Slice of life is a genre where pretty much nothing happens. It’s just you witnessing the daily life and trials of the characters. My first introduction to this genre was Soul Eater Not and I find that it’s something weird to like.
When pretty much nothing happens but some comedy scenes and minor events it’s hard to justify watching it, it’s hard to see much artistic value or merit in these types of shows. I do believe that it’s definitely there though and that their narratives can be just as meaningful as they were actually made by a person.
If you remember (or are still having) English lessons then there’s a good chance that you’ve needed to analyse the meaning and intention of something that was written by an author. Chances are that you had to do this with some uninteresting book with pretty clear motivations. E.G I had to do this with a book called “Of Mice and Men” and whilst I appreciated the social messages it portrayed I still found little enjoyment in reading it. And even less enjoyment when it came to analysing it.
The reason why I’m bringing this up is that everyone in my class didn’t really think that any of their interpretations was intended by the author and that it was all accidental. This is completely false. An example was when the walls in the bunk house were completely white, to highlight the bleakness and emptiness of the ranch workers life’s, saying that it was described as “White washed” because the walls were actually white is pretty idiotic in my opinion. If you wanted to show the empty, unfulfilled and uninteresting life’s of these characters what colour would you make the walls?
The notion that a person who didn’t create the art thinks more about it is ridiculous. If there’s a plot hole in a show the only reason why the writers didn’t remove it is that they didn’t have time or they cared more about the rest of the story. They know the story back to front and have definitely thought about it.
This means that the same things apply to slice of life. The intentions and messages of the author / writer may be less complex in these shows but that doesn’t make them less valid. Some shows might seem really important but I still feel like you can get a lot out of slice of life shows if you look for it.
Starting with our first example “soul eater not” the message is clearly one of friendship and enjoying time with each other. Whilst you might not like this idea or find it overused and dull the message is valid all the same in expressed in different ways. The most notable being the weapon sharing scene.
Being in a friendship with an odd number of people always presents its own challenges especially when you need to be in pairs. This conflict is explored (a bit) and is eventually solved in the end when two people decide to share the same weapon. This is a little clichéd and dull but now that I think more about it, the act seems a lot more meaningful. Fighting with shared weapons is near impossible and tediously annoying so their putting their life’s in danger by doing this just because their friends. As well as this it would have been all too simple for one friend to just give up on it and graciously allow the other person to pair up with them. The fact that this never happens and they both want to fight with her (the person can turn into a weapon) is a fairly unique thing which the audience can take a lot from.
As I don’t want this to be too long I’ll talk about Oreimo which is a slice of life show that I still haven’t completed yet but is normally written off as some kind of strange incest anime, which really isn’t the case. The show mainly explores the social aspects of being an otaku and how other characters react to it. Whilst the message is still simple it’s not any less valid. It appears to be trying to justify the otaku lifestyle and portray how you shouldn’t judge people who are like that. As well as this it focus on the trust, friendship and helpfulness that should be prevalent in brother sister relationships. It tries to demonstrate the importance of family and sticking together to help each other. One interesting conflict that I found was with the ero game that the dad confiscates. It presents an interesting conflict of morality as we know that she really shouldn’t be playing these games yet we also know that she really likes them and is still very innocent when it comes to them. I hope you agree that the resolution was pretty funny.
I’m not a huge fan of the slice of life genre however it does have good reasons for existing as the shows aren’t any less meaningful. Even if you don’t find things like authorial intent and messages important and would prefer to be simply entertained then it will still offer you that.
So if you ever feel like you’re wasting your time with a slice of life show where nothing happens then just know that it’s not a waste and is probably just as meaningful as any other anime you could be watching instead. You shouldn’t really feel that ashamed about watching something like this anyway there’s nothing wrong with finding interest in some characters life.
If you want to make the argument that all anime are slice of life anime then whilst that’s technically true it’s not really very helpful as it makes the word useless. It should be used to describe a specific type of show otherwise the word becomes redundant in general and nobody wants that. Can you imagine if every single anime had this category on top of the genres it already has? It would suck terribly. Slice of life should exist because people like it and find meaning to it. It’s just that simple.