First Impressions – Non Non Biyori

A Slice of the Countryside Life

spring13-highwWhen the season starts, there’s a whole bunch of shows you’ve probably never heard of. And for someone like me, who is able to watch pretty much everything, without having it stack up too much, sometimes there are shows that you weren’t really caught by the description, but show up on the CrunchyRoll “Updated” page. And they don’t look obviously awful, so you give them a try…

What’s It About?

Hotaru introduces

All the characters

Non Non Biyori is so slice of life, I’m surprised that there isn’t a crust around the edge of the screen (although in Japan, they seem to always cut off the crusts). Set in the countryside of Japan, it’s about four girls who are the only four girls in the area. So they’re the only students in the school (well, besides one boy, but he’s more scenery than a character). Natsumi (Sakura Ayane, Akane from Vividred) and Komari (Asumi Kana from Nyarlko-san) Koshigaya are 1st and 2nd year middle schoolers (respectively), while Ren-chan (Koiwai Kotori, Iwai from Dansai Bunri) is a first grader. And transferring in is Ichijou Hotaru (Murakawa Rie, Aoi from Vividred), a 5th grader who just moved to the area from Tokyo. That boy I mentioned is the Koshigaya’s older brother, but he gets stuck in a hole early and never speaks, so he’s not really a character.

Stuck in a hole

You make do with the school you have

The main focus of the show is the daily life of these four girls, and “Hotarun”’s adjustment to the change in her life. It’s not angsty, it’s not emotional, it’s just… nice. The whole show is nice. The only source of consternation in the first episode is the girls wondering if they really do live in the country. And obviously they do, but what’s the criteria for that being a problem? If things are inconvenient? In the end it doesn’t really matter. They are where they are, even if they have to wait 2 hours for the next bus.

A Pretty Way to Spend a Half Hour

Sakura Tree


The animation by Silver Link is nice, with lovely shots of the countryside, and pretty shots of things like the blooming sakura they visit to eat dessert. An idyllic setting, it’s really brought to life in the show, with some amusing quirky things thrown in like the neighbor on a mobility scooter driving across the screen or a cow here and there. The pacing is definitely on the ‘healing’ side, with the most dynamic thing that happens being the girls missing the bus (more dynamic than their game of dodgeball). The background sound is nice, and helps bring you into that country feel. The incidental music fits the mood (even Ren-chan’s recorder playing), and the OP by nano.Ripe is typical for them, nice to listen to. The ED is sung by the four characters, and is fitting for the show.

Nacchan and Cow

As if you weren’t sure it was the country

idyllic life

Just one more to make sure


It’s hard to say a whole lot about this show, but I found it really enjoyable. It was a perfect way to wind down, and just enjoy half an hour. It’s not complicated, it’s not full of conflict (really, this show makes Tamayura or Aria look like a thrill ride of existential questioning), it’s just relaxing and fun. And the thing is that it felt slow, but it never felt draggy. If I had to come up with one thing it did wrong, it would be that Ren is a little bit too ironic for a first grader. That’s really it. So I’m definitely going to keep watching and I hope it stays enjoyable.


Proving that you don't have to be young to love anime, I enjoy all genres and styles of shows. If it's not hurting anyone else, you should never be ashamed of what you like!
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27 Responses to “First Impressions – Non Non Biyori”

  1. skylion says:

    It very much was the cool refreshing breeze. If you need it, it can make the day brighter. If you don’t need it, you can save it up for when you do.

    I recall the exact moment, about fifteen seconds into the show, Ren’s recorder just noodling along with the piano score that I sunk into the couch, thinking “Yep, I’ll get he edge of my seat a rest”.

    Now, if the scenery didn’t look so much like Hinamizawa. Big brother better beware of punishment games….

  2. skylion says:

    …and onii-chin is in the running for Worst Best Butt Monkey in an anime, neck and neck with Sasazuka from Ichigo Mashimaro…

    • Highway says:

      Worst Best Non-Entity Butt Monkey.

      I’m gonna start greeting everyone with “Nyaa-pasu!”

      • skylion says:

        …clips or it’s not gonna happen. Yeah, say nyaapasu when you get to work tomorrow…. lol….

        Oh, and tame Spammy for me, if you could, sir.

        • Highway says:

          Jeff was a little put off, but not too much. “What, is that some kind of new chinese good morning?” Being an anime fan doesn’t really get me much credit at work.

          • skylion says:

            You should start collecting Pettanko characters and decorating your workspace…

            • Highway says:

              I don’t really care for pettanko characters. And I’m not taking my (coming soon) Maou or Tohka nendoroids to work.

            • skylion says:

              Those are some choice choices. My day job is a food server, so I don’t get to decorate. But I would be sooo Shinobu up in the grills if I could.

  3. Di Gi Kazune says:

    Out of boredom and the promise of cute underaged lolis, took a random peek. And not going to make the same mistake as Haibane Renmei, ie watch the series.

    Its only redeeming feature is the scenery porn and artwork. 2minutes+ of scenery porn in the first 2 minutes+ of the series was a turn off. I sat for 2 minutes (some say 2m 30s) and nothing happened. It was many slices of boredom. There is slice of life and there is slices of boredom.

    It would take a massive effort (ie, underaged naked orgy) to retry this show again.

    • Highway says:

      I got a lot of the same kind of feeling from this I got from GJ-bu, so I wonder if you watched that show. Of course, this is less sophisticated than GJ-bu, but they both have that same “nothing is happening, and I’m captivated” feeling to them to me.

      • Di Gi Kazune says:

        Is GJ-bu a type of ero-style?

        Regardless, like you, it is giving me a feeling that an older show reminds me of. In my case, it’s Haibane Renmei. People said it was good/promoted its virtues/etc. Watched 1 episode. *splat* Watched Episode 13. Didn’t bother with the rest. To this day, it sits as unwatched data, formerly on a set of DVDs (prior to that CDs), waiting for the day I go insane and watch it as there is nothing good left to watch.

        To put it to example:
        Take Gene’i Taiyou. For the first half of the first episode, it was flat. The upside, there were people on people interaction. Ignore the OP that gives you the premise of something is going to happen. Then the last half of the episode starts throwing you bits to chew on.

        None None throws you into an art gallery in the first 180 seconds. Then it putters along like a segway. OP was the equivalent of a photo shoot of how beautiful the art is.

        An even better example: Imagine Prisma Illya PV1 (IT LIES!). If Prisma Illya ended up without the kickassitude, I’d not be watching it.

        • Highway says:

          GJ-bu was a show that aired in Winter 2013. It was not really anything outright ero, but it was very charming interactions mostly between one boy and 4 girls (or 3 girls and Kirara) in their club, the GJ-bu (“Good Job” club). It really captured well that kind of “teenagers who aren’t really trying to get a date with each other, but like each other’s company, including some touching.” It manages to convey the thrill that you get as a teen of exploring boundaries in relationships, and interested touching, like brushing Kyoro brushing the girls’ hair, or Shion cooling Kyoro off and ending up thinking too much about it.

          It really had some spectacularly good bits, like the hair brushing and “Ore-man” where they got Kyoro use “ore” (manly) to refer to himself rather than “boku” (boyish), with attendant change in speaking pattern. But overall, it was kinda slow-ish, and didn’t really do anything, but it was great to watch.

          I didn’t start watching it when it first aired, and I think it was either after the first or second episode that I asked what it was about. And skylion gave the best description of it: “When I figure out what it’s about, I’ll let you know.” It sounds like a criticism, but it’s just so good at being what it is, it doesn’t need to be ‘about’ something.

      • Di Gi Kazune says:

        *kicks stupid spam catcher!*

        Stop eating my posts!

  4. HannoX says:

    Count me as another who found it relaxing and quietly enjoyable. Maybe part of it is because I live in a rural area–15 miles to the nearest gas station and 16 to the nearest grocery store. I’ll keep watching, but it could get to the point where it bores me and then I’ll drop it.

    • Highway says:

      It’s one of those that you can see getting boring, but there are a lot of shows that seem like they could get boring, but just stay interesting enough and nice to watch.

  5. Liza says:

    This is so cute! 😀 I love cute slice of life stuff like this. The thing is, I keep thinking of Higurashi when I see the classroom. XD

    • skylion says:

      Glad to see that I’m not the only one. I hope none of the characters come into contact with: machetes, finger-nail pullers, nail spiked mochi, baseball bats, cursed ancestors, or nippa.

      • Highway says:

        Man, I hope Hotarun doesn’t turn out to be some high school aged serial killer pretending to be a 5th grader…

  6. Highway says:

    I’m not going to continue blogging this show (because there’s nothing really to blog), but the second episode had me dying of laughter, even as almost nothing happened. This show is showing that ability to take something really basic and make it really entertaining. And not even through stupidity, but just through people being people and kids being kids.

    And obaa-san Hotaru…

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