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Old 2007-03-03, 10:28   Link #1
Manifold
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Slice of Life fans

Hey guys,

Following a post I made in the 'Suggestions' forum about Slice of Life anime, members began a little interesting conversation. Perhaps we can discuss about the issues raised in the below quotes in this thread to avoid going off-topic in the original thread?

So, for all those who want to talk about 'Slice of Life' anime.. (For example, Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou, Mushishi, Aria the Animation etc).

From the topic:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joojoobees View Post
I wonder if Bartender is experiencing resistance based upon it's slice-of-life genre. It seems that, even when people aren't directly criticizing a show for being slice-of-life, they feel the need to say something like "It's slice-of-life, which isn't necessarily a bad thing." Of course it isn't necessarily a bad thing!

Do other folks get the same impression that people are dismissive of this genre?

I guess, with that kind of perception, there is no hope of Bartender getting an American release.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SeijiSensei View Post
@joojoobees
I don't think it's entirely the "fault" of the genre. The release format was certainly a limiting factor; many people like myself and Manifold were unable to watch this series in the format Lunar chose. Even for a slice-of-life show Bartender's a bit off the beaten track for most anime viewers. Many of them can't even drink legally yet and have probably never heard of a pousse-cafe styled drink (or perhaps even Ernest Hemingway) in their lives. I give the creators of Bartender and Hataraki Man a lot of credit for developing shows that are intended to appeal to an older demographic than traditional anime. In the case of Hataraki Man, the ratings indicate that there might be a bigger market here than most producers belleve.

I'd be happy to talk about the slice-of-life genre, but it should probably be in the Related Topics section; we're going too off-topic to continue in the Suggestions section.
More specifically:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joojoobees View Post
I believe the idea was to talk about the genre of slice-of-life more generally. (What is it? Why is it reviled?)

Last edited by Manifold; 2007-03-04 at 10:51. Reason: Making the reason for this post totally clear..
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Old 2007-03-03, 10:43   Link #2
xris
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Manifold View Post
Following a post I made in the 'Suggestions' forum about Slice of Life anime, members began a little interesting conversation. So, for all those who want to talk about 'Slice of Life' anime.. (Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou, Mushishi, Aria the Animation etc).

From the topic:
So, what's the point of this thread. You do not make it at all clear.

If you want to discuss and recommend similar slice-of-life series, then the Suggestions forum is the correct place for that.

If you want to discuss series such as Mushishi or Aria then please use the existing threads. I think we used to have a YKK thread but it most likely was lost in the 2005 Restore, but there is no reason why a new YKK thread couldn't be created in the Fansubbed forum.
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Old 2007-03-03, 23:21   Link #3
Joojoobees
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Arrow

Quote:
Originally Posted by xris View Post
So, what's the point of this thread. You do not make it at all clear.

If you want to discuss and recommend similar slice-of-life series, then the Suggestions forum is the correct place for that.

If you want to discuss series such as Mushishi or Aria then please use the existing threads. I think we used to have a YKK thread but it most likely was lost in the 2005 Restore, but there is no reason why a new YKK thread couldn't be created in the Fansubbed forum.
I believe the idea was to talk about the genre of slice-of-life more generally. (What is it? Why is it reviled?) There was some concern expressed that by talking about the genre itelf, we were being off-topic in the suggestion thread.

I'm sure we'll be happy to respect whatever decision you make, since the intention to take the conversation here was to observe the rules.
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Old 2007-03-04, 06:40   Link #4
xris
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joojoobees View Post
I believe the idea was to talk about the genre of slice-of-life more generally. (What is it? Why is it reviled?) There was some concern expressed that by talking about the genre itelf, we were being off-topic in the suggestion thread.

I'm sure we'll be happy to respect whatever decision you make, since the intention to take the conversation here was to observe the rules.
I have no objections if that's the purpose of the thread but the problem I see is that the first post is so vague I do not believe it will encourage the sort of discussion it was intended for. As I mentioned, it seemed to be asking to discuss specific slice-of-life series (when such discussion would be better suited in the specific anime discussion threads) and not the genre itself.

Clearly such discussion needs to mention slice-of-life series and use examples why the genre has it's attractions, as long as it doesn't drift off into discussion the series themselves, no problem.

If someone wants to have a go a making a post to better define the purpose of the the thread, then please go ahead. It might be an idea to edit the first post and remove the quotes since they seem to confuse issues (especially the technical comments about encodes and such, what the heck is that doing there to introduce a topic on the genre ). Your (joojoobees) posts were fine but would better serve as the follow up to the introduction, or better still it might have been more suitable if you made the first post with an edited version of those posts
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Old 2007-03-04, 06:54   Link #5
Manifold
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"I believe the idea was to talk about the genre of slice-of-life more generally. (What is it? Why is it reviled?) There was some concern expressed that by talking about the genre itelf, we were being off-topic in the suggestion thread."

Quote:
Originally Posted by xris View Post
I have no objections if that's the purpose of the thread but the problem I see is that the first post is so vague I do not believe it will encourage the sort of discussion it was intended for.
This is entirely my fault, I was in a rush, I had some friends coming over and I didn't get chance to elaborate.

Yes, my intention is exactly what Joojoobees expressed. I will edit my first post.
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Old 2007-03-04, 07:45   Link #6
Joojoobees
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Comment no longer pertinent, and probably just confusing.

Last edited by Joojoobees; 2007-03-10 at 13:26. Reason: Referred to another comment that was itself edited
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Old 2007-03-05, 02:43   Link #7
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In other mediums, "slice-of-life" is usually referred to as "character-driven". Bear with me here...

"Drama" is basically about three characters, the Victim, the Victimizer and the Savoir, and how those people change places. Victim becomes savior, etc, etc. Sometimes, one of the people are missing. Sometimes, one character takes on two of those roles...and so on. "Melodrama" is where those positions don't change. That is; the person who is the victim at the beginning is STILL the victim at the end. SO--good stories are where the characters move (metaphorically), they change, they're not the same at the beginning as they are at the end.

So what?

"Character-driven" stories are low on plot. Not a lot goes on, but the *characters* change a lot. Take, for example, Azumanga Daioh. Plot-wise, almost nothing happens. They go through three years of farily uneventful school. Nobody is raped, nobody is killed, nobody fails a test or gets a boyfriend. But the characters are different at the end than they were at the beginning (especially Chiyo-chan). The same is true for the examples, above. Yokohama Kaidashii Kikou, Kokoro Toshokan, Aria, Hidamari Sketch...all are character-driven stories.

The only real problem comes in when the story tellers fail to make you *care* about those characters. This may not be the story-teller's fault, it may be that they characters just don't "click" with you.

I'm a total sucker for these kinds of stories. I do like lots of plot--I loved 12 Kingdoms and GitS-StandAloneComplex and Black Lagoon. But some "cute girls doing cute things in cute ways" (as the promo for Ichigo Mashimaro said), and I'm hooked.
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Old 2007-03-05, 12:20   Link #8
Joojoobees
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Arrow Slice-of-Life versus Character-Driven

Alright, Ueda, a really good post. There's a lot of stuff in there, and I have a different take on at least some of it.

I also want to throw out here that actual examples of shows (or works from other mediums) are likely to reference multiple genres. We can talk about the genres as if they were pure things, but real shows mix elements from different genres. I say this just because example shows might exhibit something from one genre but principly be examples of a different genre.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ueda View Post
In other mediums, "slice-of-life" is usually referred to as "character-driven".
Maybe. It's a possibility, but it is also possible that "slice-of-life" and "character-driven" are two different things. In fact, I think "character-driven" is two different things, so I'm leaning towards "slice-of-life" and "character-driven" as being THREE different things.

Quote:
good stories are where the characters move (metaphorically), they change, they're not the same at the beginning as they are at the end.
I don't think this is true. I think it would be best to leave aside the issue of what is "good" for now, especially because stories can be "good" for different reasons.

Quote:
"Character-driven" stories are low on plot. Not a lot goes on, but the *characters* change a lot.
Okay, I think there are two different kinds of "character-driven" stories:
  1. Those where the story is propelled forward by the nature of the characters (unchanging).
  2. Those where the story is about the nature of the characters changing.

Quote:
Take, for example, Azumanga Daioh. Plot-wise, almost nothing happens. They go through three years of farily uneventful school. Nobody is raped, nobody is killed, nobody fails a test or gets a boyfriend. But the characters are different at the end than they were at the beginning (especially Chiyo-chan).
I'll definitely agree that Azumanga Daioh is character-driven. I disagree, however, that the characters change all that much. In fact MOST of the characters are very much the same. I disagree that Chiyo-chan changed in any significant way, but details might take us off-topic, so I won't elaborate. I personally see Azumanga Daioh as being a character-driven (type 1) comedy.

Quote:
Yokohama Kaidashii Kikou, Kokoro Toshokan, Aria, Hidamari Sketch...all are character-driven stories.
...
"cute girls doing cute things in cute ways" (as the promo for Ichigo Mashimaro said)
I've only seen a little bit of Hidamari Sketch (maybe one episode), so I dont really want to comment on it, but I'll agree that Ichigo Mashimaro should be included (along with YKK, Kokoro Library, and Aria) as examples of the genre this thread is examining.

Okay, let me finish with this:
When looking at a story one can extract these three elements: Plot, Character, and Setting. Plot-driven stories emphasize Plot. Character-driven stories emphasize Character. Slice-of-life stories emphasize Setting.

Last edited by Joojoobees; 2007-03-05 at 12:38.
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Old 2007-03-05, 14:04   Link #9
Jiji
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All right! This is a great convo already!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joojoobees View Post
I don't think this is true. I think it would be best to leave aside the issue of what is "good" for now, especially because stories can be "good" for different reasons.
Well, all I meant was in comparison to melodrama, really. Stories where nothing changes--plot, characters or setting--are defined as melodrama and typically looked down upon by The Academy (you know, University Profs and stuff) because there is no complexity, nothing interesting there. Keep in mind, though that this is drawing upon *Western* traditions of literature, and we're talking about an art form from *Japan*. Which is why I think you've got a point, below...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joojoobees View Post
I'll definitely agree that Azumanga Daioh is character-driven. I disagree, however, that the characters change all that much. In fact MOST of the characters are very much the same. I disagree that Chiyo-chan changed in any significant way, but details might take us off-topic, so I won't elaborate. I personally see Azumanga Daioh as being a character-driven (type 1) comedy.
I really think you're on to something here. I learned at grad school--and I teach my students--the definition I gave in my earlier post about drama and melodrama, but stories like Azumanga have bothered me for some time, for the very reason you point out. I can make the argument that the characters change, but it's a weak argument. They stay the same more than they change, as you said.

Unfortunately, this leaves trying to categorize things in a difficult place (in the context of my training, anyway >.> ) I'm sorry, but I can't get away from the idea that things *ought* to change, whether it's plot, character or setting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joojoobees View Post
When looking at a story one can extract these three elements: Plot, Character, and Setting. Plot-driven stories emphasize Plot. Character-driven stories emphasize Character. Slice-of-life stories emphasize Setting.
I *really* like your theory, here. I think I might start using it, myself. But like I said, I still lean towards the idea that those three things must not be merely emphasized, but also must show some kind of progress or change. Okay, maybe I just need to think about it some more to get used to the idea. :P
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Old 2007-03-05, 14:21   Link #10
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I agree that character-driven stories are not the same as slice-of-life stories.
"Character-driven" suggests some kind of character arc--a moral dilemma, a romantic development, anguish, difficult decisions, drama & serious changes--and while fleshed-out characters are as desirable in slice-of-life anime as anywhere else, they don't need to undergo the kind of development toward something different that is the core of a character-driven story.

Also, rather than saying that slice-of-life stories emphasize setting, I would suggest that they primarily emphasize atmosphere. Often that is, indeed, derived from the setting, but it can also be from the characters & their interactions, the music, the art and coloring, the voice acting--preferably a combination of all of these. Supporting characters in slice-of-life anime might evolve, but the central characters are often pillars of constancy. We understand them, love them and don't want them to change.
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Old 2007-03-05, 17:43   Link #11
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I believe ARIA to be the archetypal slice-of-life anime by excellence. You get a show where nothing, nothing, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING at all happens, and it stills becomes something extremely enjoyable for people who appreciate slice-of-life. In ARIA, the emphasis is on something that, as Joojoobees states, can be called the 'setting'.

But I'd rather say that such 'setting' is focused in what I understand as, like the title denotes it, a portion, fragment, a slice of everyday life, with all its boredom and monotony. But not only that, the focus on these portions of everyday life has to be put, in my opinion, on drawing from such boredom and monotony the beauty and excitement of everyday life. That is something ARIA excels at doing, and that's why I consider it the mother of all slice-of-life shows (although it's quite a recent title...).
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Old 2007-03-05, 21:13   Link #12
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Agreed 100%. Aria really is the epitome of the genre; I can only hope that more series like it will be made in the future.
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Old 2007-03-05, 23:15   Link #13
Joojoobees
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Red face Aria the archetype

Quote:
Originally Posted by WanderingKnight View Post
I believe ARIA to be the archetypal slice-of-life anime by excellence.
Aria is one of only two shows for which I have read some of the manga. I couldn't believe there was actually a whole chapter devoted to scraping barnacles off of the boats!

As a fan of the genre, and of the manga, I'm ashamed to admit I haven't watched the anime yet. :kicks self in ass:

Oh! And here is a line from the special note to the reader by the mangaka at the end of the first volume of Aria. It seems pertinant to the discussion.

Kozue Amano
"There are so many wonderful places like this in the world. Some are exciting, and some are heartwarming. I hope some of that same kind of feeling comes through in my work."

Last edited by Joojoobees; 2007-03-05 at 23:27.
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Old 2007-03-06, 00:47   Link #14
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"heartwarming"...this reminds me that the Japanese have a genre they call "iyashii" manga and anime, which I gather translates to "heartwarming". So, what do you all think about that term and how does it fit into what we're talking about? If it does.
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Old 2007-03-06, 00:50   Link #15
Joojoobees
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ueda View Post
"heartwarming"...this reminds me that the Japanese have a genre they call "iyashii" manga and anime, which I gather translates to "heartwarming". So, what do you all think about that term and how does it fit into what we're talking about? If it does.
I don't know. I was thinking more of giving the feel of the places.
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Old 2007-03-07, 15:20   Link #16
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I like the slice of life anime like "Aria" and "Quiet Country Cafe". They are restful for the mind, like visiting a Japanese Garden, which I guess is kind of the point. They don't have any overarching plot beyond the lives of the charactors in them.

I really never thought of "Mushishi" as being a slice of life anime. I thought it was more like "Mermaid Forest"; a semi occult mysterious anime.

Last edited by Goofus Maximus; 2007-03-07 at 15:21. Reason: adding the quotation marks
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Old 2007-03-10, 09:58   Link #17
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Old 2007-03-10, 11:43   Link #18
Manifold
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goofus Maximus View Post
I like the slice of life anime like "Aria" and "Quiet Country Cafe". They are restful for the mind, like visiting a Japanese Garden, which I guess is kind of the point. They don't have any overarching plot beyond the lives of the charactors in them.

I really never thought of "Mushishi" as being a slice of life anime. I thought it was more like "Mermaid Forest"; a semi occult mysterious anime.
Recently, I've been reading the Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou manga (just look on Wikipedia, a few people have done an excellent job at translating them). If you like the animation, the manga is more of the brilliant same. Simplicity; development of character; tranquil.

I guess the reason I called Mushishi 'slice of life' is because of the lack of action in it but concentrates on character development. It probably doesn't qualify as 'slice of life'..

Addressing the question from the first post:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joojoobees
Do other folks get the same impression that people are dismissive of this genre?
Yeah, definitely. I think it is part of human nature to like violence, situations where people are suppressed and then overcome the suppression, or a general one-sidedness to emotion (whether anger, sadness, grief). Even in soap operas, which have a hidden claim to mimic real life, with real actors, situations are much exaggerated. Death, destruction, hostage taking..

I used to ask my sisters, "Why do you like watching a bunch of actors play out real life?" when they watched soap operas, but now I realise that they aren't. It's as if someone took real life through a filter and sieved out the 'boring' bits.

Which brings me to the bits which this sieve has separated out. Slice of life! Of my friends that like anime, only one would (probably) like slice of life. I think the others expect to watch anime to provoke some extreme of emotion.

Now that I've typed some.. A thought occurred to me: perhaps people don't like to watch 'Slice of Life' because they expect to watch anime as a way to escape to another world, not to see more of the same.

(Hmm. Not sure which direction I'm taking, all that rhetoric just poured out..)

Last edited by Manifold; 2007-03-10 at 11:56. Reason: Typos.
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Old 2007-03-10, 11:54   Link #19
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Ummm

Sounds great.
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Old 2007-03-10, 12:51   Link #20
Joojoobees
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Arrow

Quote:
Originally Posted by Manifold View Post
Recently, I've been reading the Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou manga
Yeah, I've been meaning to read the YKK manga myself. I'm not much of a manga reader, however, and I dislike reading things on the computer, so I haven't gotten around to it yet.

Quote:
I guess the reason I called Mushishi 'slice of life' is because of the lack of action in it but concentrates on character development. It probably doesn't qualify as 'slice of life'..
Well, I only watched one episode of Mushishi (which I liked), so I don't think I can really comment.

I do think it is important to say that real artistic products are likely to blend a number of elements, so just because a story has elements of one genre doesn't mean it can't be an example of another genre as well. I think this shows up a problem with defining slice-of-life in purely negative terms ("lack of action", "de-emphising plot", "nothing really happens"). It should be possible to define slice-of-life in a positive way, so that slice-of-life elements can be identified in a story as much as any other genre indicators can be identified. I'm not going to profess a knowledge of the proper definition, but to throw some ideas on the table: "emphasis on setting", "lots of description / careful observation".

Quote:
Yeah, definitely. I think it is part of human nature to like violence, situations where people are suppressed and then overcome the suppression, or a general one-sidedness to emotion (whether anger, sadness, grief).
And another thing, it is an easy thing to do as a storyteller. Stories like this have been told from ancient times. People who have been schooled in storytelling are taught to emulate (or at least admire) those who tell stories with a good plot. There is nothing wrong with that, but other kinds of stories have been developed, and they are worth telling as well.

Quote:
Even in soap operas, which have a hidden claim to mimic real life, with real actors, situations are much exaggerated. Death, destruction, hostage taking..

I used to ask my sisters, "Why do you like watching a bunch of actors play out real life?" when they watched soap operas, but now I realise that they aren't. It's as if someone took real life through a filter and sieved out the 'boring' bits.
Interesting comment about soap operas. In a way they do pretend to be the experiences of everyday people, but when compared to slice-of-life, they clearly are not. They are jam-packed with drama. Drama turned up to 11.

Quote:
Of my friends that like anime, only one would (probably) like slice of life. I think the others expect to watch anime to provoke some extreme of emotion.

Now that I've typed some.. A thought occurred to me: perhaps people don't like to watch 'Slice of Life' because they expect to watch anime as a way to escape to another world, not to see more of the same.
Well people do probably watch TV and movies (and read books of all sorts) to escape to another world. I don't think shows like Aria and Yokohama Shopping Trip are very much like our world, however. At least they still retain an escapist quality for me.

I think your comments above, regarding the intensity of emotions provoked by other genres is an interesting idea. Ueda mentioned the notion of "heartwarming" earlier, and it does seem to be that slice-of-life is more associated with gentler emotional states (you mentioned "tranquility", yourself).
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