As many of you know, the slice of life genre in anime is my absolute favorite of them all. There are so many interesting shows and stories that somehow make a simple concept like daily life super entertaining to watch in many different ways, whether that be comedic, dramatic, fanciful, romantic, or else. Today, I want to talk a little bit about one of the more realistic and bubbly slice-of-life anime I’ve ever seen.
Let’s jump right in!
Due to reasons relating to her father’s work, a Tokyo fifth grade student —Ichijou Hotaru— and her parents move to a countryside, an isolated village called Asahigaoka more specifically. It’s a small and quiet community, inhabiting a small number of citizens, rice fields taking up most of the area, and really … there isn’t much a city-born kid can do. Hotaru transfers into the village’s local school where she discovers her new tiny and unique group of classmates; first grader Miyauchi Renge whose vast curiosity and desire for fun counteracts her always deadpan expression, together with the three Koshigaya siblings consisting of Komari who looks younger than what she actually is, the goofy and mischievous Natsumi, and Suguru, the eldest and quietest of the bunch.
This country-raised group of kids gives a warm welcome to Hotaru, and essentially show the city girl their own ways of having fun as young kids in an environment where things like technology, karaoke bars, and cultural festivals are non-existent. Whether than be sketching the beautiful countryside landscapes or just hanging out in a homemade secret hideout, we get to see what daily life is like in the countryside, as well as how someone like Hotaru adapts to completely new surroundings.
I can’t stress enough how much I love the slice of life anime shows that tells purely about the daily happenings of various groups of friends or people in general. Looking at it in multiple viewpoints, it appeals to individuals who can actually relate to whatever the characters are doing in the show, while on the other hand, allows people to learn about the different and interesting lifestyles apart from their own. While some anime fans have the valid opinion of not being too interested in this particular genre, I think this is the sole reason why I adore the slice of life shows as an anime fan —also the fact that most SoL shows are pretty unique from each other.
Non Non Biyori is a perfect example of what I just mentioned: a slice of life that pretty much focuses on the daily shenanigans and random happenings of a certain group of friends. However, what makes this show different from other and more popular shows of the same genre is really the setting and vibe it gives. We get to see how a bunch of kids who live in the countryside manage to be entertained and have fun in a place where mountains act as walls from other societies, a living hood where the adults and elderly people make up most of the population, and most importantly, they don’t have the same pastimes as more privileged people and citizens living in the hustle-and-bustle of metropolitan areas.
As a person who has lived in a metropolitan area his entire life, I cannot imagine myself being in these kids’ shoes at all. Being attached to something like computers or a phone or the internet my whole life and now living in a world where technology is gradually starting to be implemented in everyone’s lifestyle, it’s definitely hard to picture myself not having any of those things around me. I don’t mean to sound like one of those privileged, born in 2000 and later kids who say that living in the old times must’ve sucked, but it’s true when I say it’s difficult to imagine a world where I don’t have something as important to me as the internet.
However, and going back to my earlier point, this anime allows me to see how life is like what I just described, thanks to what this group of girls does on a daily basis. In the synopsis, I have mentioned a few examples of the shenanigans that Hotaru, Renge, Komari, and Natsumi are involved, but things like discovering new things around their area and going to the candy store to buy themselves something sweet or even doing a test of courage at night … I think studio Silver Link did a great job depicting both of the life as someone who lives in the countryside, as well as the joys of being a young kid.
Going back to discussing the setting and atmosphere of Non Non Biyori; because it’s in a rural, countryside environment where not much happens, this is one of the reasons why this anime has a very calming and carefree vibe throughout the show. I feel like you can just put on this show and be relieved of all the stresses and hardships you’ve experienced during the day because of just watching the wholesome and lighthearted things these girls do in this anime (we’ll talk more about that in the next sections). And like most slice-of-life anime, it’s not a linear story, and instead, you can jump into any episode and it’s a brand new experience every time.
I felt the characters in this show were all unique, interesting, and lovable. Even months after finishing it, they’re still memorable characters to me. For the main group of characters (Renge, Komari, Hotaru, and Natsumi), they were a great bunch to watch because of their different behaviors and personalities, and how they meshed well with each other as a group of close friends. Things like Natsumi and Komari being close sisters and the countless times they teased each other *I guess it was mostly Natsumi making fun of Komari, despite Komari being older, lol— the random yet fun pastimes Renge did in every episode, and even learning from each other the standards and differences of lifestyles in the city and country; they made for an entertaining cast of characters to watch throughout.
The side characters were also pretty present throughout the show, and while some may have not added much to the story, they definitely still made me smile or laugh with whatever they did. And to go off of that, I think the characters were the main source of comedy in this show. Whether it’s Renge’s sister and only teacher at Asahigaoka’s school, Kazuh who are, always acting lazy despite her pretty important role, or the pranks that come from Natsumi’s head in which she pulls on Komari … the light comedy this show gives off is sufficient enough to keep me entertained.
visuals and arts.
While the characters are lovable and the overall daily life aspect is enjoyable, this is where the show really shines, in my opinion.
Regarding the art of the show; first, the character design for each of the characters are pretty normal, nothing too special. But what is special is the overall scenery of Non Non Biyori and how the studio of Silver Link really wanted to show off —the beauties of nature and the views of the countryside. Every episode has a few short segments throughout that showcases some landscapes of Asahigaoka, which look absolutely astounding, coming from a regular seasonal anime show. They really have put a lot of detail in making the scenery look authentic and beautiful at the same time. It sort of can make you feel like you’re actually there, looking at the abundance of shrubbery and mountains all around, as well as how amazing the sun setting upon the village looks from a high perspective.
As for the musical side of things, every single song played in the background is very mellow and relaxing to listen to. Even both the opening and ending themes of this anime are lighthearted and put you in a good mood. And going back to what I was saying earlier, these two artistic aspects are probably the two main aspects that give off the calming and comfy vibe of this show —it’s also the two main reasons why a lot of people find this show really good and memorable.
Lastly, the voice acting was great in this show. Each seiyuu, at least for the four main characters, depicted their role in an excellent and youthful way, especially with Asumi Kana as Komari and Koiwai Kotori as Renge. Also, a fun thing I noticed about the cast was that a good amount of the seiyuu in this show was featured in my favorite romantic comedy Amagami SS, and it felt like a coincidental reunion of some sort.
closing – al’s final verdict.
Due to so many factors, Non Non Biyori is one of my all-time favorite by the slice of life genre on anime. The comfy atmosphere it has, the entertaining characters, soothing music, breathtaking views of the countryside, and most notably for me personally, is the unique setting it delivers. I probably will never experience life outside the mostly peaceful suburbs and hectic city, but I think this show has painted a pretty realistic and enjoyable picture of what it’s like out in the countryside.
If you’re looking for a lighthearted anime to help you feel relaxed and smile, or if you just want to take a break from other shows, I highly recommend you check this one out.
additional pieces of information.
- Non Non Biyori
- first time aired in autumn, 01.09.2013 till 24.12.2013
- al’s review of an anime TV series, 12 episodes
- from the studio of Silver Link.
- tagged under the genre of #comedy, #school, #seinen, and #slice_of_life
tagged under the subgenre of #friendship, #iyashikei, #school_life, #shoujo-ai, #daily_life, #manga, and #seinen
- the age-rated as PG-13
Thanks for reading my review for this week! I know I’ve been slacking a lot recently regarding this blog, but I’ll try my best to get back to writing more stuff. Anyhow, I already have an anime in mind to show you guys, so keep watching anime, and until next time!
© content written by sliceofalfredo revised by nesha5971