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.
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.
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.
Who are we to decide that Slice of Life is a genre filled with shows that are all the same? Isn’t there still a batch of examples that still have those same aspects of what makes Slice of Life and still create a fresh atmosphere and aura to its world and characters? The answer is quite simply: yes. There are still shows of this nature that do provide more than just cute girls doing cute things, though there’s nothing inherently bad about it to begin with. To this, Non Non Biyori is one such show that fits the category perfectly as an instant slice of
One phrase that perfectly summarizes the show as whole would be, a breath of fresh air. I mean that literally too. If there is one thing that does distinguish Non Non Biyori from most shows like it is the blissful atmosphere that engulfs the world of the show. From its character interactions being so grounded in real-life, down-to-earth manner that actually makes it more memorable and so real to the environment to the subtle hints of its artistry to the backgrounds and characters. With the plot detailing the issues of differentiating what city life is like than the rural countryside areas of society, it doesn’t necessarily paint a perfect demonstrated structure of how the plot goes. But if you look at it further down the road, that really isn’t very necessary for this show. It just lets the plot speak for itself through normal day dialogue rather than pointless exposition to explain anything since there’s hardly anything to explain in the first place. Sure, that might capsulize the slice of life genre as a whole, but Non Non Biyori is probably one of the few that does it better than the vast majority of them.
What little plot that Non Non Biyori showcases makes up for the supreme colorful cast of characters that make the show worthwhile to watch all the way through. Every single girl has their own unique personality that distinguishes them from the rest in terms of how the writers build up to how their sense of humor is like in the comedy. They aren’t just this mesh of girls that have personality A, B, or C, the difference of personality constructs them up to actually feeling like real human beings that anybody can relate to whether it be from their own disposition or their typical actions. Renge, for instance, is the youngest of the bunch and you’d think that they’d make her into this really young girl who acts older than her original age but it is, in fact, quite the opposite to this general aspect; at least in most cases to be specific. Her kindergarten mind ranges from being cute and curious that, in some cases, can be construed to how come kids at her age act in a civil manner.
Expanding on my point about the artistry, the art is actually pretty breathtaking to look at considering how minimal the scope is to the show. It actually enhances the atmosphere greatly in its relaxed tone and inflection from how the characters look so crisp and clear from the actual colors and designs of them. The backgrounds especially give a wide range of detail into perfecting this countryside town in giving its structure more creativity and care to designing how the characters live through their day-to-day lives.
What’s quite unique about the comedy itself is how the timing is so minimal and slow that quickly makes the scenes more memorable just from the silence and pauses that lasts up to even about ten seconds. Again, the atmospheres helps to the show’s credit with this in that the environment is so chill and down-to-earth that the jokes fit the show perfectly, even with its mild attempts at trying to be wacky in typical moe comedy fashion. That at least is always welcomed, thanks to the hilarious antics of Renge and Natsumi, who’s air-headed ways always tickles the moe-bone whenever her actions are on-screen.
Casting couldn’t have been better to give these characters the voices that fits them very well to their archetypes. Highlights include Kana Asumi with her very distinct, sarcastic voice that matches very well to Komari’s senpai attitude that all the other girls look up to her. Ayane Sakura has definitely made a name for herself in the seiyuu community by gracing her beautiful voice on the spotlight and she has done it once again with Natsumi, a role that was begging to be played by her; though it would be interesting to hear someone like Yui Ogura to play her as well.
For what it is, Non Non Biyori might be a big surprise for anyone who might be getting a little tired of the Slice of Life genre dominating the majority of the seasons lately. I myself am one of these people, though I don’t necessarily have any contempt or hatred to all of the shows like this, but Non Non Biyori is a clear sign that the genre definitely has a lot of things going for it and reminds us why it’s still considered a popular genre for so many people. One thing that the show does do amazingly right in slice of life, is perfectly capturing what it was like to be middle school aged kid. In that it does want us to remember what it was like being at that age filled with mystery and friends, or lack thereof. Most slice of life fail to capture this essence but we finally have one, and its name is Non Non Biyori.
Anime can fulfil many roles and act as many outlets for people. Non Non Biyori, simply put, is an experience that plays on the sweeter side of us all. For someone looking for a soothing, relaxing, cute and humorous adventure, there's a lot to get out of Non Non Biyori. Lovers of the moe slice of life genre will find something to love in this anime for sure.
Story: (7/10; Not important): The thing about Non Non Biyori and many other slice of life that come in this style is that there is no real deep plot line filled with twists and turns. The free-flowing
nature of the anime accentuates the calm and easy-going mood of the characters as living in the country-side. For a brief summary, Tokyo student Hotaru suddenly moves to the country side, and finds herself in a situation where she must adapt to life in the country side, where there's one candy shop, the supermarket has no cashiers and the classes are all mixed into one. The beauty of the story shines in the fact that it gives the anime lots of room to work, and a lot of situations are covered, allowing for the characters to fully shine and do what moe slice of life should do, be funny, be relaxing and bring into the world that's different than yours.
Art: (9/10): The art in the anime is beautiful. The country side is depicted very well, with a hefty amount of colors drawing from light color palettes. The art helps to enhance the mood as the backgrounds are intricate and the characters all have distinguishing details about them. Non Non Biyori shows the great potential of Slice of Life art in a heavy nature setting.
Sound: (9/10): The setting of Non Non Biyori also plays heavily into the sound portion of things. You will commonly and frequently hear birds chirping in the morning and the sound of flowing water in streams and ponds. Along with that the soothing soundtrack filled with woodwind and acoustic guitar pieces will certainly only add to the experience. The music never really seems out of place in Non Non Biyori and it really helps to bring out the setting as well as define the characters.
Characters: (10/10): What makes or breaks a slice of life anime is usually the characters. If the characters are interesting, then the SoL probably won't be interesting. Luckily for us, Non Non Biyori has four very good characters. Each one of the characters has a unique personality, whether it be Hotaru's polite manner with an obsession over her senpai, or Renge with her fun-loving and care-free personality. You will quickly love all the characters, and find favorites among them, and they all have their moments which is something that Slice of Life animes in general should strive to do. They really shine in their interactions with each other and the way they tackle certain situations in a setting that should be pretty unfamiliar to most of us. The characters are light-hearted and happy, and are memorable until the end, offering a great experience for viewers.
Enjoyment: (10/10): Even without a compelling and gripping plot, Non Non Biyori captured my heart immediately, and took me into the world of the Japanese country side. The characters made me laugh and for the brief 24 minutes, separated me from the stress of the real world. If you ask me, there is nothing more that a Slice of Life anime should strive for than this. The ability to grip the viewer in lack of a major plot and distract them from the real world with a thoroughly enjoyable environment with great characters.
Overall: (8.5/10): It was really hard for me to choose between an 8 and a 9 here, so I figured I'd take the diplomat's road and give it right in the middle. Being an overall fan of anime, no matter what the genre, I always appreciated the drawn out, epic and mysterious plots of some of the very highly rated anime on MAL. However there will always be a place for Slice of Life anime, especially moe SoL. Fit with four very adorable characters, a unique setting, and many funny and cute experiences to treasure, I feel that Non Non Biyori will stand as one of the staples of moe slice of life anime. What's not to love? If you're feeling down, or want to please your sweet tooth of anime, go ahead, give Non Non Biyori a try. Come for the premise, leave with the interactions of four great characters.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out Non Non Biyori is a cute show about cute girls doing cute things. Even from the previews, discussion, and artwork, one can tell that the show depicts a slice of a life style circling a group of friends enjoying the time of their lives. It’s no surprise that they live happily without the burden of of saving the world, going through multi-love polygons, or killing titans. A life on the countryside is very relaxing and so is this series. Non Non Biyori brings you stories about a group of young girls having fun and living their lives
Non Non Biyori is an anime series based off of manga of the same name written by Atto. Silver Link handles the production that have recently achieved attention with their works such as Watamote, Fate/Kaleid, Dusk of Maiden etc. Likewise, these all share a similar setting taken place at school. However, Non Non Biyori doesn’t have the burden of living in a city where there’s crime, poverty, or hate; neither in the case does it evoke shock or horror. Instead, we got pleasurable atmosphere on the countryside where everyday is a brand new adventure.
Calling this show ‘cute’ or ‘adorable’ isn’t uncommon. After all, the series gives off that sense of innocence with our schoolgirls as the main characters. The youngest one among them is Renge Miyauchi, a first grader with a rather perspective view of what’s around her. She also has a catchphrase ending many of her sentences with “na non”, a pun to the anime title. Renge can be defined as the show’s mascot as she is the youngest yet also the most eye catching character in many of the episodes. Among its other main character cast includes the shy Hotaru Ichijou, Natsumi, and Komari of the Koshigaya siblings. All of them have different personalities but shares a bonding friendship that connects them together.
Non Non Biyori clearly lacks any directional plot but it sets up its premise well. We have Hotaru Ichijou, a shy 5th grade elementary schoolgirl who just recently moved to the countryside. Being the new kid at school isn’t easy especially with a class so small that all the students share the same classroom. There isn’t a big story going on but we can quickly tell that Hotaru tries to adjust to her new environment. Renge seems to be the welcoming director as she plays the role of welcoming Hotaru to the new class. It’s funny to see the position set up this way because of their age difference but a show like this pokes fun at anything. However, there is absolutely nothing wrong with having fun in this series because its style. It portrays the its slice of life genre quite well in this way and gives an appreciation to its settings and characters.
The series also likes to poke the fun of the male population since there is almost none. Well, there is one guy in the show so far that is barely acknowledged for existence. His name is Suguru Koshigaya, a third grader with little presence at all. Unlike Kuroko from a certain basketball series, no one really seems to care about him either.
Farm life isn’t always either so sometimes throughout the series, we witness the characters out on the sun doing field work. Only this time, the girls seems to be taking responsibility. Take Renge for example. She is only in the first grade but clearly demonstrates that she can be wise even at time compared to their schoolteacher. It’s laughable in this way since that means the majority of this series is dominated by the main characters rather than anyone else. And that would be true too as many of the times, we see our main characters in the spotlight with minimal amount of attention to other supporting characters.
The series has a lot of comedy whether it might be the dialogues, responses, or character interactions. This is usually caused by misunderstandings, odd events, or situations. At the same time, there is also some tension bought out occasionally by Natsume. She plays more of a superior to others (especially her sister and brother) but at the same time is noticeable for her loving bond with everyone. There are also time when she tries to teach Renge some things not to be taught to a first grader. It’s amusing to watch since the parents are almost in the complete background while the kids tries to play a role in guardianship.
Despite its cuteness, the show can be somewhat repetitive to watch. There’s also a lack of exploration in any of the characters’ backgrounds. It seems to clearly focus on its slice of life style while retaining its cute interpretations. While, there’s minimal fan service and negates the harem trope (despite there being one main male character), there’s still the typical beach episode. Additionally, most of the episodes seems to lack any purpose or moral as they are all standalone. As the show is also focused directly at the countryside, there’s nearly hardly anything else new besides the farm setting that is focused on. However, there are settings such as the house where the characters live, the school (with only one classroom being the focus), a sunny beach, and a shrine. Typical as it is, the show doesn’t try out new or exciting features that sets foot outside its SOL zone.
Artwork wise, Silver Link did an excellent job with its production with rich visuals. The countryside is presented with a calm atmosphere that illustrates the nature of being simple. Indeed, it’s nothing like the heavily populated cities where there is pollution, crime, or poverty. Instead, there’s a relaxing life with our four girls. Speaking of the girls, most of them are designed with a charming presence. Their diverse colored hairs and simple clothing contrasts with the stereotypical valley girl with heavy makeup. It’s beautiful in its own way and that’s what important.
The soundtrack isn’t very impressive but sends its message well with the calm atmosphere. Most of the time, the OST is lighthearted whether it’s with character interactions, conversations, or just the girls having fun. There are a few moments when we witness some more tense moments although most of this is downplayed as comedy because the show itself is created to bring out laughter and joy. The OP song “Nanairo Biyori” by nano. Ripo is decorated with cuteness while its ED song has an unique style where the cast members whom plays the characters in the show sings its theme. Speaking of which, I also find most of the characters’ voices to match well. Rie Murakawa brings out that voice of shyness in Hotaru’s character while Kotori Koiawai portrays Renge as who she exactly is.
In the end, this series is probably one of those anime that is overlooked compared to other mainstream series. Underrated wouldn’t be a word I’d describe Non Non Biyori. Instead, it’s something that is likely slipped under people’s radars. The fact that slice of life series with cute girls doing cute things has become a repetitive tropes in recent years. However, that idea can still be appreciated thanks to the characters of this series. The way they live countryside is simple and doesn’t bring out a stressful way of portraying life. There is a lack of story depth but if one can overlook that will learn how to appreciate the way this series presents itself. It reaffirms the style of a slice of life anime without going over the bar. Sometimes in life, you just want to relax a bit and enjoy something simple. Luckily, there’s shows like Non Non Biyori that can give just what you deserve.
Nothing can be objectively good, but enjoyment has to come from somewhere. Non Non Biyori is an anime that I really enjoyed but I don’t know exactly why. I will be comparing it to other anime to see if I can figure out exactly what made it so enjoyable to me.
The story in Non Non Biyori is pretty simple: it’s about a girl from Tokyo who moves to a rural part of the country, likely a hamlet. Although it’s supposed to be about her getting used to her new lifestyle, this intent is lost fast and just like Akari from Yuru Yuri she eventually doesn’t
even seem like the protagonist anymore. It’s not really a problem since in my opinion this anime works better with a group lead than a single protagonist at the head of the group, but the character introduced as the protagonist does seem to have the least characterization out of the main cast. It’s a common theory that the setting is what makes it so enjoyable because it’s relatable, but Tamako Market takes place in a town much more similar to my own and it wasn’t anywhere near as enjoyable. I had some problems with Tamako Market since the main character was the only one with decent character development and generally not much going on, but there wasn’t anything I can remember specifically about it that would make it that much worse than Non Non Biyori. The story of moving to a different place is a story that I can connect to since I once lived in Costa Rica for six months which has a very different culture and atmosphere than my own, but the exchanges in Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo, Kiniro Mosaic, and Ikoku Meiro no Croisée The Animation are much more similar to the situation I was in and I didn’t enjoy any of them quite as much as Non Non Biyori. I definitely had problems with these anime as well: I didn’t like the harem ending of Sakurasou, the accents in Kiniro Mosaic made the series feel fake, and Labyrinth felt more like a Japanese dub since it’s set in France with French characters.
The art style could be a reason to like Non Non Biyori, after all the characters are very well designed and the background art is beautiful especially for such a long series. Starting with the character designs they all have realistic hair colours save Renge who despite having purple twintails fits in nicely with the art style. They’re obviously drawn as lolis and are never sexualized. They would make better younger sisters than girlfriends. The eye size is pretty typical for a seinen moe anime and although it obviously isn’t realistic it could arguably be the most attractive eye size in anime. Apart from Renge’s triangle mouth their faces all look fairly similar, but their face shapes are still distinct enough that their hair isn’t the only thing you can use to tell their head shots apart. The brother looks like a fairly generic anime boy and since he doesn’t even have a voice actor I haven’t felt any reason to remember his name. The two older characters Kaede, the candy store lady, and Kazuho, the teacher, have more unique designs than the main cast. Aside from how different the characters look from each other they all do have memorable designs even for a veteran of the moe genre such as myself. I wouldn’t necessarily consider Non Non Biyori’s designs to be my favourite designs, though. Anime adapted from video games such as Kantai Collection, Hyperdimension Neptunia, and Idolmaster have more attractive designs in my opinion. Apart from Aikatsu and Steins;Gate I can’t remember any anime adapted from a video that was actually well made especially in terms of competing against Non Non Biyori. Kantai Collection dragged out and although it’s lackluster storyline wasn’t any worse than Non Non Biyori’s absence of a solid story it still felt far less satisfying and halfway through I felt no drive to complete it. Hyperdimension Neptunia has some of the most beautiful character designs I’ve seen, but the story fails to be engaging and as fun as the characters are to be with it wasn’t that enjoyable of an anime. Idolmaster does have some character development and the story has some substance to it, but with 14 main characters and only 25 episodes it doesn’t have enough time to give any of them that deep of characterization. Aikatsu I already consider to be better than Non Non Biyori so its strengths and weaknesses are irrelevant. Steins;Gate is adapted from a visual novel with a story that has many paths but only one of which was adapted into the anime. The story is good, the characters are designed well, and it’s incredibly enjoyable, but for whatever reason I still rank it below Non Non Biyori. Steins;Gate is a very different series from Non Non Biyori, but the reasons I liked the two series still share a considerable amount of overlap. Both of the anime have likable characters and are set in a fairly small yet well developed area. Steins;Gate explores its setting by showing the characters changing the very world they live in through sending simple text messages and Non Non Biyori explores its setting by showing the characters travelling around through their little village and using different ways to indicate just how far apart different parts of their village are from each other. If the character design truly was the thing that made the anime so enjoyable then High School Fleet, the other anime Atto provided character designs for, should have been as enjoyable, but I found that anime to be quite mediocre.
The background art is very detailed, pretty, and shiny for an anime of its length. The three Makoko Shinkai films I’ve seen, Five Centimetres Per Second, Your Name, and Garden of Words have just as beautiful of backgrounds if not more beautiful, but as movies they only have so much time to make an impact and as good as their art was the stories in them were either too complicated for their runtime or otherwise weren’t quite as strong as what you would see in a series. The personalities of the characters aren’t too detailed and only serve as ways to move the plot forward rather than being important contributions to the enjoyability of the anime. The three anime series I distinctly remember as having as good of background art as Non Non Biyori are Yama no Susume, Glasslip, and Anohana. I know, it’s not everyday that someone would willingly compare their favourite anime to Glasslip, but I think it’s for the best. The first season of Yama no Susume has good backgrounds but is too short to draw any conclusions from; the second season I consider to be better than Non Non Biyori and therefore isn’t important for comparison. Glasslip is infamous for being far more uneventful than even anime like K-On! and Lucky Star. I think it would be safe to say that even if the background art was among the most important factors towards my enjoyment that all of the turn-offs in Glasslip would make it unenjoyable to even the people who valued background art the most, but there are still some people who enjoy Glasslip sincerely so it can’t simply be turned down as an anime impossible to enjoy no matter what your tastes. Not only does Glasslip not have any real characterization, but the intent of it being a supernatural romance is sort of forgotten about and nothing really happens throughout the series. In addition to no value in the storytelling there also weren’t any successful attempts at comedy. Anohana is a much better anime than Glasslip, but it still fails in a number of ways. The characters were interesting and well drawn, but the story of a dead friend who only the protagonist was incredibly unrealistic. My theory that Menma’s spirit was actually audio-only and Jintan was simply imagining her in physical form was shattered by the end due to conflicting information. Non Non Biyori doesn’t have any unexplained supernatural elements to bother me, but even anime with seemingly flawless magic systems like Death Note and Shigofumi rank lower on my list, but I won’t go into explaining those.
What makes the background art so important in Non Non Biyori is where the anime takes place. The setting is quite unique and it’s the only slice of life anime I’ve seen set in a such a unique place that doesn’t have something to do with careers. Shirobako, Bartender, and Barakamon have similar settings, but Shirobako and Bartender are fairly slow and information heavy. Barakamon I saw right after Non Non Biyori and although there wasn’t really anything wrong with it I still didn’t enjoy it quite as much. As I was explaining before, Non Non Biyori does a lot with its small world. Unlike anime such as Sword Art Online and Gurren Lagann that have too big of a world to handle correctly the characters and the director do a good job at getting you to know where everything is without having to go everywhere in near-real time like Tokyo Magnitude 8.0. Having too small of a world can also be a problem. Seitokai no Ichizon takes place in a single room for the first few episodes and even when they do the school doesn’t feel as natural or well laid out as the village in Non Non Biyori. I actually found the comedy in Seitokai no Ichizon to be comparable to if not better than the comedy in Non Non Biyori, but I still didn’t think it was as good of an anime. The protagonist in Elemi is an inanimate object so naturally the movement in the anime was extremely limited no matter how good the writing was.
All of the places in Non Non Biyori feel like places I could really go to. The candy store not only reminds me of real candy stores that I’ve been to but the aesthetic of it and the way everything is organized truly feels so well put together that even if I hadn’t seen other stores like it that wouldn’t make it any less believable. The bridge they jump off of feels nostalgic despite the fact that I’ve only done things in real life that were remotely similar. The scene is written in a way that I could see myself in that situation just through the shared sense of that kind of childish innocence. When they go to the little hole in the wall and talk about how they had done that before when they were younger I relate to that sense of nostalgia in a way that I haven’t really seen in other anime. Sure, there are some anime that I saw as a kid and are pieces of my childhood and therefore nostalgic to look back on, but I can’t remember any other anime that really go into that sense of realistic nostalgia the characters have around things in their own world. Dagashi Kashi did that a bit, but the monster of the week style of it made it feel a bit too fake for it to hit me in that same way. I have very strong memories of playing with my cousin up at his dad’s (or my uncle’s) cabin. In the summer we played around the lake getting mucky, we went under a bridge and blew up firecrackers that we stuck to the bridge with clay, and we found tadpoles in the pond. In the winter we used the firecrackers in the snow, we went on the frozen lake on snowmobiles, and we sledded down hills on waxed cardboard. We also play games like the “suicide notes” game where we would jump off a loft and say why were killing ourselves and then would drink something to “revive” us. These years didn’t just blend into one another since I would look forward to the next time I would go up there and would always go with fond memories of the previous trips. The nostalgia wasn’t just additive, it was magnified through the nostalgia of nostalgia itself. The characters have cell phones and are obviously living in the modern day and age, but you can still watch the anime as if it is through the eyes of the characters looking back on their childhood.
The designs of the school uniforms and the buildings themselves are rather unique. One important thing to note is that since the school has both elementary school and middle school students they don’t all wear the same uniform, in fact if weren’t for the flashback that showed Kaede wearing the uniform it could have been assumed that it was just how Natsumi and Komari’s parents decided to dress them. In the whole school there is only one male, but it isn’t a harem and not only is he not that important of a character he doesn’t have single line and is only used for comedy. With the male and female uniforms in consideration they’ve both designed nicely. Renge and Hotaru don’t wear the uniform but the clothing they do wear looks good. The school’s design is quite interesting. It’s quite small and only has a few rooms. It feels quite natural and as poorly as it is taken care of the internal structure isn’t too chaotic. For a schoolgirl not too much of the anime takes place in the school. I think this works to its benefit since their lives outside of school are more interesting, but the time they’re shown in school isn’t wasted and their pathetic excuse for a teacher is charming in her own way.
Apart from anime based around music like So Ra No Wo To and Nerima Daikon Brothers it can be hard to know just how much the quality of the sound is affecting your enjoyment, but I feel like the voice acting and background music in this anime really did make a difference. This is an anime I think would lose a lot in an English dub if it were to ever receive one. The very first scene has Renge playing a recorder completely out of tune, which sets the tone for the series very well. Renge’s “nyanpasu” doesn’t have any nice sounding English equivalent, sort of like how off Nico’s “Nico-Nico-Nii” sounds in the English dub of Love Live. Like most moe anime the cuteness of their voices is just as important to the series as the cuteness of their character designs. Komari’s slight tsundere lilt has a nice sound to it even if her personality doesn’t feel super realistic. Little things like rocks being thrown and water splashing all sound realistic enough but also don’t have that problem where instead of imagining the sound in their world you would be able to tell that someone had to use a microphone to create that sound effect. Renge’s voice doesn’t have as big of a range as the other characters, but she still expresses a lot of emotion. Chocotto Sister and Saki I also liked the voices, sound effects, and music in, but they just didn’t feel like as strong of series overall.
What analysis would be complete with taking apart the animation of the opening theme? As much as I doubt a good OP could provide the sole enjoyment for a show especially considering how good the OPs for anime like Absolute Duo, Lord Marksman and Vanadis, and Golden Time were compared to how little I actually enjoyed those anime, but I do believe the openings to this were really well made and at least made some contribution to my enjoyment of the anime. The OP starts off by showing the river the series is set near which gives a bit of information about the setting right off the bat since you wouldn’t normally see rivers like that in the city, especially without any pollution and being surrounded by rocks rather than concrete. I know the OP doesn’t actually start at the beginning of the first episode, but it still does give a good introduction to the series in addition to what we see of the anime before the OP starts. After the first shot we are shown the sky with clouds to further the idea that this is set in the semi-wilderness of a quaint hamlet. The title is shown in a colourful and bubbly font similar to the kind that an elementary school student might use to write their name. I think this might be nodding towards the fact that the main characters are younger than our typical 15-17 year olds these anime tend to revolve around. We see a can being kicked, a reference to the popular kids’ game “kick the can”, and then shows Natsumi with a grin implying that she was the one who kicked it. The students start running and the teacher stands there dazed as if ignorant to her job as “it” or even to the rules of the game in general. Throughout the series the teacher is constantly shown as being less competent than the students she has been assigned to teach so her inability to suppress her apathy in order to just properly play a game with some children says a lot about her character. Considering how unathletic she has been shown to be it’s surprising that the can even needed to be kicked in the first place, but she obviously didn’t do a good job at protecting it. Even with their failure of a teacher playing the key role in their game, they still seem to be enjoying themselves more than any normal adult has in years. They try hard to run away as fast as they can even though “it” is making no effort to chase after them whatsoever. How easy it is for them to have fun really plays into the series and in a way can even metaphorically describe how I feel about the series as a whole since despite how little seems to be going on in it the anime is still extremely enjoyable. The next scene shows the students playing music, cooking, and playing all under the limited supervision of their teacher. Although the teacher has her eyes permanently closed, she is shown to be sleeping in the last of these three events by having a bubble coming out of her nose and giving her a more joyous look on her face than usual. Again, the kids seem to be enjoying these activities, but considering how poorly Renge was shown playing the recorder in the first scene it’s a given that whatever skills they’re meant to be learning in these situations are taught in an ineffective manner. They are then shown walking in the rain with umbrellas and next the picture changes to a puddle showing the kind of weather that they typically get in that area. They are then shown relaxing in the shade of a tree with a ball visible showing that they were playing some sort of game and got tired. We then see a train go by in the background and it is shown that Hotaru was riding it. I think this is used to show the cultural distance between her and the other characters. She looks solemnly at the scenery through the window as it passes by. Natsumi is shown sitting on a tree branch and looking out at the sunset. The next image shows Komari inside reading a book while hiding away from the rain, which is clearly a common occurrence in the place they live. Renge hangs up a teru teru bozu, a Japanese spiritual ornament intended to keep the rain away. This not only shows that she would rather it not be raining despite relying somewhat on the rain for crop growth but also that she believes this little handmade figure will actually work to make the skies clear again. Although in Japan the teru teru bozu is a well known symbol we don’t see it in many anime. I’m going to speculate that most teenagers in Japan don’t trust this figure to help any and considering all the other Japanese cultural traditions that rely on faith that Japanese teenagers will participate in I think this specific one is likely seen as particularly childish. The four main characters are then shown lined up on a bridge and they take turns jumping into the river. Hotaru is reluctant to join at first, but she quickly gives. This scene is also shown in the series, but I wouldn’t call it a spoiler simply because of the apparent storyless structure of the anime. The manga wasn’t even adapted chronologically, hence the name “Repeat” for the sequel, and it never really needed to be since it’s not important what order the events happened in. I think it’s pretty obvious what this scene is meant to show. Hotaru isn’t too into this idea, but she still wants to join her friends in an activity that they’re all used to. The next scene shows the characters staring blankly at the camera for a couple seconds before eating what look like cookies in perfect unison. This could be to show how in sync they’ve become, but even without any deeper meaning they looking really cute doing that together. Natsumi and Renge have a snowball fight. Natsumi misses her shot and Renge picks a snowball far too big for her to feasibly use as a weapon. Natsumi looks frightened, but seeing the way Renge staggers back it doesn’t look like she would be able to throw it very far if at all. In the background we see Komari crying while Hotaru cleans the snow off of her that she was once covered with. We never see this full scene in the show itself, but even this little snapshot makes for an interesting tale. The concept of a girl having snow piled onto her fits in with the show so well I wouldn’t be surprised if it was something from the manga that simply wasn’t able to be adapted. We end with Natsumi jumping on large colourful tires that have been positioned to be played on. The scenes are set up in a way to show all four seasons of the year wrapped up into 90 seconds. I don’t pay enough attention to opening animations to give examples of similar openings to compare this to.
Like most slice of life anime this puts a very big importance on the characters, both how likable they are as individuals and how they interact with each other. I will be talking about the four main characters as well as the more prevalent supporting characters.
Hotaru is introduced to us as the main character. She’s from Tokyo as are 25% of the total population of Japan and the majority of the anime studios. She lives with her parents and has a healthy family relationship, much like the rest of the characters. Although the parents aren’t too important of characters, it is important to note that they’re all alive and still together since a lot of anime feature main casts that don’t have complete families. One of Hotaru’s defining features is how mature she looks for her age. Personality wise she more closely matches her chronological age than her visual age. She has a crush on Komari even to the point of making plush dolls of her. This seems more like yuri fanservice than a legitimate attempt to give her character more depth, but even if it does break the illusion of reality it still never bothered me. In fact, I found this little bit of romance to be kind of cute.
Renge is a rather unique character. Some call her the most realistic child in anime, although she still isn’t quite as believable as Rin from Usagi Drop. She is significantly younger than the rest of the main cast, but they still manage to be normal friends without seeing her as being less important. She does have certain childish needs that the others will often have to cater to. She acts like a bit of a younger sister to all of them even though the only other character related to her is their teacher. Pretty much everything she does looks so heartwarming and innocent that it’s easy to ignore how weird she would look in real life. She could be referred to as a loli, but she isn’t sexualized in any way. This anime is made for adult men and much unlike anime such as Ro-Kyu-Bu the characters are intended to be as innocent and realistic as would make sense for the context. Considering the fact that school swimsuits are more fetishized in Japan than bikinis it still could be considering sexual in that way, but it would still be disturbing for people to fap to it.
Komari isn’t exactly a cliche character, but she does follow a lot of tropes. She has a strong complex around being a loli and doesn’t like being the older sister who looks like a little kid. Just like Ed from Fullmetal Alchemist she freaks out about her height frequently and although as a comedy anime this isn’t exactly misplaced it is a pretty generic character trait. It’s supposed to be funny, but since any audience member who has seen at least a handful of anime like this is already used to that joke it loses its value as a joke and just becomes an annoyance. Just like any other moe or harem anime she complains about her breast size and she is envious of Hotaru who has much larger breasts than her despite a few years younger. Unlike Lucky Star, Toradora, and Yuru Yuri that were willing to go so far to actually turn the flat chestedness of a character into an important part of the show or even a major plot point this anime just passes it off as something you should come to expect from these types of anime and doesn’t do anything with it. I’m not saying that Chuu Bra is a good anime because it was brave enough to make its entire plot revolve around breasts, but I think it’s better if an anime actually does something with the tropes it incorporates rather than just inserting harem light novel humour into an anime where that isn’t warranted. These things wouldn’t be so much of a problem if she had more going on, but the fact is that her entire character is based around the standard imouto stereotypes. For whatever reason none of this bothered me all that much when I was watching the series. In retrospect I recognise that she wasn’t that well written, but unlike Sword Art Online that I’ve come to consider much worse upon noticing its flaws after the fact this hasn’t made me feel like any of my enjoyment was any less deserved than when I watched the anime. She has yaeba and considering the fact that the town hasn’t been shown to have a hospital or even a properly functional school I don’t think anyone would care to “fix” it or even see it as a problem that needs a solution.
Natsumi is Komari’s younger sister and is the youngest child in her family. Surprisingly despite how realistic this anime is said to feel she’s the only character in the main cast who doesn’t just feel like some anime character. This isn’t to say that she’s a boring character, though. She acts exactly how you would expect a girl her age to act. You could see it as a good thing that they aren’t all just normal people because it does make their characters a bit more fun even if they wouldn’t fit well in reality. She takes good care of Renge and generally gets along well with the other characters. As shown in the OP she’s considered to be fairly adventurous and athletic.
The next character I will talk about is Komari and Natsumi’s brother who seems so insignificant that I can’t even remember his name. Aside from Hotaru’s father he’s the only male character we know about in the entire town. He’s quite reserved and doesn’t even have a voice actor since he never speaks. He participates in activities with the other characters and in one episode he’s shown to be quite dextrous. Although he’s almost like a main character, because he doesn’t speak or interact much with the other characters it’s hard to remember much about him. He’s pretty much only used comedy and any scene where he isn’t just a background character he isn’t exactly treated well. For an anime with a single male character surrounded by cute girls he doesn’t seem too thrilled and for all we know he might be asexual. If we assume he isn’t he doesn’t have many options anyway. Komari and Natsumi are his sisters so they’re off limits, Renge is far too young for him, and Hotaru is a lesbian. Kaede the candy lady is only six years older than him so she could be a potential partner, but I don’t know how good of a couple they would make. Hotaru might be bisexual, but she seems a bit too obsessed with Komari to be interested in getting into a relationship with him. There was the vegetable stand that is put out by other people and we have seen busses with drivers that are most likely from that town so I don’t think the characters we have seen are the only residents, but it isn’t clear just how many other people live there or how many dating options he has if they were to keep the town going for more generations.
Kaede who is also known as “the candy store lady” is a young woman who runs the local corner store that the main characters will buy candy from. She graduated from the local school and has a close connection with Renge. In addition to candy she does sell some other things in her store, but we haven’t seen too much else being sold there nor have we even seen any of the adults shopping there. It was shown that she has a kitchen attached to the store and with the way it’s set up you can tell that she actually does live there. She was first introduced as just some storekeeper, but she later became an important cast member and has gone on different outings with the other characters. It is unknown what other customers she has that aren’t the main characters.
The school teacher is another important character. She is Renge’s older sister. Being only four years older than Kaede she was likely taught at the same time but we don’t know who taught the class before her. She seems like the most incompetent teacher and is often shown sleeping when she’s supposed to be teaching. I’m sure we all have had substitute teachers who do nothing but just give out worksheets for students to complete rather than actually teaching partly because the actual teacher isn’t expecting a single day of poor teaching to be that much of a detriment, but she is the main teacher and even worksheets would do a better job than her teaching style. When you think about how dysfunctional the teacher is it’s hard to overlook how the rest of the school is run. Japanese schools are cleaned by the students rather than janitors and their school doesn’t seem well taken care of. The roof leaks and the floorboards can even give way. Who knows how old the school uniforms are. They don’t look like they have much wear, but even though Hotaru is about the same size as the other girls she was never offered a uniform so it might be that they were all being used. There’s only one male student so there might be a male uniform laying around that she could wear with her own skirt, but either no one thought of that or it might be that the only reason the ones we see don’t look torn up is because they go through periodic repairs.
As redundant as it may seem in an piece of writing that is intended to deconstruct my enjoyment of the series there still are a few things related to enjoyment that I haven’t gone into much depth yet. The humour in this anime is often cited as being one of its strengths. The raw enjoyment that comes from the situations and random jokes differs a fair and is actually a bit weaker than the comedy in Sansha Sanyou and Joshiraku. These two anime don’t really have anything wrong with them that would noticeably tick me off, but I still don’t consider them to be as good of anime. One thing I appreciate about Non Non Biyori is how naturally the characters grow on you. Sure, it is a common trope for a character to join a new group of people at the beginning so the introductions make sense, but unlike anime such as Code Geass and No Game No Life where even the protagonists are secretive about their true intentions the characters in this show are up front about themselves and we learn about them in a similar way to how you would learn more about your friends or coworkers in real life. I think it’s really nice and relaxing to get to know unrealistic characters in such a natural way. Anime like Anne Happy and Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei introduce the characters just fine, but because all of the characters represent something different they don’t feel like real people. I know anime like Log Horizon have realistic characters in an unrealistic environment which is a good combination, but it doesn’t feel quite as good.
My second point for the enjoyment section will be continuing on my comparison to Steins;Gate. Steins;Gate is well written and doesn’t have that visible of flaws, but after this analysis I understand why I didn’t like it as much as Non Non Biyori. The characters are well written and have interesting and realistic personalities, but the way they're used doesn’t leave me with the same fuzzy feeling Non Non Biyori gives me. Two of the characters die multiple times and one of the characters even changes from male to female not through a sex operation but by artificially changing their embryo to xx after it was already fertilized, something that is only possible through flawed Japanese mythology. I know I had some negative things to say about Non Non Biyori, but for a show with a magic system so well explained it disturbs me to see things that don’t work in our world and aren't explained in theirs. These specific things ticked me off in the show because of how tight the rest of the logic is. Just like the difference between cobblestone and a near-perfect sidewalk with a couple cracks the individual flaws are more noticeable and memorable in Steins;Gate than in very flawed anime like Vividred Operation, Ore, Twintail ni Narimasu., or Date a Live. The story in Steins;Gate is almost possible so the couple problems were a bit disappointing. In comparison Non Non Biyori doesn't have a story to begin with and all of its flaws fall within the realm it has set out for itself. Its simplicity is in itself a strength because it doesn't require the viewer to suspend their disbelief that much in order to get maximum enjoyment from it.
The most important reasons about why I like Non Non Biyori so much more than similar anime is the way it enabled me to connect with my past nostalgia and how well it avoids balatant mistakes as well as being able to cover up its smaller existing ones. As far from reality as the characters may be they are still super cuddly and fun to be around. They really feel like they belong in their world. Although I was skeptical at first as to why I held this anime to such a high regard I still believe it’s just as good as I did when I first saw it with my brother on a plane over a year ago. I have also watched Ghost Stories (dub) with him and although I loved that anime it still wasn’t quite as good so I don’t think just watching it with him would be too big of an impact. The songs were great and the way they show all four seasons was a nice touch.
My first time writing a review, and that tells you how much this anime meant to me. It's just amazing!
When I started watching it I was down, and really tired from work and life, and I won't be exaggerating if I said this anime helped me through it! Not many shows put you in a lighter mood right away, and Non Non Biyori managed to do that every episode! I would automatically relax, and prepare myself to smile for 23 minutes and 40 seconds. It became a habit of me watching every second of that show, and it's the first time I didn't skip the
starting and ending theme, who would skip such cuteness?
The characters in the anime were all such unique and pure characters you'd never get sick of them, you'd want to watch each one of them more, and at one point, they all become your childhood best friends. And the character design is spot on! I guarantee you'll end up falling in love with every single character. Not to mention that the little side stories are to live for!
When it come to the art style, you won't believe how magical a still image could look like until you watch this. I wished to live in the country more times than not watching this anime and looking at all the beautiful scenery. And of course the sounds are spot on, I live in a more of rural area, and whenever I heard the birds in the background, I thought I'm listening to the birds outside my windows, they were just perfect.
So, if you ever want to just relax, smile like crazy, and just feel like the world could be an amazingly beautiful place. Or if you're just feeling down, and need a gentle hug, watch this anime, and you wouldn't be disappointed. I'm just happy there is a second season, because honestly when this one ended it felt like I was saying goodbye to my childhood friends and memories.
I felt at a loss when I looked at this season's anime lineup. It seemed crowded with a lot of action and supernatural-oriented shows, two genres I don't generally mesh well with, so when I saw Non Non Biyori it instantly stood out. Being a fan of the gentle, Ichigo Mashimaru-styled slice of life style, I decided to give it a shot and I was not disappointed.
Story is never a strong suit in a genre that is based around nothing really happening. Non Non Biyori doesn't bring profound storyboard elements to the table, but you can't really expect that. It instead seems to
offer very subtle undertones based on the premise of country life. The show follows Ichijou Hotaru, a 5th grader who has moved from the city to the country, and her friends, who happen to be the only other gradeschool children in town. Concepts of culture shock are touched upon lightly in Hotaru's occasional confusion of life in the country, and the connection between the main characters seems strengthened by the loneliness of being in such an underpopulated location. Story is taken lightly, as I feel it should be.
Mother of all that is holy, those backgrounds. I feel this is one of Non Non's strong suits, that being the art. A peaceful, countryside setting offers stunning scenery, and this show does not shy away from taking advantage of that. The first part of the first episode greets us with a collage of beautiful mountains coated in trees, gentle streams, and peaceful fields. The style of the characters themselves is solid and very cute, and the animation is fluid and consistent.
The soundtrack of Non Non complements the atmosphere of the show very well. It's peaceful, quaint, and traditional. The only complaint I have is the more intense music in episode 5, but it wasn't very much of a big deal. The voices of the characters are pleasant and fitting.
Here's where the slice of life genre shines, and Non Non doesn't fail to deliver. The anime is centric around four characters; Ichijou Hotaru, a mild-mannered fifth grader from the city, Koshigaya Natsumi, the playful sixth grader, Koshigaya Komari, the older sister of Natsumi, and Miyauchi Renge, the eccentric first grader. Each character has something interesting about them, such as Hotaru's loving obsession with her senpai Komari, Komari's sensitivity about her short stature, Natsumi's carefree nature, and Renge's... well, a lot about her is interesting. These traits are brought out through the interactions between characters in a fun, natural way.
I really enjoy this show. It has the peace of a really gentle slice of life, but surprisingly has the ability to get me laughing or even tearing up a bit (looking at you, episode 4.) It achieves this in a subtle way that I just love to experience.
I look forward to future episodes of Non Non Biyori. It's certainly my favorite anime of the season, and for good reason. If you liked Ichigo Mashimaru, then I feel you'd enjoy this show too.
When first encountered by Non Non Biyori, I instantly had the thought that something mediocre were to appear as with (obviously a biased perspective) most modern slice of life shows. Boy was I wrong though, because if you're anything like me and enjoy a good, relaxing slice of life show that makes you feel good, cosy and just want to keep watching... Well, you're in the right place.
Non Non Biyori revolves around a really simple story, where we're met by Renge and her friends, and we follow them throughout their daily lives in the sticks. It really doesn't get any more complex than that, and
it's one of the main reasons as to why I had such a great time watching this show. You don't have to worry about figuring some mystery out, or the story having any real plotholes for that matter. To me, a slice of life show should be as simple as possible and focus on the characters that make the show enjoyable, which is the case in this anime.
On first look I was met with stunning visuals. I really recommend watching this in 720p or above, if you have the opportunity to. The artwork really is splendid, and they focus a whole lot on drawing beautiful scenery and backgrounds, something that you might not necessarily focus on but it does add a nice touch. The characters are animated in a high quality fashion as well, although it's debatable whether or not the derpy faces are "high quality". I think they are, however, since the exaggeration of expressions is sort of... Out of character? It makes for a great laugh when used properly.
Another great aspect that sort of caught me off guard was how good the music fits in this happy-go-lucky show. If you've seen Hanasaku Iroha and recognize the opening, that's because it's the same artist. I also get the same vibe as I did from Hanasaku Iroha as I do for Non Non Biyori, which might be a factor in this subjective review, but the music really does wonders. Although simple, it suits the (more often than not) quirky situations depicted. Great when it's time to laugh, and great when it's time to feel good or emotional.
In general, however, the far most important moment that makes Non Non Biyori excel are the characters. They're all unique with their own traits, good and bad, and they all share a common element; they're all quirky, to some degree. You really get to bond with them as well during the course of the show, something I really appreciated. The show really wouldn't be the same without them, which should be obvious considering that it's slice of life, but it's not as obvious in other shows (the way I see it).
So, to summarize, Non Non Biyori is a wonderful, short story about Renge and her friends' daily lives and struggles. With a simple story, stunning visuals, sound fit for the situations and characters that you just want to see more and more of, Non Non Biyori instantly hooks you on and before you know it you'll have watched the 12 episodes. Twice. A slice of life done right.
This show, all by itself, easily, definitively, and singlehandedly defines the entire purpose, appeal, and point of an entire genre of anime... or at least a good subset of it.
To me, there are four main subsets to slice-of-life (which I totally didn't steal from Subsonic Sparkle): gag-driven, character-driven, moe, and pure iyashikei. This show fits very well in the gag-driven category with its abundant (and incredible) use of humour. It does have aspects of the other three subsets, but don't expect the show to share the same mood or style as shows of the other categories tend to have. There are definitely moments when the
characters absolutely shine, but, unlike many other great character-driven shows (such as Hidamari Sketch), those moments tend to be fewer and farther from each other and the characters lack that certain depth good character-driven shows have. There are cute girls however there's not really many other cute things in the show unlike other top-tier moe slice-of-lifes where every single aspect of the show is specifically designed to be cute (like GochiUsa). It's much closer to pure iyashikei, with a surprisingly larger focus on calmness and peace than most other gag-driven slice-of-lifes, than to the other two categories however, it's still not quite there. Many others would classify this as an iyashikei type of show, but, to me, pure iyashikei has this special relaxing, calm, and beautiful tone that can only be described as contemplative or meditative or even philosophical. The show could have that and many times it does (the first two and a half minutes of the show is literally just background art with the show's wonderfully great main theme being played), however, due to its more plentiful comedy and often immature characters which can not at all be considered or described reflective or pensive. This show is indeed a slice-of-life and it is one of THE slice-of-lifes out there, however I seriously hope to clearly establish that this show is not the same as many other slice-of-life shows from different subsets of the genre. Simply put, it is a gag-driven slice-of-life and it holds this identity with all its heart and soul. It is not anything else. Don't expect anything GochiUsa-like, Hidamari Sketch-like, or Amanchu-like anywhere near this show.
Well, since I've already explicitly stated that this show doesn't have very deeply written characters, I might as well discuss that now.
This show does not have the most deeply written characters. They're all extremely likable and, at some points, surprisingly relatable, however, if you're looking for anyone who you can have the deepest of connections with or anyone who could interest you beyond a good injection of comedy or the occasional relatability or anyone whose character can be analyzed more than two or three layers deep or anyone with motivations any more complicated than the shallow desires of grade schoolers and lazy twenty-somethings (eat, sleep, sleep more) or anybody that has any qualities or facets other than the few they all center themselves upon (although they build upon those characteristics pretty well especially for the sake of comedy) or anyone who has thoughts, emotions, and feelings other than about anything that has just happened, is happening, or will happen within an immediate timeframe then you are out of luck with this show. The characters are all painted very well with an exorbitant amount of likability and a touch of relatability however, if you take a look at them with a fine-toothed comb, you'll discover that the characters this show has are all relatively cardboard when compared to other slice-of-lifes. (Although the fact that you still have to look at them closer to notice this is indeed a plus).
Also, if you expect any sort of development in this show of any sort revolving around the characters, any character development or relationship development or something, there is little. There is some character development within each episodic story arc, however these small character changes are designed to be so minimal that they won't be too noticed or are able to be easily forgotten without much sacrifice to the show's integrity because the show, I choose to believe, follows the old classic television rule of status quo continuity which was established so that anyone can just jump in into any episode in any order just by flipping through the channels without being alienated.
This show, as I said earlier, doesn't have the most deeply-written characters and I believe I've summed up why earlier (and all in a single sentence too). Nevertheless, I do indeed think it irresponsible of me to make these judgements without citing a good and proper supporting example.
Let me take our main(-est) protagonist here, Hotaru Ichijou, as our wonderful wonderful subject for today. She's a very kind girl who looks mature, already very much like a teenager, however as a matter of fact is only in fifth grade and thinks and acts like a fifth grader. She's very self-conscious, soft-spoken, shy (although all in a very lovable way), but excessively panicky, obsessive, and enthusiastic whenever she's doing something related to her crush on her senpai, Komari Koshigaya (who is also a girl making Hotaru a lesbian; this fact is never mentioned or commented on outright by the show which I'm sure will pleasantly surprise some people and annoy some others) which is her entire comedic point. She also really enjoys the countryside a fair bit more than the city even if she expected to feel alienated, and she wishes that she can spend the rest of her life there together with her friends. Aaaaaannd... that's it. That's her entire character and is the furthest a reasonable person (or at least I) can analyze about her. There are some other small details such as her skills with cooking and knitting, and these small details do add nuance and weight towards each character, however they're very minimal and trivial when it comes down to it, telling us nothing about Hotaru we don't already know about or expect from her. At this point, I'm inclined to admit that I am kind of underselling her character a bit. There are probably a few more characteristics, details, motivations, or character I missed or merely brushed upon and many of the traits and motivations I have stated are indeed built upon to an extent. However this should give you of the basic idea for what not to expect from this show's characters. This show does not have the complex thoughts and emotions Yuno from Hidamari Sketch has, nor are there any of the strong and powerfully-developed relationships such as Cocoa and Chino's in GochiUsa, nor does it have the great but subtle character development of the soldiers in Sora no Woto. To put it simply, don't watch this show for deeply-written characters.
So, now you may ask: What exactly makes this show so 'genre-defining' when it doesn't even have properly written characters?
To which I shall answer: I never said they weren't well-written. I said they weren't very deeply-written. You see, I defined the four main subsets of slice-of-life earlier because shows from each subset have very key differences in their requirements for their characters. Non Non Biyori is not a character-driven slice-of-life (in the context of the four subsets), but a gag-driven slice-of-life with a hint of iyashikei, and, in this context, this show knows exactly how to use the characters it has given life.
I have three conditions for a well-written character: likability, relatability, and nuance. If a character manages to achieve at least one of these conditions, then I would consider them well-written. (Although this also depends on the context of the character and what their role is in the story, e.g. if a character is ONLY likable in a show in the psychological genre). Let's get back to what I was talking about earlier. I said that Non Non Biyori's characters, the show's body and soul, lacked depth. They lacked layers. They were rather two-dimensional and uninteresting in terms of character analysis. They lacked nuance.
However, I also stated that these characters are all extremely likable. They manage to charm you very very well and very very quickly. Every character has this sort of aura written into them that is expressed wonderfully well through every action they take (props to the animators) to every interaction they make with others. They don't need depth when they have charisma. To me, a well-written character has to make viewers care about them. They hook you in and form emotional connections with you. When a nuanced character captures your interest while a relatable character reels up a viewer's old experiences, a likable character catches you with his charm and wit. And boy. These characters do have charm and wit. Believe me. They're the most charming little buggers I've seen in a long goddamn while.
Well, let's analyze why they're so likable.
Let's start with character design. They're your basic moe fanfare. Even if I don't think there's anything different about the way they're drawn (except Renge-chan) compared to other moe anime, it's hard to deny that they're all pretty cute and work well as cute characters in a slice-of-life comedy. Meaning: straight away from the looks, they've got charm. Renge-chan is a good example of this. We've got her entire personality onto those flat-topped eyes of hers, expressing a sort of sleepy curiosity which falsely creates an image of sarcastic boredom until you look closer and see that these static-looking eyes portray more naive enthusiasm than any other lesser moe five year old preschooler can dream to have. Immediately, you can tell all this. There's a lot to be gained from good character design that many people do not realize.
Now, the next logical step from here would be character acting, as in, how the character expresses their emotions through the animation. And I'd have to say, it's pretty top-notch. All the facial expressions are diverse enough for each of them to be able to stand out and, when combined with their character designs, portray just the right amount of emotion for the job, from the faces the characters make whenever a gag hits to the rich subtlety of their countenances during the show's rich character moments. They're all very expressive and, although most won't notice it, they actually contribute a large majority towards the likability and charisma of the characters. Compared to other shows, I don't think it's any more diverse than what other shows have in their facial department, but I noticed that this show manages to capture just as much emotion without reaching to the exaggerated heights other shows do. There is much exaggeration at times however it exaggerates in a scarcer and more tasteful way than most shows do. A great example again here would be Renge-chan. Those triangular mouth and flat-topped eyes may seem like an expression limiter, however they actually end up boosting the emotion she expresses. She's actually the single character in the show who can express not the most emotion but the most realistic amount of emotion in the show condensed in a single moment. There's this bit in episode four. I won't spoil it because it's absolutely beautiful. I'll just say that Renge-chan expresses an emotion that is so unbelievably realistically raw all through the power of facial expression (and top-notch voice acting). It's not at all exaggerated. It's just so real. It fits so perfectly with Renge-chan as a preschooler, too young to hold back tears well but already too old to cry excessively. It's beautiful. And there's none of that typical anime exaggeration involved. They just managed to make it so realistic. (Episode four was a great episode by the way.) And this is coming from someone who absolutely hates those short, emotional, appeal-to-pathos videos.
Now, those were just the visual aspects of a character, the components dominated by the animator instead of the writer. They're not the most important parts of a character and won't make or break a character in any way, however they contribute a surprising amount more in character building than most people realize. But enough of that. The animator may hold importance, but the writer still holds supreme. What, in the script, makes them so likable?
Let me just bring up an example here. There's this moment in episode seven when Hotaru and Renge are trapped in a rabbit pen. I won't tell you why they were stuck in there because I don't want to spoil too much, however they get stuck in there with nobody knowing their whereabouts to be able to check on them. There's this moment of silence, both in much shock, then Hotaru just freaks out. She starts crying about not being able to go home tonight and get to taste her mom's stew which she was promised they were going to eat tonight. She then starts screaming the word 'stew' repeatedly (in a Japanese accent too) as her face floods with tears. I love this moment. I've already repeatedly watched it several times just for the fun of the whole thing. I eventually did stop laughing, but I still have this wide permanent smile on my cheeks that seem to never come off. It really is amazing.
This makes me wonder here. Why do I love this moment so much? Well, as I've stated before, the character acting was pretty awesome. Hotaru's face the entire time was a masterpiece worthy of praise and, without it, the moment may have not worked at all. There was also great comedic timing. The entire gag wasn't structured according to the timing I expected, but it landed just as well.
However, I think the real reason I loved this moment so much was because it just fit so well with Hotaru's character. This moment was just so Hotaru. You'd expect this kind of panicky childish desperation from her at that given moment even when it catches you off-guard. It's just like one of those moments when you hear about what one of your friends did and you just think about how that's just SO him. Hotaru as a character had already been really well-characterized from the start as the kind of character who'd do such a thing like that. We got to know her. It's not just enough for a character to have no hateable characteristics (although that's still very key to having likeable characters). We need to get to know who these characters really are to the fullest. This show has some very strong character introduction. We get to know these characters the minute we get to see them. Of course, we don't literally get to know everything about these characters. There are still many things about the characters that are added on gradually throughout the series. However, we do get a very good idea about what these characters are straight away. I mean, look at how Renge-chan's introduced. The first character in the show, she's introduced walking on her own playing a recorder fairly badly (however somehow not missing any notes) and the first thing she says is "Are we really in the country?" very innocently as she looks at a cow. This practically tells us everything we need to know about the character and opens with a gag immediately. The fact that the characters are very simple actually helps out with this too. They're very easy to sum up in even a matter of seconds. Of course, this does not mean that complex multifaceted characters can't have strong character introductions too. Simplicity just helps a bit. Nevertheless, all of this is foreshadowed by the fact that they simply have very likable characteristics. All of them have positive and negative traits that allow us to love them so well. They all have some positive traits we can admire of them and negative traits that we can relate with. They just have lovable traits that are all both engaging and very good at sparking comedy. It's really that simple.
So that's my opinion on the characters, and now, I think the next logical step would be towards how this show uses these characters to create or convey a message or tone. Why exactly is it so genre-defining?
Now, first of all, I just want you all to know that I am not at all an expert at comedy. I can analyze (and overanalyze) any narrative work just fine, but if I were ever to dissect a joke into its constituents, it would just end up an off-putting mess. I'm sure if I think about it hard enough, maybe I'd get even a semblance of an idea of how this show's comedy works so well, but I don't want to spend years writing this article. Sure, this is most definitely intellectual laziness, this I will admit, but I do want to finish this review before dinner. For now, I can only tell you this.
It's funny. It's really funny. It takes the anime comedic style, refines it, and gives it the right characters for the job, all while sprinkling a bit of the precious iyashikei nostalgia that outright defines it. It's not too unique from other slice-of-life shows however it manages to stand on its own. There wasn't any time where I thought that one of the jokes didn't land. Maybe I'm just easy to please when it comes to comedy, but I found this show much more consistently funny than most other shows are. KonoSuba and Sakamoto desu ga? had moments that made me laugh really hard, much harder than with Non Non Biyori, however they had many misses too. Not all their jokes managed to land and they weren't that funny almost half the time. Non Non Biyori has a more stable sort of comedy. It doesn't reach the comedic heights other comedies do, but it is more consistent in their comedy than most other comedies do.
So after all this, why is the show so genre-defining? Simple. It's consistently funny with incredibly likable characters. It's a good benchmark for the kind of show it is. What this show is is the very definition of what the gag-driven slice-of-life is. There are many shows of the same kind that fail because of a lack of a lovable cast or simply not being funny. This show stands out not because of how different it is from other shows but how well it defines the genre it is in.
(I wonder why I had to spend three thousand words just to establish that.)
Well, now that I've established all that, let me get to some other miscellaneous points before I end here.
The background art is great. Props to whoever made them. The CGI vehicles though? Not so much. Luckily, all the CGI is placed out-of-view so they don't bother the viewer. All the other artwork? Eh. It's fine. Typical of Silver Link to be honest.
I'm a music expert as much as I am a comedy expert. I can't describe music at all. However, I do at least know what I feel about them. I do love the main theme of this show. Hidamari Michi is a wonder to behold. It actually got popular enough to be used by a Dark Souls video. The rest of the soundtrack not derivative of the main theme are pretty good too. They've all got this laidback fun vibe. One of them is just Row Row Row Your Boat but made incredibly more relaxing. It's almost at par with Hidamari Sketch's relaxed circus jazz (as I said, can't describe music at all). The opening theme though doesn't strike me as well though. Although it's not a typical anime opening theme, it's a typical J-Pop song that doesn't really have anything special to it. However, the ending theme was pretty goddamn amazing. I love it. It's so unique with all the bells and moe. I love it.
Ultimately, I enjoyed this show. Sure, its characters weren't that deeply-written, but what does that matter when all the show wants to do is make you feel good? Its characters are incredibly likable and the show is incredibly funny. While I do still think the show would've vastly improved if the characters had a touch more depth to them, I still believe this show's still a great gag-driven comedy and it really does make you feel good in the end. The music's also very memorable and so is the background art. Overall, I'd rate it eight over ten, just above K-On! but still quite a bit away from Hidamari Sketch's first season.
Simple mundane life can be a beautiful thing. We don't realize it, but every single day, we experience things that shape us as people, and we have always experienced those things, ever since we were born. While I love watching a heartfelt drama, a showcase of the bigger events that can inform our most important decisions and cause the most visceral emotions, we often take for granted how valuable and important the moments in between the drama are for us. Non Non Biyori, and its sequel series Repeat, highlight all of the meaningful moments that we often take for granted. It does numerous things to
create its nostalgic tone, create a lived-in setting, and make its characters come to life, while being one of the most hilarious and occasionally heartfelt shows out there. Few series are capable of evoking the kinds of emotions NNB does for me, and through watching its young characters grow up in the countryside and experience the milestones of childhood, it makes me appreciate my life all the more.
While Non Non Biyori's artwork and character designs are bright and colorful, it doesn't take long to see that the series general tone is also infused with a tinge of melancholy, and that unique bittersweet tone is almost always there in the background. This is because every aspect of Non Non Biyori's design is made to evoke the Japanese aesthetic concept called Mono no Aware. Mono no Aware is about the meaning found in things that are fleeting, about how things are beautiful because they don't last forever, and as sad as it is that things change, it was better to have experienced them at all and allow them to become memories. This aesthetic is a staple in Iyashikei anime, and many of these series are set in a location where its easy to convey this feeling. Anything involving the passage of time will do the trick, which is why most Iyashikei anime are either set in nature, or in a post-apocalyptic setting, and Non Non Biyori's setting allows the series to constantly be reminding us about the passage of time. Being set around a large, natural environment means that things such as the changing of seasons are always seen visually. As each episode passes, you will notice that more leaves are starting to fall off of trees, or the color palette changes as the sun shines in different ways. The characters activities usually relate to whatever season it is, and seeing how all of this changes over the course of the series evokes the bittersweet sensation of Mono no Aware.
Another big part of Non Non Biyori's tone is how run-down it is. Around all of the gorgeous nature, Non Non Biyori is set in a run-down farm town. Small, half-destroyed houses and shacks can be found in the background, and there is a sensation that there used to be far more people in this rural town then there currently are. The school the students use has broken floorboards, the signs have been written on and are cracked or off their hinges, and the place in general looks like its been eroded. Not only does this serve as excellent worldbuilding, filling this setting with odd details and making it feel lived-in, but it also helps to convey that it used to be very different, and that over time, it's changed. Though more obvious, a big thing that shows how this place has changed over time is the older characters. There aren't any high school students anymore, as they have all moved to Tokyo to go to school, only coming back to visit occasionally, all in episodes that further flesh out the history of the characters and reinforce the passage of time. Instead, it focuses on young children, or younger adults.
Most anime about cute girls doing cute things features high-school aged characters and light coming-of-age elements. Most of these characters face some hardships about their future, and their responsibilities in school. These stories can be engaging in their own right, and many times can form the crux of a very emotional coming-of-age story (see K-On), but that's not quite what Non Non Biyori is going for. Non Non Biyori ages its characters younger than most series, ranging from the First Grader Renge to the Eighth Grader Komari, with side characters who are all older with only a few exceptions. As young kids with much fewer responsibilities, their general personalities get more opportunities to come out, and they get to act their age: like children.
Each of the girls in this show feels like how a real child that age would act, and it makes them all more endearing and relatable. Hotaru is a 5th grader who moves to this rural village and adjusts to country life. At first, it seems she's mature and has it set, but as the series goes on we get to see her childish side come out more and more often. She idolizes the oldest girl Komari, she's gullible and falls for numerous tricks, she's curious about many things, and she gets clingy and overly whiny at times, especially around her mother. She acts differently around every character, and is in general a multi-faceted individual who feels like a believable child. The same is true for the tomboyish and troublesome Natsumi, and the wannabe adult Komari. The best example though, is Renge, who is the heart and soul of this series and a big part of what makes this series emotional core work so well. A bright and shiny first grader, Renge is overly curious and goes to explore everything she can find. She constantly asks questions, runs around on her own to find new things, takes advice from other characters way too seriously, and has an insanely random mind and will say the most insane things that almost make no sense. She's artistic, questioning, observant, and constantly taken aback by everything she experiences, looking at the world with a sense of wonder and fascination that only someone as young as her can see, as she is still learning about life and her surroundings.
The biggest appeal of this series is in watching each of these characters grow up, experiencing the milestones that come with going through childhood. Most of these are light-hearted and fun, with very simple life lessons and a look at those days we wish we could return to, but they are treated with care and emotion. For example, one episode is about Natsumi dragging her sister to run away from home after getting blamed for something she didn't do. The two go to a hideout they made and talk for a bit, before reminiscing about the last time they had run away like this. They eventually realize that they can't really do anything without their mom, and juxtaposed with a cat feeding her kittens, the two realize they were acting like idiots and return home. Expecting to get scolded by an angry mama, instead, the two get head-pats and treated to a warm, home-cooked meal by a mother who was worried sick about her kids. It's heartwarming, nostalgic, and something I think anyone can relate to. Each of the series various plots are like that, ranging from a young Renge making a friend and eventually having to see her leave, to everyone looking back at old toys and photos/videos and cringing at how dumb they used to be.
But perhaps the biggest reason for the success of this series nostalgic and bittersweet tone is in the side characters. Like I said, this is a series about watching these children grow up, and the children themselves can't really see how much they're growing. But the older characters sure can, and in seeing their relationships we get a look into how things have changed. This is most apparent in the relationship between Renge and Kaede, aka Candy Store. Having been made to raise Renge when she was only 2, the two have formed a special, inseparable bond, and many of the series most emotional moments come when Renge goes to Candy Store for certain things. As Renge's own parents are constantly working in the rice fields and her sister is always sleeping and lazy, she experiences many of her own childhood milestones with Candy Store, such as learning to ride a bike. Candy Store is watching the young Renge grow up right before her eyes, and there's a bitter-sweetness to this, knowing that while Renge won't have that sense of adorable childlike wonder anymore, she's moving to better things. Really, Renge is an encapsulation of the emotional core of this series, and I can go on about how fantastic of a character she is and how she embodies everything I love about this series (a certain episode about tadpole shrimps comes to mind). Just suffice it to say that watching her grow and learn about life was satisfying and beautiful.
I may make it sound kind of emotional, but really Non Non Biyori is light-hearted and funny. Actually, it's hilarious. Non Non Biyori has some of the best comedic timing I've seen, and basically every punchline hits and hits hard. What I love about its comedy is how restrained it can be. The series will often utilize long pauses before the characters react to something, and that reaction will usually be a bit more relaxed or deadpan than whats normal for cute girls. Beyond that, the characters are wonderfully expressive, with adorable facial expressions and specific body language that makes them a joy to hang out with beyond feeling like realistic, multi-faceted child characters. Much of the comedy also plays into the feeling of nostalgia the series emits. I remember getting way to serious about games involving school supplies as a kid, and making random games out of stupid things. It's both hilarious and nostalgic then, to see a game of "flip the ruler" morph into a super hype sports anime, or one of the older characters tease Renge by pretending she removed her thumb. Some of the comedy can be random, usually involving Renge's wondering thoughts, and there's even room for A MUTHAFUCKIN JOJO REFERENCE!!!! The series is silly and child-like, and it brings me back to that wonderful little time in my life.
Supporting all of this, is Non Non Biyori's absurdly gorgeous background art. From cracks and rust in buildings, to the various colors of the four seasons, to the various memorable locations throughout, Non Non Biyori's setting is filled with details that bring it to life, and its lighting, color design, and layouts are absolutely beautiful. While the actual animation can be a bit janky at times, and never really impresses, it didn't really have to for this series. For something so focused on tone and setting, the background art and color design is paramount, and this series succeeds on that front better than most. There's very little I can say to do it justice, watch the first scene of the first episode and that should do the trick. Adding equally to this immersion is the excellent OST. It's surprisingly varied, featuring an array of both beautiful, melancholic piano tracks, and child-like comedic tunes with lots of recorders, bells, and whistles. Both OP's and ED's are excellent. The OP's depict the girls playing around in the country, with a tunes by Nano.Ripe that sound comfy, "country," and fun, and the visuals keep the motif of the changing seasons, with the second OP even featuring a segment where the girls march with the music as the seasons change around them. The ED's are where the series music shines most in my eyes though. A fun, catchy song with a hint of melancholy sung by the series voice actors, set to a slide-show of them having fun together. A perfect fit, and I listen to both tracks whenever I need a dose of this show.
Non Non Biyori is the essence of experiencing life in its purest form, sometimes literally, as the camera has a tendency to linger in the same position for long periods of time and allow things to just play out, as if it were turned on and just left on the tri-pod with no one manning it (btw, this series has some excellent direction and cinematography to boot). It makes a point to highlight all of the beautiful things that can be found all around us every day, and tells us to treasure those things, and not take them for granted. While I'm not sure if this was the intention, my interpretation of the decision to repeat the same year in Non Non Biyori Repeat is to inform us of how much we can miss; that within a single year, there is a lot that we take for granted, and we shouldn't forget about any of the wonderful moments that made that time special. If you want a light-hearted, hilarious, Slice of Life about a group of girls experiencing the milestones of growing up, with an emotional undercurrent and a few moments that will tug at the heartstrings, you really can't do much better than Non Non Biyori. Life is a beautiful thing, and this little show wrings a lot of feelings out of reminding us of that. It's a simple message, but sometimes, that can be resonant, and here, it definitely is.
I honestly feel quite bad that I'm giving this such a low rating compared to everyone else. But oh man... I had to finish this anime on double speed just so I can finish it...
I am not a huge fan of slice of life, but I don't hate it either. And since Renge is such a meme on the interwebs, I decided to watch it... But oh my goodness. Definitely not MY cup of tea.
(Since this is a slice of life and there practically is no plot, I'll just decide to give 5/10.) I thought the art was quite nice. The scenery was
peaceful, the characters were quite cute, no doubt about that. The sound was... Alright. There was nothing memorable, in my opinion anyway. But oh, the characters... The characters. The only thing that's stopping me from giving it a 1/10 is Hotarun and Suguru, and I'll explain why.
This is just my personal opinion, but I personally detest characters who act/are way stupider than their age. And I know anime is never realistic, but this was just WAY too much. Maybe it's because the characters grew up on the countryside without proper education, but honestly... Really? The idiocy of the characters weren't cute to me at all, it just pissed me off. (It makes sense that my favorite loli character is Shiro from NGNL, who I believe is around the same age as Komari.) I really should have just dropped it at the first couple of episodes, but the reason I stuck with it was the older brother. He was literally my favorite character even though he didn't speak a word. And at least, Hotarun was bearable... Although she was also way too mature for her age (physically and psychologically), it was better than having such stupid characters trying to go through their daily life. I felt my brain cells dying one by one as I was trying to watch this normally, and soon I was watching it at 4 times the original speed.
Although the characters' designs were cute, I felt like I was watching a kids' show. Renge is still a good meme, but this anime personally didn't fit my taste. However feel free to watch it if you're a huge slice of life fan.
Some people spend their lives searching for tranquility or peace of the mind.
Some end up never finding it, some walk right past it completely blind that it may be found in the simplest of things.
Everyone is so obsessed with making their own fortune or leaving their mark on the world that they forget what the point of life is to live it at its fullest. That may mean achieving a balance between career, the work of fulfilling yourself and relaxation, the work of being proud of what you did. Our enjoy life in a blissfull ignorance doing their daily chores or enjoying the little
pleasures of the countryside routine. While it may not be a dashing tale of courage or ambition I have noticed that the story focuses more on creating an authentic lifestyle and not an ideal type.
The overall enjoyment of the series is equally divided between all the contributing factors. As such more attention has been awarded to the artwork, attention that can be witnessed through the many breathtaking background scenes while character designs have been made to fit the story plain and simple with nothing out of the ordinary
Characters have a linear evolution in the series being already formed and acting through the prism of their own personality. Being children means that their acts involve goofing around, dodging chores, having fun in any way they can.
I particularly enjoyed the series because it evokes both a happy early life as well as a happy late life it is both the past and the future and it is something... to ponder on.
So would you like to come fish a good time with us?.. there is plenty of room and equipment
Are you all ready for another slice of life comedy about a group of ladies? I've reviewed quite a few of these and, to be fair, they're usually enjoyable enough. Non Non Biyori came out, in anime form, in late 2013. It's based on a still ongoing manga by Atto that started in 2009. The anime was brought to us by Silver Link, the same studio behind Baka to Test, WataMote, Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry &, the only good thing I've seen from them thus far, Yuri Kuma Arashi. I have to say, that pedigree does not inspire confidence. But let's take a look at
the series and see if it can bring Silver Link's numbers up to two worthwhile anime.
We open in the country with a school where one teacher takes care of all the elementary and middle school students. Her job may sound terribly difficult until you learn that she has all of five students. Our main characters are the four girls in the class. The first grader, Renge. Fifth grader Hotaru. Seventh grader, Natsumi & her older sister, eighth grader Komari. The four of them enjoy their quiet and peaceful lives while keeping one another company and interacting with the friendly folks in their little country town.
Okay, so the ways this slice of life series about a group of girls differentiates itself from other slice of life series about groups of girls is with the country setting and the fairly substantial age differences among the girls. To be fair, that is a pretty big difference and the series is good at taking advantage of both the setting and the age gaps for the sake of humour.
That being said, the humour isn't always on the mark. There are times where they'll rely on doing something odd to be fun without regard to the fact that odd does not necessarily equate to funny. This does result in some jokes that fall flat.
The characters in this are pretty nicely done. They aren't the most complex group out there, but they are nicely fleshed out without being overly exaggerated. Resulting in characters who have a nice level of verisimilitude. The character interactions are also nicely done. A lot of the funniest scenes in the series revolve around the interactions. In fact, the best comedic moments in this series may all stem from Hotaru's interactions with Komari. It's not just the comedy, I'll also give the series credit for having some strong emotional moments that just explore the connections among the characters. Particularly with Renge & Kaede, a side character who runs the candy store. That being said, some of the side characters are a bit weak. You get some sense of personality from them, but it's not much. Like the one male student who never talks and is just kind of a supportive brother to Konami & Natsumi or Renge's eldest sister, who acts as the school teacher and has a lazy shtick going.
The artwork in this is quite good. Particularly the nature scenes and backgrounds. The nature scenery in this is really superb. The characters look fine, but they're also pretty typical of the genre. The various objects that the characters interact with are nicely detailed.
Our major characters are voiced by Murakawa Rie (GochiUsa's Megumi), Asumi Kana (Neptunia's Blanc), Sakura Ayane (Love Live's Arisa) & Koiwai Kotori. The four of them give strong performances. As does Satou Rina. The biggest weakness is Nazuka Kaori. Wile she is a good actress, as evidenced by her performances in Code Geass, Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood & Soul Eater, her character in this just doesn't have much going for her so she spends the entire anime sounding mellow without any real emotional variation.
There's a bit. Hotaru openly has a massive crush on Komari. There's also some indication that the feelings are reciprocated. I wouldn't be surprised if the two of them ended up dating at some point. Probably won't last, given their young ages, though. Then again, if Nanoha and Fate can make it work, it's possible.
That was Non Non Biyori. It holds up pretty strongly. The characters are memorable and endearing. The nature scenes are lovely and it has enough differences from the standard slice of life series to keep it fresh. That being said, I wouldn't call it one of the best out there, since the humour does fall short at times. But if you want something cutesy with some very strong character interactions, this might be for you. My final rating is going to be a solid 8/10. Next week I'll take a look at Binbougami ga.
An anime recommendation from watching Yuru Camp so I thought I'd check this one out.
Story: The story is similar to Yuru Camp's in that, it's casual and relaxing. Moreover, it highlights the daily happenings of the characters' lives. how they spend their times having fun but at the same time their struggles as students. Quite a good storyline,. Only criticism i can give the storyline is... its too slow paced at parts. Hence a 9 for the storyline.
Art: Again, similar to Yuru Camp in that the animation of the scenery and the art is beautiful, especially the sakuras. Character animation cant really compare to Yuru
Camp though, its less how should i say, refined than Yuru Camp's. A 9 for the art.
Sound: Relaxing osts, decent opening and ending songs. Great sounds of the background, well deserving of a 9.
Character: The characters are pretty cute so a 9.
Enjoyment: I certainly enjoyed watching it, though at times it was a little boring due to how slow paced the anime is. A 9/10.
Overall, everything is good about this anime. Definitely enjoyed watching it. A final score of 9/10!
I haven't enjoyed a slice of life anime this much since Azumanga Daioh. This is what slice of life is all about. I'm so fucking glad this thing exists. Non Non Biyori is heartwarming, funny, relaxing, and it captures the perfect feeling of beauty and nostalgia. The whole atmosphere the anime radiates is magical, and you owe it to yourself to watch it if you enjoy beauty and the simple things in life.
The anime follows Hotaru Ichijou, who has just moved from Tokyo to some isolated village in the middle of nowhere. Here she meets the other four characters that are to become the main
cast, and that is where the magic begins. They all attend the same school and the same class, because there are only like five kids in the entire village (not entirely true). This already creates a cosy atmosphere, because you have a definite set of characters that you can focus on without any distractions, and they are so masterfully written that their interactions with one another becomes a pure joy to follow. Besides the main characters there are also adults that are in some way connected to them, so there are already well-established relationships and ties, but some of these you won't learn until after a few episodes. As usual with my reviews I won't go into details about the different characters, because I believe that you should experience it yourself. You will most certainly come to love them, I'll tell you that.
As with all Slice of Life anime, there isn't any story present. It's all about capturing mundane everyday activities in an interesting and engaging manner, and Non Non Biyori gets full scores in this regard. The characters are all very well written, and they all contribute to the overall atmosphere and feel of the show with their own spice. The anime pays an equal amount of attention to all of them, so you're not stuck with Hotaru Ichijou only if you were worried about that, which is good because I personally find her to be the least interesting character. You get to see all the aspects of the different characters' everyday life, and it really helps you connect to them. And it's so cosy! I don't think I've ever felt this cosy while watching another anime before. There is something about the beautiful music, art, and characters that just does something to me that most other anime fail to. At times I don't know whether I want to laugh along with the characters or tear up from the sheer beauty of the show, so I find myself doing both. If I could put it one way, I would say that Non Non Biyori conjures some sort of powerful nostalgia that you didn't know that you had, so you instantly feel at home whenever you follow the girls along with their shenanigans.
Non Non Biyori is a wonderful show that is the embodiment of what Slice of Life is all about, so if you're looking for something fun and relaxing then I'd highly recommend it. I wholeheartely believe that this anime is a great example that anime can be taken seriously as an art form. I was almost starting to lose hope, phew. If anything, this show raised the bar too high, so now I'll have an even more difficult time finding good SoLs. Curses.
Everything is so well done, the soundtrack is so soothing and calm, the background art is gorgeous, and all the characters are very likeable, original and most importantly very varied. I'd be lying if I said this anime didn't make me feel warm and happy inside, because that's exactly what it did. The whole setting is very nostalgic, there isn't a whole lot of story if that's what your into, though the creators do make an effort to keep it interesting.
It's definitely worth the watch, I'm hoping I can say the same about the second season as well.
Anime is a medium that allows us to see some crazy combinations, from legendary heroes battling over an immortal object to drills that will pierce the heavens. But other times, anime allows us to sit back, relax, and mellow out to simply enjoy the fun antics happening on-screen. In Non Non Biyori, the show does just that, leaving you with a warm feeling when all is said and done.
Non Non Biyori sets itself up by introducing a new character in the beginning, her name being Hotaru. She just recently moved from the city to the country and has
joined the other (only) four students at the school.
Non Non Biyori is a slice of life anime. As such, my small premise has little merit as to what actually goes on throughout the rest of the show. When it comes to the episodic nature of an anime like this, it isn't important to really have an over-arcing plot that drives the narrative. And NNB does a great job in this regard.
The majority of the actual episodes/arcs are fine for what they are. However, certain arcs stick out more so than others. Without spoiling too much, I'll talk about some of my favorite arcs and what they did so well.
The first one to really grab my attention was the one featuring Ren and her same-aged neighbor friend. This arc really captures what the show does well, and that is showing off the characters doing everyday things. The arc featured little dialogue, not only because Ren and her friend are children (meaning they wouldn't have deep conversations with each other to begin with) but also because it is the way in which they interacted with one another that easily showed off how good of friends they truly were. It was incredibly simple yet very touching.
Another great arc features Hotaru, Koma, and a same-aged neighbor once again. This arc I found demonstrated the comedy of the show quite nicely. It played up Koma's insecurity about being older yet more immature than her friends. It's combination of reaction faces, dead-pan humor, and adult-oriented jokes made me really enjoy this arc fully.
Last one, and perhaps everyone's favorite, is the small story featuring Ren and "Candy Store". This one was very sweet and made you feel extremely happy when watching it. It gave off this mother-daughter vibe between the two that I found to be so lovable. They did a nice job of making you see just how much those two care about one another, and when the arc ended, I was definitely making an audible "Aww!"
There are more than just these three, but these are the ones that stuck out to me the most. Almost all of the arcs are at least fine in quality (whether that be comedy, "feels", etc.) but you will come to find that some are just better than the others.
There isn't much to say here. In terms of actual animation, there isn't much to be had. What the show does well despite this is the art style and backdrops. NNB makes you truly feel as if the characters are residing in the countryside. There are wide shots with many trees and open fields. There is the lone car that passes by on the never-busy road. The characters also walk by many rice fields and animal farms. During the show, they sometimes allude to the fact that where they live is not the city, and the art of the show really helps to encapsulate this feeling.
Besides the animation and art, I liked the look/design of the characters. Notably, while Hotaru and Koma are rather "plain-Jane" looking, Natsumi and Ren are pretty uniquely designed, at least comparatively among the other cast members.
Non Non Biyori gives us characters that are just straight up fun.
Probably the best among them is Ren. I like kids a lot, so I'm a bit biased when I say I really liked her character. She's inquisitive and kind, but just smart enough to understand the many scenarios they are put in. A lot of her charm comes from the way she says certain things or how she acts like a kid her age would. She isn't one of the best child characters but she was always fun to see.
Komari probably comes second character-wise. I think what I enjoyed most about her was again her child-like attitude and antics. Plus, her voice actress did a very good job. A lot of the time Komari is the butt-end of the jokes, whether this be about her height or her ineptitude at cooking. But overall, she shines best when interacting with her sister Natsumi and her good friend Hotaru.
Speaking of Hotaru, she is probably the most interesting of the bunch. Besides coming from Tokyo (in the sense a "foreigner"), she actually is the most mature (in terms of personality and, strangely, puberty). On top of this, she has this semi-yuri crush towards Komari that is surprisingly hilarious. She is rather plain in appearance (perhaps even generic) but she interacts well with the other characters.
Last but not least is Natsumi. Personifying tomboys from across the globe, she revels in lame puns, messing with her sister, and just staying optimistic in all situations. I liked her and her sister's relationship; it wasn't "I'm older than you", it was more "we are really good friends."
That probably best explains the character's interactions between each other. They are all really, really good friends.
For me, the OP and ED were not too outstanding. The OP has this beginning part to the track (literally the first five seconds) that reminds me of underwater levels in video games. The ED is definitely very child-like with its singing and use of instruments, and fit nicely with the shows themes.
I particularly found the rest of the soundtrack to be pretty good. Like the art style, it evoked feelings of the country. For many of the pieces, they would remind me of The Legend of Zelda village themes or general outdoor areas. They have a certain fantastical feel to them that I enjoyed. Furthermore, like the ED, some of them seemed like they were more "playful" (that is, performed with children in mind) and always put a smile on my face.
In terms of the voice acting, I think everyone did an above average job in each of their performances. Special shout-outs to Natsumi, Ren, Hotaru, and Koma!
This show definitely puts you in a good mood. It's very relaxing, with the right amount of comedy and happy feelings. It's not dramatic nor is it suspenseful. When you're watching you know you can just sit back a bit and enjoy the humorous nature of the cast.
I can't say I absolutely loved this one, but it is for sure very enjoyable.
Story: Good, slice of life arcs with some stand-out favorites
Animation: Good, country-style art is pleasing and atmospheric
Characters: Good, likable and lovable
Sound: Good, OP and ED are average but soundtrack and VAs nailed it