Sep 22, 2015
UrsulaCallistis (All reviews)
Non Non Biyori Repeat returns once more to Renge, Hotaru, Natsumi, and Komari, and their everyday lives in the country side. After watching through all 12 episodes, I can confidently say that this season of Non Non Biyori fully lives up to, and perhaps even surpasses, the quality of its first season. I personally think Non Non Biyori is one of few slice-of-life anime that truly exemplifies the best aspects of the genre. To me, many slice-of-life anime are rather paradoxical, in that the "everyday life" happenings that they are supposed to portray are pushed towards unrealistic for comedic or emotional effect. This makes the show memorable, but it's not what Non Non Biyori relies on. Amid the exaggerated "everyday" occurrences, Non Non Biyori still manages to masterfully convey the beauty and joy of the simple and the mundane.

One of the main ways this is achieved is through its use of art and sound. The animation is simply stellar. It can best be seen in the many natural scenes in the show. From the leaves on the trees to the sparkles in the river, to the cloud covered skies, everything is finely detailed. The beauty of the nature reinforces the idea of beauty in the normal and commonplace. This is coupled with the skilled use of the soundtrack. Though overall its music is amazing, one of the best examples I think is Renge's recorder. Even carrying the melody, instead of having the notes played perfectly, all the missed notes and all the squeaks are left in. Background music doesn't exist in the real world, but the imperfections in the playing are transformed into the beautiful sound of the real and everyday life while still achieving its end as the musical component in any show.

Non Non Biyori also contains its share of great characters. Hotaru's adorable personality, the childish eccentricity of Renge, and the many antics of Natsumi all make a continuously entertaining, occasionally heart-moving, and all around enjoyable show. This season seems to be focusing slightly more on Renge and her development as a young child, but the other characters still get plenty of their share of screen time.

As far as the story goes, it's plotless and episodic as is the majority of the genre. This season however seems to touch on more mature themes, and it does so in the most bright and heart-warmingly optimistic way. In one episode, we see Renge's heavy depression at the death of her pet shrimps, but Natsumi cheers her up by showing her the shrimps' newborn infants. The episode touches on the theme of mortality, but rather than leaving it at that, the show provides a soothing answer, pointing towards the often-neglected, opposite spectrum of the cycle of life, the birth of new life. In another episode, we see many flashbacks of the early lives of our characters. Komari especially looks through an old photo album with many childhood photos. All this touches on the theme of the passage of time, and although many artists portray the passage of time as that which fades beauty and topples empires, etc. etc., in Komari fixing her old teddy bear and telling Natsumi to take care of the Super Ball which Natsumi used to play with, Non Non Biyori displays the passage of time as something to be treasured and held dear. It paints the past as something to be taken care of, else you'll "regret it later".

Finally, my favorite part of the show is how beautifully it speaks to the joy in the simple things in life. Playing "drop the ruler" during break at school, catching fireflies at night, jumping into a river from a bridge, all touch me deeply. In the last episode, there is an unmoving shot of the kids just waiting around that lasts for several minutes. These moments of inaction, of passivity, and just how relaxed and calm it makes you feel is where the show does its best. The show is full of these gratuitous scenes, in which the mundane and commonplace shine in its calm, peaceful, and gentle beauty. These kids in the countryside playing around and enjoying themselves in every which way - there's a certain universality to it. Beyond the innocent optimism of youth, Non Non Biyori portrays the loveliness of simple and everyday things. This is why I would strongly recommend this anime to anyone looking for something easy-going, yet equally compelling.