There’s no denying that Cute Girls Doing Cute Things is one of the most popular genres in anime. Shows focused on adorable groups of girls have a lot of appeal, and many beloved anime like K-On and New Game fit comfortably within this genre. Like many others I’m a fan of CGDCT shows, but there’s something that often goes unadressed when talking about them: the genre is almost entirely the creation of one magazine line, Manga Time Kirara.
This can be considered a replacement to my earlier post, Iyashikei: The Genre of Catharsis. That post is outdated and bad, so please ignore anything in it that contradicts with this post.
Describing iyashikei is hard. I’ve tried it before, and it didn’t turn out that well. However, after reading a fairly large number of takes on the subject, including academic papers focusing on the healing genre outside of 2D culture, I think I’ve been able to come to a semi-workable definition. This is going to take a bit of time and quite a few words, so strap in as a I explain my current understanding of iyashikei as a unique genre.
Genres can be very useful categories to have. There are certainly flaws with them — the definition of Slice of Life is overly broad and used to describe dramas far too often for example — but it’s useful to be able to categorize things. Even if things don’t perfectly fit in boxes, it makes sense to describe a general collection of styles and tropes as a genre. But I think this “genrefication” can unfortunately lead to a large number of viewers totally passing over things they’d be into.
Slice of Life is a pretty divisive genre. To those who love it, it’s calming and despite its simplicity it can deliver wonderful themes that relate to almost everyone. To those who hate it, it’s a boring genre devoid of substance which is polluting the anime industry. Finding the genre boring is obviously dependent on taste and there’s no benefit to arguing that the genre as a whole is interesting. That said, the idea that there slice of life shows have taken over the industry is ridiculous, and only leads to vitriol and arguments within the community.