Ah, the countryside. So peaceful, so simple, so fucking green. If you are stuck in a cityscape, then yearning for an escape, even just for a short while, to a simpler place is only natural. Although, it may just be a case of the grass is greener on the other side. As a person that grew up in the country, I know there are some nice things about it, but I also know there are terrible things like being the last area to get internet faster than dial up, having no restaurant that will deliver food to you, or having to drive 30 minutes in any direction just to get anywhere. If you can, by all means take a short vacation to the country, but even better, get your fix of your small town life with these anime recommendations that feature small town livin’.
Sometimes a trip to the country is just what your need to get some perspective on your life. That is the essence of Barakamon. After having an explosive blow up at an art critic, a calligraphy artist is sent to a rural island by his also famous calligraphy artist father. There he is shown the simpler side of life by a group of pesky kids and friendly locals where his anger is ultimately tamed and his artistic creativity is allowed to flourish.
This series follows a transplant from the city who, after being ditched by her flaky mom, is sent to live with a grandmother she never met. This grandmother runs an inn in a small rural town and is initially quite cold to her pampered city granddaughter. What she didn’t expect is that her granddaughter is motivated to earn her keep and learn how to run an inn. While the series focuses heavily on a lot of character drama involving those that also work there, its themes of hard work in a rural setting are something that can motivate us all.
Although a brilliant student in middle school, the main character of Silver Spoon wanted to escape the rat race of academically competitive Japan, so he thought he could just coast by going to an agricultural high school in Hokkaido. Unfortunately, as farmer children already know, agriculture is not easy work especially when the high school is a working farm of its own. However, while the main character learns the merits of a day’s hard work, his book smarts actually help his peers as well with their own struggling industry.
There is no finer show for young millennials just starting their lives than Sakura Quest, a show that follows young millennials that were hired to help boost tourism to a small town. However, how do you make a town where nothing interesting ever happens seem like it is interesting to travelers that could literally go anywhere else?
Kids on the Slope
Small time life isn’t all farming and looking for interesting things to do. Sometimes it can be the hardest and most inspiring on the creative of us all. Kids on the Slope tells the tale of friendship between two people with a love of music that don’t quite fit in in their traditional small town. Together, they get to experience each other’s different musical interests and find somewhere they both belong.
Higurashi: When They Cry
Not all series about small town life need be peaceful and serene ones. In Higurashi, it features a unique amalgamation of fun school days in a small village and absolutely bloody horror. It all surrounds a town legend and the town’s festival where each year people have died and disappeared mysteriously, now it is about to draw a young school boy right into the middle of it.
Not completely unlike Silver Spoon, Nourin is another series about a farming school out in rural Japan. However, this time it follows a young farmer who is utterly shocked when the big city idol he has been worshiping transfers to his school. However, the woman he meets is nothing like her TV personality, she is cold, emotionless, and like he expected, pretty terrible at farming.
This is another horror series that capitalizes on the unique terrors that can pervade a small town. In it, a string of deaths slowly begin to happen from a mysterious and slowly draining illness. A young doctor is set on discovering what is causing it, but we the audience already have a pretty good idea – it’s vampires. The horror of the series starts off slow, but builds to a feverish crescendo by the end as the town is engulfed in panic and violence.
Often in small towns, particularly in Japan, you have shops that are run by the same family for generations. The Shikada Dagashi candy shop in this series is one of those. However, when the son refuses to inherit the shop from his father (hoping to become a manga artist instead), his mind just might be changed by the recent arrival of a eccentric woman. She wants to take his father to work for her large candy corporation, but the old man refuses unless she can convince his son to inherit the candy shop.
The Flying Witch
Small towns are magical in their own way, but The Flying Witch turns that into literal magic. Within this world, young witches often travel to small towns in order to commune with nature and hone their craft. It just so happens that the area in this show has a spiritual connection to the land. Within, the anime not only evokes serenity, but it introduces you to a number of magical concepts that are occasionally so normal seeming, it is like they could be real.
Non Non Biyori
This series recognizes and bases its plot around how occasionally boring it is to live in the middle of the country. Nothing interesting ever happens, so a group of girls set out to make their own entertainment each day. While the show is adorable, the animators are masterful at setting the scene, using vibrant colors and animation while utilizing the ambient sounds of the country to make you feel like you are there.
Fishing is a beloved country hobby, and so an anime series about fishing there is. Japan has a long culture history with fishing, so don’t expect this anime to be all about heading to ye ol’ pond to catch up dinner. It is so much more than that, and through its unique characters, it shows fishing in a completely new and magical light.
Natsume’s Book of Friends
Not unlike the aforementioned Flying Witch, Natsum’e Book of Friend highlights the spiritual side of country life, but in a different way. After inheriting a a book of spirits she brought under her control from his grandmother. Natsume discovers that the reason he has been followed by spirits his whole life is that they want their freedom. While the show is about helping spirits with their various problems, it is all set in a serene rural Japanese backdrop.
Waiting in the Summer
Bored out of their gourd during the summer in their small town, an aspiring filmmaker and his friends decide to make a movie to pass the time, even inviting a new classmate to be an actress. However, this movie will make this summer the best summer of their lives. While this plot is similar to a lot of small town movies in western media, it is a common theme in small towns across the world. Sometimes you set out to do one thing and it ends up becoming even greater than you could have imagined.
Mokke is the story of two sisters, one that can see ghosts and another that is constantly haunted by them. In classic bad parenting, their parents decide to drop them on their grandparents in rural Japan. However, as is a common theme in small town anime series, it is this small town and the secrets within that might just help these two sisters come to term with their powers.
Despite the fact that it is about a shrine maiden and her bear, the overall theme of Kumamiko is preparing a girl to leave the country so that she can make a go at city life. This is a theme that all country kids can relate to, since you got to leave the nest sometimes. However, the show is less poignant and more comical since she tries to prepare by asking her bear who has very little knowledge of living in the city.
Mushishi is a masterpiece in creating atmosphere. The series is about a man that studies mushi, which are small spirits that can be a blessing, but also a curse. He travels to small towns and areas afflicted by mushi and tries to solve the problems or study the blessing that occur there. As so much of it takes place in nature, since they are primarily nature spirits, you can to see the best of small towns and rural areas in a series that really does the setting justice while not sacrificing plot.
From the New World
From the New World tells the story of a small percentage of humanity that developed psychic powers. However, the story is actually told 1,000 years in the future in a village of all psychics. What happened to the normal people? What secrets are hidden in this village? Those are the questions you want to focus on, but you also want to know why technology took a step back in time. Despite all that, the lack of technology keeps things very rural in the series where kids can go exploring in nature and everybody knows everyone else’s business.
Ghost Hound takes place in a small, isolated town, but also it doesn’t. For three boys with traumatic pasts, their souls cross over the the Unseen World, a parallel world that is not quite as serene as their small town. As they cross over, they also allow the ghosts of the Unseen World to cross over to the real world, creating various consequences. Small towns can be mysterious and certainly eerie, but by setting a supernatural mystery in them, it makes it all the better.
H20: Footprints in the Sand
In small towns, everyone knows everybody, and everybody knows everyone’s business. This is essentially what H20 is about. In it, a blind boy moves there where he meets three girls. One actually heals his blindness and he uses his sight to help others, but of course, these country girls are all about drama. Not to belittle it, because it can be quite touching, but it is pretty much an anime series about small town drama.
There are probably some other good countryside anime recommendations out there, so why don’t you guys let us know in the comments section below.