Sick Day Anime

When I was young, being home sick meant spending the day propped up on the sofa drowsily watching American daytime television. Now that I am older I prefer to spend my sick days propped up in bed drowsily watching anime.

For years I resisted having any kind of screened entertainment in the bedroom: no TV, no computers, nada.

Ginko has an excellent bedside manner

After we got a laptop and I caught the anime bug from Netflix I would from time to time watch anime while in bed. That turned out to be quite the slippery slope as we now have a computer and flat panel monitor in the room, and it is very easy to while away a sick day dozing on and off again to an anime marathon. There is something soothing about letting the wash of Japanese dialogue flow over me.

One of my favorite Sick Day anime is Mushishi. It fits all the criteria for a good show to have on in the background of a sleepy day. The criteria namely being music, illumination, tone, and content. Let me use the premier example, Mushishi, to help explain these categories.

  • Music: The opening and ending themes need to be non-jarring; Ally Kerr’s “Sore Feet Song” is an excellent example. Mushishi employs an ambient carryover of the score for the final theme and is even more peaceful than the opening. Another potentially good sick day anime, Bartender, is handicapped by it’s opening theme which begins with the sound of a drink moving from cocktail shaker to cup accompanied by the distinctive ring of ice cubes in glass. It never fails to wake me if I have fallen asleep.
  • Illumination: Periods of darkness or light need to occur gradually during the episode. In Mushishi the setting in historical Japan means that there is a lot of time spent in natural lighting or the relatively gentle experience of flame light. There are few flashes between light and dark footage.
  • Tone: I couldn’t think of another way to put this: the quality of the voices and the volume of the dialogue both need a tranquilty about them. Ginko’s deadpan delivery and his manner with his clients encourages calm. The seiyu all seem to work in the same mellow vibe and it makes for a cohesive product. Early on in my anime career I watched the English dub of Fruits Basket; its opening theme would lend itself to being a sick day anime. Its visual palette is soothing, but several of the voice actors employ so grating a technique that the overall product is left rousing rather than restful.
  • Content: The nature of the stories of a sick day anime matter. They should be unfolded gently, and show rather than told. Mushishi’s basic premise that there is a delicate balance between the natural world and humanity told through the interactions of the people in the tales and the mushi of their environment strike all the right notes. Bartender‘s stories of humanity and relationships between people told symbolically through the sharing of common cup has an almost sacred feel.

So there are my criteria for choosing what to watch when you are sick. What do you think?

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