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EMA'S PICKS: Need an escape? Enjoy these animated series

After a year of live-action films and TV shows, some of you at home might be tired of seeing the same famous faces all the time. As much as I love seeing the beautiful Hollywood people, sometimes it's nice to get a little break from them. It's not you guys, it's me.

Today we're focusing on hidden gem animated series that I discovered this last year. I haven't written much about animated films or series, but I have to show them some love too since I genuinely do enjoy them. Many people think they're just for kids, but there's honestly something for everyone in the animated world (I do still enjoy watching the ones intended for kids!).

I found two really relaxing shows when I needed them most last year, when the world didn't know a whole lot about the pandemic, which led to many anxiety-fueled days and nights. But the song stylings of a two-women band plus a woman with some interesting roommates brought me laughter, great music and good times.

"Carole & Tuesday" is by Japanese anime mastermind Shinichirō Watanabe, who has created a number of critically acclaimed shows in the past. Each show is unique and has a different vibe going for it, and "Carole & Tuesday" is definitely my favorite that I've seen so far.

Set in the future on Mars, Carole is an orphaned refugee from Earth who aspires to make it in the music industry. Tuesday, a well-off young woman and daughter of a politician, decides to leave that affluent lifestyle behind and live life the way she wants. One day, the two girls cross paths and connect based on their musical abilities. 

The pair take us on a grand musical journey as they try to share their music with the citizens of Mars and beyond. An impromptu performance goes viral, and suddenly people know their names and want to hear more from them. They then go head-to-head with some other talented musicians in a singing contest, making you wonder if they'll reach the top. Along the way, you meet some other characters, including model-turned-singer Angela, Gus; Carole and Tuesday's seemingly incompetent manager who we later learn has a rich past in the music world; and some of the biggest stars on Mars.

I love "Carole & Tuesday" because it's a cute show rooted in friendship. Each episode reveals something new about one of the girls, and as their bond gets stronger, you can't help but love them and root for their success more. The music in the show is fantastic as well. The girls constantly produce hit after hit, as well as other musicians. I'm happy to admit that I have several of their songs on my Apple Music account, and if you watch this great show, I guarantee you'll have plenty of them stuck in your head.

"Carole & Tuesday" is available to stream on Netflix.

If you're looking for a show that is a super quick watch (each episode is around 12 minutes long) and features cute and cuddly animals, I can't recommend "Rilakkuma and Kaoru" enough.

Kaoru, a woman in her 30s, has a bit of a mundane life with work. Her life at home, however, is a bit more exciting. One day, a large bear named Rilakkuma finds its way inside her home and pretty much stays with her moving forward. A few months later, a smaller white bear, Korilakkuma, also moves right in. With these two, along with a small yellow bird named Kiiroitori, Kaoru has a full house that's always busy with excitement.

Each episode brings some wacky adventure to their lives. Someone kidnaps Rilakkuma in exchange for pancakes, mushrooms start growing inside the home and a spirit beyond the grave makes a surprise appearance! These descriptions sound insane — they totally are — but once you start watching this silly show, you won't be able to get enough of it. It brings so much comfort and joy to your life that you might just fly through it in a few hours!

Plus there are some relatable moments in this when it comes to Kaoru's life. Sure, maybe you don't have two bears as pets, but I'm sure you've faced some of the struggles she has at work or with coworkers. 

"Rilakkuma and Kaoru" is available to stream on Netflix.

Ema Sasic can be reached at 661-395-7392. Follow her on Twitter: @ema_sasic.