For many fans, anime is a way to escape the normal and be immersed in something extraordinary, which is what makes the slice of life genre such an odd bird. It isn’t extraordinary. In fact, it can be about as normal as your everyday life. Many can even be as plotless as your life, meandering through encounter after encounter with no overall message at the end. However, the typically well crafted characters and even the relatability of slice of life series make them beloved by many. If you don’t see any innate appeal, but want to enter this genre of anime, here are some good choices.
As a calligrapher, Handa was a talented artist, but his pride in his work (or perhaps lack of confidence) leads to bad behavior that sees him forced into seclusion on an island by his family. There he is prey for the bored local children. While the children and weird island yokels provide the comedy by playing off the comedic straight man Handa, through living the simple life, you also watch Handa grow as a person and an artist. You see progression, though the show lacks an overall goal.
An agricultural school doesn’t sound like it could provide much of anything interesting, but you really should understand where your food comes from. Silver Spoon is telling that story. They place a city boy in an agricultural school and teach the hard lessons like how it is hard to kill an animal you raised from birth. However, you also follow the character as he learn necessary life lessons and even bring some of his unique expertise to his friends that need it. His is an excellent journey, and one you will crave more of.
March Comes in Like a Lion
Not all slice of life shows need to be happy. March Comes in Like a Lion, for the most part, is melancholic. You feel what the main character feels through the visuals and the music. This makes those brief happy moments he spends with his friends a real treat because it is like you are there. Despite the show being about playing shogi, a relatively boring subject, it is not about shogi. Even when they are playing, there are aspects of the match that pertain to something else.
As adults, you might think back and realize you had a lot of very strange friends as a kid. This is a series about three sisters in elementary, middle, and high school. Not only is it about sisterhood, but it is about friendship as they amass quite the group of oddballs. While the show is often more comedy than anything significantly poignant, it is the kind of plotless show you can just flip on and enjoy.
If there is one thing that most anime fans can relate to in some way, it is having a job and all the shenanigans that go on within. Working just so. It is about co-workers that sometimes progress to friend outside of the job, but for the most part, how they interact at work and all the silly normal situations that can arise therein.
This series should have, by every right, fell flat on its ass. However, the hidden coming of age story and interesting characters carried it into something that was really good, but perhaps ended too soon. Essentially, a girl goes to live with her grandmother at an inn after her mother runs off with a guy. Her grandmother is cold, but she works hard at the inn to try to earn her respect. Inn work is hard work and country life is a change, but not necessarily a bad one.
Non Non Biyori
This is a show about four school girls doing nothing. In fact, they are trying to fight off their own boredom. However, this isn’t meant to be rapid fire comedy or a hidden reflection on life. Instead, Non Non Biyori feels like its only goal to to calm you down and make you happy, teaching you to treasure small moments. There’s not a lot of action, but whatever is going on in every episode is still interesting.
At a certain age, you start to think back and wonder if things would be different if you did things differently when you were younger. Relife is about that. A guy gets a chance to go back to high school to basically restart his young adult years after a trauma turns him into a NEET. This show is packed full of relatability, from the feeling of watching young love as a jaded adult to the fact that you probably couldn’t do high school math at 28 either.
Anime fans really can be separated into two groups – those who like K-on, and those who hate it. It is really one of those shows. It is about a bunch of cute girls that start a band in high school. While that could be pretty dramatic, it isn’t like that. Instead, what you get is literal cute girls doing cute things in a cute way. It’s fluid animation and super happy overall atmosphere make this like a fluffy blanket. It wraps you up and makes you feel nice, but that’s all it does. There are some that insist anime should do more, but a reflection on life this show never tried to be.
Shirobako isn’t really chill like other series, but it is an interesting look into anime as a whole as well as a charming slice of life series. When you watch anime, the end credits don’t really allow you to grasp how many people and how much work went into that singular episode. Shirobako, an anime about making anime, shoves that right in your face.