I’ve been talking a good deal about both giant robots and slice of life anime as of late, and in doing so it was perhaps inevitable that the notion of combining both would start to percolate in my head.
At first, mecha and slice of life would appear to contradict each other. Mecha is generally about some kind of story and conflict, be it good vs evil, big vs small, one team vs another, whereas slice of life has its focus in the non-events of life. Is it possible to reconcile the two? I say yes, and all you have to do is start with Patlabor.
Now for those unfamiliar with Patlabor, the basic premise is that in the near future giant robots are used in labor jobs such as construction and demolition, and have essentially become a part of everyday life. Some unscrupulous people get the bright idea to start using these mecha to commit crimes, and so a robot-based police force called “Patlabor” is formed.
So envision the Patlabor scenario in your mind. Now, get rid of the robot crime and by extension get rid of the robot police force. There’s your slice of life mecha show. Instead of focusing on capturing criminals, the story becomes about the daily hijinks of working a normal job as a robot pilot. If you want, have the characters younger and center the story around the training process, like Gunbuster‘s early episodes minus the competitiveness. On that note, make the characters all cute girls if you want, though honestly speaking I don’t think such a thing is necessary for slice of life.
So basically, giant robots without the fighting. I know, pretty exciting, right?