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'Ordinary life' anime finds a special place in fans' hearts

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-ih-YRpBSUHo/TiRI47tzouI/AAAAAAAAAoI/hRZeEHaWSeU/s1600/K-ON%2521%2521%2BOpening%2BGO%2521%2BGO%2521%2BMANIAC%2B%255BNormal%2BEdition%255D.jpg

There are no high-tech machines, no monsters, no aliens and no global catastrophe. But a certain genre in Japanese animation that portrays mundane everyday lives enjoys continued popularity among fans.
The anime, collectively known as "kuuki-kei," which literally means "like air" and can be interpreted as "slice of life," goes without dramatic events and simply portrays everyday lives in a peaceful, relaxed manner.
The genre has gained momentum in anime and other youth culture, but things may be changing in the post-quake period.
K-On!! × WORKING!! Opening

One of the most prominent kuuki-kei anime is "K-On!" whose feature film adaptation was released on Dec. 3.
The anime follows a group of high school girls who form a band.
Based on a manga series, an animated TV adaptation was aired in a midnight slot from 2009 to 2010 on Tokyo Broadcasting System Television Inc. and its affiliated broadcasters.
About 1 million copies of the anime series have been sold on Blu-ray Disc and DVD. A music CD containing songs performed by the voice cast members under the names of the characters they play also became a hit.

VOCA-ON! 【VOCALOID x K-ON! OP MAD】【けいおん! Cagayake! GIRLS】

"What's good about it is that they don't practice hard," said Yoshihisa Nakayama of the Project Development Division of TBS, who also serves as producer for the anime.
In the television series, the members spend an overwhelming amount of time drinking tea and leisurely chatting with one another in their club room rather than playing music. It is a major departure from the traditional "spokon" manga, in which characters make continuous efforts to win a victory, typically in sports.
The kuuki-kei became popular in the late 2000s, with the "Lucky Star" animated series.
"It is all about a girl-only space where time does not flow," literary critic Shusei Sakagami said. "The audience want the 'paradise' to last forever, and they don't want a dramatic story."
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-b0BDNJvaiM4/TjCYYdDqr4I/AAAAAAAAA_w/8QD08QHqg4E/s200/02.jpg http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-rrETIkq94gY/TjCYBvKXUMI/AAAAAAAAA_o/Dwy-Ef5RFtw/s200/02.jpg http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-AABOIrEEXcg/Tt03bYGLWnI/AAAAAAAAC_0/fCxXUc6JzT4/s200/Nodoka.jpg

But in real life, the Great East Japan Earthquake has changed our peaceful daily lives. It also poses a question whether or not kuuki-kei can continue to hold audiences spellbound.
"I think works that seek everyday happiness will continue to win support," Nakayama said.
Sakagami also sides with the producer, saying: "We don't live our lives with negative feelings forever, so the kuuki-kei won't go out of style immediately after the disaster."
But the critic also said he feels a different current coming along.
"Puella Magi Madoka Magica" attracted intense attention when the animated TV series aired around the time of the earthquake.
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-167kKYCZF6k/TjCdOkOcHMI/AAAAAAAABAQ/POQeyYWwakY/s200/Booklet%2B01.jpg http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-gMsUlsj8tto/TjCcLFwFwVI/AAAAAAAABAI/ytzseDRXt1o/s200/Booklet%2B01.jpg http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-eYltOIw9Rho/TjCbEJKgbaI/AAAAAAAABAA/alV0brXYpe4/s200/Booklet%2B01.jpg

On the outside, the animated show appears to follow in the footsteps of other kuuki-kei works. The main characters are girls who have lovable, comforting looks.
However, it turns out to be a story in which the girls' quiet lives are turned upside down into a savage battle against evil.
The animated series brought the audience a different type of excitement from kuuki-kei, in which fans find joy in looking at girl characters in a relaxed manner.
"With the post-quake period coupled with an unstable global economy, there are also people who find the kuuki-kei works a turnoff," Sakagami said. "I think stronger stories will be sought after."

By AS on Dec 12, 2011
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