As you may know, many of my favorite anime series are multilayered stories with lots of depth, but I don’t limit myself to watching only titles which are often worthy of being called works of art on some level. Sometimes, I just want to watch something fun. Not to be confused with slice-of-life or ‘cute girls doing cute things’ shows (whole genres unto themselves which often cross over), shows I consider “fluff” may not have the most well-written story, or the character development may be lacking. In spite of the flaws, I still enjoy them and they are fun to watch. Entertainment is supposed to be fun, after all, and a show can be light and fun without being stupid or insulting to my intelligence.
In no particular order, here are a few examples of anime fluff which I enjoy, even if they aren’t necessarily the “best” at what they are trying to do:
The World of Narue
From the very first time I watched The World of Narue, it came across to me as Ah! My Goddess “lite” with a younger cast and a slightly different premise. Narue is an alien who comes to Earth and ends up living with a boy named Kazuto. Soon, more members of Narue’s family show up, and comedic hijinks ensue. It’s nothing that hasn’t been done before, but it’s done with such an honest effort, and the characters are so likeable, that I can’t help but enjoy The World of Narue. To this day, I think it’s still my favorite “fluff” series.
Leviathan -the last defense-
Leviathan is a perfect example of what I mean by “fluff”. What we have here is a fairly generic fantasy story with stock character types who are just cute enough to make it fun to watch. If the idea of dragon girls who run around doing things you’ve already seen a hundred times in other fantasy shows sounds interesting, give Leviathan a try. It won’t challenge your expectations of anime, but it will be a fun diversion. And hey… they’re dragon girls!
Engaged to the Unidentified
Engaged to the Unidentified is similar to The World of Narue in some ways, but in a role reversal, this time the girl meets an alien boy. What follows is a sci-fi twist on your typical high school series. What really elevates the show for me though is Mashiro, the little sister of Hakuya (the “unidentified” from the show’s title). She’s an absolute riot and steals the show. Again, no heavy plot or complex characters here; just something fun to watch.
Mikagura School Suite
Eruna, an otaku girl obsessed with visual novels, enrolls at Mikagura, a magical high school, with the primary intention of flirting with as many cute girls as she can… to live out her VN fantasies of course. Also, the clubs at Mikagura have a compulsory magic battle tournament where victories mean prestige and privilege on campus and in the dorms. Not knowing this, Eruna has to start at the bottom of the ladder, literally living in the hallway until she joins a club. What’s a girl to do? That ridiculous plot sold me on Mikagura School Suite, and it was worth every episode.
Brynhildr in the Darkness
This is an odd one, as it’s really hard to categorize, and it barely qualifies for this list, but in the end, it does make it on technicalities. Brynhildr in the Darkness definitely isn’t a “light” series in the traditional sense. It starts and ends as a dark science fiction story not for the faint of heart. But outside of that general premise of the story, the middle of the series is mostly harmless (if ecchi) harem comedy. It’s a strange combination, yet I still enjoyed it. What qualifies Brynhildr for my list here are its shortcomings. The story and character development are both lacking, and I wish the series were twice as long to expand on them and fill out the series. As it is, Brynhildr in the Darkness is a series which doesn’t live up to its full potential, but I still liked it.
When I decided to give Kantai Collection a try, I was hoping for a nautical version of Strike Witches. Sadly, that was not what I got. Based on a video game with about four thousand characters (not literally, mind you), the girls of Kantai Collection are anthropomorphisms of various historical battleships. But in the series, there is very little in the way of battles at sea. It’s a group of (mostly) high-school aged girls and their daily shenanigans. And that’s about it. A few sea battles are thrown in, but they aren’t the focus of the story. Kantai Collection is fun enough, but when I wanted something with a little more to it than just schoolgirl silliness, it does fall short.
And there you have a brief tour of some of the anime series I enjoy, even if they aren’t the best in their genre. I’m sure I’ve missed a bunch more, but these are some of the standouts. (A bit of an irony, for shows that are otherwise “average”.) Some shows give it an honest effort but only do what’s necessary, others try but fall short, and others miss the mark, but what they all have in common is that I do actually enjoy them, and will surely watch them again at some point. (I’ve watched The World of Narue several times in fact, and always look forward to bringing it back for another rewatch!)
Sometimes you just have to enjoy something for what it is.