With all that's going on these days, animated shows offer up a certain type of colorful, fantastical solace for all ages. Many of us are isolating on some level or in need of a mental/emotional/spiritual break, and the fantasy worlds of anime, cartoons, and illustrated media of the like, can transport you to completely different universes, even if just for 20 to 30 minute stretches.
Seeing how creators dream and draw up these worlds is pretty incredible, and oftentimes the great outdoors is a huge part of it-so what better way to unwind after the events of late than indulging in sprawling vistas of mountainsides, colorful renderings of campsites and cabins, or tagging along on various adventures with lovable characters?
If you’re just dipping your toes into the world of animated series, understand it is vast. As a casual viewer myself, I am only beginning to wrap my head around different classifications of styles and the history of it all. However, with Netflix’s noticeable increase in animated content (including the beloved, generation-defining Avatar the Last Airbender series), fandom conversations re-ignited by Megan Thee Stallion's public adoration of anime, celebrities continuing to lend their voices to characters and voice-acting's own recent confrontation with whitewashing, "cartoons" appear to be having a sort of renaissance (or at least more viewers). And just in time.
Below are four animated series and one manga for casual to hardcore fans to check out. We kept the selection light, fun, and relaxing, so you can bliss out, then get back to it.
Available On: Netflix
Based on the graphic novel by Luke Pearson, Hilda is a Canadian cartoon series about an “adventurer girl’s” transition to city-life after spending most of it in a remote cabin with her mom, who’s a freelance graphic designer. It follows her various adventures with friends and their encounters with an assortment of spirits that live in their world, bringing them to tops of mountains and dusty library shelves. The one that inspired this entire list-Hilda is incredibly charming and its detailed drawings of architecture (including tiny A-Frames for elves!), Hilda’s love for the outdoors, and the depth of character make this show easily bingeable.
Available On: Cartoon Network
Set outside a fictional Baltimore/DC area, Craig of the Creek follows a young outdoorist at heart who spends a lot of time with his friends at the neighborhood creek, where they encounter an assortment of personalities including teenage witches, a sewer queen and her kingdom, and a robot-kid from the future. With a Black family at the center and a cast of diverse characters, the show by former writers of Steven Universe is cute, funny, and refreshingly inclusive. The show was created to inspire kids to get outside but ultimately ended up garnering appreciation and critical-acclaim from an older following as well. It instantly conjures up memories of days spent playing outside. Who wouldn't want more of that in their life right about now?
Available On: crunchyroll.com
Based on the manga written and illustrated by Afro, fans celebrate Laid-Back Camp (or Yuru Camp) for its undeniable cozy factor. A slice-of-life anime, this show is set in Yamanashi, Japan. The show features Rin, a bit of a loner who enjoys solo-hiking and is experienced with trips. Things change when she runs into another girl her age who wants to get into hiking-Rin ultimately ends up befriending a whole group and learns the value and chaos that comes with adventuring with buddies. We get to see delicious meals cooked over the fire, animated tent set-ups, plenty of outdoor gear, lush landscapes, and other fun details.
Available On: Netflix
We Bare Bears has a die-hard following, for obvious reasons. Goofy, heartwarming and funny, the show follows a group of bear brothers and their adventures in and around San Francisco, while living in their cave just on the outskirts. Throughout the series, they encounter public transportation, San Franciscan hipsters, social-media addictions, farmer’s markets, and more human perils but ultimately find the most solace in their woodland home and each other. Episodes can be as short as 10min so it's a great show to pop-on for a quick snack-break too.
Available On: mangadex.org
From Hideo Shinanogawa, this manga series is about a “27 year old, single, completely average office lady” who turns into Solo Climber Girl in her free-time. She enjoys hiking alone and much of her climbing trips are dedicated to cooking various dishes. Highly relatable content. The food illustrations don’t disappoint and an alternative name to the series “The Mountain, My Appetite, and Me”, pretty much sums it up. For the uninitiated, Mangadex's user interface can be a bit confusing—translations in Russian and English add to it—so click through to Chapters then start with Chapter 1, volume 1.