Hey all, Kaushik here again with a review of Non Non Biyori, which was my number two show of 2013. Based off a manga by Atto, it received an anime adaptation by the studio Silver Link. I admit, I’m not too familiar with Silver Link. Looking over some of the series they’ve worked on, it’s pretty clear Silver Link is a more recent studio with only a few titles under their belt. Still, I have watched and enjoyed some of their past shows. Non Non Biyori is another slice-of-life series, which I usually love watching. But after watching so many, my standards have risen considerably, especially considering how many of these kinds of shows pop up every season. What about this show? Let’s find out~
Like most slice-of-life shows, the plot is mostly ancillary. The basis for this one is a city girl named Ichijo Hotaru moves to the countryside, and she has adventures in the countryside with her new found friends. The countryside setting does allow for some interesting settings that the show takes advantage of, but it doesn’t have much else going for it. Admittedly not very impressive-sounding, but in a show like this that’s not very important. What IS important are the characters and their interactions, and I think in that respect the show delivers a good deal more strongly.
The main cast is a group girls. Surprise, surprise. The trend for slice-of-life anime seems to gravitate towards the 4 girls setup. Still, there are a few differences that separate Non Non Biyori. While they do all go to school together, like most similar anime, the school they go to is a little unique in that it’s all-ages. Since there are so few students, all students are grouped into one class. As a result, the four main characters are in 1st grade, 5th grade, 6th grade, and 7th grade. With such a big age difference, particularly with the youngest girl, some of the character interactions can be pretty funny.
The main character is Ichijo Hotaru, and she’s the 5th grader. Of course, by looking at her you wouldn’t know it since she looks older than she is. She’s the main character, and her personality is probably the least interesting. She’s a nice, kindhearted young girl which doesn’t offer much for comedy. Her biggest comedic gimmick is her unhealthy obsession with one of the other characters, Koshigaya Komari.
Komari is the 7th grader, and the oldest of their group. She’s also almost the smallest member of the group, a fact that offers her much discomfort. Her height complex leads to some funny situations, where she desperately tries acting her age (or older), but fails as her hobbies and likes are adorably cute, and suited for someone younger.
Komari’s sister, Koshigaya Natsumi, is one of the other characters. She’s the lively one of the bunch, and is the 6th grader. She’s also the tallest one in the group, which causes no end of discomfort to Komari. Natsumi is a bit of a prankster type, and likes to use her height to her advantage with her sister. She’s also quite lazy insofar as her school work is concerned, which gets her mother quite angry at her.
The last character is Miyauchi Renge, the youngest of the group. A first grader, she’s cute and a little weird, in the way only a first grader could be. It’s a bit difficult to describe her character, as she acts wacky and goofy. Other times, however, she is quite mature and acts older than her age. She’s a cute character, and a welcome addition to the group.
The character interactions are what really make a show like this, and in Non Non Biyori they are great. The characters play off of each other really well, and watching their activities from day-to-day is interesting. There’s also a great cast of supporting characters, ranging from the school’s lazy teacher and Renge’s teacher, to the candy shop owner and even Komari and Natsumi’s brother, who is the only male character of the show and has 0 lines. He’s mostly just used for a few gags here and there. Still, all of these characters come together and make for a really enjoyable watch.
The art of this show left some particularly odd impressions on me. It’s not bad, in fact it’s pretty good. Putting it in the countryside gives it some really pretty set pieces to take advantage of. As for that odd impression, for some reason the show itself reminds me of sunset. I cannot think of Non Non Biyori without thinking of sunset, and it doesn’t help that a lot of the art for the show I’ve seen is at sunset. Still, I like sunset. I think it’s pretty. It’s nice that Non Non Biyori reminds me of sunset, so it gets a pass by me.
The background music for the show is okay. There weren’t really any standout tunes unfortunately, and I’m not familiar with the composer behind this show. The opening theme is “Nanairo Biyori” by nano.ripe. I don’t really care much for this song, even though I kind of like nano.ripe (even though no one else I know does). It just sounds a little generic in the face of all of their other work. The ending theme is “Non Non Biyori”, and it’s performed by the voice actors of the 4 main characters. Ayane Sakura, Kana Asumi, Kotori Koiwai, and Rie Murakawa. The song is pretty cute, and each of the voice actors sing in their character’s voice so each character’s part is pretty identifiable. I particularly like Renge’s parts.
— Cute characters
— Good character interaction and relationship dynamics
— Besides the characters, nothing else stands out
Studio: Silver Link
Director: Shinya Kawamo
Character design: Mai Otsuka
Music: Hiromi Mizutani
Original creator: Atto (manga)
Original run: October 7, 2013 – December 23, 2013
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