Genres are always a tough subject to discuss because they are based on the decisive reasoning of a group in an attempt to classify something and thereby give it a place in the greater database of human thought. Genre debates are a pain in the ass because many people seek to diversify the definitions of a genre, which doesn’t make any sense because the entire point of a genre title is to be absolute and objective.
The reason for the debating is that some people grow defensive and think that certain genre titles carry negative connotations that they refuse to associate themselves with. Many people will even try to claim that genres don’t matter. To anyone who thinks that way, I direct you to this old post by a guy named Jakehammeran who explained the importance of genres very well in regards to metal, and it applies for any kind of genre debate.
To jump very suddenly into the meat of things, I think Baka-Raptor’s judgement of Lucky Star as a comedy is quite irresponsible for the very reasons he states himself, oddly. (I think he’s probably posting more out of his thinking that he is a comedy guru than a genre guru anyway, which is why I’m making this post at all, since I do consider myself a genre guru.) Meanwhile, Micheal of Low on Hit Points is pretty on-point in recognizing that Baka-Raptor is biased, and that bias is a big factor in debate, but it’s irresponsible of him as well to claim that genres are effected by bias in definition. A definition is a definition, regardless of bias.
Which is why Baka-Raptor is almost right – he’s right that Lucky Star is a comedy. Where he’s missing out is that it can also be other things – sub-genres come into play here. Irresponsible Captain Tylor is a comedy, but you wouldn’t go comparing it to Lucky Star, would you? Both of them have situational set-ups for their gags and tons of parodies and references, so they stand on the same comedic basis, but the two shows are different to the point that they probably share very few fans.
It has nothing to do with one show being ‘funnier’ than the other, either. ‘Funny’ is not something that can be defined like genres can, it’s simply an opinion, and we can’t consider it a dividing force if while some people find one show funny and the other not, others like myself will find them both funny. There is a better reason that you wouldn’t compare them, and it’s because while they share the blanket-genre of ‘comedy’, they belong to totally different sub-genres.
To begin with, the debate of whether or not Lucky Star is Slice-of-life. First things first, there’s a good reason that we can’t trust Baka-Raptor’s dictionary definition of ‘slice-of-life’, which is that by that definition, it would be impossible for anime to ever be slice-of-life, because it’s a fucking cartoon and is therefor unable to be realistic. Of the anime commonly considered to be ‘slice-of-life’, not one of them is truly ‘realistic,’ and all of them contain other elements.
– Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou is about a fucking robot in post-apocalypse
– Aria takes place in outer fucking space
– Hidamari Sketch is a mindfuck and has magical widefaces
– Bartender has fuckwin drama and ridiculous drinks
– Figure 17 has badass action scenes and aliens
– Genshiken has some fucking hilarious comedy and occasional drama
– Just have a look at the list of shows tagged ‘slice-of-life’ on MAL, not fucking one of them doesn’t contain other elements.
We should conclude that the definition of the phrase ‘slice-of-life’ has it’s own meaning as an anime genre. (Not unlike how in the metal community, the term ‘Viking Metal’ was coined in regards to a band who sang about Vikings, however actually singing about Vikings does not make you a Viking metal band. It is the name of the genre, but does not necessarily represent the actual works classified within.)
The way ‘slice-of-life’ is described in terms of anime does not actually permit it alone to be the defining genre of a show. ‘Slice-of-life’ is an element, and could only truly be used as part of defining a sub-genre. The element is defined by the community as a show wherein while things may happen at times to fall into a regular genre, there is also time spent that merely follows the daily lives of the characters and does not necessarily contian an element of any other genre.
For instance, Aria is a series that has many dramatic moments, many comedic moments, and definitive plot progression, but also takes a lot of time to explore the lives of characters without any kind of drama or comedy, and the series is not paced or directed in the way a comedy or drama would be. Therefor, the correct genre definition of the series would be something along the lines of ‘slice-of-life/comedy/drama/sci-fi’. Because Aria in particular has a stronger slice-of-life element than any of it’s other elements, it could still be considered a prime example in defining the genre and would be most defined by that element, but it would not be proper to simply label it ‘slice-of-life.’
Likewise, Lucky Star cannot simply be called a comedy. It does contain the slice-of-life element, albeit to a far lesser extent than Aria, and I would most likely classify it as ‘Comedy/Slice-of-life/Moe’. It is the elements of ‘slice-of-life’ and ‘moe’ that define my need to separate it from the ‘Comedy/Sci-fi/Action’ anime Irresponsible Captain Tylor, and more than how ‘funny’ either show is, it will be those differences in sub-genres that will decide either show’s audience.
Baka-Raptor is right that you are ‘watching Lucky Star wrong’ if you view it just as a slice-of-life anime, but it’s also not right to watch it as just a comedy. I think people who enjoy the show do so based on their love for comedy, slice-of-life, and/or moe, and I know that my own love for the show is defined by my love for each of those three elements.