Best Slice of Life Anime with Dark Undertones

The following article contains a discussion of suicide and self-harm.

Slice of Life as a genre is generally accepted as a fairly light-hearted depiction of everyday life without any major conflicts. It is often based on a strong comedic premise, characterized by bright colors and cheerful characters. series like Nichijou Y Wotakoi: Love is difficult for otakus are great examples of a traditional version of this genre.

In recent years, anime studios have begun to experiment with incorporating darker themes into what had previously been established as a bright genre. This is in line with the growing maturity of audiences, as well as the growing diversity of anime. Combining Slice of Life with dark themes adds extra depth to a series, without making it so heavy that it might be hard to watch. Here are some of the best examples of Slice of Life anime that have dark undertones.

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Wonder Egg Priority Investigates Humanity’s Inner Demons

As one of the most recent adaptations, Wonder Egg Priority follows the story of Ai Ooto after the suicide of her best friend, Koito Nagase. Following the instructions of a mysterious entity, Ai buys a Wonder Egg, which allows her to fight through people’s trauma, regrets, and fears as fantasized enemies in a dream realm. With each person she successfully saves from her demons, she gets one step closer to saving her best friend.

Despite the deceptively bright colors and young leads, Wonder Egg Priority explore the depths of humanity’s inner demons through the realms of their dreams. A sexually abused girl who confronts the monstrous teacher who abused her. A school gymnast facing off against a gym teacher who was putting pressure on her. She becomes even more poignant and bittersweet when it is revealed that all of the victims are already dead.

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Girls’ Last Tour explores a post-apocalyptic world

girls last tour

girls last tour takes place amidst the rubble of a thriving city devastated by war. In this post-apocalyptic setting, Chito and Yuuri seem to be the only survivors as they ride through the desolation on their motorcycle, looking for food and contemplating life before the war.

All of this anime is light-hearted and cutesy, detailing their everyday adventures and discoveries. However, by framing her story from a third-person perspective, she offers a unique insight into the reality of the situation beyond what the girls themselves may perceive.

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Your lie in April treasures the fragility of life

your lie in april

Initially presented as a typical slice-of-life school anime, your lie in april quickly plunges into the deep end. It is revealed that the prodigious pianist Kousei Arima can no longer hear the sound of the piano after his mother’s death. Amid themes of childhood trauma, Kousei finally regains the color of his life when he meets optimistic violinist Kaori Miyazono, who hides a secret of her own beneath her cheerful facade.

Interspersed between peaceful scenes of everyday school life are flashbacks to childhood trauma and the realities of dealing with a terminal illness. This duality in dynamics is beautifully executed. Despite the undercurrent of darker themes, the overall tone of this series remains hopeful, drawing on the strengths of the everyday life genre.

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Orange tackles heavy mental health issues

Naho and her friends enjoy life in Orange

In its center, Orange tells a story of regret. One day, 16-year-old Naho Takamiya receives a strange letter from herself 10 years in the future, detailing the regrets that her future self wished to fix. Among them is one related to the new transfer student, Kakeru Naruse, who is no longer alive in the future. Given the opportunity to right the wrongs of the past, Naho strives to save Kakeru before history repeats itself.

the themes of Orange they become much more meaningful because their environment is grounded in reality. Mental health that leads to suicide is often very subtle and hard to notice, and this story accurately portrays it. It doesn’t dramatize the theme too much, but invites the audience to look for signs and clues together with the protagonists.

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Usagi Drop breaks the stigma of being a single mother

Anime can explore many dark themes, but the topic of being a single parent is rarely touched upon. Usagi’s Drop follows 30-year-old bachelor Daikichi Kawachi as he tries to raise Rin, his grandfather’s illegitimate daughter with absolutely no experience raising children. Daikichi and Rin have a very particular father-daughter relationship. Forced to be together by circumstances, both are trying to adapt to this new dynamic of life and relationship. It’s endearing to see how they learn and grow together through everyday hassles and problems.

Slice of Life anime doesn’t have to be just simple stories of everyday fun. When used in conjunction with darker themes, they offer a much more complex storytelling process that sets these series apart from others.

For more information on suicide warning signs and prevention, Click here. If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or thinking about suicide, call National Lifeline for Suicide Prevention at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). If you live outside the US, Click here for a list of international hotlines.

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