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Unexpectedly Wholesome Anime to Warm Your Heart

Dig in to some surprisingly wholesome anime!

It’s fun to watch action-packed, dramatic, scary, and sad shows. But sometimes, we just need to feel like all’s right with the world. Seeing our favorite characters being happy is just what the doctor ordered on a rough day. And while there are plenty of “healing” shows out there, some of the most wholesome anime comes from the most unexpected places.

Here are just a few shows that, despite all appearances, will warm your heart and give you some faith in humanity again. Plus, there’s more than one season of all of them, either already made or in store!


The Quintessential Quintuplets

The Quintessential Quintuplets

When you think of wholesome anime, you probably don’t initially think of harem shows. (Or maybe you do. We don’t judge.) So recommending The Quintessential Quintuplets, about five sisters and the guy they’re all in love with, might seem a little odd at first. That is, unless you’re at all familiar with the show.

Our protagonist, Fuutarou Uesugi, will eventually be marrying one of these girls. Despite having seen their wedding day, we don’t know which — quintuplets, you see. The Nakano girls want nothing to do with him when they meet, though. They’re doing terribly in school, but they have no interest in a tutor. But Uesugi has a sharp eye for them as individuals. He knows their likes and dislikes, their strengths and weaknesses, and isn’t fooled by their attempts at impersonating each other. Thanks to this unlikely tutor, they learn a lesson they were never taught before: the importance of individuality, and the fact that even “identical” siblings can be unique and accomplish their own great things.

Get The Quintessential Quintuplets on Blu-ray and DVD


Kaguya-sama: Love Is War

Kaguya-sama: Love Is War

Two people fighting not to be the “weak link” in a relationship seems like the least wholesome anime concept out there. After all, relationships aren’t competitions. They’re partnerships, and they take work and dedication. But even thought the protagonists of Kaguya-sama: Love Is War play by these ridiculous rules, that’s just what this whole thing is: ridiculous. And adorable.

Student council president Miyuki and vice president Kaguya are both way too smart for their own good… and way too in love with each other. Something as simple as a summer trip or a boxed lunch can lead to ludicrous games of 4D chess, many of which end up accomplishing nothing. That’s assuming wild card and Internet darling Chika doesn’t intervene, making things even stranger. But there are sweet (and yes, wholesome) moments when these two actually kind of start to show their love for each other. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could just… you know… confess and get it over with?

Get Kaguya-sama: Love Is War on Blu-ray


Zombie Land Saga

Zombie Land Saga

The list of wholesome anime featuring zombies is maybe about two entries long, and this is one of them. Hailing from Cygames and MAPPA, Zombie Land Saga is equal parts idol franchise, prefectural restoration project, and heavy-duty life lesson.

At first glance, the show is a weird idol pastiche about girls from different eras coming together to form a musical group. But as we learn more about each girl, it becomes clear that this is a series about remaking yourself and second chances. Whether it’s becoming comfortable in her own identity, standing up for her values, or coming back from trauma, each girl is being reborn in some way — and not just in terms of necromancy. It’s a heartfelt lesson for anyone who feels lost in the world. Who better to teach it than zombies?

Get Zombie Land Saga on Blu-ray and DVD

Did any of these take you by surprise? What anime have you seen that turned out to be surprisingly wholesome?

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Kara Dennison

Kara Dennison is a writer, editor, and presenter with bylines at Crunchyroll, Sci-Fi Magazine, Sartorial Geek, and many others. She is a contributor to the celebrated Black Archive line, with many other books, short stories, and critical works to her name.