Lethargic Ramble: Tanaka-Kun and my struggle with Slice of Life

As many of you are most likely aware, I’m not a big fan of the Slice of Life genre. This is mostly because I have a preference for plot-driven shows that take place in surreal worlds completely different from our own. I watch Anime to escape to worlds unlike reality, filled with magic, adventure and all other kinds of wonderful things that you just can’t see in the real world. I like my shows to be full of character fuelled consequences with a ton of deep theme exploration all compiled within a grand and epic narrative.

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But there are times where I just I want to chill out and watch something with less adrenaline. Something relaxing that helps me to wind down after a long, stressful day at the office.

However, it’s incredibly difficult for me to find a Slice of Life series that succeeds in being that show, because I’ve always found it really hard to become invested in the genre.

So how can a Slice of Life Anime get me invested?

The key thing for me is relatability. A Slice of Life show needs to reflect my own life experiences in some way if it wants to hold my attention. Watching characters who are similar to myself go through the same experiences I have been through in my own life is a truly immersive viewing experience because I’m able to understand how these characters feel when put into those situations. It’s really something else to see your own life experiences play out in a shows narrative.

Relatability has helped me enjoy a ton of Slice of Life series that normally wouldn’t stand out from their peers. These shows don’t do anything new, they don’t tackle anything special or handle their narrative any better, but they speak to me on a level that the other ones never managed to. They had me invested because I was able to relate myself to the situations unfolding on screen and the characters that were thrust into them.

Allow me to provide an example, the face of this blog, Tanaka-Kun.

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Reading the synopsis for Tanaka-Kun is Always Listless I thought it looked incredibly boring. My initial thoughts were something along the line of:

“A show about a guy who always sleeps in any given situation? How could anyone find that engaging to watch?”

But seeing as I always check out the first episode of every show at the start of every new season to get a feel for each one, I gave it a shot, and within minutes I was hooked.

Because I was Tanaka. Back in high school,  through no choice of my own, I was incredibly narcoleptic. I was an extremely listless student, I had a severe lack of enthusiasm, and I was always incredibly sleepy no matter how much rest I managed to squeeze in the night before. I didn’t actually fall asleep in class, but I came darn close to it on several occasions. The sense of listlessness, the feeling of exhaustion exhibited by Tanaka throughout that entire first episode, is something that spoke to me on an indescribable level.

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But the scene that really got me hooked, was the badminton scene. All of the students are playing badminton during P.E and Tanaka, as you would expect, can’t be bothered. He’d rather be sleeping than exercising. The teacher is making them do their standard warm up exercises, and Tanaka is actively doing everything he can to avoid doing them properly, going as far as skipping to the end because he wants to get it over with. That was me during P.E. I was the guy who was tired, who couldn’t be bothered and who wanted to be lazy, because he had no energy. I would do exactly what Tanaka did. I’d avoid the warm up routine and skip to the end.

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Then comes the badminton game itself. Tanaka tries to play, thinking it might actually be fun, then halfway through, his tiredness takes over and he ends up giving up because, as always, he’d much rather not put in the effort. Again, I was that student. I would try really hard to be invested in whatever sport we were playing that day, but I’d wind up letting my lack of energy consume my entire being, and I’d move over to the bench, kick back, and wait a bit before trying again. Luckily my friends never seemed to mind, since they didn’t care for P.E either. Thankfully, the class was always unsupervised too, so I never got told off.

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Even today, I am still incredibly lethargic. I haven’t changed as the years have gone by. I am still Tanaka when I go to work every day. As such, it was incredibly easy to become invested in Tanaka-Kun is Always Listless, despite it being a show about literally nothing.

It’s difficult for a Slice of Life to grab me, but if it relates to me, like Tanaka-Kun is Always Listless does, then it has my undivided attention, and it becomes something I can really grow to care about.

Unfortunately, my struggle with the Slice of Life genre continues, because there are very few out series there that relate to me and my experiences. Tanaka-Kun is one of the few I’ve thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish, and it’s really set the standard for what I want to see more of from this genre that’s always failed to hold my interest.

But I have a standard now, and it’s certainly helped me become more willing to give the genre a chance. March Comes in Like a Lion this season is great so far, and really relates to my experiences as well, although for much different reasons than Tanaka-Kun. It has me invested and I care about what’s going on.

I’m opening up to the genre a lot this year, more so than I ever have before. Perhaps soon, I’ll have a whole bunch of relatable Slice of Life shows on my Watched list.

I’m not sure how to end this post. So… I hope you found these thoughts entertaining. Have a picture of Tanaka as always.

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Are there any genres you struggle to connect with?

 

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9 thoughts on “Lethargic Ramble: Tanaka-Kun and my struggle with Slice of Life

  1. I have the same opinion when it comes to slice of life. I haven’t watched a lot of slice of life myself, for the same reasons.
    Great post! Will give Tanaka-kun is always listless a try.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I actually got to know about Tanaka-kun for the first time through your blog posts. Guess I’m really unaware in the slice of life anime world haha.
        But I’ll check it out for sure.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I really struggle with Slice of Life as I usually find myself getting bored with them. Tanaka I made it to episode 4 or 5. Same as Flying Witch. Generally I don’t start watching things that I know are Slice of Life unless I think there’s going to be something that will interest me but even then I find it hard to go back to a show knowing that very little is going to happen.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I pretty much feel the same way. Unless there’s some kind of relatable gimmick I tend to not even bother watching it beyond the first episode.

      And as you said it’s very hard to get back into a show every week when very little happens each episode due to the genres slow nature.

      Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love slice of life shows. From the kind which are really zany comedy slice of life, to the sort where we just spend 13 episodes watching cute girls do something which is cute. I understand that from a storytelling perspective they’re not very interesting, and you’re often relying on a single concept to keep you watching the whole time, but if there’s a genre of shows I reliably finish each season, it’s slice of life. I’d have to do some thinking on why it is I enjoy this sort of show so much.

    A genre which I’ve struggled to connect with and find interesting? It would probably have to be shojou. I find romance as depicted in fiction really contrived and uninteresting, and so shows which primarily focus on romance and interpersonal drama don’t seem to grab me. I’ve seen a few episodes of some different things but I’ve never felt compelled to sit down and watch an entire shojou series. I’d love to find a show which could change my mind about this, but the problem is that taking recommendations from fans of the genre isn’t helpful as what they think is great is often what I find impossible to watch. I guess that you may have had the same problem with slice of life? I can think of lots of shows from the genre which I think are great, but there’s a good chance that they wouldn’t be to your taste, as I love the overall concept and you don’t care for it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you’re able to get something out of the genre unlike myself! Personally I’m really not keen on the moe, cute girls stuff, big that’s just my preferences.

      I’d be interested in seeing you do a post about why you like the genre so much in the future, that’d be super interesting, and I think it’d be great to see the view from the opposite side.

      And yeah, getting recommendations from fans of the genre isn’t too helpful, since you’ll most likely not buy into what they like. I hope you find the right Shoujo one day!

      Thank you for reading and for your detailed thoughts. It was very interesting to read 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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