Throw open your windows and air out the room! It’s time to spring clean! But have you ever done a “mental spring clean”? It’s time to declutter your headspace and rethink your priorities. Shake off the drama and focus on the everyday stuff. And guess what is really good for that? READING. Not just any reading: reading you can relate to. This is why slice of life comics are perfect for your mental spring clean. No stress, no expectations. Just the opportunity to look at your life and start afresh.
Wait: Mental Spring Clean?
Most of us know about spring cleaning. After months of cold dreary winter days, it’s good to open up your home and let some sunshine in. Clean up the dust, remove the clutter, and let the fresh air in to deal with the stale smells and mildew. Often our mental health needs the same treatment, although it doesn’t have to be in spring. You can do a mental health spring clean at any time of year. Some people find the change in seasons to be a good prompt; some people react better to the increase in natural sunlight during their days. And some people (like me) need a set date on the calendar to remind me to Do The Thing.
There are many things you can do to take care of your mental health. Reading is a good place to start, especially with stories that are relatable, enjoyable, and leave you feeling good about yourself. The important part of spring cleaning is facing the areas that need cleaning up, and you may need some prep work to do this. Address those cobwebs in your mind and take action to sweep up the dust lying on your hopes and dreams. Take out the toxic trash and re-prioritise the clutter. Reading slice of life comics can help our minds think about what is important to us and the goals we need to reach. It doesn’t have to be perfect; often it is great that you just start.
What Are Slice of Life Comics?
Everyday life. It can still be exciting and a little dramatic, but generally the storyline centres on something easily relatable for the reader. The goal is to “bring joy to the reader”. While slice of life comics are very popular amongst manga titles, they are building in popularity with western comics as well.
Why do we love slice of life? Because we know there is no big surprise or drama. Anytime it tugs on the heartstrings, it is in a sweet and gentle way with full consent. We know this is a safe space. And when our lives have been so cluttered for the last winter (scratch that…at least two winters), it is nice to simply clear our heads with a bit of reading that reassures our own lives.
13 of the Best Slice-of-Life Comics for Your Mental Spring Clean
Restart After Coming Back Home and Restart After Growing Hungry by Cocomi
In Restart After Coming Back Home, Kozuka needs to face this return – and learn that it is not automatically a bad thing. This is a beautiful slice of life comic showing how a step back can often be an opportunity to revisit an alternative. As Kozuka rediscovers himself, he meets Kumai, a new face in his old community. By cleaning out the old feelings, these two lovers start a fresh journey together. This has a sweet LBGTQI romance and old-town community vibes.
Horimiya (Hori-san to Miyamura-kun) by Hero and Daisuke Hagiwara
Everyone talks about this being a romance manga, but in all honesty, it’s a story about all kinds of relationships. The main characters (Hori-san and Miyamura-kun) are working their way through everyday life in their own relationship. On the outside are friends and family, creating the support circle.
Akane-Banashi by Yuki Suenaga and Takamasa Moue, Translated by Stephen Paul
Rakugo is the ultimate storytelling; a performance by a single speaker on a raised platform, armed with only a paper fan, a small cloth, and their face. Akane (our main character) knows all too well about the art of Rakugo: she used to watch her father study this art form, hoping to one day be a master. Unfortunately, he never reached his dreams, and he changed his path to one of everyday living as a salesman. Akane swore she would become a Rakugo master and prove to everyone that her skills, and her fathers, are worthy of admiration and respect! This brand new comic shares Akane’s journey and is showing great promise in the storytelling for characters and everyday life. I’m two chapters in and already I’m feeling inspired to stay focused and steady on my goals – a great skill to develop, with a bit of mental spring cleaning. Akane-Banashi is available on Viz (it started on February 11, 2021).
Small World by Wonsun Jin
Sometimes you just need some reassurance that there is good in the world before you build the courage to make changes yourself. Wonsun Jin shares this in the most natural yet the loveliest way possible. Julien and Robin define what everyday love is about: sweet midnight texts, stealing ice creams, dealing with spiders, and those little reassurances when you don’t even realise they needed reassurance. It’s adorable, it’s relatable, and it’s the perfect inspiration for relationship goals. You can read all of this short sweet goodness on webtoons.
One of Those Days by Yehuda Devir and Maya Devir
More a collection of short sweet slices of life than story-arc of comics, The Devir are fairly honest with the depiction of their own lives. Yehuda gained popularity with his delightful cartoons featuring the everyday relationship with his now-wife. Since then, they have had two children and the cartoons have taken a new angle of family life while keeping a few highlights of their relationship. Best of all, they show their genuine and sincere attempts to clean up their own lives…while still having children in the same house. (Parents everywhere will understand the challenge). Just reading these will help you feel more prepared for your mental spring clean.
Navillera: Like a Butterfly by Hun and Jimin
After the death of an old friend, Deok-Chul Sim decides to pursue a long-held dream: to learn ballet. While this is met with surprise from those close to him, he makes friends with his young instructor Chae-Rok and learns to appreciate the importance of facing our fears to pursue our dreams. Navillera is a beautiful Korean webtoon, reminding us why we need to take stock of our own needs once in a while. The artwork is stunning, especially when capturing the graceful movements of ballerinas. This is a great motivator for mental spring cleaning. Read it on Tapas.
Yotsuba! by Kiyohiko Azuma, Translated by Amy Forsyth
Ah, the sweet innocent outlook of little Yotsuba! She is a breath of fresh air into any room! This green-haired, wide-eyed girl is curious to learn about EVERYTHING and has no clue about ANYTHING! Yotsuba can be a little chaotic for her neighbours, but it is all cute and clean fun. Each chapter is a slice of her everyday life as Yotsuba learns about the world. If changing your perspective is part of your mental spring clean, Yotsuba is the perfect handmaiden to guide you there.
Days of Sugar and Spice by Loic Clement and Anne Montel
A fresh start is not a required step in a mental spring clean, but you can get a taste of it with Days of Sugar and Spice. It’s the sweet story of Rose, a young woman who inherits a bakery in a small French village after her absent father dies. Family histories, relationships, and how we cope with life are all entwined with the art of baking delicious cakes and pastries. It is essentially Rose using comfort food to work through her mental and emotional clutter…And haven’t we all done that at some point?
Wash Day by Jamila Rowser and Robyn Smith
Step into the shoes of a Bronx Black woman and take a walk through her wash day: her Sunday morning rituals as she cares for her long thick hair. It’s everyday life: fresh coffee, catcalls down the street, walking past the comic bookstore, all the usual stuff. The artwork is lovely and warm with an extra realistic feel, helped by the reading experience being so damn relatable. But it’s the extra little steps of self-care and self-respect that tie in with mental spring cleans. That’s what makes this book so special.
Food Baby by Lucie Bryon
Here’s another one for the food lovers. Cooking can be a great step in a mental spring clean, while you test out new recipes and nutrition ideas. And there are some great recipe ideas in Food Baby. I recently picked up this book to share with my 15-year-old son who is responsible for dinner every Thursday night. It’s a nice blend of stories with recipes to make cooking an experience rather than a task. Food Baby was originally published by ShortBox and you can find it on Lucie Bryon’s website.
The Moomins and the Great Flood by Tove Jansson, Translated by David McDuff
This is the first of the treasured and extensive collection of stories by the Scandinavian creator, Tove Jansson. The story is dreamlike and simple, following the journey of Moominmama and baby Moomintroll as they search for Moominpapa. There is a lovely carefree nature to their adventure, however, there is a strong Scandinavian feel to it as well. I have recently learnt how Scandinavian children’s stories will have a slightly dark realism to them; not because they are trying to be scary but because they are a little more pragmatic. The Moomins show this best, with their sweet and gentle outlook on life but not running away from the troubles either.
The Way of the Househusband by Kousuke Oono
This is a common favourite amongst the Book Riot team. This Japanese manga series centres on an ex-Yakuza boss who has given up the life of crime to become a househusband. It’s a big step to leave the Yakuza, and even bigger to become a househusband in Japan. But he doesn’t do the nasty stuff anymore. He is now as committed to being the perfect househusband as he was to killing, torturing, and maiming people in his past life. It’s the most amazing slice of life comic, taking us through yoga exercises, shopping adventures, and creating the most absolutely perfect bento box I have ever seen. If your mental spring-clean includes organising your domestic skills, pick up a copy of The Way of the Househusband and take copious notes.
Batman: Wayne Family Adventures by CRC Payne and StarBite
There are plenty of action Batman comics, and there are plenty of mystery Batman comics. But sometimes it’s nice to know Bruce Wayne can have some family downtime too (the guy definitely needs it). And imagine if Wayne Mansion didn’t have to be as broody as the Batman. Batman: Wayne Family Adventures takes a slice of life in the Wayne Mansion, and it is as wholesome and hilarious as you would expect. The character portrayals are absolutely brilliant, fitting snugly into the canon. There’s no real dramatic storytelling here, just pure life. When you need to clean out the brooding drama from the gloom of your mind, Wayne Family Adventures is a great way to throw open the windows! You can have your superheroes AND your mental spring-clean at the same time! Follow the family on webtoons.
A mental spring-clean is all about ditching the unnecessary thoughts that hold you back and finding a new path to live the life you want. It’s about recharging your mental energy and bringing back a little comfort and joy in your every day. Slice of life comics are great for grounding us in everyday experiences while still giving us a safe place to escape too. For more great slice of life manga, check out fellow Book Rioter Vernieda’s choice for the 9 Best Slice-of-Life Manga to Make Your Feel Refreshed.