Sometimes you just need a good laugh. Anime has plenty of comedy, but it can be hard to pin down a show that suits your sense of humor when they’re produced in another culture. As I built my list of recommendations, I quickly discovered that much of the humorous anime is rooted in school life. Some quirks may be lost on people from Western culture, but don’t worry. I have several goodies that will have you grinning no matter where you’re from.
If you want to watch something popular, you may enjoy One Piece
One Piece is one of the most popular anime series out there—millions of people can’t be wrong! And I assure you, if One Piece sucked, it wouldn’t be on this list. Monkey D. Luffy’s life mission is to become the king of the pirates by finding the world’s greatest treasure known as the Legendary One Piece. The show is wacky, colorful, and lighthearted—but also chock-full of action, adventure, and hilarious personalities. One Piece doesn’t take itself too seriously, but when it does, it hurts oh so good.
If you like adorable comedy, you may enjoy Azumanga Daioh
Photo: J.C. Staff
Growing up can be hard, but it can also be incredibly silly. Azumanga Daioh follows the lives of six girls and their teachers across three years of high school. Instead of having overarching plots, the stories are told as multiple five-minute shorts smushed into one episode. I can’t elaborate more on the plot because there really isn’t one, and it’s so adorable you may need a shot of insulin every few episodes. If you find that you enjoy the comedic style, you might want to try School Rumble, which is a romantic comedy with a similar feel.
If you like parodies, you may enjoy Excel Saga
Photo: J.C. Staff/Victor Entertainment
Secret organization Across plans to take over the world, mwuhahaha! But before they take over the whole world, perhaps it would be wise to start by taking over a single city—you know, test it out, fix the bugs, etc. Excel and Hyatt are two agents for Across. One is a complete idiot, and the other is a complete idiot who often falls over dead, but they’re lovable idiots nonetheless. What makes Excel Saga so hilarious is that each episode parodies a genre in the most ridiculous way possible. It’s fast-paced and utterly silly…until the last two episodes. You’ve been warned. Hail Lord Il Palazzo!
If you like fast wit, you may enjoy Cromartie High School
Kamiyama is a straight-laced guy who has somehow ended up in a high school for delinquent boys. On his quest to become a tough guy, he befriends a group of very strange students. But at Cromartie High, having a robot, a gorilla, and Freddie Mercury in your social circle is a perfectly normal thing. The comedy comes in short bursts that punch you in the face and move on to the next gag before you can recover. The English vocal cast does a great job of conveying the fun attitude, so yes, I do recommend the dub.
If you like action comedy, you may enjoy Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu
I hadn’t seen the original Full Metal Panic! when I tried Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu, but for your sake, I’ll back it up a little. Teenage super spy Sousuke Sagara meets willful schoolgirl Kaname Chidori. There are giant robots. That’s all you need to know. Now take that concept and pour a few dozen cans of energy drinks down its throat. Sagara’s militant behavior is deadly serious, but these deadly serious overreactions to everyday life is what gives the show its humor. Fumoffu gladly makes fun of itself, yet stays accessible to those who are unfamiliar with the original work.
If you want a classic, you may enjoy Ranma 1/2
Ever hear the one about the boy who fell into a cursed pond and turns into a girl anytime he’s in cold water? This is the one. Martial artist Ranma Saotome and his father Genma—the latter of whom is cursed to turn into a giant panda—plan to wed Ranma to Akane Tendo. Akane’s father is also a martial arts master, and she’s just ask skilled in kicking butt as Ramna. Naturally, the two butt heads over pretty much everything. Ranma has to fend off Akane’s other suitors, however things get complicated whenever Ranma’s more feminine side makes an appearance.
For the more advanced anime student, you may like Is this a zombie?
Chainsaw-wielding-magical-girl-cross-dressing-zombie-harem-anime. Yeah, that’s about the best way to describe it. Is This a Zombie? is a supernatural action series that seasoned anime fans will enjoy. Ayumu is a zombie, but not your typical foot-dragging, wanting to eat your brain zombie. He’s just a normal undead guy who can reattach his limbs after a fight. No big. He lives with a powerful necromancer, a magical girl, and a vampire ninja. Kind of like Buffy meets Puella Magi Madoka Magica meets Love Hina. It’s certainly an accessible story to newcomers, but most of the humor derives from how it mocks anime genres–mystery, horror, magical girl, and harem–by tossing them in a blender and hitting the puree button.
Feature image credit: FUNimation