordplay, this might be the show for you.

● a quick murder mystery with time-travel elements, watch Erased. The premise follows Satoru Fujinuma, a young man living in the city of Chiba. He possesses an ability known as "Revival", which sends him back in time moments before a life-threatening incident, enabling him to prevent it from happening again. When his mother is murdered by an unknown assailant in his own home, Satoru's ability suddenly sends him back eighteen years into the past. It only has twelve episodes, so try not to watch it all in one sitting.

● a crude musical comedy about a few teens starting a rock band named after a patchwork dog, then maybe try BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad. This show offers an intimate window into the life of a 14-year-old boy, Koyuki, who, in the first episode, thinks life is pointless. He joins a band with another teen, and the show focuses on their struggle to find fame. The music is catchy, the characters are fun, and if you don’t mind more than a few f-bombs per episode, then give this show a try.

● a slow-burning, but still-interesting romance with witty banter, watch Spice and Wolf. The story follows a 25-year-old traveling merchant named Kraft Lawrence who meets Holo, a female wolf goddess of wheat. Holo, bound to a nearby town to ensure good harvest, escapes with Lawrence when the townspeople stop believing in her. That being said, this show is not your typical romance anime, and if "two people flirt while talking about economics" doesn't sound like your usual cup of tea, then you might want to find something else. Still though, Spice & Wolf has some great writing, one of the most endearing lead couples in anime, and one of the strongest, most nuanced and layered female leads in fiction of any medium.

More by Elizabeth Gibson:

Japan Hotels Housing Sick, Homeless During Pandemic

Student Suffering from Coronavirus Finds Comfort in Anime