My history of writing slice of life stories goes back to City of Heroes. In-game, everything was about action, being a superhero. While our roleplaying group was largely based around heroes being ordinary people for a while, just hanging out, the ‘ordinary life’ stuff was generally handled in forum fiction. We would write stories about our characters’ daily lives when they weren’t wearing spandex and beating up goons.
I don’t really write that kind of thing now. It’s really short story material. Yes, there are slice of life scenes in all my books, but that’s not the primary focus. As with the short stories, the insert scenes are primarily there to illustrate the characters. There’s a lot you can learn about a character by how they react in stressful situations, but how they handle a normal life can be just as important. (This kind of thing even has a venerable history in comics. There’s a Batman comic based entirely around Bruce Wayne trying to get a good night’s sleep for once.)
This may be why I have a soft spot for Slice of Life anime. The archetypal SoL anime involves high school students getting through their daily life, and romantic aspirations, in a fairly normal setting. Possibly, that setting has some odd supernatural element which may be a heavy focus, but that’s not really what the story is about. The two classic trend setters for this are The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and K-On! neither of which I can really comment on because I’ve never seen them.
I got into SoL anime through Nichijou, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, and Interviews with Monster Girls (pictured above), with a side-helping of The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. The last of those is hilarious, but only the first season has been dubbed thus far and this is one case where dubbed is better than subbed: the dialogue is so rapid-fire that it’s next to impossible to keep up with subtitles. Nichijou is similar, but a little easier to keep track of and now comes in a dubbed form. But if I really had to pick, I’d have trouble deciding between Dragon Maid and Monster Girls.
Dragon Maid is the story of a bored, isolated salarywoman (Kobayashi; she’s a programmer, so I can relate) who, out on a drunken meander, comes across a wounded dragon in a forest and invites her to come live at her place as her live-in maid. Okay, weird setup. Tohru, the dragon, is able to turn into a busty blonde with horns and (sometimes) a dragon’s tail sticking out from under her maid uniform. She created the maid uniform after seeing some girls advertising for a maid café, so it’s not exactly authentic, but it does have a full skirt (so that was a sedate maid café). Over time, another dragon, Kanna, comes to live with them because she’s essentially a child who’s been exiled for playing one too many pranks, and Kobayashi, confirmed bachelorette and primarily a loner, has a family all of a sudden. Other dragons start to intrude as they too decide they like living in the human world. The dragons are all (even little, adorable Kanna) are quite capable of bringing down incredible amounts of destruction, which is occasionally demonstrated as they play lethal dodgeball or their ‘roughhousing’ results in wide-area devastation, but they all do their best to fit into a society they don’t entirely understand. (Funny one liner: Tohru advises Kanna to watch out for cars on her way to school because ‘if one hits you, you’ll destroy it.’) Dragon Maid is absolutely filed with ‘D’aww’ moments and it’s just nice. It’s wonderful to watch when you want to be cheered up.
Interviews with Monster Girls is similar, but it lacks even the comedic action scenes of Dragon Maid (or Nichijou, which has its tsundere character pull everything from pistols to 9-pack rocket launchers out of hammerspace to fire at the object of her frustrations). It falls into a category of anime appearing recently which have largely misleading (read: ‘click bait’) titles such as Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai (not really about bunny girls), and Do You Love Your Mom and Her Two-Hit Multi-Target Attacks? (do I have to spell it out?). The ‘monster girls’ in Monster Girls aren’t really monsters, but they are ‘demi-humans’, specifically a vampire (who doesn’t suck blood), a snow woman, a dullahan, and a succubus (one of the teachers, but she counts). The story revolves around a biology teacher who wanted to study demi-humans in university, but has never actually met one until he finds himself dealing with four of them at once. Initially, he just wants to find out more about them, but this rapidly changes as he discovers that they all have unique problems they have to deal with and that he wants to help them with. The conflict in the story is based purely around the specific problems of the girls and the more general issues of high school life such as gossip and exam results. I can only assume that I like this anime so much because it’s well-written and funny, because it is not the kind of thing I’d generally watch. I got drawn in by the concept and it’s just another feel-good series I watch when I need cheering up.
So, that’s my history with slices of life laid out in story form. This stuff is fascinating to write and I really wish I could get away with more of it. I’ll stick to insert scenes, however, unless I write another anthology. Now there’s an idea…
Disclaimer: Not really a disclaimer, but I forgot to mention this stuff in my last post. Fanservice. Dragon Maid actually has an episode subtitled ‘The Fanservice Episode, Frankly’ which is a beach episode with at least two over-endowed dragons in bikinis (Tohru says her cup size is D, for dragon; Kobayashi doesn’t believe her). Aside from that, there are a couple of questionable relationships involving Lucoa and Shota, and Kanna (sweet, adorable Kanna) and her classmate, Riko (that’s a girl). Some of the scenes between them might leave you feeling a little uncomfortable, primarily due to the ages of the characters. Monster Girls has what is technically a fanservice episode (it’s at a pool), but you’d really have to be perverted to think of it that way. The principle fanservice element of the show is Sakie Sato, the succubus, who is one of the teachers, so you can lust after her if you’re so inclined, and she’s normally seen wearing multiple layers of clothing to disguise her figure (she’s very insecure about people only being attracted to her due to her succubus powers and does everything she can to avoid inadvertently using them). When she does break out her assets, it’s generally played for laughs and when she finally gets to wear a bikini, she spends a lot of her time up to her neck in the pool because she’s not used to wearing skimpy outfits in public. If anyone can find any fanservice in Nichijou, could they tell me where it is, because I can’t see it.