Ever feel melancholic? Depressed? Worthless? I have had periods like that and they are usually miserable. Luckily, as an anime fan, I get to a medium that sometimes feels the same. However, that depression in anime is usually used for comedic or melodramatic use, almost never for exploration. Well, I’ve found three anime which explore it and can actually help cure your blues when watched in this specific order (at least for me, personally).
***DISCLAIMER: THE LIST WILL CONSIST OF THREE COMEDIES WHOSE SENSES OF HUMOR IS PITCH BLACK. THESE ARE NOT FOR EVERYONE. THIS IS AN EDITORIAL, SO THIS IS PURE OPINION.***
Out of the three, watch this one first because it is, while also the least dark in it’s sense of humor, the bleakest of the three. It kind of comes down to where the humor stems from, however. Whereas the second one derives it from a specific state everyone wants to avoid and the third one derives it from playing out Murphy’s Law in your head, this one derives it from pure teen angst and alienation. Most of this show’s target audience didn’t like it (it, unfortunately, bombed miserably in Japan, meaning no second season) because it was “too real” for them. That was the point. In the show’s anime high school world, not everyone will have the ideal high school life Tomoko expected to just appear when it began. The show slapping her in the face with the knowledge that she will never achieve this without overcoming her issues is the comedy, which makes it very mean-spirited. Or, it would be if the manga-ka duo responsible for the manga this is based on were not being semi-autobiographical. That makes the story less mean-spirited and more of a facing of demons. It’s bleak, but those ready to laugh at their problems should watch it.
2: WELCOME TO THE NHK
This would be the middle chapter in this anime marathon. Fittingly, it also has the darkest sense of humor of the three. Still, unlike how Watamote was more down to earth and relatable, this is an insane cautionary tale. Not to avoid the symptoms of becoming like our protagonists, but on wallowing in that awful state of mind. Yamazaki and Kashiwa are able to move past this state and become functional members of society (although one could argue that Yamazaki didn’t need that much help to begin with). Sato and Misaki, however, even by the end of the series, never get past their issues, just use each other as crutches to even passably function in society. If that sounds depressing, then how does the fact that this is ALSO A ROMANTIC COMEDY between Sato and Misaki color it? The way that the series treats shut-ins and unemployed college dropouts is, admittedly, a bit exaggerated, but the sentiment comes through the same: don’t wallow in self-pity and low self-esteem, because with just a little help, you can overcome it.
3: THE TATAMI GALAXY
No matter what, this needs to be the last one viewed of the three. This is largely because it is the most optimistic of the three. This series is also the one furthest removed from reality (if the Groundhog Day loop plotline, secret society of pricks on campus, proxy-proxy war, and the last two episodes are anything to go by). It actually plays out like a very misanthropic art film, however not the kind the my favorite director whose films I hate Lars Von Trier would make. After all, the whole moral of this series is that we all do awful things but that doesn’t make us awful people. When chasing after a perfect life, we will always be disappointed because the only perfect life is the one which we manage to claim is perfect. And sometimes, what we truly desire was right in front of us this whole time (and fortune tellers will always overcharge for repeating the same information nine times). This series is the ultimate pick-me-up: I’m not wasting my life, I just need to take advantage of what is happening around me and seize the day.
Welcome To The NHK is available on Netflix, Hulu, Funimation.com, and on DVD by Funimation
Watamote is available on Crunchyroll, Hulu, and on DVD by Sentai Filmworks
The Tatami Galaxy is available on Hulu and Funimation.com