The Great Slice Of Life Meta Review! (K-On!, Ouran High School Host Club, Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu)

Slice of Life Anime Lemon

I’d been trying to write a review for the popular anime K-on! for two whole weeks, and to be honest it really wasn’t happening. I just couldn’t find much to say about an anime that has no real overarching story. So in an effort to delude myself into thinking my time hasn’t been wasted, I’ve invented (I think) the First Great Slice of Life Meta-Review. If I can’t think of enough to write about one anime, surely three series should fill out a normal review space, right? Well, I’m going to assume that’s the case, and since there is currently no one present to object to this decision, here we go!

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K-On!

Director: Naoko Yamada

Writer (Original Manga): Kakifly

Animation Studio: Kyoto Animation

Version Watched: Subbed

K-On! Anime

Like some of the Visual Novels I’ve played in the past (Kira Kira, Deardrops), K-On!’s 39 episodes, 2 OVAs and movie are very much band-themed. The series follows 4 (and then later 5) teenage girls who are all members of their school’s Light Music Club (or Keion >.>) as they progress through high school.

While certainly not a literary epic, K-on! is a nice, relaxing comedy anime that will probably make you smile on multiple occasions. Apart from being good for the odd laugh, K-on! is made special by the inclusion of original music tracks performed by the girls’ band, Afterschool Tea Time (a very apt name, as you’ll soon discover if you watch the series). The songs are actually really good for the most part, made better by the fact that you know and can identify with the characters singing them.

K-On! Anime

Each of the characters has a distinct personality and well-defined relationship with the other girls, but if you’re hoping for any sort of character development, K-on! is the wrong place to look. While each of them had their own sort of charm, and there weren’t any I disliked, I can’t say I ever felt attached to any of the characters, and therefore the series itself.

What could have made it better? Drama. I understand that the series isn’t trying to take its viewers to any emotional highs or lows, but without any real crises or conflicts things kind of stagnate. I never felt any drive to watch K-on! because nothing significant ever occurred, it just so happened that I needed something to watch during my lunch break, and K-on! just happened to be on my hard drive. I don’t regret watching it, as some of the episodes are genuinely funny, but neither do I see myself going back for a second viewing.

kon2

 Score: 7/10 – Enjoyable

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Ouran High School Host Club

Director: Takuya Igarashi

Writer (Original Manga): Bisco Hatori

Animation Studio: Bones

Version Watched: Dubbed

Ouran High School Host Club Anime

Clubs in Japanese High Schools are fascinating, if only in how they are portrayed in fictional media, but the idea of a Host Club might be one that you haven’t yet encountered. Ouran High School focusses on a club that’s sole purpose is to entertain the female students of their school (and perhaps make a little cash along the way, but that’s beside the point). It’s an interesting concept considering that Ouran is a Shōjo anime, meaning that it is targeted predominantly at a female audience and also meaning that it is lacking the fan service one might expect from another anime with a similar plot.

While I fully admit that Ouran High School wasn’t really my sort of anime (it’s aimed at the opposite sex, yes, but there’s more to it than that), I need you readers to understand that my own personal preference isn’t the only reason it won’t be making it to my top 20 or 30 anime (a not-so-cleverly concealed clue that I didn’t particularly like it). The romance, if it could be called that, was shallow overall and therefore not worth watching for, the story was practically non-existent right up until the last two episodes (there are 26 episodes in total), and the comedy (which is all that’s really left to it) is also fairly average.

Ouran High School Host Club Anime

Ouran is first and foremost a comedy, as many slice of life series are, but the genuinely funny content is few and far between. While it was entertaining as a whole, things moved rather slowly and to begin with I wasn’t even sure whether I was going to continue watching. As time went on, however, I started to become attached to the characters (who are done really quite well overall) and watching till the end became more and more likely (note that that was a very dubious compliment, if it could be considered one at all). Now I don’t want you to get the wrong idea here; Ouran High School Host Club was not bad, it was just made up of a lot of very average components, and in this case the product is simply the sum of its parts.

Score: 6/10 – Average

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Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu

Director: Shin  Ōnuma

Writer (Original Light Novel): Kenji Inoue

Animation Studio: Silver Link

Version Watched: Subbed

Baka to test to shoukanjuu

In a number of my reviews I talk about a series’ concept as opposed to its story, and most of the time that’s because the series doesn’t live up to its concept’s potential. Baka to Test is one such series but, to be honest, I enjoyed it so much that I’m willing to let it slide just this once. Imagine a school where your test scores determine which school facilities will be available to you – Class A gets laptops and mini-fridges while Class F gets cardboard boxes and cushions without any stuffing – then add on to that the ability to summon miniature versions of yourself to fight for you and challenge the other classes for their place. It sounds interesting, right? Well, Baka to Test ignores any story it could have had using that concept (it wouldn’t be a Slice of Life series otherwise, right?) and instead tries to run as a comedy, which I’d say it does pretty darn well.

Baka to Test keeps you coming back with a mix of surprisingly successful recurring gags and characters that you actually care about, which is rare for a comedy. There’s a little bit of romance (and people who are oblivious to it) thrown in there but it’s the genuine laugh-out-loud humour that makes the series worth watching. It’s not perfect though; I won’t pretend that Baka to Test’s 2 seasons, 26 episodes and 2 OVAs are funny from start to finish and I can easily see some viewers getting bored of seeing what are essentially the same jokes over and over again. To be honest I thought I was going to be one of those people but I finished it and enjoyed nearly every moment, though I’m not sure whether that says something about me or the show itself.

Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu Anime

The “summoned beings” the students use have their strength based on their summoner’s previous test score, so you would be forgiven for thinking that every battle’s outcome is more or less predetermined. In fact, that’s pretty much how it works for the first half of the series. However, using some dodgy reasoning and dubious logic the show manages to work skill into the mix for the second half, though admittedly it doesn’t make much difference. I guess what I’m trying to say is that you shouldn’t go into Baka to Test expecting the series to make use of its central concept in any meaningful way. If all you’re looking for a good laugh while you relax, though, then Baka to Test will deliver many times over.

Score: 7.5/10 – Enjoyable

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About Silvachief

I'm a Gamer that dabbles in a little bit of everything. I'm big on Video Games, Visual Novels, Anime, Books and TV Series, but there's more to me than just those!
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27 Responses to The Great Slice Of Life Meta Review! (K-On!, Ouran High School Host Club, Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu)

  1. Lambda says:

    Hm… I came out of Baka and Test and Ouran having the opposite opinions you did. I felt like Ouran at least tried something with its tropes and ended up with something that made me laugh out loud at a few times (and something I got my little brother to enjoy, too, which is something, right?!). The heartfelt romance is something that comes later in the manga, I think, at least when it comes to Tamaki and Haruhi, who just need to develop into the best them they can be first.
    Baka and Test really just left its tropes there to become cliches. Ah yes, the girls being abusive to the lead for laughs (even worse is the best friend and his ‘fiancee’, which I can’t even find the strength to laugh at because I’m too busy feeling sorry for the poor guy). Ah yes, the girls can’t even follow the simplest recipe. Ah yes, the guy who looks like a girl is constantly treated like a girl despite wanting to be treated as a guy. I read a little of the novels but after a while I gave up and just started reading the questions and answers they had at the beginning of each chapter, because they were the only parts to make me genuinely laugh.
    On the other hand, I must admit to being just out of Ouran’s targeted demographic right now by a few months, so I was right smack dab in the middle of it for the first several watchings/readings. Might do something for my opinions on Ouran, although that doesn’t change my opinions on Baka and Test, I think.
    I still have the songs from K-On! on my iPod, excepting the second opening and ending. K-On! had great songs. I’ll attest to the fact that you don’t really feel like you need to watch the next episode, though. I dropped the second season as it was airing because I just completely forgot about it every week and it piled up too much. Sadly I didn’t even get to what is now my favourite K-On song, “No Thank You!”.

    • Lambda says:

      Ah I should add that for K-On!, I was currently learning guitar at the same time, so all the music jokes were really cool for me. They were what I enjoyed most other than the songs, I must say, and they were the funniest part of K-On!. Because I remembered the shock of getting calluses on my fingers (and the pride because that meant I played guitar for quite a while!). Although I don’t think they talked about my biggest guitar problem: my nails. Sad.

      Ugh. Noticed how ugly the other reply was when it posted. Will space next time.

      • Silvachief says:

        Ouran definitely wasn’t a bad show, it just wasn’t one that did anything special for me. Whether that was because it wasn’t aiming for me, who knows? I laughed sometimes, yes, but in the end the characters didn’t mean much to me. While giving something a 6/10 may seem like a bad score, it’s the one I reserve for things that I didn’t like but can see that other people might like them, if that makes sense.

        Given your thoughts on Baka to Test, it’s entirely possible that I enjoyed it so much because of how little other anime i’ve seen. Then again, i’m not someone who minds cliché jokes and stories as long as their done well and I think BtT did a reasonably good job. My biggest disappointment was that they didn’t use the summoned beings to their full potential but, as I said in the review, it was never meant to be more than a slice of life comedy. I also tried reading the novels and thought they were horrible. Part of the issue was the quality of the translation and the rest was the light novel format itself, which i’m not sure I could ever get used to.

        As many others say, K-On! is practically -the- cute girls doing cute things anime. While that may appeal to some people it’s not something I have on my radar, which meant that K-On! had to fall back on its story and humor. I enjoyed parts of it but not enough to call it objectively good, which netted it the score I gave…though without the musical aspect i’m not sure I would have scored it as highly. I’ve tried learning guitar myself but I just don’t have the willpower to practice every day >.<

        Don't worry about it, The Geek Clinic doesn't discriminate against the paragraphically challenged 😉

        • Lambda says:

          Not discriminating to the paragraphically challenged or the avatar challenged AND letting me use brackets? Geez. You’re spoiling me.

          It might make a difference if you’re in Ouran’s demographic just because the hotness of the guys gives you a leg up when you try to form connections with them at first. And the first hurdle is always the hardest to overcome.

          I enjoy light novels and actually read them quite often when I read/watched Baka Test (I think I like Utsuro no Hako to Zero no Maria and Durarara! the best)… So I don’t have a problem with the overall style. Haha I had a paragraph written on how I don’t mind cliches but I actually mind them. So much. Nothing will be as bad as BL genre cliches, though. Although I do think Baka Test took away some of the worst cliches from its genre. Abuse isn’t really funny for me…

          Yeah I don’t think cute girls doing cute things is for me, either, however it’s less anything with the genre of slice of life and more like I can’t watch a show where nothing happens that just sustains itself on girls (I loved the hell out of the fujoshi bait that was Free! because that is my demographic, I guess). I’ve also long since stopped guitar, but it does hold fond memories for me.

          On the subject of dubs, I feel like the Japanese is special just because Mamoru Miyano voices both Tamaki and Light from Death Note. That’s really everything of importance there. And the opening and ending.

          • Silvachief says:

            It’s The Geek Clinic my friend, all are welcome!

            I’ve always wondered whether the mere fact that, in the majority of anime, the main character is male and all of the love interests are female has a major impact on whether the female audience is able to connect with all of the characters. Since I didn’t really feel a connection to Ouran’s characters your comment seems to support the idea that it indeed results in a negative impact (or perhaps a neutral one with there being a positive impact on male audiences?). What do you think? I know that I always cringe when i’m watching with my girlfriend and fan service shows up, because i’m worried it will lower her opinion of the show.

            It’s interesting that you mention free and its male focus (I may be mistaken here though, as I haven’t watched it), because a lot of male bloggers I follow seemed to quite like it. Maybe i’ll give it a go and try testing out the hypothesis that i’ve mentioned above.

            The English Tamaki voices Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist! I almost had a breakdown when I realized it XD

            • Lambda says:

              Hm… it’s a little hard to say, however I will note that one of the first things I do in harem anime is see if the guy’s hot. I actually do get a little more enjoyment out of the show if the guy’s hot because I can understand the harem attraction, although it’s possible for him to charm me with his sparkling personality (like Yuuji in Grisaia). Using another visual novel example, Maou and Jun Fukuyama definitely helped some of the slower moments for me (although I love Haru and Kyousuke, too, it took a lot longer for that. Like Haru’s chapter, and Kanon’s character was an affront to my ears and just not pleasant for me so her chapter was a low point). When it comes to otome games, it’s a high hurdle if the guy doesn’t suit my tastes, because the writing really needs to come through, or I’ll start saying “ugh you have a great personality but do something about your hair! Please!”. Oh, wait. That makes me seem more shallow than the average bear, which wasn’t my intention. Um. I’m really just talking if the writing doesn’t carry a show, okay? So like the show is borderline good-bad and I was watching it, or if it was ‘good but obviously aimed at its demographic’. (I’m willing to overlook fanservice for good writing, like with White Album 2, although I’d prefer shows with none in the first place).

              If you watch enough stuff aimed at guys, though, you learn to overlook the fanservice moments fairly quickly. There are quite a few girls who backlash between the treatment of girls in guy’s shows where they sometimes exist for fanservice, or never seeming to be on the same level as the male cast in anything important, and girl’s shows where they aren’t always presented as the smartest or as a dumb but plucky girl and start watching shows with a high ratio of guys:girls for no other reason, fully believing in the fact that girls are horrible characters in anime and just ship BL pairings (this is a typical phase if you get into anime as a teenager, unfortunately).

              Free! would be a good show to try this out on if you’re really interested. The big pull for everyone when it aired was the fact that it was a fanservice show aimed at women by a big-budget studio (and was therefore ruining anime 5ever). If nothing else, it’s beautifully animated fanservice, especially if you swim. KyoAni really put in details and showed their research. However I must admit that most of the blogs I’ve seen dismiss it as not living up to its potential or its fun, and the only ones I’ve seen a decent score from are women. For my part, I can kinda tell my appreciation of Free! was a little shallow when I began evaluating the episode based on whether my ships showed up. On the other hand, it’s a lot more enduring for me than a sophisticated story for that reason. Ah, fandom.

              Vic Mignogna’s most notable roles for me are Edward and Junpei from P3. I honestly feel like those are the roles he did best all others go home.

              • Silvachief says:

                I kind of want to see just how thin these comments will get XD

                I get what you’re saying here and agree with it. Just having a character you like can push an anime over the average fence and into good territory, though I can’t quite say if looks alone would do it for me. However, I can’t quite say that they wouldn’t either. I’ll have to get back to you on that XD

                If I ever get around to watching Free! i’ll let you know, though admittedly it isn’t high on my list XD

                • Lambda says:

                  Je suis trés desolée. These comments get pretty squished…

                  Yeah, feel free to get back to me on that. I just know that appearance is a big step for me. It’s kinda something I put at the same level as ‘general stereotype’ when deciding if I like the character. So, it’s not the entire character for me, but what I base my likes on when I have very little information at the very start and get me thinking about them and appreciating them more right off the bat (and I’ve been proven wrong on it a few times – I found a character I didn’t mind despite thinking his sprites, theme music and stereotype were all off). There. That sounds better.

                  I’ll be there to comment and judge you.

  2. I’m sorry to see you didn’t like Ouran that much, as it’s one of my absolute favourite animes! But I guess we’re all different in the things we like and dislike. Also sorry you watched it dubbed, because although the dub is good, the original Japanese version is simply magnificent.

    • Silvachief says:

      I tend to watch dubs when they’re available as my girlfriend has dyslexia, making it harder for her to enjoy subbed anime. I didn’t have any qualms about the quality of the voice acting though, even if Japanese voice actors might have filled in the stereotypes better.
      As i’ve mentioned in the comment above, a 6/10 just means that it wasn’t my sort of thing; I recognize that others may enjoy it and it’s great that you did =)

  3. solidbatman says:

    My sister tried to get me into Ouran. That didn’t go well.

  4. Kai says:

    If it were me, I would rate K-ON 8/10, or 8.5/10, it’s certainly not a great anime, and it’s certainly not a legend of any kind, but it’s a damn good anime, and I enjoyed the hell out of it. Nevertheless, I can still understand your (and a lot others I assume) problems you had with the show, still, I will stand by my decision :p

    About the characters, character developments aren’t the only way to feel attachment to a character. Even without developments, a character can have existing traits that we all already come to and love, and I feel that’s the case for a majority of people who watched K-ON (I’m guilty too), but again, it’s understandable that it’s not always the case. I admit that it’s actually tough to explain a proper reason as to why you love a certain character from K-ON, maybe Tofu from Sekijitsu can do a better job than me (He’s a Mio fanboy, my preferences inclined more towards Azunyan though).

    K-ON doesn’t have an overly-arching plot, that’s for sure, but it’s a slice-of-life, and time actually realistically passes despite the countless number of cute moments of jamming and drinking tea. Right, time passes, and this leads to my most favorite moments in K-ON, their bittersweet moment towards the end of second season. I dunno for you, but that’s “plot” for me :p A simple, realstic plot progression, nothing complex. The moments that led up to that “plotty” scene may be long, but then again, the girls went past through three years of high school in the two seasons so I won’t say it’s exactly slow either, if any, I would say it’s realistic. About the end of second season, they even have a movie to develop that end, and after watching the movie, it just made me appreciate it even more 🙂

    Never really watched Ouran High School Host Club, I remembered I watched just the first episode last time but didn’t continue further. I might add at that time, I wasn’t as “open-minded” as I’m now so I can probably finish the show if I watch it again now. Haven’t get to it though.

    The thing with Baka to Test’s concept is that if it were taken more seriously, it may require quite a lot more brainstorming to cover up the loopholes and whatnot. I’m actually fine with it’s direction, using the concept purely just for fun and entertainment, and it worked with the playful and light-hearted comedic atmosphere of the series.

    • Silvachief says:

      I will agree completely that character development isn’t necessary for a good story (see Dangan Ronpa). Unfortunately the cute girls doing cute things formula just didn’t make me feel attachment to the characters (except Mio and Azunyan…but then again, everyone loves Mio and Azunyan). You’re also right in saying that the progression of time itself counts as plot but for me the emotional payoff at the end of the 39 episodes wasn’t worth the time spent getting there, though I admit that the ending itself was well done. 7 might seem low but it’s still above average in my score count – it’s the level at which I enjoyed a show but wouldn’t necessarily watch it again or recommend it to others.

      I see what you mean about the plot holes; because of Baka to Test’s nature it was able to just gloss over them but anything more serious would require greater detail. I’m not saying I disliked Baka to Test because of that though, just that I would be interested to see a series that did take the concept seriously.

  5. Overlord-G says:

    Yuuji and Shouko are the main stars of the show for me, as is the man who is great at voicing characters that are prone to punishment, Akihisa’s Hiro Shimono. His pain and suffering filled me with absolute joy. The guy has a knack for making pain sound hilarious. Other than Yuuji X Shouko, no other romance on either season interested me. The humor and battles are good though.

  6. Overlord-G says:

    Ah K-On. The one KyoAni work I praise without exception, especially season 2. I, having embraced the moe, enjoyed it to the fullest. I also enjoyed following the girls’ high school lives till graduation. The movie didn’t progress anything but it was nice seeing the girls again doing what they do best, fill my life with absolute joy.

    Having said that, I am by no means a KyoAni diehard.

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