It was inevitable that a dedicated article to the fan-dubbed genre of “Cute Girls Doing Cute Things” would surface on this website. After more than one episode of the Truly Trash Podcast revolving around the concept (my piece on Relaxing Anime subtly trying to weave it in), I am passionate about the Slice of Life genre. That’s all inclusive from emotional series to laid back ones. However, I often find that because these two are sorted into the same category of Slice of Life, the more laidback series are often pushed aside or ridiculed for their inherent structure. With this piece, I’m hoping to blur the bridge that the anime community frequently puts in place and recommend five of my favourite shows where the Cute Girls doing Cute Things formula is used effectively. Oh and I’ll also be trying out some new scoring systems for the sake of these multi-show articles.
QUESTIONABLE AT MOMENTS, OVERALL A GREAT DEMONSTRATION OF THE FORMULA
COMEDY, HIGH SCHOOL | DIR: OOTA, MASAHIKO | 3 SEASONS, 12 EPS EACH
Starting off with a bang and the show that this article’s header comes from, Yuru Yuri is one of the strongest shows to pull off an incredibly baseless narrative. With a colourful and wide cast of characters, combined with a brilliant blend of personalities is what makes this show so enjoyable. Set in middle school, with three of our four main characters in their second year, Yuru Yuri follows the effortlessly hectic daily lives of “The Amusement Club”. The focus of the club isn’t important as the show revolves around whatever focus comes to the character’s mind and the elaborate scenarios that develop from it. As with every show on this list, the structure is episodic and as far as an overarching narrative goes, expect a few references to previous episodes and that’s about it. Blending a multitude of visually comedic moments with this show’s utterly perfect comedic timing makes Yuru Yuri one of the most effective slice of life comedy shows in my opinion.
As I expect to repeat for a lot of this article and delete later on, this show doesn’t feel like they tacked on the character’s cutesy designs just because they know it sells right now. Yuru Yuri’s original creator Namori is one of the few mangaka that I follow religiously on social media (her twitter account is gold). Namori has a gift for the cutesy aesthetic and effortlessly blends it with a combination of visual styles in the manga. Thankfully, this transitioned perfectly into the anime with pretty much every episode taking on a second alternate form at some point. Whether it be through Chinatsu’s hideously horrific drawing skills bringing the show into a grim horror sequence or Akari’s overactive imagination taking us to a fantasy battle anime, this show is so much more than the Cute Girls doing Cute Things label entails. One of my personal favourite comedy shows of all time and possibly the strongest portrayals of the formula on this list.
THE ICONIC SHOW FOR THE CATEGORY, STRONGER THAN GIVEN CREDIT FOR
MUSIC, SLICE OF LIFE | DIR: YAMADA, NAOKO | 2 SEASONS, 1 MOVIE
My love for K-On! runs far deeper than any of you could ever expect at first glance. Not only is it the first show that I ever considered amazing enough for me to buy physical merchandise for, but proof to me that anime is a medium I have to judge for myself. Now three K-On! figures deep and a website dedicated to judging anime, I only have K-On! to thank. Throughout my entirety of watching K-On!, everyone I knew online and off (excluding two of my high school friends) were telling me the show was a complete waste of time. Airing in between much more popular shows animated by Kyoto Animation, this series was an outsider and a punching bag for angry fans waiting for the next Haruhi instalment. So, why did this apparently worthless fluffy show appeal to me so much?
Not only was the show incredibly solid from a critical production point of view, with its micro features an absolute gem to dissect and discover, but the characters in the frame were so utterly lovable that they could do anything and it’d be entertaining. I’ve always said that you should work your world around the characters within them, and although K-On!’s world is admittedly restricted, this is why the show is such a success. Purely in terms of run time, this show has a pure 37 episodes (not including extra eps, OVAs and the feature length movie), spectators that didn’t come to love this main cast baffle me. In fear of spoiling aspects of the narrative I won’t go into details, but this show isn’t just a happy carefree one, there are tear jerking moments that affected me much more than I’d like to admit. If you want a show that is utterly proud of displaying the Cute Girls doing Cute Things formula, and still able to present a well structured and enthralling story then I cannot recommend you any better show than K-On!.
Chronicles of the Going Home Club
(Kitakubu Katsudou Kiroku)
THE LEAST FITTING OF THE GENRE BUT FEATURING ENOUGH ELEMENTS FOR THE PLACE
COMEDY, HIGH SCHOOL | DIR: HIKARU, SATOU | 1 SEASON, 12 EPISODES
Now, for the one fan in the corner that actually knows what Chronicles of the Going Home Club is, you’re my new favourite reader and deserve a medal. This show does so much more than you would expect from the Slice of Life genre that I considered removing it from this list entirely. However, there are cute girls and the show revolves around them doing cute things so it fits. This show plays on the student-used term “Member of the Going Home Club” referring to students who aren’t assigned to any extra curricular activity. Following the show’s inherent sense of insanity, our main cast all finish school by attending such a club – it’s definitely an interesting show. Although some shows on this list will utilise a character’s imagination or a crazy fantasy sequence to balance out the generic school scenario, this show takes it one step further. The characters in Going Home Club don’t follow the rules of physics and blend the world to fit the requirements of the episode. On many occasions, this show will break the fourth wall. One line of dialogue simply saying “Our viewership is going down, quick take your clothes off!”, before swiftly cutting to a black screen in another character’s protest.
Although only using one image to divide each show on this list, I did my best to screenshot a moment to perfectly encapsulate the hectic nature of this show that sets it aside from the others on this list. Personally, my favourite moment of this show is where the characters explain to the audience how they ran over their budget so the rest of the episode has just be the storyboards. Then, the rest of the entire episode is actually just the storyboards. Even though Going Home Club didn’t do so well with Japanese audiences and received a lukewarm response upon release, it’s probably one of the most well animated shows on this list. Completely toying with the features that come with anime and proving that the Cute Girls doing Cute Things format isn’t inherently restrictive, this show is a joy to observe and a celebration of animation as a medium.
HEARTWARMING EPISODES WITH CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT BEYOND EXPECTATIONS
COMEDY, SLICE OF LIFE | DIR: MOTOKI, TANAKA | 2 SEASONS, 1 MOVIE
How many times can I talk about Kiniro Mosaic without enraging my fanbase? At least one more. If you don’t know already, Kinmosa is one of my personal favourite shows – my go to show for a good mood without fail. The reason this show receives such praise is through its effortlessly endearing cast of colourful characters and its pure joy in creating exciting sequences. Comparatively, the micro features of this show might not be the strongest and its writing can be a bit questionable at times. However, what it lacks in physical quality it makes up for in genuine charm and its lovable characters. Of all these shows, this is the one to epitomise the Cute Girls doing Cute Things formula. Their designs are especially adorable (with their enlarged eyes and exaggerated movements) which blends in perfectly with the set up of these characters. Each member of the main cast has their fair share of screen time and the show doesn’t shy away from truly fleshing out their character traits. Despite being able to sum up each one in a sentence or two, if you really went in depth analysing this characters you’d be thoroughly impressed. That being said, I’d happily dedicate a casual article or a piece-by-piece episode dedicated to that purely to prove that point so let me know if that sounds cool to you!
At its core, Kiniro Mosaic is a cutesy Slice of Life show that focuses on the inherent barrier that comes with upbringing and language – especially in a high school environment. Although it may not go into the gritty details you’d find in more brooding shows, Kinmosa sets out to accomplish something and does it perfectly. Perfectly innocent without pandering or feeling try-hard, each episode is a crafted dosage of good times. This show never forgets what it is or why the average viewer will tune in. Each episode has a brilliant balance of genuinely heartwarming sequences and over-the-top action moments or hectic high school interactions. Not to mention that the main cast make an effort to explore outside of the school environment, giving endless variety to the structure of the two seasons. Arguably, the second season is stronger as a whole (introducing some new characters on the way) but the amount of character building and groundwork that is set up in the first makes it a disservice to skip it as a result. To top it all off, here’s an incredibly exaggerated and well animated sequence of best girl Karen pretending to be a pirate.
A LIGHTHEARTED STORY OF CUTE GAME DEVELOPERS HAS NO RIGHT BEING THIS GOOD
VIDEO GAMES, COMEDY | DIR: YOSHIYUKI, FUJIWARA | 2 SEASONS, 1 OVA
So for a little behind the scenes for you guys, this post has been an idea in my head since about halfway into the first season of New Game. Now in the latter half of the second season, the additional content has only further solidified this show’s place in this list. First and foremost, this is one of the most popular and widely discussed shows of the year that follows the Cute Girls doing Cute Things formula for good reason. New Game is a show that horrendously misrepresents video game development but who cares about that when the show is adorable and the characters are perfect. With every show of this style, there’s a definite character that I personally adore and they usually fall under a similar set of traits and tropes. It’s at the point now where my friends can predict my favourite characters episodes before I’ve figured it out for myself. That being said, every single character in this show is perfect. Although Hifumi is my personal favourite for reasons too extensive to get into here, this show is the only one on here that perfectly balances each and every main character. Accompanying such a colourful collection of characters with such beautiful visuals and thoroughly enjoyable writing makes this show the strongest on the list.
Specifically in the second season, this show doesn’t just establish 2-Dimensional traits and bounce the comedy around them. Revolving the show’s narrative around a constructive and creative project, this creates a keystone that functions as a consistent reference for time and progression. Depending on the episode of the show, the mise-en-scen will respond respectively – more character designs appearing on work desks and deadlines becoming more tight as two examples. This does so much for the fluidity of the show and works to set it aside from the generic episodic filler we see too much of in this genre. Progress in this show actually feels impactful and the development we see in the characters actually affects the quality of their game. While some are visually apparent like the episode central to Key Visual Art and ensuring it promotes sales, there are some more introspective sequences that convey the feelings of the characters more than anything. (If that sounds interesting to you, the first episode of my video series Piece-by-Piece delves into an episode of New Game!! Season 2 which you can find here).
There you have it, five series that I personally feel deserve more credit than they’re often slated genre gives. Although it was tough to narrow the shows in this category down to five for the sake of this article, I was very critical as to what defines a “Cute Girls doing Cute Things” show. For example, I would’ve loved to discuss a series like Gakkou Gurashi! (School-Live) but to me it veers further away into a different set of themes entirely. That being said, there are bound to be some that you would’ve seen so let me know in the comments below. It’s more than likely that I just haven’t seen the show you’re thinking of and I’m always happy to receive more recommendations of this genre!