The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

We’re Going To Okinawa: Non Non Biyori OVA Review

“Looking at beauty in the world, is the first step of purifying the mind.” ― Amit Ray

It’s been a little more than seven months since Non Non Biyori‘s first season concluded back in December, and a little more than five days have passed since the OVA released. Set in the depths of summer, the OVA kicks off with Suguru winning four tickets to Okinawa in a shopping mall lottery. Subsequently, everyone decides to plan a trip there. To prepare for the trip, the girls practise conversations for being on an airplane and go to a convenience store to buy travel items. Renge finds herself deep in though regarding how Okinawa might change her view on the world and spends the evening before the trip giving her farewells to the countryside. The next day, everyone meets at the airport and departs for Okinawa.

  • Despite having no spoken lines in the series, Suguru is about as lucky as John-117 and apparently has won tickets to a live K-On! concert once (one will need the Japanese language pack installed to read the link). The first time I watched this OAD (original animation DVD), it was in DVD quality and things looked much fuzzier than they did in the series proper, which I watched at 720p. Non Non Biyori is one of those shows that are best enjoyed in HD, so given a chance to watch it again in HD, I did so with with gusto.

  • Suguru wordlessly gives his sisters the tickets he won, leaving them shocked as to the fortunate turn of events. I typically make it a point to provide screenshots of a reasonably high quality (a minimum original resolution of 1280 by 720): these images are then condensed to 640 by 480 to fit on the website, and as a result, the images look particularly sharp. In this post, I have supplied images that follow this convention, having watched the OVA in HD and in the process, have produced what is likely the only post with HD images in the internet’s entire history of existing.

  • After the news reaches Yukiko, Kaede and Kazuho, everyone begins planning out the trip to Okinawa. Typically, when I plan out vacations or events, there are two types of attractions: the ones I plan for, and the ones that happen on the spur of the moment. The planned ones are present to give things structure, while the unplanned ones happen because they can. I applied this approach to Otafest 2014 and wound up with a phenomenal experience. Similarly, my trip to Cranbrook in 2012, and last year’s trip to Jasper/Edmonton was planned in a similar fashion, making things remarkably relaxed.

  • Renge only has a rough idea of where Okinawa is, describing it as somewhere warm down south set in Mother Nature. A ways back, I was considering purchasing a Lonely Planet Guide to Japan to figure out where I would go, but I was talked out of it because it’s possible to look up everything online. However, I do like having a physical book in my hands to carry around, and what’s more, I probably won’t be bringing my iPad to Japan to hold all my travel notes.

  • With a surface area of some 1200 square kilometers, Okinawa is the largest island in the island chain and hosts the capital city, Naha. This is where my martial arts school originates, and I am a practitioner of the Naha-te technique, where the fist is chambered tightly under the shoulder, rather than at the hip. The Okinawa confection, sata andagi is mentioned here, evoking memories of Azumanga Daioh. It’s supposed to be delicious, like the mini-doughnuts that my town is famous for.

  • Hotaru is the only one in the country to have actually traveled on an airplane, and as such, is tasked with simulating an experience on the airplane by acting as a flight attendant. While they’re referred to as “cabin attendants” here, I prefer the term “flight attendants”.

  • Armed with some pocket money, the girls decide to visit Kaede at the candy store to buy some sweets for their flight, but wind up with some ice creams and a bit of reminiscence from Kaede, who mentions that she once wished to go to Okinawa but decided to hold back, feeling that she might never return home after her world-views had changed.

  • Back outside, Renge attempts to prepare herself for the Okinawan heat before being reminded that her ice cream will rapidly melt. With a subtropical climate, Okinawa has an average temperature of 31°C during July and August: with an average humidity of 77 percent, the humidex would mean that days commonly feel like 45°C, which, while milder than that of Hong Kong, is still significantly warmer than the weather in Southern Alberta. Indeed, after coming home from China, South Korea and Hong Kong, the air here feels distinctly chilly and light.

  • Non Non Biyori makes use of long stills to convey a sort of tranquality and calm in the air; here, Renge sits under an evening sun. The next day, the girls decide to visit the local convenience store to purchase travel items, which is said to be two hours away by bike. I typically average around 20 km/h on a bike, so that means the convenience store is roughly 40 kilometers away.

  • I will take a few moments to admire and enjoy the scenery in Non Non Biyori, which is downright gorgeous and adds substantially to the calm, easy-going atmosphere in the anime. Much attention is paid to things like the vegetation, and the sky is of most vivid blue. This railway crossing reminds me of a famous image of what appears to be ball lightning in Japan: I bet readers can’t get discussions this interesting at TV Tropes, where certain individuals feel compelled to provide bullet point summaries of the episode as though they’re the only ones to have watched it. Granted, I also mention noteworthy points in an episode, but I 1) actually provide screenshots to give a context, 2) make an effort to point out why such moments are worth mentioning and 3) there’s more insightful content in the paragraphs; the pictures merely augment the post.

Non Non Biyori turned out to be a pleasant surprise when I had finished it, and as with the Tamayura: ~More Aggressive~ OVA, the Non Non Biyori OVA (technically an OAD) brings back memories of what had made Non Non Biyori so enjoyable to watch. As with the Tamayura: ~More Aggressive~ OVA, the core element here is travel, although Non Non Biyori is more about the procedure prior to travel. Of course, what the girls end up doing is strictly limited to their own world: owing to their youth, logistics such as booking hotels and plane tickets, are left to Candy Store (Kaede) and Kazuho. This sort of thing is more tedious to show, so instead, viewers are treated to the girls preparing for this trip in their own unique fashion, whether it be purchasing travel conveniences, simulating a plane ride or Renge’s heartwarming stroll around her neighbourhood by evening to say goodbye to familiar landmarks. Of note is Renge’s reaction to Kaede’s comment about Okinawa changing their perspectives on life: travel broadens one’s horizons, and Kaede feels that, had she gone to Okinawa earlier, she would have wish to have lived in Okinawa rather than where she lives presently. These feelings arise from Kaede’s desire to experience unique events and explore something to its entirety. On the other hand, this is Renge’s first time travelling, hence her concern for a changed world-view. However, travelling also serves to increase one’s appreciation of their home, in addition to broadening perspective, so I imagine that Renge would probably enjoy the vacation greatly and subsequently realise that there really is no place like home.

  • My internal debate as to whether or not I wanted to go for my Advanced Operator’s License this summer was made for me: apparently, I now have enough experience to take the advanced road test and get my full license, although quite personally, I think I’ll want to brush up on my theory again. The older exams only involved driving, but the current exam reintroduces parallel and hill parking. I was out practising recently, and after a few tries, parallel parking doesn’t feel all that scary. Doing it perfectly under exam conditions could be a different story, though.

  • It really is something else when the nearest convenience store is two hours away by bike; the local convenience store feels like a Shopper’s Drug Mart, selling a variety of hygiene products, magazines, drinks, some groceries and (though not visible), pharmaceuticals.

  • Hotaru offers Komari one of her swimsuits in preparation for the beaches in Okinawa, but it turns out that Hotaru’s swimsuit is far too large for Komari’s diminutive stature, leaving the latter disappointed. Even so, it’s a nice gesture from Hotaru, whose admiration for Komari knows no bounds and does much to impart comedy in interactions between the two.

  • The last moments Renge spends in Asahigaoka prior to departing for Okinawa are to say farewell to the familiar landmarks and landscapes in the area, before announcing that she will definitely come back. Poignant is a term that’s being thrown around in the discussions, although I am wont to disagree with what is being said; this scene underlines Renge’s innocence and youthful naïveté, which comes across as particularly endearing to viewers.

  • As the day draws to a close, viewers are left with a calming landscape of Asahigaoka; for the curious, Non Non Biyori‘s Asahigaoka is a fictional village probably set in Central Honshu, and the closest one will get when performing a search for Asahigaoka would be several train stations in Japan. Asahigaoka is also a district in Aoba-ku (in the Miyagi prefecture).

  • I haven’t been to an airport in a while; since the last time I was there, the International Airport has expanded, adding a new runway and concourse to double the size of the airport terminal. This project is massive; costing some six hundred million dollars, it also allows the airport to boast the tallest free-standing air-traffic control tower in the nation.

  • Before I can even consider flying outside the nation, I will need to renew my passport, which expires at year’s end. I’ll be taking care of that tomorrow, and subsequently explain to readers what’s been going on here with respect to blogging volume and accuracy: it is a thrilling tale that I wish to do justice.

  • I am somewhat surprised that no one has mentioned Komari getting stopped for a check at the metal detectors in their bullet-point summaries; I found this moment to be highly amusing, although Komari’s expression suggests that she would disagree with my sentiments. From out here, it does not appear that Komari is carrying any metallic objects on her person, suggesting it’s possibly a belt: I have set off a metal detector before because of my belt while on a return trip from Seoul back in 2006.

  • Ultimately, everyone manages the board the aircraft: stills at the airport show Hotaru, Renge, Natsumi, Komari, Suguru, Kazuho, Hikage and Kaede as the ones to be going on this trip. Curiously enough, it seems that despite having seen the episode itself, several participants in discussions relevant to the OVA appear to believe that it’s only going to be Hotaru, Renge, Natsumi and Komari going to Okinawa. This is not the case.

  • So ends the OVA, which, while never showing any sights or attractions in Okinawa, nonetheless manages to be quite enjoyable to watch. With the OVA now over, this post also ends, and as of now, I’ve watched and have written about all of the OVAs I’ve set out to watch and write about this summer. Regular programming resumes come the next post.

Initially, I was expecting the OVA to depict parts of Okinawa, but the pacing of Non Non Biyori would suggest such a wish would probably be unfeasible. Instead, what viewers are treated to is an easy-going, carefree approach prior to travel, which (for me, at least) brings back memories of a time when travelling was as simple as letting the grown-ups handle all of the logistics. This was quite long ago, though, and at present, I turn my attention towards my own trips, first to Taiwan/Hong Kong in December, then to Japan come next year. These trips won’t happen without a passport, so that needs to be completed first. With the Non Non Biyori OVA now finished, one does wonder what the future holds in store; if memory serves, a second season will be coming out at some point in the future, and I do look forwards to seeing what adventures Renge, Hotaru, Natsumi and Komari go on, whether it be set in Okinawa or back home in Asahigaoka as the seasons pass.

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