Welcome, all, again. After a disheartening week at work, I found myself once again seeking the solace of favorite anime episodes. Knowing that I can’t be the only one who does this, I decided to dedicate this installment to a brief list of suggestions for those who need a quick pick-me-up after some unpleasant IRL time. And so, corresponding to the level of comfort sought, I offer the following:
4) Final  episode[s] of Cowboy Bebop: for when you don’t even want to feel better, you just want some affirmation for your state of mind. Spike is a man with a past, but don’t dare think that he’s running from it–he just needs some time to wrap his head around everything that happened before he can really move forward. And when he finally does, well, watch a man newly determined to plot his own course and alter fate. Don’t look here for happily-ever-after, but the conclusion does offer a sweeping sense of completion and fulfillment.
3) Episode 6 of Arpeggio of Blue Steel: for when you need that sudden infusion of hope (against all odds). Episode 4 sees a desperate battle between Iona and the combined might of Fog battleships Haruna (HaruHaru) and Kirishima, and ends with Haruna’s mental model ashore where she is found by the child Makie. Episode 5 follows the delicate inroads towards friendship made by Makie and Haruna, neither of whom has ever before had the opportunity to find or be a friend. But it is in episode 6, when Makie’s life is threatened, that we viewers witness just how important this new concept of friendship has become. Self-sacrifice is the order of the day all around, so that even if your tears fall, your heart will leap and soar! (Episode 10 covers similar themes of devotion and self-sacrifice, but based upon love rather than friendship.)
2) Episode 10 of Non Non Biyori: for when you really need the comfort of complete acceptance and unconditional love. As a slice-of-life show concentrating upon family and community, you expect feel-good storylines from Non Non Biyori. And you get them, but episode 10 is still something special. Throughout the preceding nine episodes, we viewers noticed the especially close relationship between Ren-chon, the youngest character, and Kaede (called “Candy Store”). Episode 10 finally reveals the connection, referencing the past while remaining firmly rooted in the present as the three Miyauchi sisters join Kaede for a New Year’s sunrise viewing. The end result is an episode brimming with warmth and heart! Even moreso than my upcoming #1 pick (which just takes too much out of me, sometimes), this particular episode is my go-to happy place when I really need one. (Episode 10 of Non Non Biyori Repeat–the anime’s second season–likewise focuses upon the relationship between the two, as Renge tries to learn to ride a bicycle.)
- Episode 1 of Usagi Drop (also called Bunny Drop): for when you need it all–love, trust, the recognition and validation of despair, as well as the tensile strength of hope. Lifelong bachelor Daikichi attends his maternal grandfather’s funeral only to learn that the old man left behind an illegitimate 6-year-old daughter. Scorned as the very manifestation of their family’s shame, Rin is alternately ignored, bullied, and ultimately rejected by all relatives. . .all except Daikichi, who is confused and repulsed by the insensitive treatment heaped upon an innocent child. But what can he do to help? Nothing but risk everything. This is probably the single most emotionally uplifting episode of anime that I’ve ever watched (and repeatedly re-watched!). Just be warned that it will savage your heart before it salves it, so first make sure that you’re really up for the emotional investment!
And there you have them, my recommendations for one-shot curative treatments against the blues, the blahs, and all the general nastiness that the world likes to throw at us. So go take a 24-minute soak and get revitalized!