Slice of life
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Slice of life is a phrase describing the use of mundane realism depicting everyday experiences in art and entertainment.
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 phrase tranche de vie, credited to the French playwright 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 "kitchen sink realism" adopted from British films and theatre.
Japanese animation and comics
In anime and manga, "slice of life" is a genre that often parallels drama in the use of slice-of-life narrative techniques. Themes can range from teen melodrama and interpersonal relationships to family and romance. A common trait in slice-of-life anime and manga is their emphasis on seasonality or procedures. Middle and high school life are also common topics in the genre. Moreover, fantasy or science fiction elements commonly coexist with slice of life elements in anime and manga, such as in Aria or Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō.
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.
- Jewell, Elizabeth J. & Abate, Frank R. (editors) (September 2001). "Slice of Life". The New Oxford American Dictionary (First ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-511227-X.
- "Slice of life". Random House Unabridged Dictionary. 2006.
- Turney, Wayne S. "Notes on Naturalism in the Theatre". wayneturney.20m.com.
- Gottfried, Martin. All His Jazz, Da Capo, 2003.
- Dowler, Kevin. "Reginald Rose". Museum of Broadcast Communications.
- Robin E. Brenner (2007). Understanding manga and anime. Libraries Unlimited. pp. 112–120.
- Stuart Eddy Baker (2002). Bernard Shaw's remarkable religion: a faith that fits the facts. University Press of Florida. pp. 83–84.