Core Necessities for the Slice of Life Genre
Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations
Hello everyone, welcome to one of my contributions for the Animanga Festival. If your unfamiliar with it, allow me to explain.
The wonderful Auri of Manga Toritsukareru Kon decided that it would be a fun idea to host an online festival spanning the month of October which includes various writing prompts, activities, games, and events. It is completely free to participate and some of the events even have prizes to be won. If you are interested in knowing more you can check out the link above.
Today’s activity is called “Core Necessities.”
Prepare a set of 2-4 manga, anime and/or webtoon each with a short explanation. But here’s the thing, they all have to belong to the same genre.
Create a starter set for someone new to the genre and get creative! Add in common tropes, cliches and enjoyable scenes.
For the activity, I decided to go with the Slice of Life genre. With all of that being said, let’s get into it.
The Slice of Life genre in anime can often be a difficult one to navigate. Often times people can wander into conversations about different shows, hear people singing its praise, and go home only to seemingly find a show about nothing, and while that is true to an extent, it does not reflect the full scope of the genre in an accurate way. For today, I will talk about a few slice of life series that I think are a great introduction to the genre and explain why they are worthwhile series.
The Pet Girl of Sakurasou
The Pet Girl of Sakurasou is probably the most entry level show on this list, and by that I mean it is the most Slice of Life on this list. A pretty simple show on the surface, but the show itself is a great exploration of the characters involved.
Its story revolves around Sorata who, after refusing to give up a stray cat he found, is forced to move into his high school’s Sakura Hall, made up of the more interesting characters at the school. Of the many he meets there, one recent transfer, Mashiro Shiina, stands out to him the most, and when he eventually is forced to take care of her, well, the story starts there.
Part of what makes this show such a great introduction to the genre is that it is a lot like other high school Slice of Life shows, in that it mixes in a lot of everything. There is comedy, romance, drama, all tied together in a neat, 24 episode package. It also introduces a lot of the common tropes found within the genre, such as the “main character misunderstanding” and more general fan service. On top of all that, it has got a pretty unique story line from most other Slice of Life shows, in that often time it explores the lives of all its main cast, in this case show how they are all working towards their goals of doing well in their respective fields.
From the outside, it may not look like much, just a seemingly generic Slice of Life, but for the most part it is not, and the parts of it that are actually serve to enhance the experience for newcomers of the genre.
Another to watch when getting started with the slice of life genre is Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai, or just Chuunibyou for short. This one is definitely a bit weirder than Sakurasou, but once you get past the purposeful cringe inducing moments, it actually becomes a pretty fantastic series.
Chuunibyou is about Yuuta Togashi, a high school student with an embarrassing past as the “Dark Flame Master.” The reason for this is Chuunibyou, a sort of disease in which the people suffering from it experience delusions, imagining things that do not exist. Luckily for him, this disease only lasted through middle school. However, for his classmate Rika, Chuunibyou never left, and now he has to deal with her and a few other in his everyday high school life, becoming ever more sucked back into the world of Chuunibyou.
The show puts the all to familiar feeling of middle school cringe at the forefront of its story, using it mostly for comedic purposes, and to advance the romantic plot line between Yuuta and Rika. For some, this kind of story might even be too much, and they may just want to turn it off. However I strongly recommend against this, because beneath the cringe surface lies a fun and interesting story about dealing with the past and societal expectations of what behavior can be considered appropriate. Not to mention that for many, including myself, the cringe worthy subject matter is actually fairly relatable and in a weird way nostalgic. It manages to bring back memories from times that were much simpler than today, when the world felt manageable.
That nostalgia, combined with the fun and quirky cast of characters makes it a much watch for anyone wanting to enter the slice of life genre.
My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU
Lastly, who people appear to be on the surface and who they actually are often times to completely different people. The reality is that most people try and cover up their problems and insecurities with a more contrived persona, and this reality is not lost on My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU.
SNAFU’s story revolves around Hachiman Hikigaya, a high-school loner with a bone to pick with just about everything that has to do with high school. However, this nihilist attitude lands him in trouble with his teacher, and as punishment he is forced to join the Volunteer Service Club, an organization whose stated purpose is to help other students with their problems. Hachiman goes to the club’s meeting only to find their is just one other member, the girl known to other students as the “Ice Queen,” Yukino Yukinoshita. Together, the two of them, along with a girl named Yui, work to solve the problems of their fellow students, using rather unconventional methods.
What makes this show a necessity in the Slice of Life diet of any anime fan looking to get into the genre is the way it approaches the story of its characters. Most of what the show’s main characters deal with is the dysfunction of their classmates, dealing with their problems on a somewhat episodic basis. Each dive into another character’s problem often reveals the true personality of that character, and the troubles they face both as high school kids and as people. However, it does not just deal with their classmates problems. For every episode in which the problem of a classmate is seemingly solved, the psychology and problems of the main cast comes more into frame, revealing more of the reason behind Hachiman’s nihilistic world-view.
In structure, the show is still very much of slice of life, but in content, the show differentiates itself from other by offering a sort deconstruction of the typical high school slice of life show.
What other shows would you put on a list like this? Let me know in the comments below.
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