Asahigaoka might look like typical, boring countryside to most; however, no day in this village can ever be considered colorless thanks to five students of varying ages occupying the only class in the only school in town. The youngest student is first grader Renge Miyauchi, who brings an unadulterated wit, curiosity, and her characteristic catchphrase, "Nyanpasu!" Then there are the Koshigaya siblings consisting of the quiet ninth grader and elder brother Suguru, diminutive eighth grader Komari, and the mischievous seventh grader Natsumi. The recent arrival of Tokyo-raised fifth grader Hotaru Ichijou, who appears overdeveloped for her age and thus naturally holds an air of maturity, rounds out this lively and vibrant group of five classmates.
Based on the manga penned and illustrated by Atto, Non Non Biyori chronicles the not-so-normal daily lives of this group of friends as they engage in their own brand of fun and frolic, and playfully struggle with the realities of living in a rural area.
Life too stressful? Worried or anxious about something? Just sit down in front of the screen and put this anime on, and all your concerns will dissolve away - probably within seconds. Everything - setting, plot, sound, music, art, humour - all of it is perfectly crafted at maximising this effect. And what an effect it is.
The story itself is a simple one. It follows the daily lives of four girls of various ages who all live in the same rural village and are in the same class at school. Almost everything that happens is following their daily lives, with events that are both realistic and completely believable. As far as overarching story goes, that's about it - this isn't an anime you should be watching if you only care for a tense plot full of twists and turns. It is predominantly episodic in nature, although characters and settings are gradually built up over time so there's no lack of progress. Each episode contains one or two stories, every single one of which is a joy to watch and will melt your heart. The humour is lighthearted in tone, and is aimed at adding to this heart-melting effect, rather than at making you laugh out loud, although there are a few moments that could do this as well. There are also a few moments that will invoke other emotions, all very effectively and very naturally.
The cast is focused mainly on the four girls. Komari is the eldest of the four, although you wouldn't know it by looking. She is very self conscious of the fact that she is unusually small for her age and tries to make up for this by attempting (and largely failing) to act grown up. Hotaru, on the other hand, is unusually mature, at least on a physical level, for a fifth grader. She also quickly develops a crush on her cute chibi senpai, although none of the others ever seem to realise it. Natsumi is Komari's younger sister, and is a bit of a layabout. She's too lazy to work hard at anything and is always getting in trouble for one thing or another. And then there's Renge, called "Ren-chon" by Natsumi. I could honestly wax lyrical about Ren-chon all day, but I don't want to bore you any more than I already am, so I'll just say that she's the youngest of the cast, who knows a lot about things that you wouldn't expect a first grade student to know, but otherwise acts fairly normally for her age. Oh, she also has some brilliant facial expressions, and Koiwai Kotori's voice acting of her character is a definite candidate for being the best I've ever come across.
Every member of the supporting cast, just like the main characters, each have their own distinctive but realistic and believable personalities, and are every bit as likeable as the central four cast members.
The humour and characters may be brilliant, but what makes this series really stand out is the music and images. As someone who tends to focus very heavily on the characters of a series, I don't usually care much for these things - as long as they add to the immersement, enjoyment and feel of a series, just about anything's fine by me. But here even I can't help but be overwhelmed. The series starts with nothing but pictures, sound effects and music building up the scene and setting with pure imagery. It's almost 2.5 minutes before anything is actually said, yet by that time you will likely have already entered into a state of total bliss from the gorgeous artwork, more reminiscent of a high budget film or even something you might see in an art gallery than a TV series, and soothing background music and sound effects of what is being shown. And, while the effect may not be as intense in later scenes, the quality does not drop. Just about every background in this entire series is a work of art both literally and figuratively.
I've watched the first episode over and over again and every time the effect is the same. The entire anime is thoroughly rewatchable, and every episode provides the perfect relaxation whether on your first watch or your tenth. Even brilliantly written series that depend on plot twists and reveals often grow dull when watching through for the third time, but that is of no concern for an anime like this.
A lot of slower paced anime, however, require you to be in the right mood before watching them, but again that is of no concern here, as Non Non Biyori will put you in that right mood, no matter what your previous state of mind.
All in all, this is a series to be watched, loved and enjoyed over and over again. Everything is perfectly toned to add to this viewing pleasure as much as possible, and it is indeed a pure pleasure to watch.
If you want to know what nirvana feels like, watch this anime.read more
This is my first review, but I'll try my best to follow the guidelines.
Ah. Non Non Biyori.
To be honest, when I first saw the concept art and previews, I was not impressed. Frankly, I dismissed it as yet another slice of life show, a genre so regularly plagiarized that one can't help but wonder if the anime studios are running out of ideas, as each subsequent series seems to be a cut and paste of an earlier show. It was only with great encouragement from Youtube pianist Tehishter that I began watching the show with the lowest of expectations. I was pleasantly surprised at how wrong I was.
The story is a simple one. Hotarun, a Tokyo-bred city girl, finds herself moving out of the hustle and bustle of a metropolitan life and into the middle of the countryside thanks to her father's job transfer. There, she enrolls into a school that has only 1 teacher and 5 students of varying grades. Gradually, she grows accustomed to the joys of friendship and a peaceful lifestyle. That is pretty much it, story wise. Arguably, that is all it needs to be.
While this might not sound like much, the writers did a fantastic job of painting a picturesque scene, albeit rather romanticized, of the differences between living in the countryside and living in the city. To roughly quote Ren-chon, "Don't you own a mountain in the city, Hotarun?". There is an interesting element of comedic relief to the show as well, which does a good job of creating a light hearted and heart-warming experience altogether. It is exactly because of the lack of intricacies and complications that make this anime such a joy to watch. :)
Being a show that revolves around country lifestyle, the show does a superb job of vividly painting the landscapes and creating a nice environment that truly sucks the viewer in. I was rather absorbed into the many beautifully done landscapes and views. The show, indeed, was full of screenshot worthy moments. The characters are nicely done as well. I for one, was pleasantly surprised at the lack of fan-service and the way the creators managed to maintain a very innocent image of the characters.
Ah. The soundtrack. I often see reviewers claim that a soundtrack is plain, boring or not memorable. I would argue otherwise. The sole purpose of a soundtrack is to immerse the viewer into the atmosphere of the show, to deliberate the mood and 'flow' of the show. In this regard, the Non Non Biyori soundtrack does its job wonderfully. The subtle hints and ambient sounds that are played fit very well into the show. It suits the laidback and heartwarming theme of the show very well. As for the OP, it introduces the playful and childish mood of the overall show, which nano.ripe performs superbly. The ED is just adorable.
The characters in the show are decent. I liked that the show did not introduce any stereotypes or overdo any of the characters. There's Hotaru, the classy but sweet city girl, the sisters Komari and Natsumi, and Renge, who make up the main cast of the show. They each have their varying quirks and personalities, all of which are interesting in their own ways. There is, surprisingly enough, some decent and well thought out character development, in particular, the relationship between 'sweet shop lady' and Renge. I have personally lost count at how many times I've let out an audible aww throughout this series.
I love this show. No words can convey how I feel about this show, to be honest, but I'll try. Every week for the past 7 weeks, I looked forward to the airing of Non Non Biyori. Although I only got into the show halfway through the season, I was instantly hooked. I really enjoyed the laidback and calming experience that is Non Non Biyori. No matter how crappy or pissed off I felt at the time, I couldn't help but smile like an idiot after the show. Unlike other slice of life animes, Non Non Biyori is different in the sense that one truly feels at peace while watching the show. There is no drama or climax, no ante or distress. Watching the show was for me, pure bliss. 23 minutes of smiling like an idiot.
Overall, this anime does what it set out to do perfectly. Granted, some might not enjoy the lack of action or fan service, but let me say this. Give the show a try. If you've had a crappy day at school, a disastrous meeting at work or if you just wanted to relax for a bit, watch this show. It's not the best show of the year, or even of the season, but it is special in its own right.
Yes, I have a sweet spot for slice of life anime. I genuinely enjoyed the laid-back shows such as GJ-bu, Tamayura, Yuyushiki etcetera this year, but that doesn't stop me from saying that Non Non Biyori was one of the most conformist and loveliest experiences in the past few months. It's definitely great-tier in the slice of life section.
The simplistic story takes place in a rural area of the countryside. Eleven year old Hotaru Ichijou moves into the town from Tokyo with her parents, and transfers into a school consisting of only four more students; Renge, Natsumi and Komari (yes, it's a rather small school). It shows the ordinary lives of these children, as well as other residents in the town throughout the seasons of the year.
That is quite literally it.
And hence is one reason why I love this show dearly. The story knows exactly what its purpose is; relaxation and healing. The execution of the countryside is depicted very well: The writing isn't complicated in the least, rather very simplistic, but the pacing and direction takes a gentle slow approach, and especially a faithful one to its original setting (it's based on a real place after all). Everything content wise is pretty much laid back, whether it's the lack of vehicles to rivers streaming, or doors without locks to shops without its shopkeeper (you pay in the money box!). The nature environment and gentle flow keeps this show consistently soothing, and each episode has the magic to ease you from anxiety or worries.
It's not all slice of life though, as its comedic factor takes a big role too. In its environment, it's very light-hearted comedy, carried by its characters heavily, but largely comedy based nevertheless. I'd say it's a mix between Aria's slice of life aspect and Nichijou or Azumanga's comedic aspect, although more plausible than random. But the amount of laughing fit moments are high in its otherwise slow stretched content.
Non Non Biyori doesn't illustrate any life messages at the end of every episode, unlike Aria or Tamayura, and its story doesn't particularly end on a high note either (which is good though because second season is possible). However, a few episodes can cause need of replacement for heartstrings, as the dedicated episodes can really warm and break the heart if you're not careful (which can consist of moments we can relate to too). But generally, the story presents the interactions and lives of our cast, and to lay back, eat ice cream and relax in ease is the best way to approach a series like this.
In our cast we have the little grade 1, Renge, the two sisters Komari and Natsumi (grade 8 and 7) and Hotaru, grade 5. They all have pretty distinct personalities, although can be considered realistic. What makes watching them more interesting though is that they're all different ages and have different mindsets, so the interactions and chemistry between each of them together are often entertaining. Especially with Renge, because we're able to see a point of view of a child, not often expressed in anime, in which her childish mindset and logic can be quite ironic yet sweet. The characters pretty much drive the comedy factors forward, and you grow to care for them as the series gradually continues.
I guess the lack of pandering and 'sexual' fanservice is a strong trait of this show as well. The anime makes hardly any attempt to sexualize the characters (except the beach episode (which wasn't actually typical either (yes there's a beach in the countryside, deal with it))). The prohibition of panty and focus-on-body-parts shots makes them non-existent, and helps the faithfulness of this show to keep its soothing story from being ruined. It also ranges a better audience to non-anime fans (as the Japanese countryside people apparently like this show a lot!).
I adore the animation in this show a lot. A lot of long pauses in this show makes up various, delicious wallpapers to use; it's like an impressive painting exhibition at times, with distinct, bright colours of nature in land and sky. Rivers sometimes flow, looking beautiful with reflections and sparkles. It just seems so fun to draw and paint some spectacular scenery, and such exhibitions are a complete plus in these kinds of shows. The shadings and lightning are handled very carefully too, and are the notable strengths in the art department. And of course, the budget is pretty high but that's to be expected with a slice of life shows as they usually are (there's lots of money to spend with not many scenes).
Sound direction is done craftily great too. The soundtrack portrays a lazy yet calming mood for the show, sometimes being the center of the scene for a few times. The careful use of silence and sound effects suits the environment of the countryside, in which helps essence the lovely atmosphere this show has to offer at front. The voice actors deliver their lines well, whether it's a punchline or not. You'd probably recognize Joshiraku's Marii in this, and Renge's VA coins the child character with ace. The OP and ED are generally enjoyable to listen to as well, and not once I skipped it.
All in all, Non Non Biyori is definitely one of the better shows in its respective genre. It may look appealing to moe-inducers, but its environment and atmosphere is what sets itself apart from the typical slice of life anime with girls doing nothing. Its fun characters, lack of fanservice and soothing lazy pace helps the show in becoming a decent healing anime. And girls doing nothing it is, but as long as you have the right mindset and approach towards this show then it's highly enjoyable and comforting, especially when you're feeling down the dumps or blues. It's an anime that makes you smile; one that eases your tensity.
This is why I love the slice of life healing genre.read more
The slice of life genre was a captivating one. Having the ability to soothe the viewer. To give them that warm feeling inside. It was beautiful. But now slice of life is filled with big eyed, blob faced, cute girls. In other words, moe. If you don't know what moe is to put it simply its cute girls who do cute things. Although cute girls doing cute things isn't necessarily bad. Most lack a good story, meaningful characters,or both. In other words anime studios are focusing too much on making the show cute rather than focusing on the quality of the show itself.Sadly, these kinds of anime have slowly been increasing with each coming year. But among this moe epidemic. There are a few animes that rise above this trend and become a glint of hope for this dying genre.
Non Non Biyori is one of these animes.
The story is about a school in the countryside with only four students. All from different grades ranging from first to ninth. One day a transfer student called Hotaru Ichijou from Tokyo transfers to this school because of his father's job. The anime revolves around these girls and their life in the countryside.
The story runs out like other schoolgirl animes. It's episodic. But what makes this anime special is that every episode is skillfully crafted with great care to soothe the viewer and give the viewer a happy grin every episode. Almost every episode is realistic so there are many episodes where the viewer can relate to the show. Ever tried to hide a bad test score from your mom? or run away from your mom only to come back later? If you have then you will feel right at home with Non Non Biyori. Every episode is a beautiful adventure in itself. From playing ball on recess to making a cultural festival for less than five people. Every episode is fun, soothing, and a joy to watch.
One look at Non Non Biyori and you know that silver link has put a lot of money into this anime. Movements are fluid. Designs are great, but what makes the art truly stand out is the background. The countryside is animated beautifully. The backgrounds feel alive. Everything from the trees to leaves falling. Even a river flowing is made with such detail. It's like the cross between art and realism. It's absolutely breathtaking.
The sound is (for a lack of a better term.) Just beautiful. Nano.Ripe brings us "A rainbow colored day". A great opening that fits this anime perfectly. The soundtrack is also something to listen to. Every track fits every scene accurately. The piano tracks are truly something captivating, and certain instruments like the harmonica are used to give the viewer that countryside feel. The ending song doesn't have the same quality as the opening and the soundtrack but I warmed up to it after a few episodes.
The story, animation, and the sound in Non Non Biyori are all beautiful, but what propels Non Non Biyori to be truly special is the characters. The main cast of Non Non Biyori consists of 4 characters. Komari Koshigaya, Natsume Koshigaya, Hotaru Ichijou and Renge Miyauchi. Komari is an eighth grader who is very self conscious about her small and short body. Because fo this she tries to act grown up, usually without success. Then you have Komari's younger sister Natsume Koshigaya. A seventh grader who hates studying and likes to play. She's untidy, lazy, and her grades are terrible. She usually sees Komari as a younger sister than an older one because of her small body. Then you have Renge Chan. A talented and eccentric first grader. Although she usually acts like a typicall first grader. Ther are some parts that show off her talents and her eccentric parts. Words really can't describe her accurately. You just have to watch the anime for yourself. And last but not least you have Hotaru Ichijou. A fifth grade transfer student from Tokyo who is physically mature for her age.( Guys, you know what I mean.) She is polite and overal a nice person. But the twist is that she has a crush on Komari. Which is a basis for some of the comedy in Non Non Biyori.
One very interesting thing about Non Non Biyori is how it develops its characters. Now at face value these characters may seem somewhat stereotypical. But one thing that I really have to give Non Non Biyori credit for is its focus on fleshing out the characters. In every episode. You get to know more about the characters and they feel more and more alive and real as you get to know more about them and their interests, hobbies, and points of views. Their character designs may be cute, but Non Non Biyori doesn't rely on that to make characters endearing. It relies on fleshing out the character and making them have depth. I felt like I was with them right there. It is something that many anime fail to do, and it is truly stunning.
Non Non Biyori is definitely a beautifully crafted piece of art that should be viewed by not just fans of slice of life but fans of anime in general. So what are you waiting for? Hurry up and experience the soothing experience known as Non Non Biyori.
You know that an anime is good when every episode makes you grin uncontrollably and gives you that warm feeling inside, and Non Non Biyori does exactly that.read more
Been watching too much Berserk? Need something to brighten your day? Give one of these shows a whirl! Every anime on this list is guaranteed to put a smile on your face, even if you've just watched Grave of the Fireflies.