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Come to Otakon 2015, See Great Ugly Manga!

“Slice of Life” they say

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This post is inspired by my recently having watched more of Kino’s Journey after a long delay of not-watching Kino’s Journey. Warning: Rambling ahead

I’ve realized how unusual it is that when I think of the term “Slice of Life,” my mind goes immediately to anime. It’s a genre I enjoy immensely, from Azuma Kiyohiko’s works to Haibane Renmei and beyond. You could even consider Genshiken to be “slice of life,” and much of Ogiue’s appeal comes from the small moments in her life. But then, why is it that “slice of life” is so associated with anime, instead of, for example, shows with live actors?

I’ve spoken to friends before about what it is that makes an anime feel like an anime, what differentiates it from other mediums, what makes us come back for more. I think in certain cases, it has to do with this sort of slice of life pacing that’s just not seen as often elsewhere. Of course, I’m not saying that all anime is slice of life, or that there are no slice of life shows outside of anime, but merely that there is a recurring trend that a good amount of people who like anime like it because of shows such as Haibane Renmei. Even if this genre of anime and manga doesn’t occur as often as I think it does, I don’t think anyone would fault me when I say that when it occurs, it leaves a big impression on its fans, perhaps more than even the most soulful of epic tales.

Slice of Life, what does it mean? It means, basically, a story where “normal” life occurs, with less focus on dramatic events and more on the day to day occurrences to which we can relate. I’ve spoken a bit about moe before, and I don’t want to turn this into a moe essay, but I can’t help but feel that there is a corollation between the two. When watching a slice of life show, one desires to live the life of the characters, what tends to be a slow-paced life where the characters involve simply enjoy each passing day. In moe, the appeal is in the “weakness” of characters, the raw, emotional side which is different from stopping and smelling the roses, but also invokes a feeling of realism. If slice of life is “I want to live how they live,” then I think moe is “I feel how she feels.” And of course, the two can co-exist and are often together.

I wonder, then, if animation, as shown through the aesthetics we associate with anime, lends itself to the slice of life genre, much like how moe is associated with anime and manga. Characters tend to be pure and beautiful (though not necessarily attractive). They exist as (seemingly) simple characters leading (relatively) simple lives, no matter what the circumstances. They generally consist of flat colors with minimal shading and black outlines. Due to budget constraints, animation tends to not be very fluid, so still images and animation shortcuts are used, which may lead to slower-paced shows (though that is sometimes called “filler”).  All this may lead to why “Slice of Life” as a genre has attracted so many people to anime.

Or maybe I should just talk to Scrubs fans more often.

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