This came up recently on Twitter, and then again (to a more insane degree) on the Anime News Network forums. In fact, it’s a perennial debate, and not one that I think comes up so often in western media: are “slice-of-life” shows stupid and boring (with some exceptions), or are they fun and charming (with some exceptions)? Obviously the answer will vary from person to person, and yet somehow this winds up being one of those situations where some S’o'L fans berate non-fans for their legitimate opinions, and some non-fans do in fact smear the genre and its proponents. Most recently this came up over a brand-new show, Tari Tari.
It’s stupid, and repetitive, and I think I have an idea why some people get into these shows and others don’t. I think it has to do with your ability to sit back and enjoy something essentially without thinking. That sounds bad, I know, but bear with me: Are you one of those people who can sit in a room listening to cool jazz for an hour and doing nothing else? Or are you the kind of person needs to be constantly engaged?
I’m the latter, and I have trouble with a lot of slice-of-life shows. Unless there are particularly outstanding characters (as in Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, impressive humor (Azumanga Daioh), or the lives in question are pretty amazing in some way (Ouran High School Host Club), I rarely get into these shows. It’s not that I especially think they’re bad, I just get bored or distracted while I watch them. I can’t get into Aria or its ilk. I don’t have whatever it is that allows people to simply soak in an atmosphere.
And sometimes I’m jealous of those people. I have a hard time at most concerts— even if I like the music, I get bored. It gives me trouble on the practical front, too…I could probably exercise a lot more
effectively frequently if I was better at shutting off my brain for a while. So when I say that I think people who like the slice-of-life genre as a whole can do so because they can “shut their brain off,” I absolutely don’t mean it as an insult. I just think it’s something some people can do, some people can learn to do, and some people just can’t do.