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RECS: 6 Anime to Watch to Cheer Yourself Up After The Last of Us

Clare and Asmodius in Welcome to Demon Schoo! Iruma-kun



We’ve all played the award-winning video game The Last of Us at some point over the years. Now, we’re all glued to the game’s brand-new TV adaptation. 


And look. The Last of Us is a fantastic, moving story expertly told, but it’s also one that manages to hit right in the feels in some way just about all of the time. Sometimes, I just need a little pick-me-up after watching a new episode. (Episode 3, anyone?) And you may find yourself in the same situation, even if that’s not how you usually roll. 


After almost two decades of my husband recommending we watch excellent anime that all have a tendency to reduce even the most hardened of our friends and family into puddles of tears, I’ve got more than a few tricks up my sleeve in finding anime to cheer me up afterward. 


So stick around! I’ve suffered so you don’t have to. And there are tons of anime out there that are the perfect mood-lightening viewing you’re looking for, no matter what your favorite genre may be.



Love After World Domination



love after world domination



What always puts a smile on people’s faces? A rom-com, of course! Yes, yes. I hear those groans from the action-packed adventure crowd, and believe me, I’m usually one of you. But Love After World Domination is sure to cheer up just about anybody no matter the circumstances. 


This is the story of Fudou Aikawa and Desumi Magahara, two fighters at the top of their game who are mortal enemies… or should be. Fuduo is secretly Red Gelato of Gelato 5, a bad-guy-fighting group protecting Japan. Desumi is actually the Reaper Princess, a high-ranking fighter who belongs to the secret evildoer society Gekko, who vies for nothing short of world domination. However, these two are secretly dating, often sneaking away to spend time together, even if they’re in the middle of battle. 



RELATED: How Slice-of-Life Anime Compliments Other Genres



There are hard Power Rangers vibes here, which is tons of fun. Add in plenty of comedy, wacky bad guys, hero and bad-guy groups run like corporations, and meeting your partner’s quirky families and you have a truly memorable anime that’s simultaneously gut-bustingly funny and heartwarming.



Flying Witch



Flying Witch



If you’re looking for themes of family minus the last-humans-on-Earth bits, Flying Witch may be just the thing for you. 


The story centers on teenager Mokoto Kowata, who moves in with her aunt, uncle and cousins as she learns more about magic as an apprentice witch. This is a fantastic low-stakes, slice-of-life anime filled with magic and wonder. Mythological and legendary beings mingle with regular, everyday humans. Heartwarming family moments abound. And above all, there’s no pandemic or apocalyptic landscape to worry about. 


Here, you can watch all the family togetherness you want with the added bonus of magic, myth and the sort of antics only cousins and siblings can get themselves into. Flying Witch is the sort of story that can fill even the iciest of hearts with the warm fuzzies and is the perfect sort of show to put a smile on your face. 






sabikui bisco



Are you looking to be cheered up but aren’t really interested in the warm fuzzies or family togetherness? Well, look no further. If off-the-wall action sequences, only-in-anime vibes, and a healthy dose of plot armor are what you’re looking for, you’re in the right place. 



SABIKUI BISCO is the story of Bisco Akaboshi, a man people say terrorizes the remnants of Japan. The government claims the rust-like disease rapidly spreading through the population and decimating the world is caused by mushroom spores, which are spread by Bisco and his brethren. However, Bisco is searching for the legendary Sabikui, a type of mushroom legends say can cure the strange rusting disease plaguing the world. 



RELATED: How SABIKUI BISCO Effortlessly Captures the Soul of Anime




The story has a few similarities to The Last of UsBoth are set in post-apocalyptic worlds and have some hardcore fungi themes. So not only is SABIKUI BISCO a great pick-me-up anime, it’s also one that’ll scratch the same itch as The Last of Us



In the Land of Leadale



In the Land of Leadale



Are you a fan of Isekai? Want something a little cheerier than The Last of Us but something that plays with some of the same themes? In the Land of Leadale may be just what you’re looking for. 


When the life support system keeping Keine Kagami alive fails, she finds herself transported into the VRMMORPG she dedicated the majority of her time to. Now she’s in the body of her in-game avatar, the high-level character Cayna. The catch? It’s hundreds of years int h e future from the last in-game date she logged in. Leadale, the world she spent so much time in, has changed, and she’s not sure if she’s the only person who’s been isekai’d or if others from our own world are out there somewhere. 


With fun battles but lower stakes than some other anime in the genre, this is the perfect balance of fun, action, Isekai goodness, and overall cheeriness. Plus, it’s got some heartwarming family themes, as Cayna finds all her non-human, adopted children from the game are alive and well in this world, living their lives and annoying one another as only siblings can. 



Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun



Iruma from Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun



Maybe the perfect way to cheer yourself up is watching something with very different themes and vibes from The Last of UsMaybe you want something fun, funny and totally unlike the show that just gave you too many feels. If this is the case, you may want to give Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun a watch. 


Iruma’s worries are only natural when he finds his parents have sold him to the powerful demon Sullivan. But he soon finds those fears are unfounded as Sullivan merely wants a grandson to dote on. The world Iruma now lives in is strange and unfamiliar. His main goal? Keep a low profile at school so no one finds out he’s actually human. But that doesn’t seem possible with Sullivan being the headmaster of Iruma’s new school. Our poor protagonist lands in one outrageous situation after another, and now everyone expects him to become nothing less than the next Demon King!



RELATED: Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun Takes His Magic to the Stage in May 2023



With three seasons under its belt, this is a show that’s perfect for binging. It’s got a little bit of everything too — a magical world, whimsical creatures, tons of comedy, a large and quirky cast and exciting, bombastic battles. If you want a fun-filled anime from start to finish that’ll lift your spirits, Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun is definitely what you’re looking for.



Dragon Ball



Master Roshi in Dragon Ball



No matter the reason you need a bit of cheering up, Dragon Ball is always there for you. Now, I’m not talking about later additions to the franchise, like Dragon Ball Z, or the more recent Dragon Ball Super, though those are excellent. I’m talking about the original Dragon Ball series. 


If you’re not familiar with the series that started the worldwide phenomenon, the story follows our protagonist, Goku, when he was a child. Adventures abound as he meets new friends, trains for the time, battles the Red Ribbon army and more. 


This first installment in the franchise always manages to put a smile on your face and give you something to root for. If you want zany situations, wild characters, absolutely awesome battles and more fun than you can handle, the original Dragon Ball is absolutely where it’s at. 


If you’re not a Dragon Ball fan, or if you don’t want to get sucked into a series with hundreds of episodes, don’t worry. Part of the joy of Dragon Ball — for me, at least — is that it’s something from my childhood. 


Watching something from childhood is inherently cheerful, like a warm hug on a bad day. So, choose one of those first anime series that hooked you, sucked you right in and never let go. If you’re ancient, like me, it might be Dragon Ball or Yu Yu Hakusho or Sailor Moon. Or maybe you’re more of a Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba or My Hero Academia person. 


No matter what your first, most cherished series is, go back to that. Watch it. Indulge! Because no matter what that anime may be, it’s guaranteed to cheer you up every single time after watching The Last of Us.