Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Six Anime With a Slice of Life

Slice of Life anime are pretty unique to Japanese animation.  Not many television shows are produced, much less an animated series, that are just about the typical everyday life of a group of people or kids.
Flickr / Pink Sherbet Photography
There are teen dramas, but these are more soap operas than slice of life which sometimes doesn't seem to have a purpose. The focus is on the enjoyment of living and the small things that happen every day.  Often these types of anime focus on  school, but they often have show content that is cute. I have chosen six series here as examples of the genre that range from normal reality to fantasy (with some sci fi in the mix). I'm not saying they are the best or anything like that (I didn't include Lucky Star either as has too many in-jokes) but they are good if you find you like this sub-genre.  All of the series I talk about here have had North American region 1 releases, except for One Off.

Azumanga Daioh
Azumanga Daioh is an anime television series by J.C.Staff that aired in 2002 and was adapted from a four panel manga series.  It is a funny show that can get pretty bizarre at times, but Chiyo-chan is cute and the other characters are a lot of fun. I like Sakaki's obsession with cats and her happy ending.

Azumanga Daioh chronicles the everyday life in an unnamed Japanese high school of six girls and two of their teachers, revolving around child prodigy Chiyo Mihama and her struggle to fit in with girls five years older.

Sora No Woto
Sound of the Sky (So Ra No Wo To) is a 12-episode anime aired in Japan in 2010. Sound of the Sky was a nice change of pace as it was an original property and not adapted from a manga (although a lot of the regular stereotypes show up in it such as a character that sure reminds me of Rei Ayanami).  This was one of my favourite shows for 2010-11 as I really enjoyed the characterizations and the odd European / Japanese mix of culture in it.  The show is about a young girl named named Kanata Sorami who joins the military to learn bugling after watching a rendition of "Amazing Grace" by a mysterious trumpeter of the Helvetian Army. This show is both fun and serious, but mainly fun and about military garrison life of the 1121st Platoon in a backwater outpost in the town of Seize (inspired by Cuenca, Spain) in Helvetia (another name for Switzerland).  This show has awesome music by Kalafina.

The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic world that has the technology of the early twentieth century with mechs (go figure... ), long after a great war that has ruined much of the earth.  There is also a very cool high-tech tank in this series that plays an important role later.

Haibane Renmei
Haibane Renmei (Charcoal Feather Federation) is a 13-episode anime series based on the work of Yoshitoshi ABe.  The music for the series is composed by Kow Otani and it is one of the most beautiful anime soundtracks I have listened to.  This is an older series that is actually fairly serious as there is a deep mystery setup in its universe that center around the Haibane, and the fate of the Haibane.  However, it also presents a simplistic, more rural life (and I also wonder if it is post-apocalyptic or a "manufactured" world by other beings).  The series follows Rakka, a newly hatched Haibane(a being resembling an angel), and other characters in the city of Glie , a walled town with a single gate through which only a mysterious group, the Toga, are allowed to enter or exit.

All of the Haibane live in "Old Home," an abandoned school in the country near the town of Glie. As time passes, Rakka learns more her world. All Haibane also work in the city and must follow strict rules.  I like the bit about their halos and the story about redemption that flows through this show, which obviously has religious undertones, but I don't think it is really about any particular religion (even with the angel imagery).

K-On is a story about four Japanese high school girls who join Sakuragaoka Girl's High School's light music club to save it from being disbanded, and they are the only members of the club.  Yui Hirasawa, the main character, has no experience playing musical instruments or reading sheet music, but she eventually becomes an excellent guitar player. From then on, Yui, along with bassist Mio Akiyama, drummer Ritsu Tainaka, and keyboardist Tsumugi Kotobuki spend their school days practicing, performing, and hanging out together.  The music for this show has been very popular in Japan.

This is a wonderful, fun, little show about the adventures around the music club.  It has all of the standard tropes like a rich club member, beach episodes, and school festivals.  No particular plot other than to graduate from high-school, drink tea, eat desserts,and play music.

Hanasaku Iroha
Hanasaku Iroha ( "The ABCs of Blooming" or "The Colors of Blooming") is a Japanese 26-episode anime television series produced by P.A. Works that aired in 2011.  I really enjoyed watching all of this series with its wonderful visuals and the great characters.  The opening music in this series is quite upbeat and catchy.  Both this and Sora No Woto were in my top shows for 2011.

The show is set at a hot springs inn called the Kissuisō way out in the country, but is nothing like the harem anime Love Hina (also set at a hot springs inn - which I still remember fondly) and is basically all about the ins and out of running such an institution.  The story centers around Ohana Matsumae, a 16-year-old teenager from Tokyo who ends up living and working at the inn run by her grandmother.  She makes new friends and needs to resolve her relationship with her now long-distance boyfriend.

Ichigo Mashimaro
Strawberry Marshmallow (Ichigo Mashimaro) is a Japanese manga series that was adapted into an anime series in 2005.  This is one cute show about a bunch of junior high school girls, their friendships, and adventures as they make it through school and summer holidays.  The show centers on Chika Ito, her older sister and her friends, especially Miu her best friend from next door.  Lots of comedy ensues and a foreign exchange student is introduced later to liven things up even more.

Finally, I want show you something I haven't seen yet except in the trailer below, but it looks very laid back and slice of lifey.  This new OVA is called Oneoff (わんおふ) from the director of Kino's Journey and has some really nice looking art.  It is about a high school girl that loves riding her scooter to everything from enjoying great views, drinking tea, and going to school.

Thats all!

Other Six Favourite Anime Posts
I've also written some mecha anime inspired SF. It has received some good reviews. Visit here if you are interested.  I could always use some community support from anime fans!


  1. Hey, good list. Not the biggest fan of K-On but I watched and liked pretty much all the others you mentioned. BTW have you seen A-Channel? It feels very much like a K-On ripoff at first but the story and characters are very good. If you have a chance check it out.

    1. I'll definitely check out A-Channel. On my watch list. Since I blogged this entry, I've also seen a couple of other good slice of life dramas on Crunchyroll. There was Tari Tari and Wagnaria for generally more light hearted fare. For a more serious drama there was Kids on the Slope and Usagi Drop.


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