The world of Japanese manga and anime is a broad one, encompassing a wide variety of literary genres for any and all intended audiences, from gritty seinen stories to inspiring shonen adventures and empowering shojo anime series. Anime and manga fans looking for something milder can also try out a handful of wholesome, feel-good series.
"Wholesome" may not be a formal anime genre or even an unofficial genre, such as isekai anime, but experienced manga and anime fans will know a wholesome, lovable series when they see one, and a gentle, wholesome anime show or manga series can cheer up any viewer and provide some G-rated fun and escapism for a few hours. A few particular wholesome anime/manga titles are a good start, some of which represent the iyashikei concept as well.
Azumanga Daioh! Follows A Few High School Friends
The original Azumanga Daioh! is a four-panel manga series that may remind new manga fans of Western comic strips in its layout and presentation, which makes it an excellent introductory series for casual readers. It also got an anime in the 2000s, with vibrant colors, lively voice acting and countless scenes of zany high school humor and bizarre visuals, such as a giant yellow talking cat. Azumanga Daioh! doesn't even have a central plotline -- instead, it simply follows the lives of a handful of high school friends during their three years together at an ordinary Japanese public school, with a leisurely narrative that casually jumps from one silly scenario to another.
Azumanga Daioh! doesn't reinvent the genre by any means, but it is easily accessible for all viewers and readers, and it has fairly G-rated content, making it relatively kid-friendly as well. The series makes minimal use of fanservice and emphasizes friendship, creativity and fun over action and drama.
Laid-Back Camp Tours The Great Outdoors
Some anime shows fit the "edutainment" trend, exploring a topic in-depth like a documentary while still having a proper story and characters along the way. Dr. Stone and Cells at Work! are two such titles, but neither is as wholesome and gentle as the story of Laid-Back Camp. This anime series follows a small handful of high school friends and their dedication to exploring the great outdoors. Its heroine Nadeshiko Kagamihara is a cheerful and optimistic girl who faces every challenge with great enthusiasm, and whose positive personality is downright infectious.
This series, like Azumanga Daioh!, is focused more on a premise than a central plotline, and viewers can tour Japan's gorgeous countryside on the small screen as Nadeshiko and her friends work hard to learn the ways of camping and appreciate the natural beauty around them. The girls sometimes face mishaps and challenges, but nothing too serious.
Aria: The Masterpiece Explores A Futuristic Venice On Mars
Similar to Azumanga Daioh! and Laid-Back Camp, the short anime series Aria: the Masterpiece can be described as a "cute girls doing cute things" show, where the handful of female leads spend more time on fun and adventures than drama or heartbreak. However, instead of a campsite or high school classroom, Aria: the Masterpiece is a sci-fi story set on a terraformed Mars, now known as Aqua, home to a perfect replica of Renaissance-era Venice. The heroine is the youthful and gung-ho Akari Mizunashi, who just immigrated to Aqua to begin training as an Undine, or gondola operator.
Just like Nadeshiko, Akari is an enthusiastic and cheerful girl who sees the best in everyone and everything around her, and she gladly explores the city of Neo-Venezia and learns many intriguing lessons about how this rustic city operates, similar to its Earth forebearer. She is soon joined by fellow Undine trainees such as Alice Carroll and Aika Granzchesta, and she looks up to her Undine master, the motherly Alicia Florence, who dotes on her.
Komi Can't Communicate Helps A Shy Girl Make New Friends
Manga author Tomohito Oda's hit manga series Komi Can't Communicate is now an anime series on Netflix, and new fans are bound to fall in love with this cheerful and wholesome series. Like Azumanga Daioh!, it's set in an ordinary Japanese high school, but this time, there's a central main character -- Shoko Komi, a shy girl who aims to make 100 friends by the time she graduates.
Shoko Komi has a reputation for being an aloof ice queen, but she is actually terribly lonely due to her difficulty in speaking to others until her classmate Hitohito Tadano became her first friend. Hitohito vows to help Shoko make 99 more friends, and Shoko slowly but surely expands her social circle, meeting many wonderful new people along the way. She and her new friends have all kinds of wacky but heartwarming adventures in the process, including going out to ramen shops, having sleepovers and more.
The Way Of The Househusband Features The Best Spouse In Anime/Manga
The Way of the Househusband is a novelty Netflix anime based on the manga of the same name, the latter of which is currently ongoing. It tells the tale of Tatsu, a reformed yakuza mobster who is now devoted not to crime, but to his loving wife and his household. Tatsu works hard to run errands, prepare delicious meals and snacks, and keep the house immaculate so his wife Miku can return home to a welcoming household.
The story is simple but charming and amuses fans with Tatsu's uncanny ability to approach mundane, innocent tasks with a yakuza attitude. He also sets an excellent example for men everywhere with his mature and responsible lifestyle. Tatsu hasn't forgotten his past life of crime and violence, but now, he has forsworn it all to pursue something much more meaningful. To him, cooking a meal for his wife or throwing a birthday party for a neighbor is worth more than the biggest haul of smuggled contraband.