I have an odd relationship with post-apoc settings. I love the general idea, the concept of post-apoc, but often find the execution to be lacking. For every Mad Max, there’s at least one Aftermath or New Gladiators. Some nice ideas in the lower budget movies, sure, but the obvious issue is the ‘lower budget’. By nice, I do of course mean awful, because… you know, post-apoc.
Similarly, for every Fallout: New Vegas (one of my top 5 games of all time), you have… well, something like Fallout 76, which completely misses the point of the franchise it’s aping off, exactly as Fallout 3 and 4 both did as well (I don’t like Bethesda, if it wasn’t clear).
But more than anything else, post-apoc sits in a weird place for me, where I love the idea of it, but very rarely enjoy the stories set in it. Fallout is… or rather, was one of my favourite franchises because it got post-apoc right. Yes, it was brutal. Yes, it was dark and hopeless in a lot of ways. And yes, most of humanity had been wiped out, and those who were left were largely kind of crappy.
Despite this, it also has some really dark humour, and some of the best back story and lore in any franchise I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading, watching, or playing. And a great story, and dated but still serviceable gameplay with great faction and reputation dynamics that Bethesda can’t seem to wrap their collective heads around. It’s a great franchise, is what I’m saying.
So why am I talking about post-apoc all of a sudden? Because it’s a setting I’d like to see different types of story set in. Unfortunately, this presents a problem, as The Closer Look eloquently mentions in his video on The Predator: “when it comes to combining different genres, you can get away with almost anything.”
Key word: almost.
Combining genres is fun, and something I enjoy doing a great deal. My own Aida, for example, is a combo of sci-fi and idols, plus lesfic erotic romance. It works well, if I say so myself (shameless plug).
Sci-fi and fantasy combine nicely, too, with settings where fantasy is being superseded by tech, or where an ancient tech-based civilisation was overtaken by a fantasy one, or whatever. The likes of Skies of Arcadia, Final Fantasy, and plenty of other stories love to dabble with this (including me… which you might get some details on in a later post, nudge-nudge, wink-wink).
Likewise, horror can combine with sci-fi, or fantasy, or post-apoc, or almost anything. Again… almost. Putting horror with comedy can work, and really damn well in some cases. The Evil Dead franchise says hi, especially the second movie. Arguably the third movie veers more towards comedy than anything, but it still has those horror elements.
So what about post-apoc? What can we put that with? Sci-fi? Absolutely, and this is probably the most common combo. Fantasy? Yep. Comedy? As mentioned above, Fallout has some great dark humour moments. Romance? Difficult, but eminently possible, and can produce some truly tragic stories.
Slice of life? Ah, now we’re getting into the tricky ones, and the whole point of this post. If you’ve read much of my work, especially Aida, you’ll know that I love slice of life; Aida is a light-hearted and humorous story where it’s all about character interaction and naughty scenes, albeit tempered by serious drama and conflict as well.
But post-apoc is, by its very nature, dark and gritty and real. How would you even put the sort of light and fluffy slice of life I love into a setting like that? Seems almost impossible, right? Well… maybe not entirely. There is one good example I can think of, a little manga called Vampire After the Doomsday. And the best thing? It’s not just slice of life and post-apoc… it’s also girl love 😀
Check it out here, it’s only a short 5 part work for now, though a (slowly) ongoing one.
So as it turns out, yes, it is actually possible to do post-apoc slice of life. Who’d have thought? It’s certainly not easy and the above work has a supernatural element in the vampires, allowing for a unique setting, and I can’t really imagine it being especially lucrative as a genre to tackle if you’re looking to actually earn money.
But as something a bit different in two opposing genres I enjoy? Yeah… it might be something to look into trying one day. What do you think?