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My Way or the Anime – The Four Facets of Slice-of-Life

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And the secret fifth facet, Minoru Shiraishi.

I’ve been doing a lot of writing for the upcoming season preview lately, and for a while it seemed like every show I was previewing was slice-of-life. I don’t know if there are more slice-of-life shows now-a-days or if I just picked every one of them to preview (which is likely), but in trying to figure out which shows to suggest to you, and for what reasons, I inadvertently came up with a framework by which to describe and/or judge slice-of-life shows. These are the four most common facets which modern slice-of-life anime and manga stories employ: atmosphere, characters, cuteness, and comedy, and a special fifth one, because I’m a cheater like that.

First is atmosphere, which I define as the distinctive quality or style that permeates the entire show. Slice-of-life stories most often focus on creating a “calming” atmosphere, using the mundane activities of everyday life to help the viewer relax and unwind with simple, unimportant stories. Examples includes A-Channel, Usagi Drop, Tamayura, Aria, last season’s Yama no Susume, and this season’s Aiura. This is the hardest of the facets to define, and I’m almost tempted to say “you’ll know it when you see it”, but pacing is definitely a large part of it. Slower pacing allows the viewer to take their time and relax with the show, to the point that last season’s Ore no Kanojo to Osananajimi ha Shuraba Sugiru – which was definitely not a slice-of-life show – started off feeling down right relaxing when director Kamei Kanta was using Usagi Drop pacing in episode one. It’s all about taking it easy with slice-of-life, it seems.

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Wait…I should have called this category “calming”. Then I would have had the Four C’s of Slice-of-Life! Ore no baka, ore no baka!

Second is characters, which is obviously not a facet unique to slice-of-life. It’s undeniable that some slice-of-life shows craft their characters especially well. Mostly this comes from going beyond the usual cliches and giving us fully rounded characters, even within their usually rather static worlds. Whatever its failings, the characters in Tamako Market were quite good, especially Dera and Kanna (and tsundere papa!). GJ-bu was another recent one that had great characters, though in its case they weren’t unique so much as fleshed out and executed really, really well. In fact, I think execution is the main differentiating factor for slice-of-life characters, because it’s rare for them to be terribly unique….though that’s true of most parts of slice-of-life, to be fair.

Third is comedy. Of all the “greater genres” – action, romance, horror, etc. – comedy is the one that best works with slice-of-life because it doesn’t require plot progression or character development to work. Comedy can do what it’s designed to do even if the characters and the world are largely static, since it can focus exclusively on the “now” as opposed to building up to a greater payoff later on. Naturally, many of the most well-known slice-of-life series have a strong comedic components – for instance, last year’s Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou was a comedy first and foremost, as was the 2007 classic (has it already been that long? Wowza) Lucky Star. Seitokai Yakuindomo was also all about the jokes, and those are only some of the most clear-cut examples. Nearly all slice-of-life shows involve some amount of comedy, and usually more than not.

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And maybe half-off potato chips.

Fourth is a facet that is really only prominent in Japanese media – thereby making this framework really only apply to anime and manga – and that is cuteness. I’m talking moe here people, moe! As far as examples go, I’m just going to point to K-ON! (and practically everything KyoAni has done for years now) and leave it at that. As with comedy, a lot of slice-of-life shows go for the cute route, at least in part. As for why this works, it has to do with cultural tendencies and drawing styles, and is really the topic of another post.

Now for the cheating fifth facet: the ineffable other. As with any creative endeavor, some slice-of-life shows just do not fit into my neat little framework. Acchi Kocchi excelled in characters and comedy, but it was its use of romance (which fed into its cuteness component) that elevated the show, and that’s not something that’s commonly emphasized in slice-of-life since relationships are destined to never develop. Another example is Onii-chan Dakedo Ai Sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne!, which was predominately comedic but had a strong fanservice component. Come to think of it, I’m surprised fanservice isn’t more heavily used in slice-of-life shows, but it doesn’t get as much play as the “greater” facets. Other than that…well, honestly I’m having trouble coming up with too many other examples, which hopefully points to the strength of my theory, but could just mean I need to watch more anime. Or not write when I’m tired. Probably that.

For now, I’ll turn it over to you. Is there another major facet of slice-of-life shows that I missed? What are some other shows that fit under these categories, and in which categories do they fit? Or feel free to just talk about slice-of-life in general, since they don’t get nearly enough coverage on this site (sorry, there’s just not a lot to say about most of them). As usual I’ll be reading all comments posted for the next few days at least, so I’ll either see you there or see you next time!

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But Mugi? She will never stop watching you. Kowai~

June 11, 2013 at 8:01 am
59 comments »
  • June 11, 2013 at 8:10 amjunglepenguin

    Again, no Nichijou? I am disappoint. But Lucky Channel on the front page is redemption enough.

    • June 11, 2013 at 8:58 amStilts

      Never seen it

      • June 11, 2013 at 9:02 amCybersteel

        Opinions on the upcoming slice and life show FREE!?

      • June 11, 2013 at 10:11 amPringlesXD

        You should Stils, it’s one of the funniest slife of life/comedy anime I’ve seen!

      • June 11, 2013 at 10:49 amStilts

        You’ll have to wait for the season preview for more from me on TV Free : )

      • June 11, 2013 at 5:22 pmAnanas

        What the hell are you doing?

    • June 11, 2013 at 9:51 amAnonymous

      As a self-confessed Kyo-Ani fanboi myself, personally I find Nichijou to be a bit lacking compared to Lucky Star. It just doesn’t give me that sense of “oomph” usually found in anticipation of a Kyo-Ani series.

      Sure, the coming series FREE also doesn’t provide me with that much oomph, but at least FREE has the justification of being targeted to a specific audience and I happen to not be part of said target audience.*

      * – Most likely reason why Kyo-Ani decided to do a ChuniKoi movie and season 2 after FREE in order to keep said non-target audience from leaving.

      • June 12, 2013 at 6:45 amBaka

        If you can skip an episode and not miss anything or notice any discontinuity, you’ve got a slice-of-life show at hand. Happens to me sometimes.

  • June 11, 2013 at 8:29 amPasserby

    I think we are getting far too deconstructionist here.

    Trying to deconstruct a ‘genre’ is a rather futile in the first place, since genre is a rather artificial construct used mostly to give time-pressed people a very skeletal idea of what they’re watching. What you’re actually deconstructing are a set of literary devices. Therefore it is not a matter of Genre X having such and such literary devices, it is that we tend to call shows that have such and such literary devices Genre X. That may seem like a pedantic point, but the latter can actually makies for informed analysis while the former is more like trying to justify a set of preconceptions.

    This is a trap that often befalls those who try to define ‘slice of life’ because almost any anime you watch will contain a slice of life, if only to establish setting and character. ‘Facets’ that Stilts have listed, like character and comedy, are employed by fiction of all types for both pacing and orientation. ‘Cuteness’ is entirely superficial and not all that useful; make character designs that appeal to your demographic, huzzah. Attractive actors in your movie?! Revolutionary. ‘Atmosphere’ is the one I think should be focused on, but not as some ‘facet’. I would argue that everything that the so called ‘slice of life’ genre does is in fact to build atmosphere, and a very specific kind of atmosphere. Things like characters and comedy (and, by the way, comedy can build character and comedy can be driven by characters. Facetception!) are tools to establish the relaxed, homely feel (technical terms, yeah) of slice of life.

    I would point to Aria the Animation as the ultimate slice of life case study as it strips almost everything (most importantly, plot) for the sake of that atmosphere. And it creates really soul-healing stuff.

    • June 11, 2013 at 9:04 amStilts

      As I’ve said before, there’s nothing wrong with trying to describe and codify the world. From one of the very ideas behind language to the most advanced of sciences, that’s what we humans do. We just have to bear in mind that our neat little theories only give part of the picture…which is why I included that fifth facet.

      If this applies for a good number of the more pure slice-of-life anime, then it’s done it’s job.

      • June 11, 2013 at 9:35 amPasserby

        I don’t think I’ve said that it is wrong, per se, to codify the world. The issue, I would say, is stereotyping it. When doing analysis I think it would be wrong to say ‘This show is Genre X, it must be A, B, C’. Genre is but a tag, which may imply certain elements. It in no way binds a show in any fashion.

        For example, let’s say that I have many preconceived notions about, say, mecha anime. That might lead me to erroneous conclusions like, ‘Show X is tagged as mecha! It must be in space with a very loud protagonist and extremly ham villain!’. This may or may not end up being on the mark, but the logic behind the statement was certainly incorrect.

        This is why in my personal opinion that when analysing a genre focus should be on its very core, it’s main appeal. What is the main thing people would watch this shows of this genre for? Then we can look at the things the show does to execute and reinforce this core. It’s never just separate facets that we see. They are synergistic, and the whole greater than the sum of its parts.

      • June 11, 2013 at 10:54 amStilts

        In this case, I’m not saying that they must be W, X, Y, and Z. I’m saying that they probably include W, X, Y, and Z, based on my own experience with modern examples of the genre.

        Besides, I see no problem with setting up a framework to quickly judge something, as long as you’re just as willing to quickly admit that something doesn’t fit within your defined framework and judge it solely based on what you see.

      • June 11, 2013 at 6:08 pmVoyager

        @Passerby
        I see your reasons, but please take into account that in the many form of arts, the authors often consciously start from a well defined “genre”, with well defined features. The _good_ artists can improve those features by executing them extremely well, and then innovate by changing that particular element in unexpected ways, contaminating with other genres, and so on.

        Thus, not only it’s useful to study and categorize the elements of the art works, it’s also mandatory for the authors to actually produce good art. We as the fruitor of that art, can understand it better and enjoy it more by being aware of those things.
        This thought is not actually mine, I’m borrowing it from Ugo Foscolo, that was a very famous poet and writer in 1800 in my country, from a speach to students in literature.

        @Stilts
        For reasons above, I have high expectations for your novel. Good job passing the half way, now finish it :D do_it_fagget.jpg

      • June 11, 2013 at 8:48 pmPasserby

        Hmm, I may have poorly expressed myself. Many apologies. Let me try this again.

        @Stilts
        I am not saying that you are overly stereotyping the genre. I was merely illustrating a possible and unfortunate conclusion to a genre-centric logic.

        @Voyager
        Different art forms treat genre differently from each other, unfortunately, and makes for messy discussion if we cross-analyse. Each medium approaches the question their ‘genres’ by that medium’s elements (and, more often, time periods). Only fiction really deals with genre as a form of narrative (and not always). For example, music with narrative is its own genre. Yes, messy fast.

        @Stilts @Voyager
        I’m not advocating against the use of genre, but against genre being definitive. It is one thing when using genres to say, for example, ‘this show is Genre X, that implies it is Y’. But when analysing what a genre is such logic would be, I would say, going backwards, in the wrong direction.

        The core question of anime (and indeed, almost any piece of media) is ‘why would anyone want to watch this?’ or the appeal of your show. Genres are an attempt to crystalise the appeal of shows for the sake of categorisation rather than definition. A show being Genre X shouldn’t mandate anything other than the appealing factors of Genre X, and neither will the extraneous elements of the show define what Genre X should be. Consider this: it is only fairly recently that slice of life has been considered its own genre. Almost any show will have slice of life elements to develop characters and setting by just showing people living. Only when this literary device came to forefront–because people enjoyed it–did we start seeing it as a separate genre. This is why you have shows that can have a plethora of genre tags, because they have multiple appeal angles. Your Fantasy Mecha Romance Mystery Horror Tragedy can have strong characters and comedy and whatnot, but those things will not be exclusive to any one of those genres. They are tools for delivering the magic/machinery/sappy love/whatever that people enjoy.

        tl;dr: we should embrace genres in fiction as tags that tell us quickly why we would want to partake of that piece. Therefore when analysing a genre we should identify first the responder appeal of that genre, then identify the elements that deliver that appeal.

        (it’ll also the avoid the ‘this show is Genre X but not really’ debates)

  • June 11, 2013 at 8:47 amCybersteel

    To be honest, episodic cartoons are kinda slife of lice not doing anything most of the time, mostly comedic in nature.

  • June 11, 2013 at 8:51 amGJeff

    I’ve always liked Hidamari Sketch as a slice-of-life show.

  • June 11, 2013 at 9:06 amGiNoCo

    Slice-of-life and no mention of Aria ??…!! ’nuff said shame on you oni-chan.

    Anyway I don’t totally agree in splitting the genre in sub-categories. For me slice-of-life shows are the ones that makes me feel good and put me to bed after a RL hard day with a smile. So your initial exposition was fine. But sub-categorizing doesn’t “feel” appropriate. I watched Acchi Kocchi and Tamako and they never managed to get my feels for them. So to conclude the my-way, which obviously is not your way this time :( is: slice-of-life is either it gives me the “feels” or not. Finally that last class “other” oh come on!

    • June 11, 2013 at 10:57 amStilts

      First of all, I mentioned Aria. Second of all, I couldn’t expound because I haven’t seen it. Thirdly, I get really tired of people saying how “disappointed” they are in me because I don’t mention their favorite show. Examples are just that, examples, not an exhaustive list of every show that qualifies.

      • June 11, 2013 at 11:30 amGiNoCo

        Oh my god! I sux guess I’m only human. Yes you did mention Aria my formal apology on that, should not read sitting. Sorry didn’t mean to insult you in anyway, guess good ole’ jokes are not good anymore.

      • June 11, 2013 at 11:39 amStilts

        I know it was a joke, it’s just one that has gotten very, very tiresome. Feel free to go back to last year’s Best of Anime post and see how many people were disappointed in me. It has made the subject a tad touchy :P

  • June 11, 2013 at 9:08 am†Croos†

    What actually makes a slice of life is that its actually about how one can relate.
    Good point – if people can relate. It makes them think back when they did it.
    Bad point – some jokes and scene aren’t always funny to the viewers but later on gets it anyway. One example is Lucky Star showing some parody scenes. Others who haven’t watch some anime won’t get Lucky star at all.

    Honestly, cuteness is just applied to appeal the viewers cause we know that if some scene in a slice-of-life genre is boring at least the moe cuteness compensate what is lost. Therefore balancing the show not to make it bad. It sells after all, in a good way that is.
    Small story short, Cuteness = moe = product selling. You don’t need to make a good Slice-of-life cause its cute but you need cuteness to sell the product to appeal viewers.

    • June 11, 2013 at 11:11 amStilts

      Hah, a very good point on the moe. Its the old tactic of “Well, it wasn’t funny, but at least it was cute!” Kind of the easy way to ensure a few more sales, but…well, as long as it’s cute, right? :D

      • June 11, 2013 at 6:44 pm†Croos†

        Cute =/= moe
        Once preference to cute that pierce their heart = moe.

    • June 11, 2013 at 10:50 pmMgMaster

      What actually makes a slice of life is that its actually about how one can relate.

      That and/or the comedy but those are just personal preferences(they’re definitely mine anyway).As those only translate directly into the character and comedy facets & not the other 3.Some people might well enjoy slice of life shows focused completely on atmosphere and cuteness(which I sadly can’t get into).For instance a slice of life that focuses on it’s comedy might have characters so silly & over the top that it would be impossible for any of us to relate to but I don’t think it’s really a requirement for the comedy to work.Now of course,the more facets it has the better since nearly all of them can come together well with execution being the string that ties them together as well as the key element.The 1 facet that I believe won’t work at any time & any place with others but will instead force them to work with it is the cuteness and while that also works,any show with a heavy emphasis on cute cut’s out some of the options that other facets could bring to the table because if they’d still try to,it might look awkward.

  • June 11, 2013 at 9:08 amNissanNut

    For me, you hit on every “facet” of slice of life that impacts me when I pick up these kind of shows. Characters and moe seem to go hand-in-hand for the series that I’ve enjoyed; the execution is crucial, which is why Tamako Market was something I almost stuck with.

    I agree with Passerby about atmosphere. When I watch a series, I feel that atmosphere is what keeps me glued. It’s not so much I’m looking for something specific, but more for something with substance and consistency from start to finish. I’m not one to say a show is not good, crap, etc. if I don’t feel like it sets an atmosphere that I find compelling; it’s simply just not for me.

    Yeah, deconstructing a genre can be very much futile, but sometimes I just want to know why I like something. It’s nice to see someone has taken the time to put into their own best words about this particular genre.

    Here’s something that I find when watching a slice of life I like:
    When all of these things are done well to a certain extent, they blend into something unique and fun that captures my interest and imagination. I become so immersed that I lose sense of any “facets” of the show. I am moved or simply fall in love with it.

    I really appreciate the work that Stilts has put into writing this entry. It’s refreshing to read something like this. The same goes for Passerby’s comment. I look forward to other entries like this one. Thanks!

    • June 11, 2013 at 11:15 amStilts

      Yeah, deconstructing a genre can be very much futile, but sometimes I just want to know why I like something. It’s nice to see someone has taken the time to put into their own best words about this particular genre.

      Thank you! That’s what I was going for. Imperfect though it may be, I like to try to drag these things into focus from time to time, to better explain why these shows work (or not) for me. Glad it struck a chord : )

      I’m not one to say a show is not good, crap, etc. if I don’t feel like it sets an atmosphere that I find compelling; it’s simply just not for me.

      Just wanted to say that that’s a really good way to look at things. I try to do that myself, though as someone who studies storytelling I’m somewhat apt to dive in and say something is objectively shit when it’s really, really bad. Perhaps not the best of habits though, so I respect you for avoiding it.

  • June 11, 2013 at 9:26 amkatsudon

    I’m a fan of fanservice as much as the next guy, but I’m glad that most slice of life shows don’t have too many of those moments. Most of them are fine and perfectly enjoyable without them, and I feel that if there’s too much or if it’s used too often for cheap laughs, it might turn some viewers off. (Unless they know from the start the show is going to be full of it) But that’s just my opinion- I love slice of life shows, and the fact that most of them have very little of it in them never really bothered me.

    • June 11, 2013 at 11:16 amStilts

      Oh, I agree. I’m just surprised that more shows don’t take that route, even if I wouldn’t be especially pleased if they did. I prefer a little plot to offset the cheap titillation of fanservice personally.

  • June 11, 2013 at 10:06 amCarVac

    Interestingly, if you consider the term ‘slice of life’ literally instead of the standard way, one of the best examples would bu Uchuu Kyoudai. It’s about one slice of Mutta’s life: his becoming an astronaut.

    It does exhibit atmosphere and comedy, but even so it’s not considered a conventional slice-of-life show.

    • June 11, 2013 at 10:41 amTre

      It’s the plot. Once a show has a well written plot, like Uchuu Kyoudai has, it becomes difficult to still refer to it as a slice of life show. In fact, it feels almost insulting to do so, even if technically it is a slice of the main character’s life.

    • June 11, 2013 at 10:42 amKevin Yamagata

      Well, if you take that term really literally, Higurashi and Elfen Lied are some good examples…

  • June 11, 2013 at 10:34 amforgodssake

    “Slice of life” is just code for “has no plot”. It’s not a genre.

    Most shows that are “slice of life” are animated sitcoms.

    • June 11, 2013 at 11:26 amStilts

      I think there’s a slight difference between them. For example, Natsuiro Kiseki started off looking like it was going to be slice-of-life, but it had enough development to the characters by the end of its run that it came out feeling like a sitcom. Tamako Market should have done the same thing as well, but since they kept resetting any character development every episode it didn’t manage that, which held it back.

      That said, that’s a personal definition so hard to define that I wouldn’t impose it on anyone else. For most intents and purposes, I think you can treat slice-of-life and sitcoms are rough synonyms. It’s not perfect, but it’s close to the idea.

      • June 11, 2013 at 6:11 pmLow 4 G Man

        In other words, if I want to watch something like a sitcom that you would find on TV Land (a television channel), I should watch a slice of life anime?

      • June 12, 2013 at 12:06 amStilts

        It’d be closer than most anything else you’ll find in anime-land, yup yup

      • June 12, 2013 at 8:50 amforgodssake

        The difference between a slice-of-life and a sitcom is about the same as between a shounen anime and a kids’ cartoon. Sylistic. The genre is the same. Both sols and sitcoms are plotless comedies with no character development outside of season finales. They both immediately establish a status quo and milk it for comedy for the duration of the show, sometimes for dozens of episodes.

  • June 11, 2013 at 11:01 amCherrie

    I agree a bit with Passerby that it’s hard to create “facets” for genres such as slice-of-life. I think you first have to define what this genre is and once I started thinking about it… then it turns out that a great deal of anime could be considered “slice-of-life”. At least by my definition.

    I don’t watch a great deal of comedic/slice-of-life anime because I find that they don’t really do anything for me (anime comedy just doesn’t make me laugh o_o). So I don’t think comedy should necessarily be a pillar for “slice-of-life”. So if you take comedy out of the equation, what are you left with? Slice-of-life and what? Usually it’d be drama or romance or even supernatural right? If that’s the case, then I would say that people typically pair up slice-of-life with comedy because it’s a prenotioned association. They don’t always have to be one and the same, but like you stated, they usually are because it’s easy to make an anime about situational comedy that people can relate to. I just wanted to point out that just as there are many comedic anime out there that are slice-of-life focused, but there are also a lot of romance/drama ones. Off the top of my head: Tonari, Hyouka, Tsuritama and Amagami. Not saying that comedy is completely absent, it’s just not the focus either.

    • June 11, 2013 at 11:23 amStilts

      As mentioned in a few comments above, slice-of-life is a genre that focuses on everyday events at the expense of having a plot plot. In other words, slice-of-life shows have very little to no plot. If a show has much of a plot – Tonari, for example, had a very prominent romantic plot – then it doesn’t really qualify for that alone, even if it may occasionally dally about enough that it seems like it’s dabbling in slice-of-life.

      As for comedy, since slice-of-life is by definition situational, that’s what makes situational comedy fit in so well with the genre – it’s one of the few tools they can use without inadvertently creating some kind of plot and losing the calming, “everyday life” vibe common to so much slice-of-life.

  • June 11, 2013 at 11:11 amJoe

    Through all the anime series I have seen over the years thus far, I would have to propose that Honey and Clover is the best slice of life.

  • June 11, 2013 at 11:13 amSixFlags

    I remember having posted something like this:

    but by all means give Aria the Animation/Natural/Origination a chance. I started watching this out of curiosity, then started to watch one or two episodes regularly after a long day of work and school, and when the third season ended, it has become one of my favourite anime series ever and THE best slice of life anime I have ever encountered.

    • June 11, 2013 at 11:28 amStilts

      I intend to. It’s on my short list, i.e. the shows that I’m either watching or am planning to watch within the next 4 or so older series that I see. I wouldn’t mind some more relaxing animu~

      • June 11, 2013 at 11:49 amSixFlags

        This is great! Considering that there is a massive amount of episodes ahead of you, I really hope you can also find the joy (and most importantly time) to blog about it, while you are watching it.

        I can still remember how fun it was reading Impz’s thoughts about the first season of Aria over at “T.H.A.T. animeblog”.

  • June 11, 2013 at 12:15 pmDuelistdusk

    What is slice of life?

    Well… If you break it there really is not anything remarkable about this genre. In fact, it has so less content, that you can match it perfectly with another one. Romance, fighting, even horror would fit perfectly with slice of life. Why?

    Because it’s always the same.

    There really isn’t anything different about episode 1 or 12, beside having some small changes. I could dare you, and I (with my stubbornness as forte) would still win. Sure, some characters migh. Be added or left, but does the atmosphere of the show change? No. Does the plot change? Well kin- no. It’s like those never ending romances where the guy (or girl) SO MUCH want the girl (or guy(Yuri plz) but there will always be that kind of tension with our mc’s never going to make that final move.

    So yeah, it really is like life. A never ending loop of events. And when you break that loop, you call it the end of the beginning and the beginning of a new end.

  • June 11, 2013 at 12:58 pmBear

    I think “slice-of-life” is self defining. It’s just the everyday things that people do whether it’s a romantic crush (Acchi-Kocchi), hanging out with your friends, or rowing a gondola on Mars(Aria). Having snacks, going shopping, talking. Nothing momentous happens for the most part, because that’s how life is. The more some other element enters into it (romance, drama, comedy), the less it stays slice of life and strays into another genre. In slice-of-life they are the decorations on the story, not the story itself. Some even stray off into adventures and dramas or deal with supernatural things (the Natsume series for example), but in the end, still come back to the basics of the everyday things of a particular life and friendship.

    • June 11, 2013 at 9:33 pmzeroyuki92

      I think this comment is the one who represent my opinion about SoL.

      Why we regard something like Tamako Market as a slice of life while we regard something like Uchuu Kyoudai as another genre, not as a slice of life of astronaut wannabe?

      I finally remembered a keyword from ARIA and Hakomari (no,the later LN isn’t a slice of life series,rather the contrary) that define slice of life:
      Unchanging daily life.

      The more romance introduced to the story, the series will have less slice of life, since it changes the situation between the couple as the series progress. The same could be said to other genres, such as action, adventure, drama, etc, since most of the time those elements will heavily change the life of the character. That’s also the reason why comedy works well with SoL : Usually comedy won’t bring any drastic change to your life. It’s a part of life, not the outside factor. After a gag, life will return to the previous state, the unchanging daily life which defines the existence of slice of life series.

      That knowledge could let you create some unique mixes, such as adding action to a slice of life series without removing the “slice of life” state itself (however, adding action will change the expectation of the viewer, so it’s not an easy feat).

      Pardon me for fanboying to my personal favorite, but that’s one of the reason of why I regard ARIA as my own personal most-favorite in slice of life genre. Those who call ARIA as a no-plot series clearly didn’t watch/forgetting the last season (Origination) of it. It HAS plot and drama, while the previous two season serves as the introduction for the characters (Animation season) and world (Natural season) of ARIA.

      Then why people still called it a slice of life series? Basically, it’s answered by Akari herself in the last episode. She is the one who is questioning, experiencing and answered the real meaning of “Unchanging daily life”, and that’s why the final episode of ARIA is one of the most beautiful episode that I have ever watched.

    • June 14, 2013 at 6:08 pmdaikama

      Well said! Agree w/ Bear 100% here. My own definition Slice of Life (“SoL”) genre is a literal in interpretation of the words – the story revolves around a segment (whether in terms of plot topic, setting or characters) which roughly mirrors its RL life equivalent. Relatively normal people, doing relatively normal things in a relatively normal place (setting). There may be deviations, but if it strays to far, then the SoL tag may not truly apply IMO.

  • June 11, 2013 at 5:49 pmmac65

    In any series, the draw for me is the hope of continuation. It’s the “thing” that determines,
    for me, if it’s worth the cost to re-watch the series. I don’t know how else to explain it.

    It’s like I have to see some growth, even if the character themselves don’t appear to grow,
    but the goal they are trying to achieve is closer to them. I think the good Slice-of-Life
    series do this, while appearing mundane, and leave us feeling a little pleasantly differently
    about their character than when the series began. Exhibit AGj-Bu.

    In a way, I look at Sora no Otoshimono as a slice-of-life with some drama – it’s all about
    point of view. Tomake’s desire for a quiet normal life is constantly thrown into turmoil by the
    Angeliods he’s adopted into his home. Maybe it’s an extreme example, but Yosuga no Sora
    fits the bill too, with the hope of the character realized/fulfilled. I think sometimes we
    forget the premise laid out in the early episodes as the series progresses.

    IMHO, the Slice-of-Life give us, its viewers, the anchor on which to build the unusual story/
    plot points upon. It provides the contrast point for comparison – the baseline. If a series
    doesn’t provide us with its version of normalcy, we have no way to measure the extraordinary
    events that (will/may) happen later. Exhibit BSuisei no Gargantia.

    Some series focus too much on the mundane and forget there’s supposed to be a point to
    all of their effort. Exhibit CMaoyuu Maou Yuusha.

    To me, it’s the strength of crescendo to the finale that marks different series – but a good
    series
    all good series has the Slice-of-Life thread in there if we look for it!

  • June 11, 2013 at 6:18 pmStranger

    As the term “slice-of-life” can mean- basically- a peek into someone’s life- pretty much every single narrative in existence can be described as being slice-of-life.

    The LOTR series was a slice of the lives of the Fellowship, just as K-ON was a slice of the lives of- well- the K-ON bu.

    It is the one genre to rule them all.

  • June 11, 2013 at 7:10 pmkornpone

    Joshiraku!! ^o^)/

    Thanks again for a thoughtful post, Stilts. Might I suggest that, for your 5th category, you could sharpen ‘other’ to specify niches: social, cultural, educational, hobby or work-related, etc that add some special extra ‘spice’ making that particular SoL unique.

    For my beloved Joshiraku this spice is patently clear (with a dash of random Tokyo bura-bura). By the same token, Yama no Susume was of course mountaineering. For something less distinct like the current Yuyushiki you could say it’s, uh, random Googling. And with A-Channel it was, um, well, nothing in particular at all —which is perhaps its own fuwa-fuwa-like reward.

  • June 11, 2013 at 9:02 pmNaYa

    Azumanga Daioh still is on top of my list when it comes to slice-of-life comedy. <3

    • June 13, 2013 at 6:10 pmZhinvu

      Seconded! Osaka FTW!

  • June 11, 2013 at 11:24 pmlegwkio

    A good Slice-of-life should have good character development and comedy. Additional points if it does not include POINTLESS (specifically, something thrown in there just for the hell of it with no relevance, merit or attempt to better the series) fan service.

    Also, in a good slice-of-life, you could pick any episode in random, watch that and enjoy it.

  • June 12, 2013 at 12:15 amAndro

    Is Hataraku Maou Sama also considered as a slice-of-life comedy? Considering most of the episodes was spent on slice-of-life stuffs with a little bit of fantasy stuff added in..

    • June 12, 2013 at 2:20 amStilts

      Just as many slice-of-life shows employ comedy, Maou-sama employs the occasional fairly slice-of-life feeling episode or event without really being slice-of-life itself. There’s way too much plot and character development in it for slice-of-life to apply.

  • June 12, 2013 at 4:18 amstardf29

    With slice of life, I think there are two additional elements that can be crucial to the success of such shows.

    The first, which could arguably fall under “characters”, is relationships. With slice-of-life, a lot I’d say depends not only on how good the characters are, but how well their relationships with each other are portrayed. Without there necessarily being a driving plot, the focus of relationship for the slice-of-life is “this is what their relationship is now”, not “this is what their relationship might become later”, and while that relationship can most certainly develop, it is best done at a nice, slow pace, not showing any sort of significant relationship upgrade but rather the slowly growing bonds between people who spend life together.

    The second, which is actually probably optional but absolutely critical to the success of many shows that employ it, is the use of a unifying focus for a show. A number of shows focus on art (Sketchbook, Hidamari Sketch), while others focus on music (K-ON!, The Idolm@ster), some on otaku life (Genshiken, Lucky Star to an extent), and some on stuff like looking up things on the internet (Yuyushiki). One thing’s for sure, though: if there is a unifying focus that a show engages its characters in, whether it is successful or not can depend a lot on how this “focus” is portrayed. Ideally, one can go for one of two routes here: one, portray something the audience is familiar with and let them connect with the group based on a shared interest (most obviously done with otaku-focused shows like Genshiken), or two, present the focus in a way that it is easy for the audience to grasp why the characters are so passionate about their chosen focus, and perhaps even get the audience interested in the thing in question… or at the very least, remind the audience about what it’s like to be passionate about something.

  • June 13, 2013 at 8:09 amMgMaster

    I started watching Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou thx to this post and all I have to say is: In the name of all that’s anime-holy,how the hell did I miss this godly show ?!?!?!!At any rate,thx Stilts,hours of laughter await me!

  • June 13, 2013 at 12:10 pmMagoiichi

    I have no idea what got me to watch A-Channel when it came out, but I couldn’t stop watching it.

    • June 13, 2013 at 6:16 pmZhinvu

      It’s also notable for me for having a soothing opening song and very stylish and unique opening animation.

  • June 13, 2013 at 6:14 pmZhinvu

    Reading this post reminded me of some shows I enjoyed:

    - GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class
    - Hyakko
    - Hanamaru Kindergarten
    - Kill Me Baby
    - Maria-sama ga miteru
    - Pani Poni Dash

    Though I think they’d be considered school life more than slice of life.