Slice of life anime typically have no strong central plot, and as such, are more episodic than other genres. The development is more character-driven, with greater focus given to how characters mature and advance as a series progresses. In addition, humour plays a central role in much of these series; the simple and trivial things that are often glossed over in real life are revisited in greater detail, reminding us that life is about the little things just as much as it is the more important things. Of note is the fact that anime of this class will always be set in a world familiar to our own; there are no alternate histories or unusual events, instead, the world is one that we can easily relate to.
Depiction of a group of individual's lives is a fine balance of selecting the aspect that is the most worthwhile to centre events around. I enjoy slice of life anime for their depictions of individual's lives, and their parallels to reality, as well as some of the contrasts these shows have on what people are typically used to in their everyday lives, and ultimately end up being worth watching for being able to raise a smile for an individual.
Azumanga Daioh chronicles the everyday life in a Japanese high school of six girls and two of their teachers: child prodigy Chiyo Mihama and her struggle to fit in with girls five years older, reserved Sakaki and her obsession with the cute animals who seem to hate her, spacey Ayumu "Osaka" Kasuga with a skewed perspective on the world, Koyomi "Yomi" Mizuhara's aggravation at an annoying best friend, Tomo Takino, whose energy is rivaled only by her lack of sense, sporty Kagura and her one-sided rivalry with Sakaki, and their homeroom teacher Yukari Tanizaki and her friend, physical education teacher Minamo "Nyamo" Kurosawa. The story covers three years of tests, talking between classes, culture festivals, and athletic events at school, as well as time spent traveling to and from school, studying at Chiyo's house, and vacations spent at Chiyo's summer beach home and the fictional theme park Magical Land, concluding with the graduation of the main cast.
As my first exposure to the slice-of-life genre, Azumanga Daioh was a straightforward anime centered around the lives of six individuals, each with a defining character trait which would eventually form the basis for a large number of anime concerning the lives of high school students. Azumanga stands out not for its innovation or inspiration, but its honest parody of the lives led by high school students. Comedy is achieved via strong juxataposition of character archetypes, allowing them to bounce off each other and providing for some interesting laughs. While Azumanga Daioh typically remains realistic, the anime also ventures into surrealism at times, which creates a unique plane for the storyline. With a minimalistic plot and relying almost entirely on character interactions to drive events forward, Azumanga Daioh is remarkably easy to follow. Having graduated from high school several years ago, Azumanga Daioh holds one additional appeal to me: that of nostalgia from my old high school days, whether it be hanging out with my friends or gloating about my performance on a recent exam. There is one final aspect that is worth mentioning about Azumanga Daioh: contrasting most anime, I recommend the english dub over the original Japanese audio.
Hasegawa Kodaka is a recent transfer student to St. Chronica's Academy, a Catholic high school. As with every other school he has ever attended, he finds it difficult to make friends there because of his naturally-blond hair and fierce-looking eyes, which make him look like a dangerous "yankee" to his prejudiced schoolmates. One day, Kodaka accidentally comes across the equally solitary and very abrasive Yozora Mikazuki while she converses with her imaginary friend Tomo. Realizing that neither of them have any social lives, they decide that the best way to improve their situation is to form a club: the Neighbor's Club precisely intended to make friends and learn social skills.
Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai- Personal Opinion
Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai is held as one of the most engaging anime offered in Fall 2011, and for good reason. The basic premise is simple: Yozora's goal was to form the Neighbours Club with the purpose of developing deeper bonds with other individuals, simply known as friends. She enlists Kodaka into the club, and soon enough, they amass a diverse cast which ultimately drives the entire basis for the comedy in the series. These individuals have a wide range of backgrounds, leading to a diverse range of interactions between everyone, whether it be Yozora and Sena picking fights with each other wherever they go, Rika and Yukimura's relationship with Kodaka, or Maria and Kobato finding themselves at odds with each other over backgrounds and interests. Coupled with references and jokes about video games and classic anime events (e.g. going to a friend's home or a summer festival), Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai demonstrates how a group of individuals can interact with each other and eventually be as close as any friends. This approach is immensely successful in entertaining a view because everyone has experienced something of this level; whether it is going to a new school or workplace, one eventually finds a group of individuals that they can associate well with, leading to friendship. In Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai, all of the Neighbours Club's members are friends in everything but name. When everything is said and done, Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai is an instance of how anime with a simplistic premise can efficiently deliver amusement.
Hanasaku Iroha centers around Ohana Matsumae, a 16-year-old teenager living in Tokyo, who is left in the care of her estranged grandmother, following her mother's elopement with her boyfriend. Ohana arrives at her grandmother's country estate to realize she is the owner of a Taishō period hot spring inn called Kissuisō. She begins working at Kissuisō, at her grandmother's request, but finds herself at odds with many employees and customers at the inn. Initially feeling discouraged, she decides to use her circumstances as an opportunity to change herself for the better and to make amends with her deteriorating relationship with the Kissuisō's staff for a more prominent future.
There are few anime which I have enjoyed to the same extent as Hanasaku Iroha: this was characterised by the fact that episodes seemed to fly by too quickly, and I would be left waiting for the next installation at the end of each week. The first aspect of Hanasaku Iroha that caught my eye were the incredible level of detail present in the artworks; PA Studios ensured that each scene is beautifully rendered, with the end result that everything ranging from the scenery to the subtle everyday items seem almost tangible. I'll cease my descriptions of the art here, given that this is something a viewer may only really understand and enjoy by experience. We thus turn to the elements that drive Hanasaku Iroha across a 26 episode journey, namely, character growth and interactions. Hanasaku Iroha takes a slight departure from more typical slice of life anime by integrating a loosely defined, underlying story centred around the Kissuiso Inn and its neighbouring community, culimating at the Bonbori Festival. It is a simple drama story at heart with comedic elements (facial expressions, similar music execution to Lucky Star at some points), but as with all slice-of-life anime, character growth and development remain powerful forces. Ohana is our protagonist: at 16 years old, she is being sent to work at an inn, leaving a best friend and a hometown. She initially comes across as very forceful and careless individual, who undergoes tough new changes to her life. However, her experiences at the Kissuiso Inn and her co-workers guide her into becoming a more independent girl who shoulders the responsibilities of work, love, friendship, family and balance, although she remains as forceful as she was at the story's beginnings. This retention of her character throughout the story drives the development of two other characters: Minko and Nako. The former's actions and personality was driven by a dislike for Tohru's growing interest in Ohana (who in turn is determined to convince Minko that her fate lies with Tohru), while Nako is a quiet girl who gently guides Ohana as things fall to chaos and revealing a highly thoughtful individual underneath the shyness. The complex character dynamics, drama and underlying dynamics are paired with highly realistic turn of events, reminding us that reality is often unkind, and that in some situations, miracles will not appear: we must work for them.
Ultimately, the entire point of Hanasaku Iroha is realising one's identity, and how this correlates with one's future objectives. Ohana's internal conflict with her feelings for Koichi Tanemura and her future with the Kissuiso; eventually, she comes to terms with both of these through her experiences as a waitress at the Kissuiso, and her conversations with other characters, which gradually broaden Ohana's sense of self and what she ultimately wishes to do in her life. When all is said and done, Hanasaku Iroha becomes an essential part of anyone's anime collection hands down for its execution, as it exemplifies how anime set in an ordinary world can nonetheless captivate us with a specific portrayal of the mundane, and how simple things like individual's aspirations drive their interactions with their surroundings. There is nothing patricularly deep about Hanasaku Iroha that most viewers seem to be impatiently expecting; I showed up for a unique, well-animated drama-comedy, and I was well-treated.
A squid girl named Ika Musume vows to conquer humanity as revenge for its pollution of the ocean. Her first task is to make the Lemon beach house, owned by the Aizawa sisters, her base of operations. However, when she accidentally breaks a hole in their wall, she is forced to work as a waitress to pay off the damages.
Season One- Personal Opinion
Before continuing, I would like to clarify some of the conventions: Ika Musume will refer to the show in general, and the character will simply be referred to as Ika. Ika Musume is comedy at its finest, whether it be the traditional slapstick variety or the finer forms of dramatic irony. Ika Musume's base premise is not too dissimilar to Keroro, although this time, our invader hails from the sea. Ika's lack of understanding about human civilisation in general forms the basis for much of the humour, which drives the basis for each episode, with Ika's interactions with Eiko, Chizuru, Sanae and the remainder of the cast complementing the storyline. Each episode is split into three independent stories, each of which has a central theme, although the degree of autonomy between episodes means that each set of three episoes is well-crafted and paced, allowing for the central theme to carry over. The end result is that an overarching story subtly supports the comedy, which is forefront in this anime. Whereas other anime like Lucky Star and K-On were designed with comedy in mind, Ika Musume capitalises on its unusual premise to create highly unique jokes that the former two anime cannot access. Ultimately, the value in Ika Musume stems from its unique comedic style: while the character designs and premises are nothing new, the synergy resulting from this combination of aspects creates a series that is refreshingly new and highly amusing to watch.
Tamayura ~Hitotose~ centers around a young girl named Fu Sawatari who moves to Takehara, Hiroshima to begin her first year of high school. Her father, now dead, grew up in Takehara, and this is her first time back in the town in five years. Fu enjoys photography and is often engrossed with taking pictures with her father's old Rollei 35S film camera. A shy girl, Fu tries her best to make friends early on, spurred on by her childhood friend Kaoru Hanawa. She quickly becomes friends with two other girls, Maon Sakurada and Norie Okazaki.
Tamayura ~Hitotose~ is, in concept, a simple anime much like the other slice-of-life type anime I've had the opportunity to watch. However, the implementation proves otherwise, beginning with our cast. Fu Sawatari is clumsy and chases her dreams for photography. Norie Okazaki is highly excitable, but is an excellent cook. Kaoru Hanawa is more serious than the others and is infaturated with aromas. Maon Sakurada is quiet and has a diverse range of interests. Each of the protagonists bring something unique to the table, and ultimately, dedicates their time towards persuit of a dream. The idea of self-actualisation forms the fundamental basis for the plot: while each of the characters are uncertain of their wishes, they eventually come to realise that uncertainty is but a part of the path to the future. This is especially apparent during the preparations for the New Year's Eve exhibition, as Kao eventually comes to terms with her own interests and decides that her action is through showcasing Fu's photographs, Norie's culinary works and Maon's talents on the stage. Through their experiences, each of the girls understand that the memory of an event goes hand-in-hand with the emotions and feelings of an event; in fact, this idea is represented by Fu's camera, an momento of her late father. At her younger brother Kou's encouragement, Fu decides to wield the camera once more and captures many memories with it, fulfilling its intended purpose and coming to terms with her own wishes. With simple (almost minimalistic) visuals and an excellent soundtrack, Tamayura ~Hitotose~ is one of the more relaxing anime out there: paired with the clean, concise plot, Tamayura ~Hitotose~ stands out for being a peaceful, calming anime depicting the lives of four girls (and their neighbourhood) as they would genuinely appear, free of any facades.
The last year of high school is always a time of both looking forward and looking back. Before you lives the future, alternately bright and scary. Behind you lie memories, both happy and sad. And somehow, in the course of one year, you have to reconcile those two and decide where your life is going to go. For Wakana Sakai, who had started studying music, it's time to face the tragedy that made her abandon that path. For Sawa Okita, it's about her dreams of riding professionally. And for Konatsu Miyamoto, it's about bringing her friends together through the magic of song. Can something as simple as the formation of a chorus club really help solve the hurts and pangs that come with growing up? Can music bring people together despite their differences?
When I first heard about Tari Tari, I had next to no idea of what to expect, and when I finished the last episode, I suddenly realized that Tari Tari was not merely an excellent anime, but rather, the most worthwhile series to grace Summer 2012. Tari Tari seemingly appears to be yet another anime in line about slice-of-life, and while there's nothing particularly revolutionary about that in itself, the charm in this series lies in the characters themselves, their aspirations, and how they go about realizing these aspirations within their environment. Indeed, how the cast goes about handling their problems eventually leads them to develop strong friendships with one another, giving rise to dramatic elements in the series, much as how Hanasaku Iroha did. Tari Tari shares a large degree of similarity with Hanasaku Iroha superficially, in terms of both character design and music, but whereas Hanasaku Iroha was about rising to new challenges, Tari Tari is more about the aspiration to do something meaningful as one era ends. Right from the beginning, Konatsu is depicted to have a singular desire: to sing, and by episode two, has already amassed a small group to perform at a joint recital. Once this passes, Wien, Sawa and Wakana's personal stories are explored. These stories are both serious and amusing at times, reflecting on the show's title, Tari Tari, which roughly approximates to "This and that" in English. The new club that Konatsu founds is precisely about this and that, being christened "The Choir and Sometimes Badminton Club", and by extension, the anime itself is pretty much about everything and nothing, featuring horseback riding, badminton, singing and even Sentais. While each individual has a unique background and set of values, they ultimately come together to realize their goals: in particular, Wakana is able to accept her relationship with her mother and desires to complete the song she once promised to finish with the latter. This was only possible thanks to Sawa and Konatsu providing support, and in fact, the idea of 'friends supporting one another' appears to be a recurring element in the series. The group are willing to help Sawa understand her own dreams, and play a central role in being Sentais as per Wein's acceptance of such a job for the community. When all is said and done, Tari Tari is perhaps the best anime of 2012, breathing realism and fantasy into the experiences of students nearing the end of one path in their lives and wishing to do one last great thing before readying themselves for the next. In this case, the greatness is in the form of music, how it unifies a seemingly disparate group together and allows them to shine on the stage. For a series that prima facie is about music, the reader must wonder why I've omitted discussion about music until now. I believe that music is not the central premise of the story: instead, it is a common, underlying element that binds all the characters together and provides for much of the events that occur. This is reflected in the way music is composed throughout the series: it is an element that is present everywhere, and steps up to the plate as required. The background music suits the series, but mere words are insufficient to describe the vocal music. Instead, it is best listened to in the context of the series, where the proper mood and emotions can be evoked by the melodies that form the foundation for this series.
True Tears revolves around a high school student named Shinichiro Nakagami with a high artistic ability. He lives with his mother, father, and fellow high school student Hiromi Yuasa who moved into his house after her father died. Her father had been a close friend of the family, so it was natural for Hiromi to come stay with the Nakagami family; one year has passed since she came to live in their home. Shinichiro has known Hiromi for years, but before he had always treasured her smile, though now she acts coldly when at home and he cannot bring up the nerve to talk with her either. When she is at school, Hiromi is popular, always smiles, and is talented in sports, but Shinichiro knows she must be hiding things inside her. At school, he meets a strange girl named Noe Isurugi who wishes him misfortune after Shinichiro teases her. After a bit of bad luck, he reconciles with Noe by crafting a chicken out of a tissue box, and he finds out from her that she "gave her tears away".
Bearing little resemblance to the visual novel of the same name. my own curiosity in True Tears was largely piqued by the fact that its opening song, Reflectia (or Reflectier), is sung in Tari Tari. Upon hearing that the anime itself had been reasonably-well received, I would subsequently go and check out the anime, which I recognise best for its unique, clean art styles. Contrasting the overwhelming, HDR colours found in most anime, True Tears presents the viewer with soft, washed-out colours (and even water colour renderings of some frames during the more significant moments), reminding viewers that here, the imagery itself is not the sole determinant of the anime and that yes, there is a story underneath. In this case, the story lies within a complex love triangle forming between Shinichiro, Hiromi and Noe. Despite harbouring feelings for Hiromi, Shinichiro finds himself unable to come to terms with his feelings and begins dating Noe. As his relationship with Noe progresses, his heart falters, and ultimately, Hiromi wins out. The entire anime is fraught with plot twists, unexpected events and game changers, making me immensely thankful to have watched it all at once rather than on a weekly basis. As far as execution of this story goes, the presence of said plot twists, paired with the character dynamics, presents to viewers a story underlining the challenges associated with love. It is often the case where individuals decide to "settle for someone else" because they want their loved ones to be happy, even if it is at their own expense: Shinichiro begins dating Noe for this reason, at Jun's request (who makes said request for similar reasons). However, in the end, the character's true feelings manifest and ultimately culminate in the ending that we see. While this has led to polarisation in the community, it makes for a well-crafted story that is enjoyable to watch, striking a fine balance between comedy and drama where required.
Right after starting middle school, Akari Akaza joins the Amusement Club which is composed solely by her two childhood friends, Kyouko Toshinou and Yui Funami. Chinatsu Yoshikawa, Akaza’s classmate, becomes a member after finding out about the dissolution of the Tea Club. The Amusement Club, situated at the tea room facility since the Tea Club disbanded, has no clear purpose, being free for the girls to do whatever they want.
Yuru Yuri is approximated as “Easy-going Yuri” and has nothing to do with Yuri from Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3. As per its title, YuruYuri is prima facie another slice-of-life anime set in a junior high/middle school setting with a minimal plot. Upon closer inspection, YuruYuri is in fact a brilliant interpretation of the potential for slapstick comedy underlying everyday situations involving a cast consisting purely of female characters. Coupled with its depiction of rather more curious aspects of friendship, YuruYuri follows the story behind a remarkably diverse cast of characters and their often-times unreal adventures. Through its outrageous, over-the-top humour, YuruYuri delivers amusement that is fairly difficult to top, and in conjunction with its character dynamics, YuruYuri ultimately presents a superior series about the implications of specific types of friendship and interaction at the middle school level. There isn't much in the way of story or depth, but through its portrayal of a diverse array of characters (ten, between the Amusement Club and Student Council), as well as the fact that the episodes allow each character to really shine, the anime is worthwhile simply because it is able to effectively wield a large cast and allow them to interact with one another to produce an immensely satisfying, if sadistic, comedy.