Slice of Life is a wonderful genre. It might be my favorite genre and if I think about it the first slice of life anime/manga to come to my mind are Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou and Aria. I think Yotsubato and Non Non Biyori are also there but in this blog I want to focus on YKK and Aria. Both of them are manga and anime which are kind of similar in a way and yet so different. I guess there is a reason why these two are always getting compared.
If you want to suggest a slice of life it’s like YKK and Aria are the very definiton of this genre. But despite the similarities in the topics, events and the general atmosphere these both have , they are very different from each other. So what exactly is different you ask ? Now over the months I have seen many comments saying they both are basically the same in a different setting and I disagree. I’m going to explain why.
YKK released first in 1995 and Aria in 2001 and both of them are dealing with the future. Both of them are slice of life stories in a post-apocalyptic world. The biggest difference between them is the fact that Aria is about optimism while YKK is the opposite.
While watching Aria I always found the world quite fascinating. It almost seemed like a planet in heaven. A place where it’s peaceful and where everything is beautiful. It’s a place where you can just sit down and enjoy the atmosphere. Neo Venezia is the name of the city which is on planet Aqua. We often see Akari’s remark about how beautiful the city is.
The inconvenience, the slow-moving time. A city made of miracles and I can definitely agree with her. And she is not only talking about how beautiful the landscape is but also the people in the city. A city is not beautiful if the people living there are not.
The people in the city enjoy the slow paced days. They have no problems with the inconvenience the water might bring with it. It’s a completley different world. Compared to earth a planet with high technology, cars and a fast moving society it’s the opposite. It’s a place where you learn to enjoy every little thing in life and I think this is very important. The reason why this planet is so perfect is because it’s a hand-made planet. It’s a planet made with the hands, sweat and feeling of countless people who left Earth to build this new planet. It’s a perfect world created by humanity together. A scenario which is unthinkable in the real world but considering they all could have died when they escaped from earth they knew that they have to work together to survive.
Even despite the hardship and despite the fact that they failed many times creating the new planet they never gave up. The dream of the Utopia gave them the power to keep trying it. This is what I mean with optimism. They don’t want the circurmstances to stay the way they are. They want to change, they want to change the world. A new world where everyone can live in. It’s the dreamworld they wanted to live in and Akari mentioned that the Neverland she was always dreaming of might be the planet she is walking on now.
In YKK it is similair but yet different. We have the same scenario where the earth is reaching it’s end. The cities are abandoned and flooded since the water levels are higher, odd plants are growing all over the landscapes and a big part of the Mt. Fuji is missing. The world has changed and yet the life is much more easy going and simpler. The world they are living in now is a peaceful world with humans just sitting back and enjoying their life. If we imagine the end of the world we always think that everything is going to end in a dramatic and brutal way. Survivors are going to struggle till the end and have a painful death. But not here.
They have accepted the fact that they’re slowly dying and don’t really have the urge to change their life. They are just living a calm live and enjoy the time they have left. In every YKK chapter we are exploring the new world they are living in now. In a world where everything is destroyed and flooded and yet so beautiful, calm and peaceful. It’s mono no aware. I explained this term in one of my blogs (or atleast tried to) I guess everyone will find their own message or meaning in this manga but for me personally it just shows that despite the drastic change of the world everyone is simply doing what they have always done. They live, they eat, they have fun and they die.
So the biggest difference here is the fact how they deal with the end of their planet. While in Aria they are trying everything they can to survive and create an utopia which they also manage to do, in YKK they are simply accepting their fate and live on. It’s like Aria is about new-world discovery and the celebration technology and human endeavour, while YKK is showing us a dying world where everyone calmly accepted their fate. What both of them have in common is the fact that they appreciate everything. Every little thing in life is important to the characters. No one is unhappy about their fate and I find this really fascinating. Why being pessimistic about everything ?
Instead of being sad about the flooded cities they appreciate the sight of watching the city being under water. Instead of being afraid of all the odd plants growing everywhere they appreciate it and watch it growing.
So yes Aria and YKK are indeed similar but they both are showing a different perspective on the post- apocalyptic world. Both are really interesting in their own way and both are definitely worth reading.