Misaki KunoKotori KoiwaiRie MurakawaReina Ueda
Non Non Biyori
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2013
Director: Shinya Kawamo
Original creator: Atto
Actor: Ayane Sakura, Kana Asumi, Kotori Koiwai, Rie Murakawa, Akiko Hiramatsu, Kaori Nazuka, Misato Fukuen, Rina Satou, Ryoko Shintani, Asami Yamazaki, Ayahi Takagaki, Masaaki Yano, Miku Fujihara, Misaki Kuno, Reina Ueda, Rika Sasa, Shuhei Karasawa, Soma Saito, Tamae Shiraishi, Youji Ueda, Yuko Nagashima
Keywords: Non Non Biyori, anime
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 12 episodes + 13th OVA episode
Url: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=15149
Website category: Anime 2013
Review date: 25 November 2015
Nothing happens in this anime. It's the epitome of schoolgirl slice-of-life shows. Renge, Hotaru, Natsumi and Komari hang out together and do everyday stuff. This goes on for twelve episodes. It's relaxing and nice, but I can imagine people finding it a challenge to make it to the final episode.
It's set in such a charming, laid-back setting that you worry for the girls' future. They live in the countryside, which in Japan means "mountains". They're so far from civilisation that it has to be explained to them that Tokyo doesn't have mountains. Renge can whistle at a pitch that attracts racoon dogs. The village is so small that the school only has five students, who all study in the same class despite being of different ages and effectively have no teacher. (Technically Renge's big sister Kazuho is their teacher, but she never does any teaching and everyone's just left to study on their own from the textbook.) Unbelievably, Hotaru has transferred here from Tokyo because of her father's work. Is there employment around here? Does he dig in the fields all day?
This show will never change, at all, ever. It's all about spending time in a beautiful mountain setting where the scenery is incapable of not being gorgeous and the pace of life is snail-like. The characters are amusing, although not laugh-out-loud funny. Hotaru has a huge crush on Komari, who's much shorter and younger-looking than her little sister Natsumi. Renge is a five-year-old with no playmates her own age and possibly as a result talks like a cross between an old lady and a Dalek. The girls hang out together and goof around. They have nothing important to do. Life is nice, although one worries about their academic future.
It also looks as if in a few years, Renge will be this school's only student. Will she even bother showing up? Might she just stay at home with her sister?
It's a dying community. The village shop's only customers are our schoolgirls and it's as if we've time-travelled fifty years into the past. People still use public pay phones. (This is Japan. The country has more mobile phones than oxygen molecules.) However it's also a lovable place to be and a soothing series to watch. The jokes about country life are funny, so for instance in ep.1 the other girls think Hotaru's a weirdo for locking her front door when she goes out.
Renge meanwhile is trying to work out whether or not she lives in this thing she's heard of called "countryside". That was brilliant. If a raccoon dog lives in your house, is that rural?
This isn't going to be a long review, because there's nothing really here to discuss. Girls do silly stuff. That's it. It's animated aimlessness. One of Renge's sisters is studying in Tokyo and is very proud that this makes her a city girl. Some of the show's best jokes involve someone trying to brag about how grown-up or sophisticated they are despite being in the presence of Hotaru, who can't help showing everyone else up as hicks. Natsumi is a terrible person, albeit in a nice way. The attempted school festival in ep.9 was a highlight, I think.
The show isn't completely without depth. There's brief sadness in ep.4, in which Renge temporarily finds a friend her own age, although of course it all ends sweetly. I also liked the relationship we see in ep.10 between Candy Store Girl (who's usually grumpy) and Renge, which goes back to the days when the former used to babysit her.
Would I recommend this show? Ummm... not really, but it's nice. Watch an episode. It doesn't matter which one. They'll all be like that. It's a faintly monotonous series, but likeable. The characters are okay, but not a huge amount is being done with them beyond day-to-day misadventures. The show's summed up, I think, by everyone turning and waving at us at the end of the final episode. I was charmed by that bit. That's the kind of warmth this show has. It's about hanging out with friends. You wouldn't call it dramatic or memorable, but friends are good.