For the episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, see Slice of Life (My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic).
Slice of life describes the depiction of mundane experiences in art and entertainment. In theater it refers to naturalism, while in literary parlance it is a narrative technique in which a seemingly arbitrary sequence of events in a character's life is presented, often lacking plot development, conflict and exposition, and often having an open ending. In Japanese animation and comics, it is a genre that parallels melodrama.
Film and theater
In theatrical parlance, the term slice of life refers to a naturalistic representation of real life, sometimes used as an adjective, as in "a play with 'slice of life' dialogue". The term originated between 1890 and 1895 as a calque from the French phrasetranche de vie, credited to the Frenchplaywright Jean Jullien (1854–1919).
Jullien introduced the term not long after a staging of his play The Serenade, as noted by Wayne S. Turney in his essay "Notes on Naturalism in the Theatre":
The Serenade was introduced by the Théâtre Libre in 1887. It is a prime example of rosserie, that is, plays dealing with corrupt, morally bankrupt characters who seem to be respectable, "smiling, smiling, damned villains..." Jullien gave us the famous apothegm defining naturalism in his The Living Theatre (1892): "A play is a slice of life put onstage with art." He goes on to say that "...our purpose is not to create laughter, but thought." He felt that the story of a play does not end with the curtain which is, he says, "only an arbitrary interruption of the action which leaves the spectator free to speculate about what goes on beyond your expectation..."
During the 1950s, the phrase was commonly used in critical reviews of live television dramas, notably teleplays by JP Miller, Paddy Chayefsky, and Reginald Rose. At that time, it was sometimes used synonymously with the pejorative term kitchen sink realism adopted from British films and theatre.
In literary parlance, the term "slice of life" refers to a storytelling technique that presents a seemingly arbitrary sample of a character's life, which often lacks a coherent plot, conflict, or ending. The story may have little plot progress and often has no exposition, conflict, or dénouement, but rather has an open ending.
Japanese animation and comics
Main category: Slice of life anime and manga
Further information: List of slice of life anime
Robin E. Brenner's 2007 book "Understanding manga and anime" holds that in anime and manga, "slice of life" is a genre that is more akin to melodrama than drama, bordering on absurd due to the large numbers of dramatic and comedic events in very short spans. Themes usually range from teen coming-of-age, interpersonal relationships, family, romance, to fantasy and science fiction. A common trait in slice of life anime and manga is their emphasis on seasonality or procedures.
open/close all folders
- Strangers in Paradise was largely Slice of Life, but had a rather incongruous thriller subplot involving a conspiracy to take over the government.
- Love and Rockets by Los Bros Hernandez started off as grab-bag of surrealism, Slice of Life and Magical Realism. With time, the Slice of Life elements predominate.
- Omaha the Cat Dancer combines the Slice of Life and Furries. Oh yeah, and explicit sex scenes.
- Shanda the Panda, the Spiritual Successor to Omaha, has a similar tone, but confines the sex scenes to their own title.
- Most issues of Astro City were actually Slice of Life pieces, with the heroes and villains taking a back seat to the ordinary citizens just trying to keep their lives together in a world where superpowered beings attempt to save-and/or-destroy the world on a regular basis.
- American Splendor.
- In Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane superheroics become a background detail to Mary Jane's crush on the popular superhero Spider-Man.
- Some of Robert Crumb's autobiographical works, like Self Loathing Comics which was an autobiographical collaboration with him and his wife Aline.
- Roberta Gregory's Naughty Bits, for the most part.
- Archie Comics follows a group of fifties-esque teenagers about their daily lives.
- Impulse was intended to be this by Mark Waid, the character's creator (ie. primarily Slice of Life with a dash of superhero). It worked, at first - some very memorable moments include Bart not-so-indirectly starting a massive schoolfight in #3, and this story from #6 - but along the way it somehow mutated into primarily superhero with a dash of life.
- Swedish indie comic writer Coco Moodysson's autobiographic comic book Coco Platina Titan Total: several slices of teenage and early-20s life.
- Ghost World follows around a graduating teenage girl in a summer as she tries to decide what she's going to do with her life. The subplot about her trying to act as a Manic Pixie Dream Girl for a 40-something man is only one of the many things she tries.
- It can be argued that Scott Pilgrim both subverts and plays this straight. While the world they live in is clearly a weird video gamed based society where everyone at the least has the potential for super powers, in their world, that is considered the norm. The main plot is essentially the lives and dynamic between all of the characters. When they aren't fighting, everything is actually quite normal, and is almost like a Canadian hipster version of Friends.
- One issue was called "Jenny's Day", and was just that: it showed Jenny get up in the morning, go to school, and showed an ordinary day in her life. It was made interesting by seeing her thoughts and how much she hated her life and would rather be living on Zot's world.
- Later issues of Zot!, titled "The Earth Stories" did this, focusing on just one minor character and showing a sample of their life.
- The Justice League International series by Keith Giffen and J. M. DeMatteis had plots that dealt with its superheroes in these situations in a comedic way, such as Guy Gardner and Ice having a date at an ice show or the team going to a French language school.
- The Alcoholic
- Sunnyville Stories is basically about the daily adventures of its two protagonists, Rusty and Sam. They have many daily adventures in their Close-Knit Community that usually are quite mundane and related to everyday life.
- Circles is a Slice of life DramedyFurry Comic that focuses on the lives of six gay men living in the same residence and how their lives are individually and collectively affected throughout the seasons with each chapter being a season of the year. e.g. Spring 2001 ==> Summer 2001, etc.
- Anything directed by Yasujiro Ozu can fit into this category quite well, like Good Morning, a gentle satire of life in a sububan neighborhood where things like getting a television and collecting dues for the women's club are Serious Business. Tokyo Story, considered by most critics to be his masterpiece, is a slow, low-key consideration of the distance that grows between elderly parents and their children, as shown when an old couple take the train to Tokyo to visit their grown-up kids. Equinox Flower is about a father's discomfort when his daughter gets engaged without asking him first. Two different Ozu films, Late Spring and Early Summer, deal with a family worrying about getting a daughter in her late twenties married off before she's too old to get a husband.
- Lonesome is a charming little romance about two lonely working-class people who, over the course of a single day, meet, fall in love, are briefly separated, and are finally reunited. That's the whole story.
- Linda Linda Linda
- Many of the very earliest Early Films are this: just moments of real life (or staged real life) presented for the camera. "Actuality films" was the genre designation used back then. Examples of actuality films include:
- Napoleon Dynamite
- A Christmas Story
- The Cameron Crowe film Singles
- Yi Yi
- Fast Times at Ridgemont High
- My Blue Heaven
- One Foot in Heaven is about the life and struggles of a rural Protestant minister raising a family and tending to his flock in early 20th-century Iowa. There is no central plot or story arc, just an episodic portrait of the preacher, his family, and the townspeople as the years pass.
- Happy-Go-Lucky: slice of always cheerfulbubblyCloudcuckoolanderCool Teacher taking Driving Lessons life.
- Otoko wa Tsurai yo film series (literally, It's Tough Being a Man). From 1969 to 1995, it had 48 different installments and held the title of "Longest Running Film Series". All of them are slice of life romantic comedies with nearly identical plots.
- Splendor in the Grass is a character story about two teenage lovers in Kansas in The Twenties, how they desperately want to consummate their relationship, how the rules of society won't let them (Sex Is Evil!), and the damage that their inability to have sex causes.
- Annie Hall
- The Schoolgirl's Diary is about the life of a teenage girl who wishes her father would pay more attention to her and her family instead of spending his whole life at work. That's the whole story.
- Richard Linklater is quite fond of Slice of Life movies, usually overlapping with the Coming-of-Age Story:
- Dazed and Confused is a slice of life of one day on the last day of high school in 1976. The movie is about a group of seniors taking a freshman under their wing as they prepare for a Wild Teen Party.
- Boyhood chronicles an entire 12 years of this. The movie was filmed over twelve years and contains snippets of scenes from one day in each of those years, though some parts of the protagonist's life receive more attention than others.
- Everybody Wants Some!!!! is a Spiritual Successor to Dazed and Confused set in the 80s. It follows a college freshman as he moves into his new house and gets to know his housemates over the course of the weekend before classes start.
- Wings is a quiet little character study about a middle-aged Russian woman who lived an exciting life as a World War II fighter pilot in her youth, but is now suffering a mid-life crisis, being stuck in a dull career as a school principal.
- Another Year looks at the year of a Happily Married older couple living and working in North London and the people around them.
- Dogtooth could be considered this. It's slice of isolated-from-the-world-and-living-in-a-walled-in-estate life, really.
- Frances Ha is largely Slice of Life. While there is definitely a story arc (primarily a character arc for the titular protagonist), much of the film consists of individual snippets of her life.
- The Long Voyage Home, about a merchant ship in World War II, has some plot elements, like the ship's dangerous voyage through the U-boat infested Atlantic and Smitty the sailor's dark past, but there's no overarching story, just a portrait of a bunch of sailors trying to survive.
- Five Easy Pieces is about a restless Anti-Hero trying to live up to his responsibilities to his family and his pregnant girlfriend, and failing. It simply follows along with the protagonist for a while, before the film ends.
- The plot of My Dinner with Andre revolves around a conversation between two guys who haven't talked in a while. They go to a fancy restaurant, order their meals and talk. That's it. For 2 hours. Not even flashbacks to the things they're talking about. Just talking.
- Twelve O'Clock High is about the men of the 918th Bomber Group of the Eighth Air Force in World War II, how they deal with the stress of combat that involves very high casualty rates, and how their new commander has to raise their morale and motivate them to fight on. Unlike most war movies there isn't a specific battle to be fought or objective to be gained. At a certain point, after the commander has won the loyalty of his men but suffered a breakdown in the process, the film ends.
- Many scenes in Code Unknown focus on day-to-day activities like going shopping, ironing clothes, giving drumming lessons or doing farm work.
- Mon Oncle Antoine lacks a traditional three-act structure with conflict and climax. It is instead a portrayal of the everyday life of the people of a rural Quebec mining town, shortly before the socialupheavals that would change their life forever.
- Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets is a crime film with no obvious narrative. Instead, it simply portrays the lives of a few low-ranking mobsters in 1970s New York over a few days, although the lead character's attempts to stop his best friend from screwing up can be said to form a loose theme.
- The Intern spends most of its running time showing the day-to-day lives of Ben and the rest of the workers in Jules's office. There isn't much of a plot, and it's more about Jules and Ben's growing friendship.
- Ricki and the Flash is a look into the life of an ageing wannabe rock star who's estranged from her family. Although she reconnects with her children, it's not the bulk of the film - and more emphasis is on Ricki's own lifestyle.
- The Disney version of Pollyanna is a little closer to this than the original book. An orphan girl goes to live with her aunt in a rather miserable town. Most of the movie is just spent with Pollyanna getting to know the various townspeople. It all acts as build-up for her eventual accident that cripples her, and the townspeople coming to her rescue.
- The Secret of Roan Inish is essentially ninety minutes of two children in 1950s Ireland deciding to fix up their families' old cottages on the island where they used to live - while also exploring the mythology of Selkies and Wereseals.
- My Girl merges this with That Nostalgia Show to show the life of a suburban preteen girl in the summer of 1971. The story is not driven by plot, and is mostly a look at what Vada does that summer. Oh and she lives in a funeral parlor.
- The Spectacular Now, appropriately for its title, is this kind of story. The protagonist - a teen called Sutter - goes around trying to teach his friends to live "in the now" and appreciate life. Although there is a romance with a geek girl called Aimee involved, it's not the crux of the story.
- The Week chronicles a man coping with a sudden divorce during the week of his anniversary.
- The first Magic Mike film doesn't have much of a plot and just examines Mike's lifestyle as a stripper - and eventually showing how empty it really is.
- Sunshine Cleaning spends more time getting to know its two protagonists. The titular gimmick - of two sisters running a business cleaning up after crime scenes - is more of a set up to watch Rose and Norah try to improve their lives.
- Dodes'ka-den is a largely plotless story examining the lives of the desperately poor people living in a Japanese garbage dump.
- Killer of Sheep: There's no unifying plot, simply a series of scenes portraying Stan's life and the lives of the urban poor in the late 1970s in the Watts ghetto. Stan tries to buy a car engine. Stan cashes a check only to have the lady store owner make a pass at him. Stan can't sleep. Stan wants to go to the racetrack. Stuff happens.
- The Book Thief is surprisingly slice of life, considering where it takes place.
- Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Not so much the SequelThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
- Ulysses: A slice of life cooked so rare the blood is still pumping.
- The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series of books and also the Scotland Street series, both by Alexander McCall Smith, use this.
- A lot of children's books are like this. They may have titles like The Plant That Ate Dirty Socks or Ten Ways To Make Your Sister Disappear, but in the end, they're mostly stories about everyday life happenings, with whatever the title is about in the background as a recurring element, but not necessarily the dominant one.
- For example, Ten Ways To Make Your Sister Disappear is really about the everyday life of a girl who happens to have a bratty older sister. Some chapters don't mention the older sister at all, though she's still the main conflict in the story, just not the only one.
- Operation Dump The Chump is about a boy who wants to get rid of his younger brother by pulling schemes like trying to convince a neighbor to adopt him, and things like that. Most of the story is really just about his life and plays out like a series of anecdotes that happen to involve him and his brother.
- Nothing's Fair in Fifth Grade has the underlying plot of a morbidly obese girl who wants to be accepted, and the main character, who gradually comes to accept her, and tries to get others to do the same. But the book is just as much about everyday fifth-grade life portrayed realistically and in a fun way, with the totally random hitchhiking scene out of nowhere.
- Paula Danziger's fiction.
- The Amber Brown books are the day-to-day adventures of a young girl who goes to school and has to deal with family, friend and general life problems, which include her parents' divorce, her best friend moving away, and having trouble with school standardized testing.
- Adrian Mole: slice of British early-teen-to-forties life.
- Nilda by Nicholasa Mohr is about a Puerto Rican preteen, the eponymous Nilda, living in Manhattan during World War II.
- Bridge to Terabithia stars two children and their made-of-imagination kingdom and the trials and tribulations of daily schoolkid life.
- The Anne of Green Gables series is a classical example: a slice of the life of a woman with writing ambitions (and, in later books, also those of her children and acquaintances) in the late 19th and early 20th century.
- Ramona Quimby is slice of elementary school life. The books take place in different years in grade school, from kindergarten to fourth, but all capture that year of life excellently while being very light-hearted.
- Despite the horrific murder that kicks of the plot, Boy's Life is mainly about Cory's life in his hometown of Zephyr.
- Naive Super is a pretty purebred example.
- Subverted in P. G. Wodehouse short story A Slice of Life. The narrator tells a story about his brother's experiences (an adventure including a Damsel in Distress, a Dastardly Whiplash, and a dash of Mad Science) to show that such tropes occur a lot more commonly in daily life than people think.
- Tamora Pierce's Protector of the Small quartet. Despite the fact that it's about a girl becoming a knight in a fantasy medieval world, there's essentially no overarching plot except for in the final book of the series.
- Stuck juxtaposes this together with the oddities rampant within Tre's life in Greyson City, which provides a lot of the humor in the first and second episodes.
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
- This Is All: The Pillow Book of Cordelia Kenn
- Saturday by Ian McEwan.
- The Babysitters Club: Slice of babysitters' life.
- Enid Blyton's The Children Of Cherry Tree Farm.
- R.H. Barlow's The Night Ocean is a slice-of-life story set in H.P. Lovecraft's uncaring cosmos.
- The Milly Molly Mandy stories.
- Browns Pine Ridge Stories