I’m sure that, by now, most of us have run out of things to watch. Things have gone to some sort of normalcy for many of us, but the fact is that we should still stay inside as much as possible. Social distancing is important. Cases in the US continue to rise at a staggering rate. Safety precautions should still be followed as much as possible.
I’m sure we’ve all scoured through the entertainment that appeals to us. We’re bored. We feel like we’ve hit the wall for every bit that we’re familiar with.
Sometimes, going off the beaten path can be fun, though. Looking back in time at shows we’ve never heard of or at some more obscure topics that we didn’t know about is a great way to broaden our horizons.
So here are some suggestions for things to watch in no particular order from me!
ARIA: Animation, Natural, Origination
ARIA is personally one of my favorite anime. It has three seasons with around 50 episodes plus a couple of extra OVAs. Honestly, it’s one of the perfect shows for a time as difficult as this. It’s part of a genre called “iyashikei” which roughly means “healing.” This is a subgenre of slice-of-life. It focuses on people living their daily lives. The trademark of the genre is the conflicts being small to nonexistent or even large conflicts somehow feeling very tiny. It’s the same sort of sensation you get when watching Studio Ghibli films, namely those like Totoro.
ARIA is focused around the lives of mainly three young girls, training to be gondola guides called Undine. It takes place on in the 24th century on a terraformed Mars, now called Aqua due to the sheer amount of water on it. The city they live in, Neo-Venezia, is a recreation of Venice which has been swallowed into the sea by that point in the future.
This anime is absolutely gorgeous even though the first season came out in 2005. Thankfully, due to a kickstarter, it was remastered and released earlier this year on Blu Ray! I unfortunately don’t own these myself, so I can’t really speak to the quality of it. But it also has been dubbed thanks to the same kickstarter. To attest to how beautiful it is, it was actually the trope namer for Scenery Porn on TV Tropes.
This anime whisks you away to a much simpler, slower lifestyle and lets you enjoy the beauty of Venice. If you’ve never been there, this is a good replacement. While it is focused on the life of Aika, Akari, Alice, and friends, that doesn’t mean it’s boring. This series delves into the fantastic with plenty of fantasy-esque elements. There’s more than one instance of time travel, magic, and more in the series. Cats are usually the culprits. (It makes sense in context.)
But, despite those fantastical elements and episodes, it’s mostly grounded and down to earth. One episode is literally just focused around going to an onsen that’s overtaken much of a mansion.
Iyashikei is definitely not for everyone. If you find slice-of-life boring, you’ll find iyashikei even worse. The pace is extremely slow and meandering. There’s generally no objective. The point is just to experience life. And ARIA is definitely that sort of anime. It’s quiet, simple, and extremely optimistic. Akari, the main protagonist, is your typical, wide-eyed shoujo protag. She can be a little bit of an airhead at times but she never reaches levels like Ui from K-On!
The characters themselves are also generally…very simple. Like I said, Akari is a typical shoujo protagonist and not much else. Aika is the typical stern friend that balances out the wide-eyed protagonist but still causes shenanigans herself. Alice is the little girl that’s trying to grow up fast but still gets caught up in childish moments.
But, honestly, that’s all a show like this needs. It’s less about the characters and extreme growth as more just about the experience. That’s not to say the characters don’t grow slowly and incrementally over time; they do. But it’s small, slow growth and nothing that 100% alters the fabric of who they are.
Now I’m putting these two together because they’re similar in content though very different in approach.
Both are historical cooking channels.
Townsends is a channel focused on a very specific point of history: American cooking from the 18th century when the colonies were just being settled. James is an extremely good host, having a calm, measured voice and upbeat personality. I’ve seen some people call him the Bob Ross of cooking (though I’ve also seen other I follow you YouTube called that). I agree he does have a Bob Ross-like attitude and temperament. You can just feel his absolute enthusiasm for what he’s doing and how much he wants to share this all of this with other people. I’m pretty sure historical reenactment is his job, considering he has a fully tricked-out 18th century kitchen in his backyard.
His approach to things is to do it as authentically as possible. Of course, most things he uses are modern reproductions of old utensils and such, but for the most part, he keeps things 100% straight. I have seen him bump things up to our technology level, mainly for people that’d like to do recipes but just don’t have the time to invest in doing it the hard way. The one that mainly sticks out in my mind is the portable soup recipe mainly because most people can’t spend days tending a stew. He taught how to do that in a slow cooker. I think a few other recipes were shown in one too. But outside of that? He does everything over a fire with wooden or metal utensils as best he can. Of course, this channel is huge with well over a million subs, but it speaks to the quality of his content.
TastingHistory is another channel in a similar vein, but he approaches it differently. He jumps around the world to different time periods while doing things in a modern context. That doesn’t mean his content isn’t pretty high quality, though. He’s only been making videos for five months and his production quality was already very high.
He takes the format of sitting at his table and talking about the recipe for a bit while doing it, then while it’s going, he’ll talk about the history of it in greater depth. His demeanor is extremely calm and open and feels fairly natural, all things considered. I personally find him to be a fairly engaging host.
Honestly, even if you aren’t a history buff but like cooking, I’d say check both of these guys out. Or even if you aren’t into either, still do. I find both hosts engaging simply for their demeanors. You may just find some new recipes to try and learn some new facts along the way.
Snakes may not seem like a geeky thing, but I think they are! I’ve personally loved snakes ever since I was a little kid. My uncle had two of them growing up and it made me a reptile lover for the rest of my life.
Even if you’re afraid of snakes, Snake Discovery may honestly be the cure for that.
Emily and Ed run this channel and are avid reptile lovers. They obviously mainly do snakes, but they also do geckos, anoles, turtles, and even have an alligator! As hosts, they’re extremely warm, personable, and really know how to talk to a crowd. Granted, it’s mostly Emily front of the camera more than Ed, but her ease there is really owed to the amount of educational programs she does.
The way they present information is extremely entertaining and easy to understand. They’ll often go into things like snake genetics, care videos, and a lot more. Most videos are packed with a ton of information, really brought to life by (mostly) Emily’s upbeat and friendly personality. A lot of people in the comments have attested to Snake Discovery helping them overcome their fear of snakes.
I know a lot of people would be tempted to click off videos like this to just listen to them, but don’t do that! One of my favorite running gags for them is the fact they make subtitles on the screen for what the animal is “thinking” in that moment. It’s so funny.
My personal favorite videos of theirs are those involving Rex, their alligator, and their hatching videos. Sadly, hatching videos only happen during the summer after breeding season, so it’s a treat when a new one comes along. It’s just so exciting to see what they get from each clutch.
So if you like snakes and/or are just interested in reptiles in general, give these guys a shot. They’re a huge channel at nearly 2 million subscribers (at the time of writing), but still, they’ve created an interesting community and I hope they catch your interest!