HERE’S A STARTER’S GUIDE TO SLICE-OF-LIFE ANIME OF THE DECADE THAT WILL TAKE YOU INTO A RABBIT HOLE OF EMOTIONS
A new wave of anime films shows are taking us in a whirlwind of emotions. Starting out with light and fluffy themes, and then taking you down the rabbit hole of melancholy. Here's a list we want you to see.
There’s no denying that the anime industry is perhaps one of the biggest genres in television and in films. Its influence spans across countries and platforms generating millions, even billions, in the market with shows and films as its main product to the many merchandise that it gives birth to such as games, action figures, toys, and more. While the genre has always been affiliated with otaku or geek culture, a portion in every society, often, are clueless to the many perspectives that anime can offer. We’ve cried in Clannad. We went on whimsical adventures with Studio Ghibli films. Shonen Jump serials brought the action with historic lead characters such as Luffy, Goku, Ichigo, and Naruto.
This brings us to this list of new anime titles that are serving us the balance of light and heavy themes that prove that anime can trigger as much emotions and feels as live action titles.
Now, there are new breeds of anime that are coating heavy themes with slice-of-life execution. Studio Ghibli were famous for these types, albeit one of its most famed creators, Hayao Miyazaki, very vocally distancing himself from the overall “mistake” that was the anime fandom, but emerging names such as Makoto Shinkai and Kyoto Animation are setting new inspirations.
There’s a relatable sense in these slice-of-life shows that drowns us with sad realizations as it paces further. Featuring eye-candy graphics that paint every scene with solemnity and solace, new anime shows are about taking the experience up a notch with hard-hitting themes relatable in today’s everyday experience. It bends the norm with fantasy and turning it into a story that stirs your imagination into asking existential questions.
Here are some recommended titles you can check out:
Weathering With You (2019)
A runaway teen named Hodaka goes to the city, accidentally finds a gun, and gets an unusual job as an all-around editorial assistant. A girl named Hina, who works hard to sustain her and her brother’s lives after their untimely orphaned situation. Fate intertwines their paths and together, they fight to survive the city and the world with only their innocence and longing for happiness.
Makoto Shinkai shows off visually-stunning scenes from the cityscapes to its playful fantasy that links to ancient Japan beliefs. Hina is destined with both a gift and a curse as the “sunshine girl” of this generation which they used as a livelihood by using her powers to produce sunny weather.
However, behind the splash of sunshine in their cheerful teenage life, it will then take a tragic turn that will leave you gasping and wishing that everything turns out in the end. The film delves on sensitive themes such as violence, rebellion, and social issues of separation in the lives of orphans but Shinkai delivers everything creatively and masterfully.
Japan Sinks 2020 (2020)
It’s an ordinary day for a regular Japanese family until a disaster struck the world that cost millions of lives. In their quest to find each other amidst a catastrophe, they had to survive through it all knowing that Japan is slowly sinking.
This Netflix Original is based on the bestselling disaster novel of Sakyo Komatsu published in 1973. Its art is reminiscent of classic anime stylings which gives us raw emotions even in the simplicity of its execution. Just as expected from any disaster shows, the film is heart-wrenching, and will keep you on the edge of your seat.
The Tatami Galaxy (2010)
A lonely college student meets the god of matrimony that led him to reflect on his melancholic college years that have mostly been about trying to break up couples. In his quest to make right in his remaining years in school, he seeks to find love, and in his attempt, he sets out to ask his underclassman Akashi. But one fateful event happened that took him back in time to begin again and shoot his shot to a better life.
This anime is typical Japanese narration—psychological in narration, basic and minimal in drawing. Its great reception of fun, quirky, and mind-bending scenarios has earned a prestigious grand prize in animation at the Japan Media Arts Festival back in 2010. While it talks mostly on campus life, it treads on intricate concepts such as parallel universes. Will he ever find love and the life he dreamt?
A Silent Voice (2016)
A bully has gone way too far in tormenting a deaf classmate. But the years taught him to man up and face his sins, so he seeks the girl he bullied mercilessly to apologize and set everything right. Fortunately, he finds her and it took more than just an apology to win her back; it made them closer than ever and thus starts a blooming relationship.
This anime is followed with great anticipation because it was based on a highly acclaimed novel by Yoshitoki Oima. Its producer, Kyoto Animation, has been best known for creating top-billed slice-of-life anime titles with the likes of K-On!, Full Metal Panic!, and Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.
With these pressures, it surpassed expectations with its great reviews that focused on the candor that lies in-between their lines and actions considering that it revolves on the story of a deaf girl and a bully. Some of its controversial themes involve bullying and discrimination for minorities but it definitely pulled off with its dramatic sensibilities from its powerful narration and music scoring. Even Rotten Tomatoes rated it 94% followed by audience scores that all praise the beauty in the simplicity of this film.
A Whisker Away (2020)
A highschool girl tries to flirt with her crush everyday despite the rejections she always received. Until one day, she finds a mask that turns her into a cat and it becomes her chance to finally mingle with her crush. Slowly, her reality as a human and as a cat begins to blur and she is thrust into an existential crisis that will challenge her to choose a form which she is most happy with.
It’s light and fluffy but the underlying background of the protagonist’s family life and her unrequited love and support for her crush complicates the story. She had a miserable family life with her stepmother but she maintains a cheerful persona outside to display to the world.
On the other end, she finds comfort as a cat but cannot express her full intentions and communicating with her crush is very limited to only what a cat is capable of. Its themes explore the conflicts of existentialism on what makes one really happy. That although there’s more to life being expressive of our emotions, there’s also hindrances that make a person result to just fake all the worries away.