As Thanksgiving approaches and the weather grows chilly, there's no better time to wrap up in a cozy blanket with loved ones and enjoy some soothing, feel-good anime. Hulu's selection includes plenty of wholesome, heartwarming classics that are perfect for setting the holiday mood.
Thanksgiving isn't celebrated in Japan the same way it is in America, so none of these shows directly reference the occasion. However, they all center around themes of love, family and the simple comforts of life that have special resonance at this time of year. These Hulu-based picks span the last two decades of anime and are full of autumnal, warm and homey vibes.
Fruits Basket (2001)
Though the 2019 Fruits Basket anime is also available on Hulu (and is a more than worthy watch for fans of the manga), there's nothing like the original series from 2001 for comforting nostalgia. For the uninitiated, Fruits Basket tells the story of Tohru, a poor orphan with a heart of gold whose loving kindness changes the damaged and traumatized members of the Sohma clan forever.
Fans of early 2000s anime will love the show's old-school humor, and anyone who enjoys a good story is guaranteed to cry at the plot's dramatic twists -- and sigh in relief as Tohru's innate goodness leads the way. It doesn't get much more cozy and feel-good than Fruits Basket, and the iconic, ethereal opening by revered artist Ritsuko Okazaki is the perfect song to listen to while watching autumn leaves drift down.
A classic of the moe/slice-of-life genre, K-On! is about a group of sweet high school girls forming a band in a purely feel-good experience. The stakes are as low as they could possibly be -- the main plot tension is whether the girls will improve their musical skills, and how they'll accomplish that despite protagonist Yui's (adorable) shortcomings.
K-On! is also extremely funny, with a kooky and witty sense of humor and a cast who clearly love playing their roles. The music is pretty cute and catchy as well. It's not hard to see why this franchise became such a beloved fan-favorite, with sold-out concerts and a full-length feature film among its many accomplishments. K-On!'s recurring themes of familial and platonic love -- as well as its abundance of cake-eating and tea-drinking scenes -- make it a perfect watch for Thanksgiving.
There's no better time to experience this classic late '80s/early '90s anime created by Rumiko Takahashi, the shojo legend behind other beloved stories like Maison Ikkoku and Inuyasha. Ranma 1/2 is about a headstrong young martial artist who falls into a magical spring that causes his body to turn female when he's doused with cold water. Hilarity ensues every time, and it's aided by the zany cast of oddball relatives, rival martial artists and just plain weirdos who populate Ranma's chaotic life.
Each episode brims over with silliness and shenanigans, and there's always a happy ending (even if it's somewhat at Ranma's expense). The charming opening and ending songs are pure retro J-pop ear candy as well. Ranma 1/2's focus on warm, family-oriented settings and delicious food make it a perfect fit for Thanksgiving.
Filled with soft colors and meditative moments, this tranquil series lingers on the beauty of nature and has a deeply artistic, humanist bent. Following the adventures of a wandering expert in the supernatural and set in a fictional period of Japanese history, Mushi-Shi's gentle (and occasionally, lightly spooky) tone and contemplative themes are tailor-made for putting viewers in a calm autumn mood.
The show is an anthology, with protagonist Ginko and the mystical mushi spirits he contends with being only connection between episodes. Mushi-Shi's very nature makes it an ideal casual watch for those who won't have much time for binge-watching this Thanksgiving.
Say I Love You
For viewers craving a more serious love story that incorporates drama while still promising a happy ending, Say I Love You is a perfect pick. Mei is a cripplingly shy social outcast who's thrust into an unfamiliar world of emotion and vulnerability when the most popular boy at school falls for her. Though miscommunications, insecurities and jealousy from others threaten their new bond, they find their way through with good intentions and determination.
It's genuinely heartwarming watching the two main characters, who are kindhearted and easy to root for, figure out their relationship and get over stumbling blocks together. Say I Love You is a short single-cour series on Hulu, so it's a quick watch that can easily be finished in a single Thanksgiving weekend.
My Love Story!!
This adorable opposites-attract shojo love story is a guaranteed mood-booster. The protagonists of My Love Story!! are extremely lovable and charming and the anime overflows with bright, cheery colors and silly humor.
Takeo Goda is a thorough sweetheart despite his intimidating, hulking looks, and when he saves the lovely Rinko from a groper, the unlikely pair both fall for each other -- though it takes some time and a few misunderstandings before they figure it out. Over the course of My Love Story!!, an innocent and deeply devoted relationship grows between the two that is sure to warm viewers' hearts this Thanksgiving.