I don’t know if this actually counts as a genre unique culture, but I see it a lot in anime in manga so I’m going to talk about it. This week, I’m covering Slice of Life.
So, what is Slice of Life? Well, according to the internet, Slice of Life is the depiction of mundane experiences. Personally, I think this definition fits the bill pretty nicely. These mundane experiences can range from school life to working. Basically, if it’s not sport or action it might be Slice of Life. Remember back when I was talking about Shoujo and how those stories might be able to show up in real life? Well, Slice of Life takes that one step further. Just by living life you’re practically living your own Slice of Life anime/manga, that is just how mundane things can get.
Unfortunately because of this, it’s really hard to drive a story with just Slice of Life alone. Usually, in Slice of Life stories, there is another genre to go along with it. The most common ones I have seen are mystery, sport, horror, music, romance, magic, and fantasy. However, I have seen other genres paired up with Slice of Life, like supernatural. Still, I’m don’t really want to list them out because we would be here forever. Through out my entire time reading manga, I believe Slice of Life is the most versatile genre. Even, action oriented anime will eventually have aspects of Slice of Life at one point or another. If there was just nonstop action, eventually the reader would just get tired of the series. To stop this authors usually, put in a filler (usually Slice of Life in nature) to mix things up a bit. A good example of this is Code Geass, as the have a good balance of action and more mundane activities like school.
Now, I get to the part were I get to talk about general trends with the genre. Because, the Slice of Life genre is so vast, I’ll be excluding any supernatural or fantasy stuff and the unique cases as well. By doing this, we actually cut down the trends by a lot.
To start off, the first trend I want to talk about is school. This trend is by the far the one I’m most familiar with. I like to split this trend further into two separate categories called clubs and non-clubs. In club manga, the protagonist or group of protagonist join or start a club. Examples of this are Yuru Camp or K-ON. While still Slice of Life in essence, the story is usually focused on what ever club activity the protagonist are doing. This is what leads most Slice of Life anime to end up with some pretty obscure sub-genre like music. Because of the club centric plot, these stories don’t to worry as much about activities to do. Most of the time, episodes or chapters will be filled with club activity unlike with non-club stories. In non-club stories, the author doesn’t have the luxury of falling back on club activities or the like. And because of this, each chapter or episode usually has its own unique plot and is heavily character based. Not to say, the characters from other genres aren’t unique, it’s just that characters from non-club Slice of Life media need to be really intriguing to keep an audience. Without any really plot or intriguing aspects about the world, the only thing left is the character to build a story around. If you’re reading a Slice of Life story, you’re reading because of the characters.
The last trend I want to talk about, is the working trend. This trend is really similar to club Slice of Life where there is already some kind of set order of events. Like the name suggest, the protagonist is usually coming into a new job and we follow them as they learn about their new occupation. However, if that was the only thing working manga had to offer there would be much of a story. So from time to time, there will be breaks from the work place. At that point events would happen as if the anime was a non-club Slice of Life. Personally, I just find these types of stories a bit more rare and easier to find similarities between.
In the end, I feel Slice of Life can be one of the most unique genre in anime/manga. Because of how broad the genre is, there can be so many unique stories. Unlike Shonen or Shoujo, there isn’t a need to pander to a certain audience which allows the author to be completely free with whatever activities do. Character could be doing calligraphy in one episode and baseball in another. It doesn’t feel weird either, because of how free Slice of Life is. All in all, Slice of Life can be a nice change of pace to just relax.