The slice-of-life anime deals with day-to-day events in life, following the characters through their usual routines. They lack a central, unifying plot and often have an episodic format. Although they don’t have an overarching narrative, slice of life anime are anything but boring.
They cover a variety of topics and feature characters from all walks of life, from high schoolers and older adults, to groups of friends and solo travelers. While many are strictly reality-based, others cross into other genres such as supernatural, fantasy, romance, and comedy.
ten Welcome to NHK explores societal issues
A common complaint against slice-of-life anime is that they lack substance or meaning. However, Welcome to NHK is a series that explores deeper societal issues and mental illness. Therefore, it might appeal to those who aren’t usually fans of slice of life anime.
The series follows the daily adventures of Tatsuhiro Satou, a 22-year-old hikikomori, or locked up. Having fallen into belief in conspiracy theories, he has become convinced that an evil organization called the NHK is the cause of his hikikomori status, and he seeks to break free from its grip.
9 Violet Evergarden is an exploration of self-discovery
Violet Evergarden follows its titular protagonist as she attempts to integrate into society after living her entire life in the service of a human weapon. Now that the war is over, Violet finds a new purpose working as an auto memory doll.
In her new position, Violet transcribes the ideas and feelings of others into written letters. Having been treated as less than human her entire life, she struggles to understand other people’s feelings and often comes across as unemotional. Violet Evergarden is a touching slice of life about self-discovery.
8 Anohana: the flower we saw that day is a teardrop
Anohana: the flower we saw that day centers on a group of friends who have grown apart over the years after one of them, Menma, dies in an accident. The group is reunited years later after Menma begins appearing to Jinta, one of her old friends, as a ghost, nagging him to help him fulfill a wish she is passing on.
Anohana certainly packs an emotional punch. It’s a slice of life, coming-of-age story, and exploration of heartbreak all rolled into one, and anime fans should watch it at least once.
7 Kino’s journey poses philosophical questions
Kino’s journey (2003) is a unique slice-of-life series that follows the wanderings of 15-year-old Kino and Hermès, a talking motorcycle. Together they travel from country to country, firmly following the rule that three days are enough to learn everything about each place visited.
On a generally episodic basis, the series explores the different customs and values of each country, often plunging its traveling duo into philosophical and ethically questionable situations. Kino’s journey is a calming and empowering series that doesn’t shy away from showing the darker sides of humanity.
6 Princess Jellyfish is a unique Josei series
Princess Medusa the main protagonist is a jellyfish-loving otaku named Tsukimi Kurashita. Having moved to Tokyo to pursue her dream of becoming an illustrator, she lives with other unemployed otaku women. Tsukimi lacks self-confidence and social skills, and is deeply afraid to talk to men and attractive people.
The series details the daily life of Tsukimi, his roommates, and transvestite Kuranosuke Koibuchi. Praised for its positive portrayal of cross-dressing and gender fluidity, Princess Medusa is a josei slice of life series that every anime fan should watch.
5 Nichijou has a fun and wacky cast
With Nichijou, the genre is literally in the title, as “nichijou” means “everyday” or “daily” in Japanese. The series focuses on the daily lives of three childhood friends, Mio, Mai, and Yuuko, and their interactions with young genius Hakase, his robot assistant Nano, and their talking cat.
With its wacky and endearing cast, Nichijou is a comedy series that keeps viewers coming back. It’s packed with running gags that are both witty and hilarious, proving that slice-of-life anime can be just as entertaining as other genres.
4 Mushishi explores questions of nature and legend
Mushishi is a series that is inspired by classic Japanese legends, presenting a world in which beings called Mushi exist, invisible to most humans. Mushi can take many different forms and are the most basic types of life. The select few humans who can see them, called Mushishi, devote their lives to searching for them.
A Mushishi, Ginko, travels and investigates Mushi-related incidents, hoping to learn more about mysterious entities. Mushishi explores the link between man and nature and questions the very definition of existence.
3 The disastrous life of Saiki K. mixes several genres
The disastrous life of Saiki K. mixes slice of life with comedy and supernatural elements. It follows the daily misadventures of Saiki Kusuo, a high school student with powerful psychic abilities. Despite these abilities, which make him a god in his world, Saiki only wishes to live a normal, chaos-free life.
Of course, chaos seems to follow Saiki wherever he goes, and he has to use his powers on a daily basis to solve all sorts of problems that arise. The series is a must-watch for diehard comedy fans.
2 Natsume’s Book of Friends is a supernatural treat
Natsume’s Friends Book is a slice-of-life shojo series that focuses on Natsume, a high school student who can see youkai. This ability has been a curse for him, as other humans view his behavior as odd. However, his isolation ends when he meets Madara, a youkai who serves as his bodyguard.
Together, Natsume and Madara, also known as Nyanko-sensei, work to free the spirits her grandmother forced into binding contracts long ago. The series is a heartwarming collection of stories about the interactions between youkai and humans.
1 Haibane Renmei is a beautifully mysterious series
Haibane Renmei is a beautifully dark yet moving series about beings called Haibane who were born from cocoons and have feathered wings and halos. The main protagonist, Rakka, wakes up as Haibane with no memory of her past. She gets used to her new home in the city of Old Home, bonding with the other Haibane, who also lack memories of their past.
Haibane Renmei follows the daily ins and outs of the Haibane’s lives, quietly exploring their mysterious circumstances and the complex philosophical themes at the heart of the series.
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