Hello all, and welcome back to Why It Works. The winter season’s new shows have almost all made their debuts at this point, and having watched basically all of them, I’m struck by one undeniable fact: this is the season of the slice of life. From charming camping expeditions to idle days in class, from taking care of new pets to the tip of Antarctica itself, this season is absolutely stacked with low-key dramas focused on spending time with lovable casts. And I for one couldn’t be happier.
Slice of life shows often get a bad rap in fandom. They’re accused of being shows where “nothing happens,” or framed as indulgent to their audiences in a way that simply doesn’t lead to inspiring fiction. But fiction possesses all number of appeals beyond either thrilling us or shocking us, and in these cold winter months, I appreciate a few shows that are dedicated to keeping us all warm. So today on Why It Works, I’m gonna run down five of my favorite new slice of life shows, and hopefully capture their appeal well enough to give you all something new to appreciate!
A Place Further Than the Universe: The Thrill of Finding Yourself
I’m fudging a bit to include Universe among slice of life shows, since it’s probably more of a traditional character drama, but those two do tend to overlap. A Place Further Than the Universe focuses on Mari Tamaka, a girl who feels she’s letting her life slip past. Stuck in stasis in her second year of high school, Universe’s first episode conveys her anxiety and malaise with gorgeous ease, setting up beautiful shots that fully draw us into Mari’s world. Universe is a story that should resonate with anyone who’s felt there must be some greater adventure out there, something that makes sense of our endless idle days. Whether Mari makes it to Antarctica or not, the journey so far has been a beautiful and uplifting experience.
How to Keep a Mummy: The Charming Helplessness of a New Pet
I didn’t expect to be so won over by Mummy’s titular character Mii-chan, but yes, this show successfully turns a tiny little mummy into the equivalent of a new puppy. Mii-chan even gets jealous and barks at its new owner’s first dog, further cementing its fundamental puppyness. If you’ve ever watched videos of baby animals tumbling over themselves on Youtube, you’ll understand How to Keep a Mummy’s appeal. Simply watching Mii-chan tumble into a drinking cup or attempt to lift exactly one carrot echoes the experience of watching a puppy discover its own tail. On pure cuteness alone, nothing beats How to Keep a Mummy.
Laid-Back Camp: The Brisk Pleasures of the Great Outdoors
I like the idea of camping, but the actual reality of buying gear, finding a location, allotting vacation time, and actually forcing myself to enjoy the wilderness means my appreciation for it remains largely theoretical. Laid-Back Camp cuts out all of the inconveniences while carefully capturing the immediate experience of pitching a tent, foraging for firewood, settling into your seat, and simply appreciating the beauty around you. It’s essentially like sitting inside, snugly bundled up, while watching a blizzard coat the world outside in deep white. All the allure of the wild from the comfort of home.
Karakai Jozu no Takagi-san: The Simple Joy of Bullying Your Crush
Takagi-san is a very simple show built around a very simple premise: that moment when two people like each other but can only express it through teasing or competing with each other is magical, and it clearly ought to be bottled and made into an anime. Takagi-san is exactly that anime, featuring the young boy Nishitaka who keeps trying to one-up his desk neighbor and that neighbor Takagi who keeps dunking him in turn. The clear mutual fondness and love of competition keep the show from ever feeling mean, leaving us with a show about two people who can’t stop flirting by poking each other. It is a very charming time.
School Babysitters: The Goofy Demands of Energetic Children
The appeal of School Babysitters is almost certainly best captured in this clip. Babies are clumsy and adorable, their limbs don’t do what they want them to, and they need us to push them in the right direction. There’s more to the show than that, of course; we’ve already gotten poignant reflections on protagonist Ryuichi’s relationship with his brother and absent parents, and we’re clearly going to build towards some points about finding your family wherever you can. But for now, toddlers are adorable, and that’s good enough for me.
That covers it for me! There are plenty of other shows to love this winter, but I’m certainly appreciating this buffet of comfy cartoons. I hope you find your own flavor of slice of life this season, and be sure to let me know what else you’re all enjoying in the comments!