Slice of life anime often take place in recognizable, everyday settings that prove relatable to the audience, all while focusing on human relationships. Due to the genre’s nature, these series can providing a calming space to rest and recuperate in.
As an artist, I love exploring series that give me a chance to reflect on what that means. From theatre to runway fashion to manga illustrators, here are a handful of anime that explore various forms of art and the journey being an artist takes you on.
Like its title, Kageki Shojo!! isn’t exactly a slice of life anime series, falling more into the titular shoujo category. The series follows Ai Narata after she’s forced to graduate from an idol group after a controversial incident with a fan, and Sarasa Watanabe, who has the goal of becoming a top otoko-yaku performer as Lady Oscar.
So Ai decides to audition for the all-female Kouka School of Musical and Theatrical Arts, known for training actresses that perform as part of the Kouka Acting Troupe. The story picks up from there as the two girls look to rise to the top and achieve their goals.
Kageki Shojo!! then digs deeper into what it means to be an up-and-coming performer, and the roadblocks these characters face. While lighthearted on the surface, I appreciated how this series handled darker themes of trauma, among others, as actresses cope with changes in their careers. The road to stardom is not paved with glitz and glamour, but the series balances out its mature themes with some respectful, comedic moments as well.
And the animation? It’s incredible beautiful, and there are plenty of characters you’ll root for from beginning to end, each with their own flaws that help drive home the series’ relatability. After all, we can’t always overcome ourselves. Sometimes we need help from others, and the series’ various ED versions, of course.
Watch Kageki Shoujo!! on Funimation!
Kono Oto Tomare!: Sounds of Life
Kono Oto Tomare!: Sounds of Life follows high schooler Chika Kudo after trying to make good on the words of his grandfather, a koto maker, who told him he’d never understand the traditional style of the instrument. And so he joins the Tokise High School Koto Club.
Even though the club is aware of Chika’s bad reputation, the club’s president, Takezo Kurata, allows him to join, along with a handful of his friends and the incredibly talented Satowa Hozuki. This is the story of a group of budding musicians as they aspire to play at a national competition.
In this musical anime, viewers are shown that music is more than just art. Viewers see how these fledgling musicians work on showcasing their talent, while understanding the depth that koto music brings to its listeners. The musicians have a bit of naivety that adds to their character as well, as many members of the music club are learning instruments for the first time. In addition to the focus on musical progression, this series also examines how the members of the club overcome their past selves to become more confident and proud of who they are.
Here, you’ll find a mix of school life, drama, competition and an overall narrative about growing up. Its themes surrounding music and perseverance are sure to strike a chord, not to mention its delightful OST and a cast of colorful characters.
Watch Kono Oto Tomare!: Sounds of Life on Funimation!
Barakamon follows up-and-coming calligrapher Seishuu Handa after a veteran of the industry labels his award-winning piece unoriginal, prompting an overreaction that causes some serious damage to his career.
As a result, his father sends him to the rural backdrop of the Goto Islands, where Seishuu is tasked with learning more about himself as an artist. Seishuu struggles to adapt to life outside of the city, and though his noisy neighbors constantly intrude on his private space, something tells us this might just be a positive experience.
The focus of Barakamon is built on its characters and Seishuu’s journey to reinvent his art. Instead of one total transformation, this series provides growth for multiple characters, diving deep into themes of human companionship and understanding, ultimately making Seishuu a better version of himself.
Barakamon is laid back and has a realistic feel due to its setting amongst mountains and rivers. It was a heartwarming watch, as Seishuu learned from this new community, including a group of children who teach him about the differences in life in the Goto Islands. And the calligraphy aspects? Stunning.
Watch Barakamon on Funimation!
Smile Down the Runway
Get ready to dive into the world of high fashion in Smile Down the Runway. This series follows Chiyuki Fujito as she chases her dreams. Namely, taking her father’s agency to the big times as a runway model during Paris Fashion Week. Unfortunately, her height and short stature are getting in the way.
The story equally follows Ikuto Tsumura, Chiyuki’s classmate and a budding clothing designer. Without the necessary resources, he can’t chase his dreams, so the two team up and decide to take on the fashion world and chart their own path.
If you’ve ever watched reality series like Project Runway or have an interest in fashion, then this is the slice of life anime series for you. Part of its charm is how these two unlikely partners battle against the odds to take on the restrictive barriers of the industry. They’re eager to show the world they have what it takes, and their growth makes for an enjoyable watching experience.
Smile Down the Runway puts artistry on full display, showcasing all of the work behind the scenes that makes fashion lines and runway shows so successful. Chiyuki and Ikuto have so much heart that this’ll surely be one that sticks with you.
Watch Smile Down the Runway on Funimation!