Why do people watch iyashikei (healing) anime? If you look at fiction as escapism (that is, escaping to somewhere), then iyashikei is going to a quiet cafe and having an afternoon cup of tea. The window is open; there’s a cool breeze that ruffles your hair; a young woman brushes past the road on a puttering scooter. Maybe she wears cool shades.
One Off is a short anime that clocks in just about an hour. It’s about a mountainside girl befriending an Australian woman who works in their inn for a while. There are motorcycles, because Honda is involved, but the product placement never gets in the way of the story or cheapens it.
Haruno and her friends live ordinary lives, with modest ambitions. As Cynthia arrives in her life, Haruno finds herself drawn to the woman and her seeming invincibility, but couldn’t reconcile it with herself. There are a hundred interesting places in Japan, but why did Cynthia pick her little hick town?
What follows is a little adventure: Cynthia takes Haruno on a bike trip to the sea. A lesson is learned, and Haruno returns home a better person. The magic of iyashikei is that it gives you something to chew on without being patronizing or preachy. It makes you feel its atmosphere, and it’s up to you to decide what to take away from it. People are different, so the work will speak to us in various ways.
As for myself, the following line is what I took out of it:
You don’t really ask people to encourage you. Someone will encourage you if they see you devoting yourself to something. The people being encouraged are often too busy working hard to notice. It’s not a visible strength, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important.
And, like Haruno, I like myself a bit more now for learning to think that way.