This is it, folks! The final installment. We didn’t quite make it to 13, and there was no beach episode, but otherwise, we hope we were able to do justice to the tone, heart, and charm of slice-of-life in our summertime special devoted to this beloved genre. Thank you for joining us on this laid-back adventure!
Though truth be told, it ended up being a little less relaxing and a bit more intense on our end than anticipated. But that’s cool, because as we’ve been writing, we’ve also been learning and growing… and so here are a few final pearls we’ve gleaned from the slice-of-life series we’ve been writing about. And maybe a few more recommendations too. (After all, one can never have too much slice-of-life, right?)
Series Recap, by way of links:
escapism • optimism • ordinary times • parable • rest
Aria • Non Non Biyori • Planetes • Slow Loop
In this corner of the world (which is incidentally the title of a slice-of-life movie that I still need to watch), it’s back-to-school season, which brings with it an onslaught of assignments and stresses and other troublesome situations to deal with. I’ve found myself tempted to perfectionism and overwork, two of the themes we wrote about for this series! So not only have I been learning from this series as we’ve been writing, but I’ll also continue to learn more and more as the months go by. Which, if you ask me, is awfully fitting for a series on slice-of-life.
On a different note, I’ve been surprised by the variety of shows in this genre. From Non Non Biyori‘s laid-back, tranquil tone to Kobayashi‘s zany comedy and occasional drama to Planetes‘s fascinating sci-fi setting, there’s something for everyone in the city of slice-of-life. I’ve got a few more series on my watchlist now.
And before I pass it off to Josh, I’d be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to shill Hyouka, a show which I didn’t get to write about for the series but which addresses some of the things we’ve been talking about, and is also just beautiful and restful and happy in general.
Watch Hyouka. That’s your directive from me. (Or maybe that’s too stressful for slice-of-life?)
Thanks, sleepminusminus! Well, it looks like it’s time to wrap up our Summer of Slice of Life! Truth be told, I had a lot of fun with the articles I wrote, and the Aria article in particular really helped me come to grips with what I’ve been going through. It was PRODIGIOUSLY cathartic. It was also amazing seeing what my brothers and sisters came up with! Their articles really highlight what Slice-of-Life is all about and how it touches each and every one of us. Slice-of-Life anime has always been a big draw for me in my anime lifetime. There’s something special about spending time with a character or group of characters living their lives. Shows like Interviews with Monster Girls, Usagi Drop, My Roommate is a Cat, Aharen-san wa Hakarenai (Aharen is Indecipherable), and Barakamon allow us to see familiar characters who are just like us…give or take. We see how they deal with everyday life’s daily highs and lows. It’s a look inside a life that’s not our own, and by seeing them in a vulnerable state, we gain insight into who they are.
It could be argued that in our own lives, now more than ever, we could take a minute to look inside our fellow brothers’ and sisters’ lives and see what they’re dealing with so we can understand them better and gain insight. Simply exercising Christ-like traits of compassion, love, and understanding can go a LONG way in these…ahem…interesting times.
If we could try to understand what makes a person tick with a compassionate eye, just as Tetsuo-Sensei wants to learn more about his demi-human students, how Raidou tries to understand Aharen, and how Subaru tries to understand his new feline roommate, this world would be a much better place. Though I doubt anyone will understand cats. Those little mischievous biscuit makers are as indecipherable as Aharen.
For all the talk about profound themes we can find in slice-of-life anime, as a longtime fan of the genre, I have to talk about one element that might not seem profound, but is important in its own way: cuteness. Lots of slice-of-life shows are loved for being adorable, both in the character designs and in the behavior of the characters. There is even an entire sub-genre of slice-of-life, known as “cute girls doing cute things,” in which all-female casts get up to various hijinks and invite viewers to simply appreciate how cute it all is.
Cuteness might not seem very important when compared to major themes like the importance of rest, but I would say that we should appreciate the cuteness of slice-of-life series more, not less. After all, artists, character designers, and animators worked hard to make these characters visually appealing, while authors and scriptwriters made sure that cuteness would come through in the characters’ actions and voice actors provided suitably cute voices to go with them. Cuteness is an art form, and like all art forms, it is something we can enjoy and in that enjoyment, we recognize the creative abilities of the people behind the art, which is an extension of appreciating the beauty of God’s creation. God did create us with a natural affinity to cuteness, after all, so cuteness must be something good to Him.
For some of my favorite cute anime, there are cute-girls-doing-cute-things classics like Hidamari Sketch, K-On!, Kiniro Mosaic, and Is the Order a Rabbit?, as well as other series like, well, pretty much every series Josh mentioned above. I could go on forever listing cute anime, but since cuteness is ultimately in the eye of the beholder, I suggest simply watching any slice-of-life show and enjoying whatever moments come up that strike you as cute. So go forth and embrace the adorableness of slice-of-life anime! Cuteness is justice!
Blaise Pascal once famously quipped, “I am going to make a long speech today; I haven’t had time to prepare a short one.” And oh boy was he ever right! “Let’s do a series on slice-of-life,” I said. “Let’s write lots of short, easy posts on our favorite series,” I said. If only I’d come across Pascal’s quotation a little sooner, I would have realized that no, actually, writing short, easy posts about series and ideas that are close to your heart is not at all, well, short and easy. (Case in point: my parable post was at one point over 3000 words long!) But it is really, really rewarding.
I feel like I’ve been in spiritual boot camp these past few weeks, writing and working with our writers on this series! Josh’s draft on letting go came in at exactly the moment my faithful laptop of 11 years died, and I immediately had the opportunity to put into practice the last thing I had read on its screen. Meanwhile, sleepminusminus’s piece on the crucial incremental growth that comes through ordinary times coincided with the start of six weeks of somewhat tedious research for work. Needless to say, I’ve been both encouraged and challenged by this series of posts. I hope they’ve spoken to you too, dear reader.
In closing though, let me echo what stardf29 said: working on this series has awakened in me a much greater appreciation for those who craft these simple, easy, relaxing shows, and particularly for the writers who adapt and translate static black and white into that perfect blend of energy, pacing and peacefulness that soothes and delights. My hat is off especially to Reiko Yoshida, who handled series composition for my personal favorites, Non Non Biyori and everything ever touched by Naoko Yamada. Go check ’em out if you haven’t already!
And so that’s a wrap from us! Don’t worry though, there are still a few more weeks of summer left… So go enjoy them with some anime. And let us know in the comments if you’d like to see the Summer of SoL return next year!
2 thoughts on “The Things We Learn from Slice-of-Life”
It would be great if this series returned next year! Loved reading through each one. May God continue to bless you guys into the rest of the summer (and keep you guys cool in this heat, lol.)
Thank you so much! I personally think it would be a great addition to our yearly calendar! Will try and persuade the others. 😉 Have a good one!