25 Most Relaxing Anime To Watch (Series + Movies)

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Do you ever feel burned out? From school to work and family, life is filled with everyday obligations — and you won’t always feel ready to take on the world.

So we all need to unwind now and then.

While anime can excite and thrill audiences, it’s just as excellent in the field of comfort and relaxation. If you’re hoping to ease your weary spirit, check out some of my all-time favorite soothing anime titles here.


25. Polar Bear Cafe

Polar Bear Cafe anime

There’s no better way to start this list than with Shirokuma Cafe, a 50-episode wonder that represents how creative anime can be.

I mean, a show with a literal polar bear managing a cafe is sure to make waves.

Doom and gloom have no place in Polar Bear Cafe.

It does, however, have room for other interesting individuals like Panda, Penguin, Grizzly, and Sasako, the last of whom is the only human main character.

If you love staying in coffee shops, especially for the relaxing chatter among fellow patrons and the topics that come up, this is for you.


24. Windy Tales

Windy Tales anime screenshot

This is a pretty old title — debuting back in 2004. But the curious thing is that while it certainly differs in appearance from anime today, it’s also unlike anime released in the same year it came out.

It will take some time to get used to the visual style of Windy Tales. Once you do get over the unusually most black eyes, you’re in for a treat.

Windy Tales has a cat that can manipulate the wind. It has a little girl who’s one of only two members of the school digital camera club.

And each episode feels magical in its mastery of calm and natural-sounding conversations.


23. Restaurant to Another World

Restaurant to Another World anime

Here’s a funny little thing about Isekai Shokudou: It took three years for me to finish it — and it’s not the fault of the series at all.

You see, Restaurant to Another World is episodic in nature.

It doesn’t have cliffhangers you find in titles like Attack on Titan and The Promised Neverland that compel you to watch the next episode ASAP.

Thus, I feel content with one episode at a time.

It does a swell job of showcasing a non-action isekai, a delightful story of how distinct fantasy creatures (from elves to lizardmen) react to Japanese cuisine for the first time.


22. Kamichu!

Kamichu! anime screenshot

Similar to Windy Tales, Kamichu is a pleasant anime-original series from the early 2000s.

Likewise, it even has a young female MC and supernatural elements.

Yurie Hitotsubashi worries about school and her boy crush. This all seems typical, right? She’s just living her normal days in the city of Onomichi, Japan, in the 1980s.

Then she becomes a goddess.

But the best part is that while it now has aliens and deities as well, Kamichu keeps its easygoing identity.

It’s as if the supernatural entities are just enhancements to the slice-of-life show rather than a cause for the series to take a more action-heavy route — and there’s no show quite like it.


21. Tamako Market

Tamako Market screenshot

Admittedly, I’ve fallen asleep while watching an episode of Tamako Market — and that’s the beauty of it.

It’s not that this show is badly written or produced. Far from it.

That’s just how relaxing it is.

In truth, this is a well-animated series with a load of impressive character acting and mundane yet cute moments (it’s from Kyoto Animation, after all).

It’s a cozy show highlighting the dynamics in a small, tight-knight community. I love that the Usagiyama Shopping District is its main setting, a welcome change from the usual school or bland urban locations.

Plus, you can see the film Tamako Love Story afterward, which ends the show on a high note.


20. Sweetness and Lightning

Sweetness and Lightning anime

There’s no dearth of heartwarming anime shows that focus on father-daughter relationships — and this is one of the best.

Amaama to Inazuma is about Kouhei Inuzuka, a single dad who wants nothing but the best for his little girl Tsumugi. Sadly, he can only provide her with meals from convenience stores because he’s always so busy with work.

An opportunity arises when his student Kotori Iida approaches him:

Her family has a restaurant, but it’s usually not open because Kotori’s mom is often away due to work (just like Kouhei). So she wonders if the two could join her in preparing and eating homemade meals.

Sweetness and Lightning, all in all, is about realizing the importance of these small family moments, of the simple joys of spending time with loved ones.


19. My Roommate is a Cat

My Roommate is a Cat anime

With a title like this, is there really any wonder why My Roommate is a Cat caught my eye and forever etched its legacy in my mind?

To be fair, Zero-G’s adaptation didn’t have spectacular art and animation.

But the allure of this show comes from the highly introverted (and socially anxious) Subaru Mikazuki and his life with his adopted cat Haru — and you can actually hear what the feline’s thinking about.

Subaru and Haru have regrets.

Together, however, they can come to terms with their rough past and face the present (and future) with their head held high.

It’s cute how Haru strives to take good care of her human owner, just as much as Subaru is trying his best for her.


18. Hakumei and Mikochi

Hakumei and Mikochi anime

Otherwise known as Tiny Little Life in the Woods, this beautifully illustrated and animated seinen series took me by surprise in 2018.

The titular characters are tiny — really tiny people living in a tiny house in a tree.

Just like humans in real life, Hakumei and Mikochi live a life of work and leisure. They spend hours each day honing their craft, then they go out and about, exploring and meeting other tiny people (and even other sentient creatures).

Seriously, this is a pretty show.

Props to Studio Lerche for paying great attention to the color palette and sense of scale, successfully showcasing how gargantuan insects and plants can be from the perspective of other living entities.


17. Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid screenshot

This is the second Kyoto Animation series on my list, which is hard proof of the studio’s excellence in evoking a sense of warmth and comfort no matter the characters and setting.

Granted, this show has a little more fanservice (and dragons) than other KyoAni titles.

But it’s still largely adorable:

Tooru and Kobayashi have a funny yet endearing relationship. Kanna’s childlike wonder about the human world is a core strength of the show — and the otaku Makoto and the snobbish Fafnir have this unusual friendship worth seeing blossom.

With a second season on the horizon this year, Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon is sure to invite even more people to its cozy magical realism.


16. Whisper of the Heart

Whisper of the Heart anime

I know that Studio Ghibli is synonymous with Hayao Miyazaki.

Yet while he did produce and write the screenplay, it was the late Yoshifumi Kondou who directed Whisper of the Heart — and the two really knocked it out of the park.

This movie didn’t delve into as many fantasy elements as other Ghibli titles.

But it was confident in its depiction of an ordinary yet wholly inspiring life:

Here’s a 14-year-old girl slowly but surely finding the courage to identify and work hard for her dreams after meeting a lovely boy (and fellow bookworm) who’s striving at an early age to be who he wants to be.

It’s a rather simple story made all the more memorable by outstanding character animation, direction, and highly detailed backgrounds.


15. The Garden of Words

The Garden of Words anime screenshot

By now, Makoto Shinkai is probably most known for his recent works (and box office blockbusters) Your name and Weathering with You.

Yet Shinkai already had an incredible film catalog before that.

In 2013, The Garden of Words premiered — and to this day, people still post GIFs of it out of pure disbelief that the scenes came from an anime.

This 46-minute film is about two people and how their lives intersect at an impossibly beautiful garden.

It’s quiet, featuring minimal dialogue but rich with very telling character acting. The setting itself can be viewed as a character, and I’m sure the landscape will soothe your senses in no time.


14. K-ON!

K-ON! anime screenshot

The third KyoAni series on my list is none other than K-ON, which is Naoko Yamada’s first-ever project as a director.

In other words, this was the show that displayed Yamada’s unparalleled skill in analyzing and accurately portraying the emotional nuances of otherwise ordinary characters — and the MCs here are delightful.

K-ON is about a group of young girls who love music and are all part of their school’s Light Music Club.

But rather than focusing on technical aspects of musicianship, K-ON is about the joy of simply being with wonderful friends who share the same dream and welcome you into their daily lives at school and even at home.

It’s about creating and not taking for granted the priceless moments — those memories you’ll treasure once you graduate from adolescence and enter adulthood.


13. Spice and Wolf

Spice and Wolf anime

Spice and Wolf is one of those anime titles that many people are hoping will have a new season.

It’s been more than a decade since Season 2, but you can’t blame fans.

You see, it’s rare to see an anime with its central romance involving two adults (not teens) — and that’s exactly the case here. Combine that with a focus on economics and sociopolitical turmoil in a medieval setting, and you’ve got an anime that’s as refreshing as it is relaxing.

And did I forget to mention that Holo is a lovely wolf goddess who’s fond of eating and drinking?


12. Castle in the Sky

Castle in the Sky screenshot

I honestly don’t remember when I first watched Tenkuu no Shiro Laputa, but I knew it felt peaceful.

My childhood self was fully immersed in the world of airships and a fabled flying castle.

As the second Studio Ghibli film on this list (and the first film of the studio), Castle in the Sky is a timeless masterpiece.

It’s brimming with imagination, featuring an assortment of fanciful characters and settings.

The film takes you on a high-flying journey, but all the scenes are deftly composed with a color palette that maintains a restful tone nonetheless. It’s pure movie magic.


11. Non Non Biyori

Non Non Biyori anime

Have you ever wondered how it would be like to live your childhood in the countryside of Japan?

Well, that’s what Non Non Biyori is all about.

The series has four main characters, but Renge is clearly the No. 1 MC:

She’s a violet-haired little girl between six and seven years old — and her childlike innocence is nothing short of perfection.

Aside from the terrific MCs, Non Non Biyori is also a favorite of mine because of its superior soundtrack, art, and animation (thanks to Silver Link), all helping to evoke the charm of rural life.


10. My Neighbor Totoro

My Neighbor Totoro anime screenshot

Easily one of the most popular movies ever, Tonari no Totoro can make you feel better with its iconic poster alone, that’s been parodied a million times.

Set in the 1950s, My Neighbor Totoro feels like a love letter to every stressed adult’s long-lost childhood.

Here, you can enjoy the sights and sounds of nature as the characters wander their countryside abode, a welcome reprieve from the undying streetlights and car horns.

The movie does have fantasy elements.

But rather than putting the spotlight on them, they highlight the burgeoning curiosity and creativity of sisters Mei and Satsuki.

Narrative complexity isn’t the goal — it’s about finding magic in the essential.


9. Natsume’s Book of Friends

Natsume's Book of Friends anime

With six critically acclaimed seasons and one movie, Natsume Yuujinchou may as well replace a quarter of my list. It’s a franchise that just keeps on giving.

Not even a change in its animation studio from Brain’s Base to Shuka affected its breadth of impeccable storytelling and character writing.

So, what’s the fuss all about?

Well, you follow a fifteen-year-old guy on his travels in search of youkai (spirits) to set free.

These entities have different personalities, but you’re always left with an appreciation for life at the end of each episode.

Admittedly, there’s lingering darkness here due to Takashi Natsume’s traumatic childhood. Still, this is a journey toward healing and reconnecting with others (both humans and spirits) rather than revenge and intensified social isolation.


8. Tanaka-kun is Always Listless

Tanaka-kun is Always Listless anime

Do I aspire to be like Tanaka? Yes.

Do I also want to be like his more active (i.e., literally awake) best bro Oota? Most definitely.

As the title implies, this is about a high schooler who would want nothing more than to sleep and exert the least amount of energy every day, making him and Oreki quite similar.

However, this doesn’t have considerably mysterious elements like Hyouka.

This leans more on the slice-of-life aspect, which is gracefully handled by Silver Link, the same studio that worked on Non Non Biyori. Instead of natural landscapes, you’re treated to the architectural wonder of a school setting and clean, warm visuals.


7. Hyouka

Hyouka screenshot

Despite Kyoto Animation having more CGDCG and “usual” slice-of-life shows, it’s Hyouka that makes me feel relaxed the most. This has to do with its main character and the type of story (or stories) it portrays.

Houtarou Oreki is all about conserving his energy.

In other words, he prefers to be lazy.

Then comes Eru Chitanda, a girl who’s curious about many things and won’t stop at anything to get to the bottom of them. She persuades Oreki into helping her and the two other members of the Classics Club in solving small mysteries.

And I guess that’s why it’s so peaceful:

Despite having these mysteries, none of them involve the end of the world or anything sinister. They’re simply peculiar puzzles, usually concerning the school, for Oreki to solve quickly (to save his energy, of course).

Lastly, the exquisite background art and character animation help maintain the gentle atmosphere of Hyouka.


6. Flying Witch

Flying Witch anime

Flying Witch seems well-known among anime fans.

However, it’s rarely brought up in discussion as much as other similar shows — so it’s an honor to bring more attention to it here.

Surprisingly adapted properly by JC Staff, this is a supernatural slice-of-life involving, well, a flying witch.

By tradition, the 15-year-old Makoto Kowata has to live somewhere away from her family. She sets her path to Aomori to live with her cousins and hone her witchcraft. Moreover, he must attend school, like any other teenager.

This is a splendid and ultimately home-ly series.


5. Howl’s Moving Castle

Howl’s Moving Castle screenshot

Yes, I firmly believe this is the most relaxing Studio Ghibli film ever.

Its blend of steampunk, nature, and ornate architecture is a feast for the eyes, transporting you to an otherworldly place that nonetheless feels familiar in its tranquil atmosphere.

Don’t let its 119-minute runtime fool you.

Rather than being a chore to finish, this is like a whole-body massage — except for your burnt out spirit.

Howl’s Moving Castle does tackle war, but with a smart, refined approach rather than pointless mayhem.

And Howl having one of the best character designs and captivating personalities in anime history is the icing on the cake.


4. ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept.

ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept. anime

I never intended to watch ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka during the season it aired. Thankfully, the discussion thread about its first episode caught my eye — and it’s now one of my few 10/10 shows from the 2010s.

ACCA stars Jean Otus, a guy who works for an inspection agency and always looks unimpressed with life.

He travels a lot and gets to meet all sorts of people with varying appearances and cultures.

But perhaps his most defining characteristic is his love of cigarettes.

Like Hyouka, this is a mystery show in a world that feels cozy. From its chill conversations to the muted color palette, ACCA was never in a rush, always having time for rest (and a smoke).


3. Aria the Animation

Aria the Animation anime

Aria the Animation was released back in 2005.

It was followed by two seasons, an OVA, two specials — and there’s a movie titled Aria the Crepuscolo on the way.

What sets this apart from most anime here is that it’s not based on Earth:

The series is set in the 24th century in Neo Venezia, a city on Mars (now called Aqua) that looks exactly like Venice, Italy, with its architecture, waterways, and gondolas.

Akari Mizunashi is a complete beginner at being an undine, a tour guide in Neo Venezia. Soon, she comes across colorful residents, and there’s no villain or antagonist moving the story forward here.

Aria the Animation is about the people of Neo Venezia, realistic social relationships, and worldbuilding.

If the conversations and beautiful art don’t alleviate your stress, the beguiling soundtrack will do the job.


2. Mushi-Shi

Mushi-Shi anime screenshot

Countless people have fallen asleep to Mushi-shi.

It’s the go-to recommendation to anyone looking for a high-quality iyashikei that can make them forget their troubles and impending deadlines, even just for a while.

Mushi-Shi stars the pensive and mysterious Ginko, a man on a mission to learn about mushi, basic life forms that take on different appearances and have distinct effects on the life of humans near them.

Along the way he’ll develop a more nuanced understanding of identity, co-existence between humanity and nature (and other life forms), and the meaning of life.

It’s philosophical yet enchantingly peaceful.

Just like Natsume’s Book of Friends, it’s a considerable franchise with three seasons, two specials, and a movie — and you’ll be content with one episode a day, perfect for your after-work relaxation hours just before sleep.


1. Laid-Back Camp

Laid-Back Camp anime

Yuru Camp only has two seasons so far.

Even still, it’s already achieved so much for both the slice of life and iyashikei genres.

This is as simple as it gets:

Rin Shima loves to camp by herself, but she meets Nadeshiko Kagamihara, a girl who got lost on her way to Mount Fuji. They then keep each other company while admiring the outdoors and the cozy campfire (and delicious food, which Nadeshiko is very fond of).

Later on, the duo becomes a group of five.

And it’s still about nature, warm blankets, good food, and great friends.

Many entries on my list are about wandering around and finding value in the seemingly mundane parts of life, and Laid-Back Camp does an outstanding job in these aspects.

I’ve had friends express a desire to travel to Japan after seeing this show — it’s that beautiful and relaxing.

Browse: Anime

R. Romero

Millennial introvert on the lookout for slice-of-life anime, world cinema, and European music. Follow on Twitter @notspencer08