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Old 2009-11-03, 12:35   Link #1
Mercator
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Why is there so much slice-of-life?

I am curious as to why there are so many anime in the slice-of-life category? While there are other elements that blend with this genre (comedy, drama, and other variations), there is most always an emphasis on the everyday experience of the characters within these shows. Aria and Emma are good examples of slice-of-life.

Honestly, the first time I've even heard "slice-of-life" to describe a show was in the anime fandom, and it makes me wonder if this stuff is specifically more suited towards anime fans or people who enjoy this kind of escapism towards the mundane.

I'm not a really big fan of it myself, and it took some initial struggling to watch the previously mentioned shows. Although I did manage to enjoy both in the end.
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Old 2009-11-03, 13:07   Link #2
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This question has a similar answer to "why are there so many soap operas?"

You see, people watch movies and series to entertain themselves. Some find it enough when they just escape the harsh reality by watching idealized worlds. Although most view animated works as kid stuff, Japan has turned them into low budget soap operas or just social comedies and dramas. After a certain age, huge robots and magic gizmos are no longer that appealing and people prefer more down to Earth stories that can actually make sense to the most part. This is the void slice of life comes to fulfil. Catchphrases like "Lelouch vi Britannia comands you to love me" have less appeal to such a crowd than a good old "will you marry me?" accompanied by a romantic dinner and a ring.
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Old 2009-11-03, 13:26   Link #3
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The Japanese are simply good at it. Portraying routine/somewhat mundane day-to-day normal life experiences in a way that's realistic, emotionally gripping, and at least mildly entertaining, is something that they manage to do far better than most North American shows (cartoon and live-action alike) do, imo. The main reason, I think, is because the Japanese actually play it pretty straight. They don't play it purely for comedy, and they "keep it real" so to speak.

The Japanese have a real talent for making school life seem interesting, nostalgic, and sentimental... whereas school scenes in North American shows often seem like utter filler meant purely to kill time between the "good stuff" scenes to me. For anime, school scenes are usually just as important as any other scene.

Part of the reason why I largely switched from liking western comic books to liking anime is that western comic books eventually hit a point where they couldn't convey pleasant everyday life for its characters in a way that made me actually care about them, and want them to preserve what they have. If all a show or story gives you is non-stop fighting within a dystopian environment, it eventually becomes hard to care about the characters, imo.


Now, don't get me wrong... slice of life can start to bore me after awhile as well, but I'm often impressed with how slice of life anime can take the most mundane and normal of scenes, and somehow infuse it with life and charm and sentimentality.
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Old 2009-11-03, 13:36   Link #4
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Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
...but I'm often impressed with how slice of life anime can take the most mundane and normal of scenes, and somehow infuse it with life and charm and sentimentality.
That. For some of us who's high school days totally sucked, SoL gives some nice material for vicarious living. I think it's Vexx that uses a term something along the lines of "what might have been."

Those charming, heartwarming/heartbreaking, happy/sad, sentimental, funny, silly, embarrassing, victorious moments become like a drug and there's always a need for another "fix."
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Old 2009-11-03, 14:19   Link #5
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Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
The Japanese have a real talent for making school life seem interesting, nostalgic, and sentimental... whereas school scenes in North American shows often seem like utter filler meant purely to kill time between the "good stuff" scenes to me. For anime, school scenes are usually just as important as any other scene.

Part of the reason why I largely switched from liking western comic books to liking anime is that western comic books eventually hit a point where they couldn't convey pleasant everyday life for its characters in a way that made me actually care about them, and want them to preserve what they have. If all a show or story gives you is non-stop fighting within a dystopian environment, it eventually becomes hard to care about the characters, imo.
I was originally going to steer clear of this thread due to the fact I don't really get the appeal of straight slice of life myself - I prefer mine mixed with other fare - but I think Triple_R just hit on something way too integral to the appeal of many anime to ignore here. If you can write slow paced scenes effectively, you have a much wider variety of options in scene types and pacing available to you, and many anime seem to be quite good at utilizing slower paced scenes. I don't think I'm the only person who has noticed this, as I recently screened the first half of Moon Phase for one of my anime clubs (I attend two) and one of the reasons people seemed to really like the show was its ability to switch between light hearted comedic scenes and very dark atmospheric scenes.

Of course I've heard criticisms of these kinds of scenes as well. Many members of my other anime club panned Macross F for it's school life scenes... and I'm not sure if this was a matter of just not having patience for them or just that Macross F's school scenes hit on so many school anime tropes that it's hard for some people to enjoy them.

Apologies for the off topic, but to me it's important enough to the appeal of many shows to be worth discussing.
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Old 2009-11-03, 14:29   Link #6
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Hmm, I actually find that there are not enough Slice-of-life series. Maybe because I differentiate the "School Life" as another genre, what is more like a fanservice genre, than real slice-of-life. Dunno.
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Old 2009-11-03, 15:08   Link #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mushi View Post
That. For some of us who's high school days totally sucked, SoL gives some nice material for vicarious living. I think it's Vexx that uses a term something along the lines of "what might have been."

Those charming, heartwarming/heartbreaking, happy/sad, sentimental, funny, silly, embarrassing, victorious moments become like a drug and there's always a need for another "fix."
Agreed. Anime school-life portrays a... dynamic relationship ideal, where the chief characters tend to be part of clubs, or brigades, or classes, where there's very strong relational bonds. Even if the chief characters are poor students, and/or subpar athletes, you still have these endearing school friendship dynamics surrounding them.

Personally, I find this much, much more enjoyable and thought-provoking to watch than the North American-styled Jocks vs. Nerds Part 14 789, or Bullies vs. Goths, or any of the various tropes seen in depictions of North American school-life. In anime school settings, classmates form groups and friendships based on similar interests or complimentary personalities or shared visions for their school - it crosses educational and/or athletic success boundaries. I find this less shallow, and honestly more reflective of my own school life when growing up, than the jocks/nerds/goths/emos/bullies/*insert simplistic clique term here* approach.


Quote:
Originally Posted by 0utf0xZer0 View Post
I was originally going to steer clear of this thread due to the fact I don't really get the appeal of straight slice of life myself - I prefer mine mixed with other fare - but I think Triple_R just hit on something way too integral to the appeal of many anime to ignore here. If you can write slow paced scenes effectively, you have a much wider variety of options in scene types and pacing available to you, and many anime seem to be quite good at utilizing slower paced scenes. I don't think I'm the only person who has noticed this, as I recently screened the first half of Moon Phase for one of my anime clubs (I attend two) and one of the reasons people seemed to really like the show was its ability to switch between light hearted comedic scenes and very dark atmospheric scenes.
I absolutely agree with you here. A truly epic scene involves more than simply epic scale or epic visuals... it also involves real emotional investment. You have to truly care about the characters and/or settings involved. Light-hearted comedic scenes can really help you to care about the characters. If the lives of the protagonists seem to have some real enjoyment and serene worth to them, then you can't help but to really start rooting for them when they face the various big bads or dramatic scenarios.

Gurren Lagann wasn't awesomely epic simply because of its epic scale and epic visuals... it was because the anime made you truly care about these protagonists. You liked them and you could see how they had a zest for life, so you wanted them to overcome the Beastmen and the Anti-Spirals.

A lot of modern western fiction has completely forgotten this entirely, sad to say. Stories rush headlong into the action before first giving you a good reason to honestly care about the protagonist(s) and their struggles.


This is a real edge that anime holds through out popular entertainment worldwide today, I think. It's definitely one of the reasons why anime is my main entertainment interest today.


Quote:

Of course I've heard criticisms of these kinds of scenes as well. Many members of my other anime club panned Macross F for it's school life scenes... and I'm not sure if this was a matter of just not having patience for them or just that Macross F's school scenes hit on so many school anime tropes that it's hard for some people to enjoy them.

Apologies for the off topic, but to me it's important enough to the appeal of many shows to be worth discussing.
No problem at all.

What I would add is just as nothing-but-action can make you numb to the characters and story after awhile, nothing-but-slice-of-life can put you to sleep, imo.

You need a balance there.


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Originally Posted by Solais View Post
Hmm, I actually find that there are not enough Slice-of-life series. Maybe because I differentiate the "School Life" as another genre, what is more like a fanservice genre, than real slice-of-life. Dunno.
Well... if you separate school life from slice-of-life there probably isn't a lot of slice-of-life. Most animes tend to focus on teenage characters, after all.
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Old 2009-11-03, 16:08   Link #8
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I think the question that should be asked is why is there so much derivative slice of life comedy with all female characters doing cute things and going to the beach and shopping etc. I'm dying for another show like Welcome to The NHK to tackle some real life issues and ask tough questions but not necessarily answer them with their narrative.

Hmmm...I just noticed that people call what I am referring to "school life". Thanks for the definition.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
The Japanese are simply good at it. Portraying routine/somewhat mundane day-to-day normal life experiences in a way that's realistic, emotionally gripping, and at least mildly entertaining, is something that they manage to do far better than most North American shows (cartoon and live-action alike) do, imo. The main reason, I think, is because the Japanese actually play it pretty straight. They don't play it purely for comedy, and they "keep it real" so to speak.
I don't think that's true at all. I can cite Californication right off the top of my head as a show that is as brilliantly insightful about the lifestyle of an outsider trapped in the lifestyle of nightlife L.A as it is witty and amusing. Unfortunately it's not popular and will probably be cancelled after this season.
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Old 2009-11-03, 16:13   Link #9
DragoZERO
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"Slice of life" is easy to use when you want to relate to the audience. And relating to the audience is one of the best things any anime/manga/movie can do. So, they do it.
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Old 2009-11-03, 17:05   Link #10
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Originally Posted by Kaioshin Sama View Post
I think the question that should be asked is why is there so much derivative slice of life comedy with all female characters doing cute things and going to the beach and shopping etc. I'm dying for another show like Welcome to The NHK to tackle some real life issues and ask tough questions but not necessarily answer them with their narrative.

Hmmm...I just noticed that people call what I am referring to "school life". Thanks for the definition.
I've never had any trouble getting these kinds of shows. What's the appeal of harem shows? Cute girls? Good, now cut the male lead (which many dislike anyway) and produce a distilled form. I'd also argue that the mere fact that the concept of moe exists in anime means that there's more of a defined market for this kind of thing than in the west. Creators in any society operate within a framework of ideas, after all.

NHK was a great show, but the otaku characters are simply too "out there" to qualify as representative for me any more so than the MMO playing guy qualifies as typical of MMO players for me. The otaku I've met are all far better adjusted, although I supposed you could say the fact I've met them is selection bias at work.
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Old 2009-11-03, 18:03   Link #11
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Originally Posted by 0utf0xZer0 View Post
I've never had any trouble getting these kinds of shows. What's the appeal of harem shows? Cute girls? Good, now cut the male lead (which many dislike anyway) and produce a distilled form. I'd also argue that the mere fact that the concept of moe exists in anime means that there's more of a defined market for this kind of thing than in the west. Creators in any society operate within a framework of ideas, after all.

NHK was a great show, but the otaku characters are simply too "out there" to qualify as representative for me any more so than the MMO playing guy qualifies as typical of MMO players for me. The otaku I've met are all far better adjusted, although I supposed you could say the fact I've met them is selection bias at work.
What's wrong with a male lead or male characters in general? I mean granted a lot of them tend to be either weak willed wusses or insufferable loudmouths in these kinds of shows and don't really grow as character, but it doesn't have to be that way, it just is unfortunately. It's the fact that they don't even try to have good male characters a lot of the time that is at fault, not an inherent problem in the idea of a male character.

Incidentally the thing with that otaku character in NHK was that his hobby was actually played as being a frequent weakness and character/social flaw as opposed to a celebrated strength like in for example shows like Lucky Star, which is I think a far more accurate representation of the lifestyle since it didn't make him a bad person, but it clearly limited his potential. Plus he clearly had a lot more problems going for him than just being hooked on otaku culture that made him so neurotic and paranoid. On the other hand Lucky Star's otaku portrayal was clearly just played for gags.

Then again I'll admit that I prefer characters like Sato to characters like Konata because I'm not really looking for idealized pictures of something or other as is popular to portray these days, but a picture that is a little closer to reality while still allowing for some artistic license. I don't like seeing something celebrated just to cater to a specific demographic, which is a category I think these slice of life shows have fallen into. For that reason if there's going to be a continued dominance of the school life sub-genre within the genre of slice of life I'd kind of like to see a school life show that portrays some element of challenge, struggle or character building to the school lifestyle as opposed to something like K-On or Manabi Straight which portrays it as a pure happy go lucky experience. Maybe take a chance to show what school life is really like in Japan again and make that the goal of the show. Also I really don't think it would hurt to start having male characters in these shows that aren't just played as buffoonish slapstick comic relief.

As for moe, of course there's a more defined market for it in the east than in the west since westerners clearly aren't attracted to it en masse. It's a huge cultural difference.
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Old 2009-11-03, 18:09   Link #12
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Yet another stupid and biased thread questioning today's shows.

People have grown up and they are no longer impressed by shounen shows like DBZ, One Piece, Bleach, and Naruto.

My own question is, why there too many stupid shoujo shows which treated women like crap?
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Old 2009-11-03, 20:11   Link #13
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Originally Posted by DragoZERO View Post
"Slice of life" is easy to use when you want to relate to the audience. And relating to the audience is one of the best things any anime/manga/movie can do. So, they do it.
Ironically that is one thing that slice of life doesn't do well. Because unlike in the life in slice of life my life and mostly everyone isn't surrounded by cute girls nor do I have great life with everyone being nice to me. Real life is full of problem whether it is about school work, problem at home, and there are plenty of people that pisses you off. Slice of life is basically a life that one wish they had, though I suppose in a way it is relating to the audience, or specifically their wishes.
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Yet another stupid and biased thread questioning today's shows.

People have grown up and they are no longer impressed by shounen shows like DBZ, One Piece, Bleach, and Naruto.

My own question is, why there too many stupid shoujo shows which treated women like crap?
But One Piece is still amazing . I still cry reading manga from time to time. Anyhow people haven't grown up their taste just changed.
For the second question you should know the answer, those anime filled moe element do sell very well.

Anyway my general view on slice of life was that it was a genre that I couldn't enjoy. But recently watching Toradora! (freaking love this show) changed my view a bit and I kinda understood why someone would enjoy it. It seems that watching your favorite characters doing something ordinary or every day things and seeing them grow does make the show enjoyable.
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Old 2009-11-03, 20:20   Link #14
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Toradora was also the show that brought slice of life up in my mind, as it was the first time there was no magic, no supernatural, and no "hax" element, I guess. After that, I immediately ended up watching Clannad and After story (I haven't seen to many others, thus I haven't really seen "bad" Slice of Lifes, I guess). The change from action based to more close-to-life was amazing to me, as previously I think any experience with slice of life had been in combination with supernatural or comedy, and I tended towards things like FMA, Noir, and GitS. Slice of life fills a niche, and not a bad niche.
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Old 2009-11-03, 21:06   Link #15
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Ironically that is one thing that slice of life doesn't do well. Because unlike in the life in slice of life my life and mostly everyone isn't surrounded by cute girls nor do I have great life with everyone being nice to me. Real life is full of problem whether it is about school work, problem at home, and there are plenty of people that pisses you off. Slice of life is basically a life that one wish they had, though I suppose in a way it is relating to the audience, or specifically their wishes.
I never said it had to be realistic or accurately portray to our every day life. Just has to relate to it some how.
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Old 2009-11-03, 21:14   Link #16
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One of the first problems we have to tacklet in order to discuss this thread effectively is to separate the classic definition of slice of life, against the modern definition of slice of life.

A classic slife of life series with a pseudo school setting would be Someday Dreamers (Mahou Tsukai ni Taisetsuna Koto), or Sketchbook ~Full Colors~. They are series that are more about exploring the setting a mood, and the plot and even the characters serve as tool to set this certain mood.

On the other hand we have a new wave of people calling shows like Lucky Star, Kanamemo, Minami ke and stuff slice of life. Now I'm not to sure whether I agree with this definition, as other have mentioned these shows fit better under a light comedy or school life genre tag. Even if that's how they have come to be called, I'll continue too call them School Life for the sake of avoiding confusion.

There are series that have slice of life elements or segments, without being slice of life themselves. The aformentioned Toradora and CLANNAD After Story are good examples of this. They are primarily Romance series, and they have certain episodes that serve as character exploration. Many series have these type of scenes, and they serve to make the characters feel more human. Even if they don't provide anything new in terms of character development or plot evelopment, they help in making the audience be more familiar with the characters, an element that may help the authors later when its important for the viewers to be emphatic with the characters struggles.

It's the same as with comedy. Even the most serious series out there will have at least one or two comedic elements during the series. Does that makes it gain a comedy tag for the whole series? Of course not, it just means that that particular segment was comedic, nothing more, nothing less.

As such, considering all this elements we come to the realization that there aren't many pure slice of life series out there, although there may be a fair number of school life and the such. (I mean, the last pure SoL series I can remember is Zoku Natsume Jujinchou).
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Old 2009-11-03, 21:14   Link #17
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Why? because it's a cop out. Just through in an all female cast with cute designs and you have yourself a winner. No need for actual plot or development, just have cute girls doing normal stuff and moe fans will cream their jeans.
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Old 2009-11-03, 21:21   Link #18
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Would you consider ARIA or Yokohama shopping log to be in that category?
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Old 2009-11-03, 21:27   Link #19
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I always equate "slice of life" with "feel good" title. Something to unwind with at the end of a bad work or school day. Nice, relaxing title. The best slice of life titles have a permanent smile planted on my face during the episode and during repeat viewings of the episode.


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Originally Posted by Oppius View Post
Yet another stupid and biased thread questioning today's shows.

People have grown up and they are no longer impressed by shounen shows like DBZ, One Piece, Bleach, and Naruto.

My own question is, why there too many stupid shoujo shows which treated women like crap?
It's all about the pastel bubbles and stars that we get to see when something good happens.
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Old 2009-11-03, 21:32   Link #20
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Why? because it's a cop out. Just through in an all female cast with cute designs and you have yourself a winner. No need for actual plot or development, just have cute girls doing normal stuff and moe fans will cream their jeans.
These threads always tend to attact "shounen sour grapes" .... not only are those remarks unrepresentative, it opens up all the easy counter-attacks on shounen genre (which is designed for young boys to a large extent). Subtle plot, the small moments of life, character exposition, etc are all facets of 'slice of life'.
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