Oftentimes during the earlier generation, whenever I took the chance to browse a list of anime to watch for a season, I couldn’t help to keep my eyes away from a label with “Slice of Life” because I would make a judgment it would be loaded with random things despite a settled decent plot was being depicted. I have already watched a number of titles which I considered to fall under the category and I hate to deny the fact while living in the older period of animation as where I was, where shounen titles were highly viral worldwide, I would easily get tired at some points to watch those series under slice of life though a little splash of romantic comedy is exemption. As a couple of years passed by however, I learned to greatly appreciate how the genre promotes the best outlook in life through the inside world we exist. We do have varying perceptions about the term, but what does it truly mean to watch a slice of life?
In the universe of Japanese animation, the term “Slice of Life” is considered as a genre which depicts a realistic concept as the plot, characters and setting, and literally speaking, it lacks exposition, conflict and most of the time, has an open ending. I have to tell you, I gradually learned to enjoy watching everyday life of fictional characters from their coming of age to everything that pertains to humanistic lifestyle as watching a normal conversation particularly how they show their most comical side. Before I realized I was watching a slice of life, old anime series like Azumanga Daioh and Lucky Star has drawn me into a more realistic approach of daily lives.
Slice of life isn’t a genre alone, but rather makes a combination with other genre such as romance and comedy which is closer to the real world representation. A plot exists but does it actually progress? Without a character, there is no plot, and what I would want to say is that, the slow-paced character progression is the most prominent quality of a slice of life, but do anime and manga fans enjoy seeing the daily lives of these fictional characters dealing with the actual world?
The existence of human’s heart is what makes slice of life special among other genres. When I say the word “heart”, the genre follows the philosophy of realism where there is an open window through the real world, the actual image of the society we live in with no potential illusion of the objective representation as watching apocalyptic and magical concept to assure the authenticity of everyday life. People would tend to watch a series which mirrors their actual experience in a particular situation. A slice-of-life narrative blended with comedy is a good example where young viewers can easily associate of what is being portrayed in the series, the random conversation of characters and the humors behind their persona, the showcase of human emotions despite character development doesn’t progress. The real world needs a boundless communication to maintain a dynamic ambiance and people would enjoy to speak randomly as saying a simple “Hi!” or “Konnichiwa!” and this is the case in the slice of life genre where characters are like those we meet along our way, may it be in our home, school, workplace and public places.
Though with episodic plot as it lacks an overarching storyline on a daily basis, curiosity of the viewers becomes rather prevalent as they seek to analyze the real wold as why do these characters exist while they prefer to make interpretation on the characters rather than focusing on the overall plot in a logical manner. Slice of life has a naturalistic approach to a normal life and you can easily identify if you will be expecting a loose overarching narrative by just browsing the plot of the series, the place and the sample of characters. I noticed some anime watchers always drop the first episode of a particular series if they eventually find out the series will not progress, so as to the static characters, while some enjoy it because slice of life defines a reflection to the world we live in, and things that are generally insightful to viewers
Why did Lucky Star become a big hit? Why did a lot of anime fans worship this blue haired lazy bum? At first, I couldn’t see any notable factor in the series as I was just watching a pure sitcom and got bored easily to death as I was about to drop the whole thing. I realized as I went through a couple of episodes, despite the non progressing narrative events, the series is effortlessly hilarious. The humor of the show has a real life accuracy and viewers can easily associate themselves to the characters’ gag, the random and natural conversation and above all, Konata Izumi’s lifestyle as an Otaku has a big impact to all fans because it portrays an exact reflection to their lifestyle. The show is more on comedic aspect and I’m much aware of that, but still, I considered it as slice of life due to its overused concept as everyday life of young girls. It’s something special that viewers rather enjoy watching the hilarity of the characters rather than giving spotlight to its insufficiency of coherent story. I mean, did anyone care if the character lacks development? I doubt. After all, viewers were already aware of what the series would best offer, and the irony was, they enjoyed it the most.
Similar events follow with the series Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru which highlights the daily interaction of two loners, Hachiman and Yukino. The strong rendition of varying ideals of these two leads makes a perfect implication of slice of life because we solely focus on how they interact in the society based on the philosophy they follow and how they communicate people around them. The emphasis on social interaction and working with the society are just few qualities that define a good slice of life show where characters can fully express themselves even in the most random manner. The characters’ different emotions are highly realistic as to those normal beings in the real world and I can see it follows a concrete and realistic concept of the universe with varying ideals among many people. I particularly love how slice of life touches the soul of the viewers. It rather analyses the actual behavior of characters that human beings either do in the real world, may it be dramatic or in a comical way.
You may label them as ordinary but you will soon make a realization that these series are created for a purpose, and that is, to understand more about life and let you dig deeper why such universe exists. The genuineness of slice of life, its simplicity and friendly approach on human lives make the whole ambiance far different from other world.