Non Non Biyori: Mid-season impressions
November 24, 2013
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At the halfway point in Non Non Biyori (I’m guessing the title could be approximated as “No Beauty”, since “non” is the French equivalent of “no”, and Biyori could be “beauty” when expressed in Hiragana. The kanji stands for weather, although it wouldn’t make sense as a title), I get the feeling that this is perhaps the most entertaining offering this season, featuring various antics such as Hotaru’s crush on Komari, Renge’s friendship with Honoka, and the traditional trip to the beach and test of courage during the summer. While there’s absolutely no unifying story in Non Non Biyori, contrasting Tamayura ~More Aggressive~, the gentle atmosphere and surprisingly well-executed humour sets this show apart from anime derived off the four-panel comic format.
- Before we continue, this mid-season talk only has ten images, a far cry from the twenty I normally field. This is because screenshots cannot do this series any justice, and that Non Non Biyori is at its absolute best whenever the characters land themselves in comical situations. Thus, instead of wasting the readers’ time with long posts, I’m content to merely do a post to say “If you’re not watching Non Non Biyori this season, you’re missing out”. As for the notion of report cards, this show definitely gets a passing grade 🙂
- Watching Renge melts my heart for whatever reason. I’ve noted previously that I was once an assistant instructor for a Chinese-language kindergarten class: despite only having an acceptable mastery of Mandarin Chinese, I retained my position because I got along with the students and got the job done more efficiently than other assistant instructors.
- Renge meets Honoka during her summer and spends several days going on adventures with her. Upon finding out the latter has left after summer has ended, the most tender moment in Non Non Biyori ensues as the normally stoic Renge winds up in tears.
- Renge later receives a letter from Honoka apologising for her sudden departure and promising that they’d play together again the next time she visits.
- Hotaru and Komari share a rather interesting dynamic in that the latter admires the former for her maturity, while the former is infatuated with the latter. Various aspects of a rural life in Japan are depicted, including the self-serve convenience store Hotaru and Komari visit to pick up tomatoes for the morning’s breakfast. Again, note the vivid colours in the countryside.
- When Kazuha sees Hotaru in her swimsuit, her first reaction is to cover Komari’s eyes, having spent a good bit of time talking to her about the latter’s small stature. She later goes to get drinks from a vending machine, but is dragged off to a lost child booth after being mistaken for a child.
- I do apologise for not getting any posts out over the past few weeks. I’ve been engaged in a range of things, all of them academic, so the blog’s been sidetracked as a result. Of course, my tendency to procrastinate on anime means my coursework somehow gets itself done, to prevent scenes like these from happening. Of all the characters, Natsumi is the most happy-go-lucky of the bunch. Nothing seems to phase her, and she lives at her own pace, independent of even the laid-back environment in Asahigaoka.
- Hotaru’s admiration of Komari borders on insane: she has numerous plushies of Komari in her room and hastily hides them upon hearing that Komari, Natsumi and Renge are visiting. Even after they become un-hidden, she is able to pass them off as a summer project and allays any suspicion on the other’s part.
- Tests of courage are old hat, but Komari gets the short end of the stick despite being assigned to play the ghost. Surprisingly enough, Natsumi decides to carry out this test at a Shinto Shrine not dissimilar to that where Minamoto no Sanetomo, the last head of the Minamoto clan of Japan and the third shogun of the Kamakura shogunate, was assassinated.
- The last time I spoke of fireworks, it was in my final impressions for Tamayura ~More Aggressive~. Fireworks are an integral part of Japanese summer festivals, although smaller, consumer grade fireworks can be bought and shared with friends.
The humour and relaxing landscapes are the strongest points in Non Non Biyori; I am cracking a smile or laughing at the jesters of the Japanese country side every episode. My main expectations for the series now is an opportunity to see all of the seasons pass in Asahigaoka. I believe things began in spring, and summer’s just passed, so fall and winter remains. Given thus, the anime would probably end in Spring, with the girls looking forward to a new school year with one another. I’m somewhat surprised more people haven’t been writing about this series: I realise that a lot of viewers prefer complexity in their anime, but that doesn’t mean the simpleminded series are not worth anything. Some days, while on break from building simulations or completing grant applications, anime that don’t engage the critical thinking centers in the mind are the very best. Like K-On! and Tamayura, I feel relaxed and refreshed after watching the episodes, which means Non Non Biyori is doing its job well.