Tuesday’s Top 5: Slice of Life Anime

Tuesday's Top 5

Slice of Life isn’t exactly my favourite genre when it comes to anime. I find a lot of these stories fairly lacking in direction, slow paced, and just a little bit dull and yet every now and then I come across one that for some reason takes my fancy and then it becomes one of my favourite shows to binge on a sleepy afternoon. Now, when I started thinking about my top 5 favourite slice of life stories, I realised that over the years I’ve actually watched quite a few of these (and that isn’t counting the ones currently airing that I’m become quite attached to). To help narrow things down I kind of excluded those that are more romantic than slice of life or have a greater sense of direction with the plot. Unfortunately that took Natsume Yuujinchou out of the list but I’ll leave that as an hounourable mention.

As always, I’d love to know what would be on your list.

Please Note – There may be some spoilers below.

Honourable mentions to Natsume Yuujinchou, ReLIFE and Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun.

Number 5: Poco’s Udon World

No one is more surprised than me by how much I ended up enjoying this story. It is mostly directionless about a guy returning home after the death of his father and finding a kid in a pot when he goes to clean the house. Of course the kid is actually a tanuki but they end up having a father and child relationship while he tries to figure out what to do with his life.  It’s all very cute but never too cute and even though we’re really just watching their day to day there’s enough going on as they learn to live together and as they try to keep Poco’s secret that you never really get too bored. Not really sure about the Udon part of the title given while the place used to be an Udon shop that’s really a very minor point in this story.

Number 4: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

I know, a lot of people wouldn’t class this as a slice of life, but really while it crosses into about ten genres essentially we are watching a group of high school kids go about their day to day lives. Their day to day lives are made somewhat more exciting by an array of weirdness summoned usually unintentionally by Haruhi, but that’s really all there is at the end of the day. They film a movie, wander about the town, meet in the club room, get challenged to play a computer game, do part time jobs, and all manner of fairly meaningless activity as life kind of marches on around them. Admittedly, this one definitely has a more fantasy and science fiction feeling which is why it is so low on the list despite this being one of my favourite anime.

Number 3: Acchi Kocchi

Another anime I really love but don’t really know why. At some point I should actually get around to reviewing this one given how many times characters from it end up on one of these lists. Another group of five friends (and occasionally extra classmates) doing not much. This one is definitely more comedy focused though with each episode usually split into two parts where the kids get up to something and then we get a punch line and move on. They make chocolate for Valentine’s Day, have a snowball fight, an extreme game of tag, sell cakes, and pretty much just go about their days while the audience watches on hopefully amused. This is one I enjoy because it is high energy but ultimately pretty pointless so you don’t really need to take anything too seriously. Something that becomes fairly immediately apparent once you listen to the opening theme.

Number 2: My Teen Romantic Comedy Snafu

This one almost got ruled out because it does have a potential romance in it, but given the nature of the main character it never really goes anywhere. I really enjoy this story mostly because of the snarky nature of Hachiman and as the main narrator of the story he is pretty fantastic. It keeps what should be relatively dull viewing pretty entertaining. Again we have high school students going to school, meeting in a club room, spending a lot of time reading and drinking tea, occasionally getting involved to plan a festival or something, and yet this story always manages to feel like it is progressing towards something even if it doesn’t quite get there. It ends up being a highly entertaining watch provided you don’t mind a heavy dose of social commentary with your slice of life.

Number 1: March Comes in Like a Lion

For all that March Comes in Like a Lion is taking a fairly serious look at depression and social anxiety, at the end of the day this story really just follows the characters as they go through the motions of living. There’s no villain to overcome or boss waiting with an end game. There’s no real sense that we’re heading toward anything. The only real sense of movement you get in this story is how Rei is progressing as a character as he tries to interact with the world. For all that the pace is at times extremely slow this story manages to find ways to keep you interested. The visuals are fantastic as are some of the metaphors constructed to show us the characters’ emotional states. There’s also some generally good choices with music, symbolism, and timing of dialogue. It all just comes together in a way that makes viewing immensely satisfying. The first season was fantastic and while the second season has only just started it doesn’t seem to have lost any of the feeling of the first. We’ll see whether it holds up by season’s end though.

So that is my list of Top 5 slice of life anime. I’d love to know what is on yours. I’m betting someone is going to say Flying Witch.

Thanks for reading.

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Karandi James.


My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Series Review: Does Thinly Disguised Social Commentary Count As Entertainment?



As punishment for a scathing report written about the concept of friendship and society, Hachiman is forced to join the service club where he is introduced to Yukino. The two of them are later joined by the vibrant Yui. Can the three successfully provide services to others when they can barely communicate with each other?


There’s something truly wonderful about Hikigaya Hachiman and his view on people and the world. It is scathing, hilarious, bordering on being too true, and yet an utterly self-defeatist way to live your life. It is through his warped lens we view the school and the service club and are forced to reconsider everything we accept about making friends and getting along with people, even as we realise that Hikigaya is himself an incredibly flawed character who needs to make some changes in his approach to solving problems.


That might be a weird way to start a review of a series but essentially this is a story about three characters who through various contrived circumstances end up working together despite their vastly different mindsets. The actual situations they are dealing with are more or less irrelevant to whether you will enjoy the show. What will make or break this show for you is how entertaining you find their various observations about their situations, their classmates, and each other.


Hikigaya is a loner. In some ways he has made this choice and is happy with the result, but there are enough tell-tale scenes, particularly flashbacks of middle-school that would point out that his alone status has been externally imposed as much as accepted and made a badge of honour by Hikigaya. As much as he claims a dislike of hypocrisy, he himself exhibits the trait quite a lot. He is also an excellent observer of overall trends and tones, a skill he is picked up from people watching from the outside of the social groups. What he isn’t good at is understanding individuals, mostly because he seldom deals with them. This allows him to understand mob mentality, and how to figure out who is causing social unrest within a group, but makes him completely oblivious to the girl who would really like to thank him for saving her dog’s life.


By himself he would be entertaining enough but I guess the story would have become pretty stagnant so we also have the two girls in the story who make up the rest of the service club. The cool, Yukino, and the bubbly crowd follower, Yui. These two characters couldn’t be more different as Yukino is smart, thinks and speaks deliberately, isn’t afraid to upset someone with an honest observation, and prioritizes results over social niceties. Yui on the other hand honestly admires Yukino but also realises she can’t be her. For Yui, it is too important that she doesn’t upset her friends or rock the boat.


What this means is that all three come at every job they are given from a very different perspective. Where Hikigaya looks for a low energy, underhanded solution, Yukino comes at the problem head on and tries to deal with it efficiently and with hard-work and dedication, while Yui seldom gets to put her view forward but that’s okay because she’d probably want to talk about the problem with others and would never get around to implementing a solution anyway.

There are other characters and events in this story. Mostly we go through all the usual high school shenanigans including festivals, bullying, class trips, giving a boy cookies, geeky guy writing a novel, effeminate looking guy wanting to play tennis, the cool group with their usual petty group dynamics, and so on and so forth. There isn’t anything we haven’t seen before but when Hikigaya and Yukino get involved they manage to turn even the most normal situation into a battleground of ideologies and the result is usually entertaining.


The unfortunate thing of course is that these three characters are connected by a ‘mystery’ revolving around the accident Hikigaya had before the series started. It isn’t much of a mystery but they keep coming back to it and dragging out the effect of it and I guess that is one way to string together the otherwise fairly disconnect series of events that befall the cast.

The other unfortunate part is that at the end of season 1, the characters have made some individual progress, though fortunately no complete 180’s – they are all very real characters in that progress is slow – but the story just kind of leaves them mid-character transformation. You would think maybe the second season would provide some closure but tragically that is not necessarily the case though it does continue the journey and I will get around to reviewing it eventually.


Still, this show is full of wonderful inner monologues, great one-liners, some biting commentary and thought-provoking moments. The support cast all serve their needed roles, the pace moves well enough, and visually it is fun to look at. The only real issue is the overall plot but the characters more than make up for it, provided you find them entertaining. So, if you haven’t, give the first five minutes of episode 1 a go. If Hikigaya makes you smile, watch the series. If not, well, you’ll still have listened to an interesting opening monologue.

I’d love to know your thoughts on the series.

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James

Tuesday’s Top 5: Female Characters with Black Hair in Anime

Tuesday's Top 5

Time to update this list. There are just so many great female characters with black hair that it would be hard for this list to never change.

While not as flashy as certain other colours, there’s something to be said about the beauty of black hair. Below are my top 5 female characters from anime with black hair and I’d love to know your picks. I kind of based the selection on how cool a beauty they were so some of my favourite black haired characters got cut a little bit. 

Please note there are potential spoilers in the descriptions below.

Honourable mentions: Rukia Kuchiki (Bleach) and Ran Mao (Black Butler).

And moving down from number 5 is Yukino Yukinoshita (SNAFU). Sorry Yukino.


Number 5: Rory Mercury (GATE)

Do not let the cute costume fool you. This black haired beauty is almost a millennium old and a demi-goddess to boot. You do not want to mess with her even if she isn’t wielding her scythe because she’s another on this list with a dangerously sharp tongue. While Rory has some very fine moments on screen (when she isn’t being used for fan service purposes), her finest hour came when she visited earth and was testifying about the actions the soldiers took on the battlefield.  It was a fantastically delivered speech that left very little room for argument.

Number 4: Mei Misaki (Another)

For someone being shunned by her classmates in a desperate but futile attempt to ward off a death curse, Mei Misaki certainly defines grace under pressure. You almost want to see what she was like at school prior to entering grade 9 just to see whether the girl we meet is who she always was or whether the successive pressures of being in the class, being made invisible, and the death of her sister played a role in creating the cool and quiet Mei we meet.

Number 3: Chuyun (Voice of Fox)

Voice of Fox Episode 10 Chuyun and Hu Li

Chuyun is just gorgeous. As an idol, that’s kind of expected, but even when she’s just at school or hanging out on the roof where she regularly ends up chatting with Hu Li, there’s an elegance about her. While I would have liked more from her character story in Voice of Fox, she was an excellent supporting character, and really, her solo was just phenomenal. 

Number 2: Rei Hino (Sailor Moon)

Rei is an interesting character, mostly because she can switch between cool and sophisticated to middle school brat in the blink of an eye (and usually when in the presence of Serina). Still, in the 1990’s Sailor Moon, she was the cool beauty of the group and the sometime rival for Darien’s attention prior to the whole revelation that he was Tuxedo Mask etc. I’m kind of glad Sailor Moon got an update if for no other reason than it saved Rei from some of those dreadful 1990’s fashion choices (the pink overalls are definitely springing to mind).

Number 1: Yuuko (xxxHolic/Tsubasa Chronicles)

The cool and mysterious dimensional witch and a very intriguing lady, Yuuko can be every bit the lady, or she can drink herself silly while lazing about and still look cool doing it. Don’t expect a straight answer from her and don’t expect a favour without payment, but she does always honour her agreements no matter how hard a bargain she drives. With a fantastic wardrobe full of a wide variety of truly glamorous and unique outfits, Yuuko is my number one pick for a true cool beauty with black hair in anime.

That’s my list done so throwing it over to you. Which lovely ladies have made your list?

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James

Friday’s Feature: Problem Solver

kirito klein

When I wrote this piece originally it had been on my mind for awhile. The idea that  fiction is a fairly distorted way of experiencing reality. Not saying that’s a bad thing, by distorting certain aspects of what is real other points can be more easily framed and foregrounded. Complex emotional ideas that usually get swept under the rug in reality can take centre stage or we can just enjoy the fact that our heroes are all but indestructible due to plot armour.

However one way that fiction consistently distorts is that regardless of the medium  stories have this tendency to lead the audience into thinking the problem (whatever it is) has a solution. It isn’t that every fictional problem is always solved neatly or easily, but there is almost always a forward motion in stories and usually this is built around characters advancing towards that final solution whether they ultimately achieve it or not.

And while certainly a non-defeatist attitude or a desire to be proactive might be admirable personality traits, hopeless optimism that everything could be solved is probably not. When we think about some of the situations anime protagonists are faced with and yet mostly they still say cheesy lines like:

I mean, they are wonderfully inspiring quotes that make you feel you can get out there and accomplish anything you put your mind to. But they don’t really deal with the reality most people face everyday. Changing things is sometimes not a matter of having courage but one of opportunity and those are few and far between.


And sometimes you could try as hard as you like but without others being on board you may not succeed. Also, sometimes you don’t have endless chances to try once more. Sometimes you’ve tried and failed and that ship has sailed off into the sunset when you were not on board (I do mean a metaphoric ocean going vessel here and not a relationship).

That isn’t to say that there aren’t characters out there expressing a more down to earth view of things.


However, that is why Kunikida is not the main character of Bungo Stray Dogs. He can’t be a main character with that kind of attitude. He exists to be a voice of logic or reason that others (those who will be the main character of their story) fight to overcome. In truth, he is directly positioned to be seen as unhelpful and negative at times and as the person who has a defeatist attitude. Comparing him to Atsushi (who is actually the main character of Bungo Stray Dogs for some reason), Kunikida is smarter, more focussed, and infinitely more talented. And yet it is Atsushi’s never say die and charge into the den of your enemy approach that ultimately saves the day in the final fights though there is a lot of giving up at smaller challenges earlier in the season (what exactly did Kunikida do for the entirety of season 2?).

Then we have Hachiman from My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU. From a casual observation he flies in the face of every other protagonist out there. He is the star of his show and carries with him a negative and self-destructive mantle that he absolutely refuses to change.

He doesn’t want to change, he doesn’t see his personality as a problem, and has more or less given up on expecting anything from the world. Yet then we look at the plot structure of this story. Almost every episode (or arc as some go over multiple episodes) deal with Hachiman having to address a problem and solve it. He may whinge, drag his feet, and act indifferent but even though his solution is unconventional and usually leaves him burned, the fact remains that he continues to act on behalf of others to bring problems to a solution.

The one problem that he refused to address is the problem everyone else in the series is forced to address and that is his own anti-social attitude which as he points out probably isn’t that big of an issue given he’s hardly the first teenager to go through high-school without friends. It becomes an issue though when it becomes apparent that a lot of what he says is an outer facade rather than his true feelings.


And then of course we have Kirito from SAO who faced a problem so extreme that even with a never say die attitude and you never know until you try still couldn’t win so broke the game. While there might be a touching message about the power of emotions and desire the reality of that situation wasn’t just distorted it was completely thrown out the window for narrative convenience. Of course, any other ending wouldn’t have really worked at that point so we’ll just go along with it.

Fiction is a mirror for the world but it isn’t a true reflection and this is seen clearly in this idea of solving problems. Some things once broken can’t be fixed. Others require a work around, acceptance, or sometimes a tactical withdrawal (otherwise known as running away with purpose). And while all these ideas appear in stories, the overwhelming majority of fiction has a protagonist confronting a problem (regardless of what that problem might be) and in some way dealing with that problem (even if the protagonist ultimately does not succeed).

What do you think about fiction and how it constructs reality? What are some of your favourite quotes from anime protagonists as they go to confront overwhelming danger? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
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