Welcome to 12 Days of Anime!
This is my third year participating in this annual tradition, where bloggers post an article a day in the 12 days leading up to Christmas. It’s a festive, creative, community-affirming endeavor, especially for those of us cough cough whose blogs have been dead during the year. You can find here the spreadsheet of all the bloggers (and this year, Youtubers too!) participating in this event.
So without further ado, let’s talk about this year: the year where I discovered comfy slice-of-life.
When I first got into anime, I was used to consuming media in the eyes of critical analysis. In high school, I had been encouraged in class and in extracurriculars to read classic novels, learn about their themes, motifs, symbols, and generally dig into their deeper meaning. Unsurprisingly, the anime I first gravitated to were the critical darlings: the Evas, the Cowboy Bebops, the Madokas, the Lains. On top of that, I was watching and reading critical and analytical videos and posts: that was how I engaged in anime, partly out of habit, partly out of a sort of chip on my shoulder (although now that I think about it, I have no idea who I was trying to prove a point to)–“Japanese cartoons are serious business!”, an attitude that I’ve since abandoned.
I had made it a habit to watch anime during meal times. This year, I was forced into regular work hours. Previously, I was not used to waking up before 7 AM, and this year I quickly realized that I would be half asleep during breakfast. Or, I’d come home from work mentally exhausted, and turn on Crunchyroll during supper. At times like these, I quickly realized the last thing I wanted to do is to try to figure out what the heck happened in something like Kaiba or Penguindrum.
That’s when I gave shows like Flying Witch, Yuru Camp, and even Today’s Menu for the Emiya Family (Emiya Gohan) a try. I instantly saw the appeal of the Iyashikei.
The concept of Iyashikei is about “healing”. What specific elements give these shows a healing atmosphere, rather than ending up in a boring slog, I have no idea–I haven’t read too deeply into it. But somehow these shows work. They have a series of low stakes conflict, occasional jokes, and people generally enjoying their good times, with a hint of magical realism to heighten the humdrum of city life. Flying Witch sprinkles a bit of magic into an idyllic countryside. Yuru Camp literally escapes into the country, but with good company and great food. Emiya Gohan has the added bonus, if you’re familiar with the other Fate franchises, you see people who YOU KNOW are supposed to be at each other’s throats instead happily hanging out and enjoying great food.
Comfy Slice-of-Life is great.
You can find my other 12 Days articles in the links below:
Day 7: When hype lets you down
Day 11: Best of 2018, Part 1
Day 12: Best of 2018, Part 2