Seishu is surprised by a party

10 Best Slice Of Life Anime, Ranked

Not every anime series needs to have life-of-death stakes and pulse-pounding action set pieces. Instead, slice-of-life stories can be just as beautiful and emotionally resonant in their own subtle ways. With that in mind, there are plenty of slice-of-life anime that can be ranked among the best in the medium.

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From stories about trying to find true love to tales about enduring the ennui of school and work and the quirky characters around the protagonist, there is something for everyone within the slice-of-life genre. The narrative stakes involved are often just down to the usual ups and downs of the daily grind, often finding the unassuming joy and quiet victories that we all can relate to on a humanistic level. Here are the ten best slice-of-life anime series you should check out or revisit, ranked from worst to best.

10. Blue Period

Yatora holds a paintbrush in his mouth

Slice-of-life anime usually falls into either raucous comedy or intensely vulnerable drama and the acclaimed Blue Period, based on the manga series by Tsubasa Yamguchi, definitely falls into the latter camp. The story follows popular high schooler Yatora Yaguchi who secretly channels his deep-seated anxieties and frustrations into painted art. Finding the emotional fulfillment in painting that eluded him in other activities and interests, Yatora decides to attend art school after he graduates from high school.

With its art-oriented premise, Blue Period is as visually distinct and jaw-droppingly gorgeous as the slice-of-life genre gets. Blue Period leans into its complex and nuanced characters as they express their inner struggles through a variety of different activities, including art styles. Unlike a sports anime, Blue Period often does this without heightened intensity though its story and characters feel no less important.

9. Komi Can’t Communicate

Komi stares widely in shock
Image via OLM.

Adapting Tomohito Oda’s best-selling manga series of the same name, Komi Can’t Communicate blends high school coming-of-age stakes with romantic comedy. New student Shoko Komi quickly becomes popular for her elegant beauty and grace but has difficulties communicating with others, even in the most common of school scenarios. Komi’s unassuming classmate Hitohito Tadano decides to help her overcome this social anxiety and gain genuine friends as they progress through school together.

Running for two seasons, Komi Can’t Communicate is a masterclass in comedy, both in its sense of timing and the way that Komi is illustrated compared to her peers until she falls into her usual anxious pratfalls. Underneath the laughs, the friendship between Komi and Tadano makes up a genuinely solid emotional core to the story. Komi Can’t Communicate subverts common tropes in the popular manga genre that translate perfectly to its anime adaptation and international audiences.

8. Daily Lives of High School Boys

Tadakuni, Hidenori, and Yoshitake stand together

Based on the title alone, one can assume Daily Lives of High School Boys gets the slice-of-life genre down and the anime, adapting Yasunobu Yamauchi’s manga series, certainly does. The story centers on three high school friends, Hidenori Tabata, Yoshitake Tanaka, and Tadakuni who embark on wacky adventures together. These antics, of course, often expand to include many of their peers, both girls and boys alike, as the trio embraces the freewheeling fun possible during one’s teenage years.

As vivid as the main characters’ daydreams get throughout Daily Lives of High School Boys, the series never veers into full-on fantasy, which works towards its overall benefit. Instead, the show revels in the wacky hijinks and fun games that its protagonists make for themselves, leaning hard into coming-of-age comedy. Lightweight, without the emotional punches that come with drama or romance stories, Daily Lives of High School Boys hits all the right escapist notes. 

7. Hyouka

Oreki is joined by his classmates outside

Sometimes even the best slice-of-life stories need a cross-genre premise to help attract audience interest and the anime series Hyouka manages this narrative balance beautifully. Based on the novel series by Honobu Yonezawa, Hyouka has protagonist Houtarou Oreki solve mysteries involving his local high school and its students after joining their literature club. The cases that Oreki solves helps inform his activities within the literature club, particularly in contributing to its annual anthology project Hyouka.

Maintaining its slice-of-life scope, the mysteries that Oreki often finds himself entangled in are never particularly dangerous, but the level of personal investment involved is always deep and compelling. Fitting the show’s premise, the background artwork and lighting in Hyouka is very atmospheric, playing out like a low-stakes high school noir but no less beautiful in its presentation. A seamless genre blend of coming-of-age drama and mystery, Hyouka redefines what a slice-of-life anime can be.

6. Laid-Back Camp

Rin leads her school's camping club

Taking the slice-of-life genre into a more nature-oriented direction, the anime adaptation of Afro’s acclaimed manga series Laid-Back Camp is a triumph in animated serenity. The series follows a high schooler named Rin Shima who joins her school’s camping club after years of enjoying camping on her own. With her newfound friends, Rin travels Japan to take in the picturesque sights as she camps at various locations throughout the country.

As Rin is partnered with her new friend Nadeshiko Kagamihara, virtually every episode offers a different environment for its characters to explore and life lessons about taking a moment to slow down and appreciate nature. Despite the technological medium in which this message is delivered, Laid-Back Camp extends this ethos effectively to its audience, offering a relaxing and calming change of pace from most anime. Positively meditative and with gorgeously rendered environments, Laid-Back Camp is among the best slice-of-life anime out there.

5. Tanaka-kun Is Always Listless

Ohta stands over Tanaka

If there’s ever a slice-of-life anime protagonist that can connect with their audience, it’s the titular protagonist of Tanaka-kun Is Always Listless, based on the manga by Nozomi Uda. As Tanaka moves through school, his omnipresent drowsiness defines his daily life, with the young student always on the verge of falling asleep. This comedically not only impacts Tanaka’s performance in school but also any semblance of a love life, with the occasional love interest that drifts through his sleepy routine.

There is something identifiable about a main character who can barely keep their eyes open, a protagonist that virtually sleepwalks through the doldrums of life. This sensibility is presented in ways that make Tanaka-kun Is Always Listless feel like more than just a one-note joke. Comedy aside, Tanaka-kun Is Always Listless benefits from an easygoing and laid-back storytelling style befitting its premise.

4. The Yuzuki Family’s Four Sons

The Yuzuki brothers pray over a meal together

Shizuki Fujisawa’s award-winning manga series, The Yuzuki Family’s Four Sons, was adapted into an anime series of the same name in 2023. After the Yuzuki brothers lose both of their parents, they raise themselves, especially the family’s oldest sibling, Hayato, to keep the family together. This offers a unique twist on everything from sibling rivalries to complicated family dynamics as the four brothers learn how to fend for themselves and come-of-age, navigating everything from school to early romance.

Just like the manga, the anime adaptation of The Yuzuki Family’s Four Sons gives each of its main quartet very distinct personalities, challenges, and interpersonal dynamics as they face this new normal. Beyond its Party of Five-like premise, The Yuzuki’s Family’s Four Sons is powered by the genuine emotions of its drama and comedy. Currently only running for a single season, the show is an easily digestible viewing experience that has a satisfying ending.

3. Nichijou: My Ordinary Life

Two girls in Gunma stare in shock outside
Image via Kyoto Animation.

As far as comical anime, particularly slice-of-life anime, goes, it’s hard to beat Nichijou: My Ordinary Life in terms of sheer surrealist comedy. Based on the manga series by Keiichi Arawa, the story follows the daily lives of people living in a seemingly typical town in Gunma Prefecture. This routine banality quickly gives way to bizarre and wacky events around town, including an underlying storyline of android Nano Shinonome trying to enroll in the local high school and make friends without revealing her true synthetic nature.

For as wild as Nichijou can get, it never really feels like a science fiction or fantasy story. It maintains its slice-of-life scope while allowing its more fantastical elements to inform its comedy. And for all the madcap laughs, and there certainly are plenty, the anime keeps sight of the heart of its eccentric character, making those genuine emotional beats matter. Enormously meme-able, Nichijou: My Ordinary Life is a near-perfect comedy slice-of-life anime well worth checking out.

2. Barakamon

Seishu spills his ink on his calligraphy

Blending comedy and a strong theme about finding one’s sense of inner peace by going back to nature and bucolic society, the acclaimed anime series Barakamon is a masterclass for the medium. Adapting the manga series by Satsuki Yoshino, the story is about a young calligrapher named Seishu Handa, who moves out to the remote Gōto Islands to gain better control of his temper. As Seishu finds serenity and tranquility in his scenic new home, he gets to know the local community. At the same time, he begins to develop and refine his own professional calligraphy style.

Of course, Seishu is something of a protagonist for the audience to vicariously experience the story through; just as he finds peace and a sense of belonging on the Gōto Islands, so too does the viewer. There are plenty of heartfelt moments throughout Barakamon, punctuated with its quirky sense of humor rather than leaning outright into emotional drama like many of its counterparts. A lot of slice-of-life anime are meant to be comforting and relaxing to the audience and Barakamon fully encompasses that.

1. Mushi-Shi

Ginko walks through the woods

The beauty in many slice-of-life stories is in its simplicity, It’s about finding the joy and serenity in the seemingly mundane and routine aspects of daily life. Mushi-Shi is a celebration of nature with enough supernatural elements to make it unique. But it’s never quite full-on fantasy. Set in rural Japan, the show’s protagonist Ginko observes Mushi, ethereal entities that subtly influence the world around them, with Ginko admiring and learning about these otherworldly creatures.

Reflective and meditative, Mushi-Shi invites its viewers to become immersed in the serene environments throughout the story and appreciate them at the same deliberate pace as Ginko. The Mushi are metaphors for many things but, most saliently, speak to both a love of nature and the impact of collective emotions permeating around the world, informing the environments where they reside. A masterclass in calming, introspective storytelling, Mushi-Shi is not to be missed.


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Author
Sam Stone
Sam Stone is a longtime entertainment news journalist and columnist, covering everything from movies and television to video games and comic books. Sam also has bylines at CBR, Popverse, Den of Geek, GamesRadar+, and Marvel.com. He's been a freelance contributor with The Escapist since October 2023, during which time he's covered Mortal Kombat, Star Trek, and various other properties. Sam remembers what restful sleep was. But that was a long time ago.