12 Days of Anime #11: How Yuyushiki Ruined My Perception of Slice-of-Life

Yuyushiki

Talking about slice-of-life is a dirty job, but somebody’s gotta do it

I’ve never been a real “heavyweight” when it comes to anime. Honestly, I see anime as I do any other show (albeit with more gratuitous panty-shots and inconceivable hair-styles), so I’ve always had similar expectations towards anime as I would have for any campy 90s American sitcom. So I have what I like to call “universal standards” for television.

Back in 2011 when I was really getting into anime, I was watching a show called Nichijou as it was airing. Man, was this show amazing! It was stupid, crazy, and above all, hilarious. Soon after, I made an account on MyAnimeList so I could discover all types of new shows to fuel my latest addiction. I wasn’t just a kid in a candy shop; I was a kid with the keys and the deed to the candy shop. So I decided to look at the tags associated with Nichijou. What’s this? Slice-of-life? Sounds interesting!

Slice-of-life initially became my favorite genre, and I felt like I was addicted. I thought that if all the shows in this genre were as amazing as Nichijou, then I would have no choice but to become a recluse and just watch slice-of-life for my remaining days. Since that point, I’ve seen many other slice-of-life shows, all of which vary from fantastic, to funny, to downright pointless. Even then, I hadn’t been discouraged at all from seeking out new entries in the genre. I know that the point of slice-of-life is to be about the mundane realism of everyday life, but I honestly like realism and I usually find it to be interesting. But when I watched Yuyushiki when it aired over the summer of 2013, it made me realize something; slice-of-life, as a whole genre, just isn’t very good.

Yuyushiki

The typical response I had towards anything that happened during this show

The main problem that Yuyushiki was how there was no real plot. Granted, in a show like Nichijou, the plot was razor thin. But that show was great because in the absence of a central plot was a cast of hilarious characters and witty writing. Yuyushiki had neither of those things. The main premise was detailing three high school girls, Yui, Yuzuko, and Yukari, and their regular school days of doing the exact same things every day in their all-girls academy, especially highlighting their shenanigans in what is called the “Data Processing Club”. I have to admit, the term “Data Processing Club” and my curiosity around what in the world that was got me somewhat interested in the show. It turns out “Data Processing Club” is just a different way of saying “Wasting Time on Computers and Talking About Nonsense Club”, because that’s all there was to every stupid, grating episode. All this show amounted to was “cute girls doing cute girl things”. If you like that, then I am not one to criticize your preference. But I found it to be so boring.

But a show is only as strong as its characters, and boy, did the writers of this show get lazy. It was so bad that our three main characters were so bland that the only way you could differentiate any of them was by the color of their hair and eyes. And in a genre that is almost entirely based on the strength of the characters, what does that leave us with? I know it didn’t leave me with anything but rage and scorn for a genre that I once loved.

Yuyushiki

Yuzuko is mocking my writing of this post. Well played, Yuzuko, well played…

How did all this ruin my perception of slice-of-life? Well, after I foolishly braved through the series in the thin hope that there would be some redeemable content, it turned me off from the entire genre for months. Even once I started searching for more shows in the genre, I couldn’t bring myself to give them a chance. Descriptions of the shows would look okay, but then I would think to myself, “Well, here’s how the show could be bad based on that description”. It didn’t help that all I found were shows like Natsuiro Kiseki and Tamayura. Slice-of-life seems to cater to certain people, and it’s become apparent that I am not who this genre is made for. Sometimes I will find a show in this genre nowadays (or, at least shows in the genre being produced in the post-2010 era) that looks alright, but it takes a lot to sift through the garbage. I used to believe that all of the series associated with this genre had to have some level of quality. Now, I see how wrong I was.

It’s weird that I never realized all this until I watched Yuyushiki. Maybe it’s my fault. Maybe it’s because of my “universal standards”. I know I’m not the target demographic for this show. It got me thinking that I might not even the be the target demographic for this entire genre. Now, that sounds like an egregious overstatement, but it’s how it seems to me. I know that slice-of-life can be good, and can even be great. But it takes time and effort to make a slice-of-life series worth watching, and I feel that not many people in the anime industry are interested in making the characters we want to fall in love with or the dilemmas that will break our hearts. And that’s a shame.

*One last note: if anybody wants to give me the Christmas present of restoring my faith in the genre I once held in high regards, please leave me some recommendations!

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Ben

21 year old university student studying economics by day, snooty anime blogger by night! I have high standards for anime, but I also keep an open mind when it comes to shows outside my comfort area, which usually includes dialogue-heavy drama. Always happy to have a discussion.

4 thoughts on “12 Days of Anime #11: How Yuyushiki Ruined My Perception of Slice-of-Life

  1. You need to state what you’ve watched first, otherwise it’s kind of pointless. Tamayura is good, by the way, did you watch it in the end? If you did, what turned you off? That should help with recommendations.

    • It would probably be safe to assume that if the show is from 2012-2013, I’ve probably heard of it, but haven’t watched it. So even if I have seen/heard of a show you would recommend, they’re all welcome.

      As for Tamayura, I’ll admit: I got that one wrong. I meant to put in “Tamayura: Hitotose”. No, I didn’t end up sticking with it (I watched around five episodes out of the 12). But that was a couple of years ago, so I can’t remember entirely what turned me away from it. Maybe if I revisit it today, I’ll either like it more or dislike it more. I just distinctly remembered it being sort of bland and hard for me to personally get invested in.

  2. We had another slice of life anime in Spring 2013 called Aiura and while I haven’t seen all of Yuyushika, Aiura seemed cuter and a bit more digestable (5 minute episodes).

    Aiura aside, you should definitely watch School Rumble. I didn’t think it qualified for Slice of Life but according to Wikipedia, it does.

    It is one of the funniest series I have ever seen.

    Another anime I’d recommend would be Minami-ke. The 4th season aired earlier this year.

    This year we also had Gj-bu and Tamako Market. Both of them were great series in my opinion. (Justin will disagree with me on Gj-bu but you can ignore him…)

    Finally, I haven’t seen too much of it, but a lot of people swear by Hidamari Sketch (the few episodes I saw of HoneyComb were great).

    Slice of Life is a surprisingly broad genre but it is true that there are a lot of boring Slice of Life Anime.

    • Funny enough, I really wanted to link School Rumble in here (yeah, I’ve seen it, and yeah, I think it’s a great series), but I didn’t see it classified as slice-of-life on MAL (which I use for genre standards for some odd reason), so I didn’t use it.
      Aiura looks alright, and the short time is appealing to me. Even if I don’t like it, the entire series will only take an hour or so to complete. So it will be much less tedious than Yuyushiki was.
      I’ve actually had Hidamari Sketch and Minami-ke on my backlog for quite a while, but never got around to watching them, so I’ll go ahead and bump those up a bit.
      As for the others, Tamako Market’s art immediately makes me think of K-On (and without research, I can tell the art was done by the same person). A big turnoff for me with that is how it’s focuses on food, and doesn’t seem to have much else going for it. I’ll probably try it, but no guarantee it’ll be for me! GJ-bu looks, from its MAL description, to be really broad. Almost as broad as Joshiraku, which leads me to believe that the two are similar in content. But hey, that was a pretty good show in my opinion. So onto my list it goes!
      Phew, sorry for the wall of text, and thank you very much for the recommendations!

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