Ingredients for a "Slice of life"
I had never been one who really enjoys slice of life, for the very simple reason being that I preferred blood and metal and over flowers and romance .I had always found slice of life to be a very mundane genre,the same old protagonist who has a bunch of friends or does not have them ,has to through certain trials of life with them or trials of life to get them .Then he finds love, he strives for it ,magic happens and yada yada .We all know how this works. But my indifference towards it only lasted until i discovered what a real slice of life is .Lately I've come to the realization that most of the series that are promoted as slice of life are only just shoujo romances with minor tweaks. If you think about it most of the slice of life that you will read or watch will have a main couple , around whose life the rest of the activities of their friends revolve ,which is clearly no different from any simple shoujo anime which you may have seen .You can easily make out the overly dominating romance theme taking away it’s genuineness as a slice of life .An average slice of life will have one main underlying theme and I have nothing against it being romance ,but a good slice of life won’t let the underlying theme dominate rest of the aspects of the story .Tragedy ,Comedy ,friendship,happiness ,sadness or any other element that the plot has been devised to incorporate should equally shine through even if the base of the story is monotonous. There are good slice of life and then there are great slice of life .According to me a slice of life need to have these essentials ,if it has to rise above the tag of being a “ tweaked shoujo romance “.
1) Realistic :
I know “realistic “is a bit over-remanding since anime and manga are supposed to offer an escape to our imagination. But a little realism hasn't hurt anybody (at least not anyone I know about).What I am demanding is not realism in the story but realism as to how the story is executed ergo the plot /setting. A slice of life is something that is supposed to be inspired from real life (captain obvious here) .So it having unrealistic elements somehow defeats the purpose. I mean if a guy randomly kisses a girl on the first day of school even as a joke, she will “not” be wooed .But you might rather end up with a painful set of testicles .You cannot have three girls live in your house and no one to question you about it.(wait wouldn't that classify it as a harem ? )
2) It’s not a happy - happy world :
As I might have mentioned above for a slice of life to claim authenticity it should have some , if not every element that a person actually experiences in his daily life .I mean I have seen or read some slice of life which are so “happy go lucky” that you possibly cannot contemplate as to what is going on .I mean the author of the story or the screenwriter might not choose to portray tragedy or severe depression in characters or story but completely taking out hardships and complexities of human life from a slice of life series, is like making s'mores with cold marshmallows .And trust me one simply can’t make s’mores with cold marshmallows.
|You see that's what a gourmet version of a good slice of life looks like|
3 ) Keeping it subtle :
While subtle might very much be the synonym for boring when it comes to anime and manga ,for a slice of life I think it’s very necessary .A good slice of life needs to have balance .As mentioned before ,it can always have an underlying theme which is stretched throughout the series but it needs to give enough spotlight to all the aspects that are present within the story as well .If one part of the series becomes extremely prominent (which usually happens with portrayal of romance ) it ruins the setting for me and for many other people if I might speak for my fellow enthusiasts .Suddenly it in turns become a cheesy romance or forced comedy which is not what we bargained for .
4) Food for thought :
According to me what really makes a “slice of life” what it is supposed to be ,is how it makes you change your perspective or make you think about your current one .I am not talking philosophy ,but since anime and mangas are usually made to challenge our conviction about the ordinary I would only expect a slice of life to do the same i.e challenge the ordinary convictions we have on how to live our lives .And if a series does manage to that ,they become unforgettable classics .There have been series who would so subtly plant an idea in your mind that you won’t even realize it until you are already in deep thought .Although I won't say that this aspect is a dire necessity for slice of life .But then again there is a difference between good and great .
Concluding this article i would like to say "Slice of life should be like ice cream ,it should be able to incorporate all things reasonable you add into it and still retain it's original constitution " .Since we are at it , i might as well recommend some slice of life which i really like . Mushishi ,Natsume yuujinchou,Usagi drop,Sakamichi no apollon ,Honey and clover are some of my suggestions .