"Once, everyone wished for a freeloading mascot in their home. A lovable outsider whose only purpose was to make life fun.
This is the story of a time when the world is full of these mascots."
Noramimi takes place in a contemporary japanese town over the course of roughly 4 years, and follows the day-to-day adventures of "mascots", mystical japanese creatures of varying shapes and sizes whose primary impetus is to entertain children.
Some mascots act as parental figures. Some as mentors. Some as best friends. All have the ultimate goal to enrich their child's life for the length of their homestay, until said child enters middle school,
upon which they must say farewell, as mascots rapidly begin to lose interest at that point.
Despite the simplistic, childish artstyle, Noramimi isn't really geared at children in the slightest (if the classification as Seinen was not a hint). While not a violent or vulgar series in any capacity, the themes covered most often are very contemplative and philosophical. Goodbyes, new beginnings, loss of purpose. These are all likely to go over the heads of younger audiences, but will strike a chord with the older crowd.
Noramimi's strength easily lies in the fascinating world Kazuo Hara has managed to craft. If you are looking for an intricately woven, multi-faceted plot, you will NOT find it here.
What you will find however is a wonderful sense of world-building and a (as cliche as it sounds) loveable cast of characters that only gets added to with every chapter, and at no point manages to feel "overloaded".
Many interesting questions are posed and covered, such as what happens when kids and mascots don't get along, what do mascots who are not currently freeloading do with their time, do mascots ever see their kids again, how much impact can a mascot have on a household, and so on.
The vast majority of chapters are structured in a "mascot of the week" manner. where we are introduced to a mascot and/or child, their living situation, and must watch as they have to overcome some kind of personal issue or doubt (be it a loss of confidence, having to say goodbye, starting a new homestay, etc.). Oftentimes, the titular Noramimi or other recurring characters (such as the employees of Hello Kids) will become involved in some way.
While all chapters (except for the few multi-part ones) have their story done-and-dusted within their set pages, the world grows a little more vibrant with each one, so for the full experience you should really read from the beginning.
The art is simplistic, but the linework is clean, and characters are distinct enough so that you can easily recognize them. Something which is important given the series is focused on "mascots".
The only thing I really dislike is how inconclusive the ending is. The most constant theme throughout the series is beginnings and endings, and it's a shame the manga itself did not follow through in this aspect.
In short, Noramimi is a mature (despite appearances) slice-of-life that is short on plot, but heavy on world building that will immensely appeal to fans of "contemporary topics with a fantastical spin on them".