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 at fullest.
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.