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Tracing the Zeitgeist of Slice of Life as an Art Media Genre

Tracing The Zeitgeist Of Slice Of Life As An Art Media Genre

This category of a Genre called Slice of Life builds upon the subtle yet sublime nuances of life, human psychology, and realism, which is used to depict the mundane routine and daily hassles, behavior of survival and emotional battles, interpersonal relationships and conflicts, moral and ethics, bittersweet realizations and self-discovery, an illusion of happiness and fleeting human existence. 

The plot and narratives do not flow on the dramatic storyline, epic timeline, grand adventures, and action rather quite the opposite, the emphasis is affixed on character development and emotive stories that evoke a range of emotions and feelings including empathy, compassion, nostalgia, yearning, joy, hardships and more. The highlight is to balance a severe plot with tweaking humor and heartwarming moments to keep the audience engaged and seek relatability. The backdrop settings in slice of life media are typically everyday places; such as homes, schools, workplaces, or neighborhoods in which the lives of characters unfold. 

The origin of this genre is inspired by naturalistic theatre art that is staged on human behavior and everyday psychology, in contemporary reality, Slice of Life emerged as a cinematic genre for the audience who engage in aesthetic and dramatic tactics of scene presentation of stories and characters, escaping from daily struggles yet coping to exist within it, creating spectator relatability. 

A storming and always in buzz, Japanese manga and anime have seen some early origins and development of slice of life. The term "slice of life" itself is believed to have originated in Japan, where it is known as "manga no kamisama" or "kamisama of manga" (manga being the comic medium). This phrase was used by Osamu Tezuka, often referred to as the "God of Manga," to describe his work, which aimed to portray the daily lives of characters realistically. The term later spread to anime and other forms of media.

In this account, you will browse a variety of media forms in which this genre has been used such as theatre, literature, films, and other modernist media. 

Slice Of Life Genre In Theatre

"A Doll's House" by Henrik Ibsen:

A Doll's House is a 3-act play written by Henrik Ibsen, it challenged traditional views of marriage and women's roles. The play set in a Norwegian town in the late 1800s, depicts the story of Nora Helmer, a young wife and mother who is struggling to find her place in the world while trying to cope with a life of deception, up till she gives importance to her identity and independence and sets herself free. 

"Our Town" by Thornton Wilder: 

The play explores the transient nature of life and finding joy in simple happenings such as enjoying a summer evening,  marriage, birth of a child, expression of love, and even understanding of sorrow and grief of death and shortcomings. The play shows the community life of two families in a fictional town, performed with minimal scenery and simple props connecting with the main theme of the play; the meaning of life, it is a play that will stay with you long after you have seen it. 

"Death of a Salesman" by Arthur Miller:

Following the everyday theme of struggle and desire for success to live for an imagined luxury, this play utilizes the glorified "American Dream" in one of the lives of Willy and his Family, among millions. The impact of capitalism influences a bread earner's self-identity, which seems to diffuse in the case of Willy, who digs on failure that fails him as a person and his inability to connect with his family's support and take an extreme step that wouldn't solve his state of denial of reality.

Slice of Life Genre In Literature

"To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee

This book is well-known among avid readers and one may wonder how the themes of this book are relevant to the slice of life genre. Although topics like prejudice, justice, morality, and racism are covered in a political light, the everyday occurrences of it and those who live through this still remain bound. The plot builds around the finches' daughter Scout, whose father defends a poor black and innocent Tom, falsely accused of rape of a white woman, who take advantage of their race. With impactful events, Scout learns about various social concepts such as evil and good, morality, human nature, etc. Harper Lee has also shown the significance of neighborhood and child play with the mysterious character of Boo Radley. An imparting saying the book gives is; "it's a sin to kill a mockingbird". 

"The Perks of Being a Wallflower" by Stephen Chbosky 

This coming-of-age novel probes through a very tangled stage of adolescence from a psycho-social perspective. Molding teenagers often seek acceptance and involvement as social beings for who they are, but that's not always the reality. There are still those who are ignored or secluded for not fitting in with peers. Charlie, the protagonist, is an introvert finding himself while coping with a traumatic experience, trying to understand the complexities of friendship, love, and shaping one's life. The story proceeds with Charlie's letter to an anonymous reader expressing his bottled-up feelings about the world around him.

"Norwegian Wood" by Haruki Murakami

If you want a mixture of vulnerable human conditions with cinematic imagery, and a little tint of fiction with reality, then Haruki Murakami's novels are the way to go also because you will find many varieties of slice of life genre. This novel dives into feeble themes of grief of loss, loneliness, finding a resort in someone to cope with it, depression, and how one becomes handicapped within its grip. Just like Murakami's other works, this too is set in Japan, where three friends become so close over time but they experience the loss of one of them that leaves the other two in enormous grief and inability to move on. With time they let the grief sink in, going with the world, and new people, but someday a painful memory must come back by reminiscing in the present. Another significant aspect of Murakami's works is pop culture references and generations. 

"The Joy Luck Club" by Amy Tan

Amy Tan published this novel in 1989. The book is structured as a collection of interconnected stories that explore the intricate dynamics of motherhood and generational clashes between four Chinese immigrant women and their American-born daughters. It explores themes of cultural identity, and the transformative impact of past choices, fate, and its result on present experiences. Through storytelling, the book highlights the challenges of bridging the gap between Chinese traditions and American values, offering poignant insights into mother-daughter relationships and the complexities of cultural heritage. 

"Convenience Store Woman" by Sayaka Murata 

This book challenges traditional societal norms and expected behavior from an individual to lead an ideal life pattern. The protagonist, Keiko is a socially awkward woman who has been working at a convenience store for many years. She struggles to understand the expectations and behaviors of the people around her. Through Keiko's perspective, the novel delves into the pressure to conform to societal norms and the difficulties of deviating from the expected path. The novel raises questions about the nature of happiness, the role of work in one's identity, and the challenges of fitting into a conformist society.

Slice of Life Genre In Films and Series

"Boyhood" (2014) - Directed by Richard Linklater

The movie is an exception of its own, filmed for 12 years with the same cast to show the essence of physical and psychological growth, capturing the life of a child character Mason, and his family as the plot unfolds from each character's perspective. The movie shows all the aspects and events of life such as parent-child relationship, family dynamics, education, development of likes and dislikes, different personalities and opinions, pitfalls and failures, moments of decisions that change the life course, letting go of things, experiencing thrill and excitement, remorse, loss, discovery of passion, and more. 

"The Florida Project" (2017) - Directed by Sean Baker 

The film is named so because it was the name of the blueprints for Walt Disney. The development of the movie started with its writer, while visiting his mother saw children playing at a motel in Orlando, Florida which is also the backdrop of the movie. The film follows the life of a young mischievous girl named Moonee, her friends, and her struggling mother, Halley. They live in a budget motel named "The Magic Castle," near the glamorous backdrop of Disney World. The movie captures the children's sense of wonder and adventure amidst their impoverished circumstances, while also depicting the harsh realities and challenges that Halley faces as she tries to make ends meet and provide for her daughter, wishing for a better future for her. The film offers a raw and empathetic portrayal of life on the fringes of society and the resilience of its characters.

"Moonlight" (2016) - Directed by Barry Jenkins

This award-winning cinematic gem is based on Tarell Alvin McCraney's unpublished semi-autobiographical play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue. It flows through the themes of family, belongingness, identity, love, culture, and breaking out of an environment for self-discovery and a better life. The plot revolves around the life of a black African American child; little, growing up in a struggling part of Miami being bullied and excluded, followed by; Chiron, a teenager coping with loneliness and a drug addict mother finding a reliable person all while exploring his sexuality and developing liking for men, running out of a deprecating environment after his mother leaves him, he finds a mentor in a drug dealer who teaches him about life. The final culmination; Black, a grown adult who accepts his sexuality and his roots, navigating his life in the world around him of a community that accepts him. 

"Amour" (2012) - Directed by Michael Haneke

"Amour" is a deeply moving film that intimately portrays Georges and Anne, an elderly couple in their eighties, as they navigate the challenges of their later years. The story unfolds within the confines of their Paris apartment, shedding light on the ordinary yet profoundly meaningful moments of their daily existence. As Anne's health deteriorates following a stroke, Georges becomes her dedicated caregiver, determined to fulfill her wish of being cared for at home. Despite their life's accomplishments, they find themselves in a difficult struggle for dignity, especially with the involvement of their daughter. Georges, fueled by his unwavering love and despite his own exhaustion and uncertain future, is compelled to make critical decisions for their well-being. The film delves into the complexities of love, aging, and devotion in the face of adversity.

"Piku" (2015) - Directed by Shoojit Sircar

 "Piku" offers a heartwarming slice of life story that revolves around Piku, a modern young woman, and her care for her grumpy, constipation-troubled father, Bhaskor. Rana Chaudhary, a cab company owner, gets involved when Bhaskor's health deteriorates. They embark on a road trip to Bhaskor's childhood home in Calcutta. Through humor and genuine family interactions, the film explores the everyday struggles and joys of caring for a loved one, highlighting the nuances of family bonds and responsibilities. 

"Do Dooni Chaar" (2010) - Directed by Habib Faisal

 "Do Dooni Chaar" presents a relatable slice of middle-class life in urban India. The film follows the Duggal family's dream of owning a car, weaving humor and everyday challenges into their journey. It portrays the aspirations, quirks, and dynamics of a typical Indian family, making it a delightful slice of life tale set against the backdrop of everyday aspirations.

SERIES

"Gilmore Girls"

"Gilmore Girls" is a beloved TV series by many teenagers who love old-school shows. It revolves around the lives of Lorelai and Rory Gilmore, a mother-daughter duo residing in the charming, fictional town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut. The show beautifully captures their everyday experiences, relationships, and personal growth as they navigate life's ups and downs. The heart of the show lies in the strong bond between Lorelai and Rory. Their relationship is marked by their rapid-fire, pop culture-infused conversations and mutual support. The series follows them through various phases of life, including Rory's high school and college years. "Gilmore Girls" is celebrated for its witty dialogue, endearing characters, and heartfelt exploration of family, friendship, and small-town life.  

“Master of None” 

The show follows Dev, a 30-year-old actor living in New York City, as he navigates the complexities of life, work, and relationships. Each season of "Master of None" focuses on a different theme or aspect of Dev's life. The first season delves into his experiences in the entertainment industry and dating, while the second season explores Dev's passion for food, love, and self-discovery. "Master of None" is celebrated for its realistic and relatable portrayal of modern life, addressing issues such as dating, career aspirations, family dynamics, and cultural identity. The show's unique storytelling and diverse characters contribute to its success, making it a prime example of the slice of life genre in contemporary television.

"BoJack Horseman”

I’m sure you must have come across a few reels or YouTube shorts from this TV series because it had great puns that matched your satire-filled feed. "BoJack Horseman" is celebrated for its emotional depth, character development, and willingness to tackle tough, real-life topics while maintaining a unique and often darkly comedic tone. It's a compelling example of how the slice of life genre can be used to explore the complexities of human (and animal) existence, even in a surreal and animated world. The series is set in a world where anthropomorphic animals coexist with humans. The titular character, BoJack Horseman, is a washed-up actor and former star of a '90s sitcom called "Horsin' Around." The show follows BoJack's life as he grapples with existential crises, addiction, relationships, and the pursuit of happiness.

“Atypical” 

While we focus on the calamities a specially-abled person faces, we do not seem to ‘normalize’ their efforts to lead the ordinary life they aspire from their out-of-ordinary life. "Atypical" is notable for its sensitive and realistic portrayal of autism, providing insight into the experiences and perspectives of individuals on the spectrum. Its protagonist Sam Gardner is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, the show explores the challenges and triumphs of Sam and his family as they navigate the complexities of life with autism. Sam is shown to be in pursuit of self-discovery, independence, and a romantic relationship. The show balances humor and drama while addressing themes such as family dynamics, love, and friendship, following the journey of Sam and his family as he seeks to define his own version of a "typical" life.

“Skins” 

"Skins" is a British teen drama television series that aired from 2007 to 2013. It is set in the fictional town of Bristol, England, and is known for its frank and sometimes controversial portrayal of the lives of a group of teenagers as they navigate the challenges of adolescence, including issues such as friendship, family, relationships, mental health, sexuality, and substance abuse. The show is praised for its willingness to tackle difficult and taboo subjects, making it a realistic portrayal of the challenges and triumphs of youth. The series is structured into different "generations," with each generation featuring a new cast of characters but maintaining a similar tone and thematic focus.  It remains a significant work in the realm of slice of life and coming-of-age dramas. 

“Gullak”

This web series under the production of TVF is counted among shows that can be watched with your family as it effortlessly spins with desi humor and witty characters. The show is set in a small town in India and revolves around the Mishra family, consisting of the father, Santosh, the mother, Shanti, and their two sons, Annu and Aman. The series is narrated from the perspective of their younger son, Annu, who is preparing for his college entrance exams. Annu's observations and witty commentary provide insight into the quirks, idiosyncrasies, and charm of his family and their interactions. Each episode of "Gullak" presents a standalone story, often revolving around relatable situations and conflicts faced by the Mishra family. These stories touch on various aspects of family life, relationships, aspirations, and the dynamics of living in a close-knit community.

"Reply Series" 

These 3 interwoven yet independent stories in the 90s era of South Korean culture which was in a developing phase both politically and in the buzzing entertainment industry today known as K-pop show the humbleness, humility, and collectivistic nature of society where people are shown warm at heart who embrace their life despite of any positive and negative experiences and recall them with time. This group of series shows how humans live mundane yet distinct lives, the importance of living among people whom you can relate to and rely upon without ulterior motives, the warmth yet bittersweet relationship among family members, and abstract concepts of love, belongingness, hardships, vulnerability are all depicted so effortlessly. The episodes have significant theme-like scenes about a popular pop culture reference, the role of a mother, decisions, health, and more. 

This blog can go about listing many more works of entertainment that showcase this genre of Slice of Life with its own internal variations in the portrayal of a plot, and characters, and capturing the very essence of life that flows metaphorically. This genre has rapidly been recognized more internationally at global awards, by avid viewers who seem to watch these records on a daily basis to pass the time, to genuinely watch the development of the genre or to recommend someone. This blog will be out here to help you add new books, films, and series to your list in your exploration of slice of life.



This post first appeared on Feeding Trends, please read the originial post: here

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