The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: Akane Shinoda

Non Non Biyori Nonstop: Finale Review and Whole-Series Recommendation

“Be the reason someone smiles. Be the reason someone feels loved and believes in the goodness in people.” –Roy T. Bennet

In the New Year, Hikage attempts to smooth-talk New Year’s money out of Kazuho and Kaede to Renge’s disapproval, but upon visiting the Koshigayas, is strong-armed into giving her New Year’s money to Komari and Natsumi after Konomi reasons that it’s proper tradition for older people to give New Year’s money to their younger peers. Later, Hikage, Renge and Natsumi stand outside in a blizzard as Renge and Natsumi attempt a conversation that leaves Hikage irritated. When Honoka visits Renge, the two share time together. Honoka reveals she’s leaving soon, and Renge decides to give her some sweets from Kaede in order to properly say goodbye. As the winter weather recedes and spring returns to Asahigaoka, Renge plays dodgeball with Shiori and learns that Shiori will become an older sister soon. Kaede and Kazuho later have a drinking party: Kaede gets wasted but does her best to maintain a responsible, focused demenour for Renge. Hikage comments on the fact that Kaede’s always been fond of Renge, prompting Kaede to reminisce to a time when Renge was still a baby. After Kaede falls asleep from exhaustion, Kazuho tearfully notes that everyone’s growing up, while Renge, still unable to fall asleep, tucks Kaede in. The end of a semester finally arrives, and Suguru graduates from Asahigaoka Branch School. In between term, Hotaru, Renge, Natsumi, Komari, Konomi, Shiori, Akane and Kaede have free time, allowing them to hang out together. They spend the afternoon sledding down a grassy slope, and upon walking Shiori back home, find that her mother’s going into labour. The girls quickly contact a taxi to get Shiori’s mother to a hospital. Some time later, a new term begins, and Shiori is set to start term at Asahigaoka Branch School. Renge meets Shiori’s younger sister, Kasumi, and Shiori’s parents thank everyone for having been helpful that night. As Renge and the others head to school with Kazuho, Renge notes that while the scenery on the way to school never changes, it’s a little different every day, and that makes every day special. Thus ends Non Non Biyori Nonstop, whose finale adapts the sixteenth volume of the manga: with this knowledge, Non Non Biyori has come to a complete finish, bringing a twelve year journey (for the manga) to a close.

Nonstop‘s emphasis on personal growth and the passing of the torch dominates this third and final season: Shiori’s introduction into the cast allows Renge to act as a senior for her, showing her the ins and outs of life, and Konomi does her best to ensure that Akane is ready to lead the wind instruments as a second year student. Komari remarks that with Suguru graduating, she’ll need to rise to the occasion and act as a responsible older sibling, as well. Altogether, Nonstop has done a fantastic job of showing how knowledge and experiences are shared from seniors to juniors, and that being in a more senior position really accelerates individual growth. Renge had long been the youngest amongst the group of friends, but after Shiori is introduced, Renge feels protective of Shiori, promising to look after her and show her the things that she knows. The end result is that Renge begins to mature in a different way; while Renge had always been astute and observant, she’s never really had someone to pass knowledge or show things to. The friendship between Shiori and Renge has striking parallels with Akane and Konomi; Konomi recognises Akane’s potential as a flautist and wishes to leave behind a tangible legacy for the wind instrument club. Through their friendship, Akane is able to relax around her peers, and by the end of Nonstop, she’s shown as being at ease with carrying out a conversation with classmates. During their drinking session, Kazuho and Kaede both comment on how much things have changed, that the children they’re looking after are growing up and bettering themselves, ready to one day become the mentors themselves. In this way, Nonstop celebrates the cycle of life: youth grow old and mentor the next generation with the things they learn from their seniors, much as how after summer gives way to the icy cold of winter, warmth gradually returns to the world as spring arrives. The comings and goings of the seasons are mirrored in the cycles that drive people, and Non Non Biyori has done a phenomenal job of tying these learnings together to create a work that is truly timeless.

Non Non Biyori‘s anime adaptation has been around since October 2013: over the course of eight years, Non Non Biyori‘s focus and themes have slowly become more tangible. The first season suggested that each of the four seasons had their own merits, and that it was with an open mind (through newcomer Hotaru), one would really be able to appreciate being in the moment. Non Non Biyori Repeat is set in-between the events of Non Non Biyori to show how in life, there are numerous moments in between our most vivid memories that are worth recalling. Nonstop finally wraps things up and demonstrates how cycles are a central part of life, as people grow old and learn. The anime evidently matures with the manga, and as author Atto become more decisive about where Non Non Biyori would head, the anime became clearer and more confident in its direction. The end result is that Nonstop acts as a conclusive finale for the series. Altogether, Non Non Biyori‘s charm lay in the fact that the series brought the manga’s original stories and themes to life through sound and motion: in particular, the gorgeous landscapes and use of pauses to let the irony of a situation sink in created a sense that the series really cared about immersing viewers in Asahigaoka, as well as the outrageous and exciting events that each of the characters goes through. However, while humour is a well-done part of Non Non Biyori, the series also is able to deliver emotionally mature topics, from parting ways to life and death, in a manner that is appropriate and respectful. Further to this, Non Non Biyori strikes a balance between having characters experience misfortune for a few laughs and having them learn through meaningful experiences, as well. Komari is a longtime victim of circumstance; Non Non Biyori is fond of showing her as stumbling and swallowing her pride, but allowing viewers to see that she has her moments, it confirms that Komari is a well-rounded character who is capable in her own right. As Non Non Biyori matured, so did the series’ ability to tell and deliver both jokes and lessons to viewers: that Non Non Biyori covers things that we experience in everyday life, but often take for granted, is why the anime remains so enjoyable over the course of its run, a time-frame spanning an impressive seven years and five months.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Before I delve into this finale finale post, I will note that since this is likely the last time I’ll write about Non Non Biyori, I’ve decided to make this post much larger than usual so I can adequately cover all of the details. I had originally planned on publishing last Sunday, when the finale aired, but after finishing, I realised there was a bit of turf to cover for Non Non Biyori Nonstop, and so, the post got pushed back. The tenth episode to Nonstop opens with Renge warning Hikage against being too greedy with the New Year’s money. In Chinese custom, New Year’s money is also a thing, although unlike Konomi’s suggestion, only married couples gift New Year’s money. Nonstop has really given Konomi a chance to shine, and while she’s a kind senior who looks out for those around her, it turns out she’s also got a sharp mind capable of turning Hikage’s stunts against her. The plus side is that Hikage comes away from this with a net loss of zero, acting as a mostly-harmless lesson about not being too greedy.

  • I’m only going to spare a single screenshot on the conversation that Natsumi and Renge attempt to have with Hikage while a blizzard is raging. The conversation is non sequitur, and while not offering anything to Nonstop in terms of themes, demonstrates the series’ ability to create humour in a variety of means. This is something that I certainly won’t be doing: over the past weekend, a winter squall rolled into my area, and yesterday was continuously windy. The average wind speed was 59 km/h, gusting up to 72 km/h: a brief blizzard also struck the area, but the subsequent weather was surprisingly pleasant afterwards. The wind’s finally died down now, and the weather is much more agreeable.

  • The highlight of episode ten was when Honoka returns to Asahigaoka by winter: Honoka had briefly visited during a summer day back in the first season, and Renge had been utterly heartbroken when Honoka returned home suddenly. Seeing Honoka again put a smile on my face: I’d been hoping Renge would have a chance to hang out with her again for the longest time, and it is under the snow-covered Asahigaoka that the two have a chance to see one another again. After receiving a phone call from Honoka’s parents, Renge can barely contain her excitement and rushes off to meet her.

  • This time around, Honoka’s staying for a couple of days, so Renge has plenty of time to hang out. The whites and blues of Asahigaoka by winter are beautiful. The cold, I’ve never really minded; what I despise most about winter are icy roads and the accumulation of haze in my area on overcast days. Conversely, on sunny days, there’s a wonderous feeling about that of a winter day, and I attribute this appreciation to Non Non Biyori. During the shortest days of the year, the low angle of the late-day sun bathes the landscape in gold, and even mid-day, it feels much earlier or later than it really is.

  • One of the first stops on Renge and Honoka’s list is the candy store: Renge promises to show Honoka the coolest places in Asahigaoka, and this mini-tour brings to mind how even in the most remote corners of the world, there’s always cool stuff to check out. The mindset in Non Non Biyori stands in stark contrast to Your Name, where Mitsuha Miyamizu longs to leave the town of Itomori for Tokyo because the former doesn’t have anything of note. While Asahigaoka is a small rural village even smaller than Itomori, Non Non Biyori‘s portrayal of Asahigaoka suggests a quiet but peaceful town whose natural beauty is particularly standout.

  • After introducing Honoka to Kaede, Renge and Honoka buy yogurts, which Honoka finds to be delicious. While expectations amongst adults are invariably greater, for children, all new experiences are exciting. Non Non Biyori‘s portrayal of children in its stories also opens the series up to the open-mindedness that children have, so there’s never a dull moment. Bill Watterson was able to similarly capture this in Calvin and Hobbes: while Calvin’s mom and dad are down-to-earth people not susceptible to flights of fancy, Calvin’s active imagination means that unexpected adventure could be found most anywhere, and even in a more mundane case, after Calvin and Hobbes find a trickle of water running through mud, declares their afternoon to be booked solid.

  • While Honoka is visiting her grandmother over the winter break, she and Renge decide to have the most fun possible before Honoka returns home. The pair build a little snowman, slide down a snow covered hill and explore the local shrine, where they find a cat sleeping. Oddly enough, the montage also features a cut of a tropical waterfall before promptly switching back over to the winter, where two snow-covered pinecones are laying together in a field. I’m not too sure if this is a minor mistake in the animation

  • Asahigaoka is beautiful indeed, if there’s full-fledged mountains here to check out. Most of Japan’s countryside is covered in heavily forested mountains, but the larger mountains are found in central Japan: these include the Minami Alps and Hida Mountains. The precise location of Asahigaoka is never mentioned in Non Non Biyori, similarly to how Bill Watterson never wrote where Calvin and Hobbes is set, leaving the location generic so the adventures could feel a little more timeless. Honoka is blown away by the scenery up here; it’s clear that Renge’s probably been here before, and the two’s adventures reaffirm that Renge is someone who’s always eager to share happiness and discoveries with others.

  • The true highlight of Honoka’s visit lies in how Renge handles Honoka’s departure. Last time, Honoka had left quite suddenly, leaving Renge no time to say goodbye. This time around, after receiving a bunch of sweets from Kaede, Renge decides to give them to Honoka so her ride back will be a little more flavourful. In return, Honoka gives Renge one of her kitten hair ornaments as a little something to remember her by. Once the two say their farewells, Honoka promises to be back again some day: since she has family in the area, she’ll have a chance to return and chill with Renge in the future.

  • For Renge, the biggest takeaway this time was that she was able to say goodbye properly. For me, this was one of the biggest moments in Nonstop, showing that Renge is maturing and better able to do her part in a given scenario: as she grows older, increasing agency will allow Renge to do what she feels is right and leave no regrets. One of the most poignant moments of the original Non Non Biyori is thus addressed, and viewers can be reasonably confident that Honoka will come back to Asahigaoka in the future. Nonstop subsequently fast forwards a few weeks into late winter, when all of the snow has melted.

  • By morning, Renge chills with Shiori and explains that the unusual-looking structure on a tree is a praying mantis egg sac. It is here that Shiori mentions that she’s got a baby sister on the way, and that it’s time for her afternoon nap. Once Shiori heads home, Renge runs into Hotaru, Komari and Natsumi. Despite having spent the morning out, Renge has energy to spare and promptly agrees to play dodge ball with her friends.

  • After schooling Komari, the girls take a breather and mention that because Suguru is graduating soon, he’s studying for entrance exams. There’s a sort of finality here: as the girls speak of transitions and changes, this does hint at the fact that Non Non Biyori is drawing to a close, as familiar characters leave. Renge comments that even Shiori is growing older, and that she’d like to show Shiori some pro dodgeball tricks. Of course, talk of the future can be a little melancholy, so Renge suggests having another dodgeball match, typifying Non Non Biyori‘s approach towards life: be mindful of the future, but also make the most of the present.

  • To mix things up and take a break from graduation preparations, Kazuho invites Kaede over for a few drinks. Things quickly go south for Kaede, who is rocking the emperor of all headaches from drinking too much and is on the verge of simultaneously throwing up and passing out. While this is purely comedic, things quickly turn around when Renge wanders in, and Kaede shunts away her headache, appearing completely and totally fine. She’s even able to stand up, make her way to the kitchen and fix Renge a glass of warm milk to help the latter sleep. Hikage is impressed that Kaede is able to pull that off when mere seconds earlier, she didn’t look like she could stand under her own power and comments that Kaede goes to great lengths for Renge’s sake.

  • Hikage’s remarks reminds Kaede of something Hikage said years earlier. Kaede is somewhat tsundere about Renge; a flashback shows that Kaede’s always had a liking for Renge, and even back then, Kaede finds it difficult to be honest that she simply likes chilling with Renge. I would hazard a guess that Renge’s at least 10 months old at this point: she’s able to crawl and walk short distances. If the stories about me are correct, I began talking before I could walk. Renge, on the other hand, is a bit more mobile, but still babbles.

  • Because it is a quiet day, Suguru, Komari, Konomi and Natsumi show up to play with Hikage, as well. Konomi decides to hang out with Kaede and Renge, and despite Kaede’s remarks about Renge being fussy around new people, Konomi gets along with Renge just fine. However, Kaede is visibly bothered when Renge takes an immediate liking to Konomi, even lightly slapping Kaede after Kaede’s peek-a-boo proves to be intimidating. Kaede rage quits, but after Renge starts crying, nothing Konomi does calms Renge down. Being most familiar with Renge, Kaede is ascertains that Renge is sleepy and coaxes her to sleep without trouble.

  • The juxtaposition between baby Renge and Renge the Explorer meant that Nonstop had made very clear what this third and final season had been about: the passing of the torch and preparing to transition from one part of life to the next. Showing this flashback was meant to indicate that things keep on changing: Kaede notes that six years earlier, Hikage had been a bit unruly. In the present day, she’s grown enough to look after Kaede after the latter’s had one too many to drink. A part of the humour in this scene comes from Kaede pointing out everyone’s strong points, only to struggle with Natsumi.

  • The reality is that Natsumi is very knowledgeable about the outdoors and is good with her hands, although I’m guessing that Kaede is salty about Natsumi pranking her all the time. While we viewers have only had a total of thirty-six episodes and one movie to know the characters, even during the course of Non Non Biyori, we see subtle changes in the characters that indicate they’re maturing. It stands to reason that these changes would only be more pronounced for someone who’s lived alongside these characters all their life. After putting on a show to set an example for Renge, Kaede ends up reaching her limit, and Hikage helps to get her to a futon.

  • When Hikage returns, she finds that Kazuho’s begun tearing up, probably from a combination of the drink and reminiscing. When Kazuho starts crying, I believe this was the first time we see Kazuho lose composure. Non Non Biyori had presented Kazuho as a very stoic and composed individual, someone who takes things in stride and views the problems that Renge, Komari, Natsumi and Hotaru encounter as being solvable, and who despite having a very lax attitude, is also knowledgeable and genuinely cares for those around her. A part of me began wondering what the exact circumstances behind the Miyauchi and Kagayama families are: their parents are never seen, and Kaede seems very close to Kazuho, such that she is able to take effective care of Renge and know Renge’s nuances as a mother would.

  • Kazuho’s words here suggested to me that both of them have had a rougher time, but managed to make it in spite of the challenges they’ve faced; meeting Renge sounds like it changed Kaede and allowed her to open up to others. While Non Non Biyori‘s always been a cheerful series, and the focus on comedy allows viewers to smile, moments such as these also creates the sense that Non Non Biyori‘s characters have a much greater depth than they appear to, really driving home the messages that the series aimed to convey. With this being said, Non Non Biyori‘s decision to leave this to the end is actually reassuring for viewers: it shows that everyone’s matured and grown to the point where they’re ready to take on whatever the future holds, and that the tough times are behind them.

  • As a final visceral reminder of this, upon spotting that Kaede’s blankets are strewn about, Renge tucks Kaede back in properly to ensure that she stays warm. Nonstop went above and beyond in portraying the entire series’ intended themes, never hesitating to show the good and bad sides of things, as well as how people react to and learn from their experiences. Non Non Biyori as a whole is more than being merely a funny slice-of-life anime with fantastic scenery; the anime and manga are both authentic, honest portrayals of different aspects in life.

  • It’s finally the day of graduation, and the entire school’s invited to watch the diploma presentation. Renge notices that the cherry blossoms are starting to bloom, and there’s no finer time to graduate: spring represents a new season, a time when life returns to the world. For Yukiko, it is with pride that she watches Suguru cross the stage and prepare to take on the next stage of his life. Because Asahigaoka is so small, there are no high schools here, so Suguru must attend a high school in the town nearby, which requires a train commute.

  • Because Suguru’s the only student in the final year of middle school, the graduation ceremony and diploma presentation takes less than a minute to complete. This is a far cry from the graduating ceremonies I’m familiar with: in primary school, my class had around sixty students, and my graduating class in middle school had around a hundred and eighty students. By secondary school, there were a few hundred students in my graduating year. In university, there were only a hundred people in the Bachelor of Health Sciences programme, so the university arranged for our convocation to be with the Faculty of Kinesiology. It is a reminder that I am aging very rapidly, since I’m now able to say that my final graduation was from graduate school some years earlier.

  • Anime presents graduation as a major milestone to be celebrated: it marks that transition from one leg of the journey to the next. Yukiko tears up here, and shortly after, the class sings the Asahigaoka Branch School’s theme, Asahigaoka Bunkou Kōka, while Suguru plays the piano accompaniment. This song had been included with Non Non Biyori Repeat‘s soundtrack and is a remarkably well-written song. I don’t remember if the song was used in Repeat, speaking to how much time has passed since the second season, but to see it now in Nonstop was very heartwarming.

  • In the aftermath of graduation, Natsumi comments that things don’t feel too different because Asahigaoka Branch School’s so small, and Suguru will still be returning home after classes each day. However, in spite of this, Renge decides to thank him for having helped out in looking after everyone; Hotaru, Natsumi and Komari follow suit. While Suguru never had much of a presence on Non Non Biyori, as a part of a long-standing gag for humour’s sake, he does care for his sisters and friends, quietly slipping in and helping out before disappearing without a word. Suguru’s lack of dialogue has not prevented his character from showing: he’s dependable, capable and is an otaku of sorts. Viewers had been hoping that Nonstop might break with tradition and bring in someone to voice a few lines for Suguru, but this never happened.

  • As the spring weather sets in, the entire group gathers to slide down a grassy hill on large cardboard sheets. Initially, Konomi, Hikage and Akari show up at Kaede’s candy store looking for something to do, claiming that since it’s Kaede’s day off, she should do something anyways. Quite separately, Renge, Shiori, Hotaru, Natsumi and Komari seek to make the most of such a beautiful day, as well, and they head to the candy store, thinking to pick up free cardboard. This marks the first time in Nonstop that everyone’s gathered togather, and what follows is a fun-filled afternoon of sledding down a hill.

  • For safety’s sake, it’s decided that everyone should go in pairs. Renge immediately takes off with Kaede, and while Komari had wanted to go with Shiori to demonstrate that she’s mature enough to look after someone, Hotaru is picked instead, and Komari rides with Akane, although she wipes out almost immediately. The juxtaposition between Komari’s desire to be seen as mature and the misfortune she suffers is meant as humour, and indeed, said misfortune never does any long-term harm.

  • Konomi reminisces about how quickly time flies, leading Hikage to wonder if someone so young should be so nostalgic. The passage of time in Non Non Biyori had been something that I’d previously mentioned, and one reader was quick to comment on how Nonstop was technically not a continuation, that there was evidence in Non Non Biyori to suggest that the series employs a floating timeline (one where the characters never age despite an evident passage of time). However, by the end of Nonstop, I can state with complete confidence that the passage of time and aging in Non Non Biyori is normal: Suguru’s graduated, and Konomi is entering post-secondary. As such, Nonstop is plainly a continuation, contrasting with Repeat, which was more of an interlude, but a highly enjoyable one, to be sure.

  • After a highly enjoyable afternoon, the sun begins setting as everyone heads home together. The reds of the evening sky bring to mind a key visual that was released nearly a half-year ago, which shows the group of friends walking home by evening. At the time, besides the knowledge that Nonstop would feature new characters, I had no a priori knowledge of what this third season would entail, and so, entering with an open mind, I was able to fully enjoy the series for everything it had to offer. Nonstop is a series that is full of surprises, and in its finale, there’s one more surprise awaiting viewers.

  • Once Shiori arrives home, she’s perplexed to wonder why her mother isn’t answering. As it turns out, Shiori’s mother had been packing, preparing to go to the hospital and suddenly began experiencing contractions: she’s very nearly going into labour, signalling that Shiori’s sister is close to being born. Komari immediately suggests calling a taxi so Shiori’s mother can head for the hospital, and Hotaru indicates that they can stay behind to keep an eye on Shiori until her father returns. That Komari and the others act so swiftly show that this is a group of children who aren’t really children any more, and that when unexpected events occur, they’re ready to handle it with maturity and confidence.

  • After the taxi arrives, and Shiori’s mother boards, Renge takes Shiori’s hand: Shiori is quite worried, and Renge’s gesture nonverbally indicates to Shiori that everything will be fine. The entire scene was quite suspenseful: there’s absolutely no incidental music at all, but once the taxi arrives, a gentle piece of the incidental music begins playing. The song conveys a sense of uncertainty and melancholy in the moment, fully capturing precisely what Shiori must’ve been feeling in that instant. Nonstop‘s use of music here was excellent, telling viewers the tenour of the moment without dialogue.

  • However, when the scene transitions over to that of a gorgeous spring morning, viewers are left with the sense that things have gone well enough for Shiori’s mother and father. Renge and Kazuho prepare for their first day of a new term: Renge is now in second grade, and the two walk along a path lined with blossoming cherry trees. Spring’s now back in the world fully, and looking back, it’s been an eventful year in Asahigaoka.

  • Along the way, Kazuho and Renge run into Natsumi, Komari and Hotaru. However, as Renge notes, they’re still short one classmate and friend, so there’s one more stop to make this morning. A new year means new routine, new experiences and new friends: the girls thus prepare to head over to Shiori’s place. The ending song begins playing here: I’ve always been fond of Non Non Biyori‘s ending songs, which are performed by Hotaru, Natsumi, Komari and Renge’s voice actresses. Making use of friendly vocals and woodwinds, the songs are cheerful and fun. Nonstop‘s ending song follows in its predecessor’s footsteps, being titled I’m Home (ただいま, Hepburn Tadaima).

  • On this morning, Renge gets another pleasant surprise: Shiori’s baby sister is finally here, and she’s named Kasumi. Shiori and Kasumi’s parents thank everyone for having been so expedient that evening: it’s clear that things have gone very smoothly, and Shiori’s family thus welcomes their newest member with a smile on their face. Shiori and Kasumi’s mother hopes that Renge will be a reliable senpai for Kasumi once the latter’s old enough to attend school. This looks to be in about five years’ time, so by then, Renge will be as old as Natsumi was when Hotaru first came to Asahigaoka.

  • As children are wont do doing, Renge figures it couldn’t hurt to ask Kasumi make a promise that they’ll be classmates in the future. She reaches out for a pinky promise, and is astounded when Kasumi wraps her little fingers around Renge’s pinky. Renge immediately takes this to mean that their promise is now sealed. I was all smiles during this scene; in addition to being a symbolic moment for Renge, it also shows that Non Non Biyori had clearly done their research: babies instinctively close their fingers around something when their palms are stroked.

  • This is known as the Palmar grasp reflex, and in humans, lasts until a baby is two to six months old. Stroking the back or side of a baby’s hand will result in the hand opening. It is thought that this reflex is a vestigial trait leftover from a primate ancestor that had fur: being able to instinctively close one’s fingers allows the baby to cling to an adult’s fur. Of course, since humans lack the hair/fur as other primates do, the Palmar grasp reflex isn’t too functional for human infants, but it works perfectly in Nonstop.

  • Renge began her journey in Non Non Biyori as the youngest of the group, a precocious child with a vivid imagination, maturity beyond her years and excellent art skills. However, now that Shiori and Kasumi are introduced, Renge really has a chance to become the onee-san. This was a central aspect in GochiUsa: Cocoa’s insistence on being addressed as onee-san stems from her desire to be seen as reliable and competent, and in time, Chino comes to appreciate why Cocoa had such a fixation on this concept. As she matures and becomes a role model for small children, Chino understands why Cocoa’s always doing her best.

  • Shiori’s now old enough to start first grade at Asahigaoka Branch School, and looks forwards to being classmates with Renge. She greets Renge with her signature にゃんぱすー (Hepburn nyanpasu), an endearing trait that has led some folks to wonder if there’s any etymology behind it. However, it turns out that nyanpasu is nonsensical: an interview with the producers found that it was created to mirror Renge’s character, and the derivation appears to be にゃん (the sound of a cat’s mew) and おす(Hepburn osu, a very informal way of saying “Good morning”). Owing to pronunciations in Japan, it becomes easy to misread おす as ぱす (similarly to why senpai is occasionally written as sempai), and thus, we’ve got how Renge’s signature greeting came about. That Shiori’s picked it up shows that she looks up to Renge: children often imitate the styles of those around them, especially those they see as role models.

  • In the epilogue, Hikage is shown at the train station platform with her friend, Haruka: Hikage also appears in Atto’s Ko-akuma Meringue (Little Devil’s Meringue), a manga about the Devil’s daughter, Ruche, who transfers into Haruka and Hikage’s class with the aim of conquering the world, and failing at every turn. Haruka is seen without her signature double-ahoge here, heading for school together. Assuming that Ko-akuma Meringue and Non Non Biyori share the same universe, it probably stands to reason that Ruche’s plans for invasion are completely unsuccessful. I note that were there ever to be an anime adaptation of Ko-akuma Meringue, I’d watch it in a heartbeat.

  • The epilogue also shows Konomi headed off for campus, and Suguru taking the train to his new high school. I’ve chosen to show Akane sharing a laugh with one of her classmates, because this was a simple but significant moment, showing how spending time with Konomi, Hotaru, Komari, Natsumi and Renge had helped her to relax around new people. With this single scene, viewers are assured that Akane’s going to be fine around other people now, having overcome her anxiety.

  • It goes without saying that I greatly enjoyed Non Non Non Biyori Nonstop and Non Non Biyori as a whole. For having accompanied me through life for the past seven years and five months, providing comedy, life lessons and meaningful stories in a consistently strong fashion, Non Non Biyori Nonstop is very easy to recommend to readers. This is a series that easily earns its A+ (4.0 of 4.0, or 10 of 10). For folks who’ve not seen Non Non Biyori, the recommendation is similarly straightforward. Non Non Biyori‘s first and second seasons are very much worth watching; I would go as far to say that one is missing out if they’re a slice-of-life fan but haven’t seen Non Non Biyori. I understand that this post took me a little longer to write, but this was because I wished to fully convey how I feel about this series: today’s the last day of March, and the winter anime are beginning to wrap up. Before I turn my attention to the new spring season, however, I note that I still have Yuru Camp△ 2‘s finale to write about, as well as my overall thoughts on The Quintessential Quintuplets ∬ (that’s a double integral, by the way) and World Witches: Take Off! turned out.

When I began watching Non Non Biyori, the stand-out message from the first season encouraged me to appreciate the passage of the seasons more. At the time, with the warmth of summer fast fading, I resigned myself to a long and cold winter after the Great Flood affected my area and caused me to fall into a depression. With Non Non Biyori, I would come to be reminded of the fact that every day of winter I passed through meant I was one day closer to spring, and light. Two years later, I was in graduate school and preparing to wrap up my second year. Non Non Biyori Repeat accompanied me through this time, reminding me to be more appreciative of the small things that we tended to miss or take for granted. Non Non Biyori Vacation spoke of travel and the joys of coming home to familiar scenery. The whole of Non Non Biyori is earnest, sincere and genuine, and just like that, almost seven-and-a-half years have passed since I picked this series up. However, like all journeys, Non Non Biyori must also come to an end: now that Suguru and Konomi have graduated, Renge prepares to enter the second grade and welcomes Shiori to Asahigaoka Branch School as a new student. As timeless as the series is, even in Asahigaoka, the clock does not stand still, and with Non Non Biyori covering all of the territory Atto has intended, this gentle and relaxing series now draws to a close. It’s been a fantastic journey, and with the whole of Non Non Biyori in the books, I can now say with confidence that this series is well worth the watch: I have no qualms about recommending this series to anyone, given that there’s something for everyone. people looking for a few good laughs will definitely be entertained by the jokes; Non Non Biyori is so successful in creating humour because of the series’ exemplary use of space and time to let viewers absorb what’s happened (and correspondingly, how unfair a situation is). However, the series also allows its characters to shine, discover and smile, showing both the ups and downs in life. Coupled with the series portrayal of a cathartic pastoral lifestyle set far from the hustle and bustle of Japan’s urban areas, Non Non Biyori is also a highly relaxing series: the sum of Non Non Biyori‘s strong points makes this an easy series to recommend to viewers.

Non Non Biyori Nonstop Review and Reflection at the ¾ mark

“No one is perfect – that’s why pencils have erasers.” –Wolfgang Riebe

Despite her best efforts, Natsumi fails to impress her mother during Asahigaoka Branch School’s Parents’ Day Event. When Renge runs into Shiori and the two play together, Shiori asks questions that stump Renge. Natsumi later runs into Renge, who’s trying to catch a freshwater crab. She decides to go retrieve an unused fish tank from home and helps Renge to set up a tank for her newly-caught freshwater crab. Impressed with Natsumi’s handiwork and happy that Natsumi looked after Renge that afternoon, Kazuho invites Natsumi over for dinner. With graduation and the transition to post secondary fast arriving for the third year students, Akane worries that Konomi will no longer be able to join her for club activities. She runs into Konomi after club ends for the day, and it turns out Konomi’s keen on checking out a summer festival before heading home, looking to pick up some souvenirs for Natsumi and the others. She and Akane end up having a great time, and before parting ways, Akane tells Konomi about how she feels, thanking her for their time together. It turns out that Konomi had already been admitted to her post-secondary of choice, allowing her to spend more time with Akane. Konomi later witnesses the sort of trouble Natsumi goes through to keep out of trouble despite her misdeeds during a sleepover with the Koshigayas, and later, while having Akane over, gives Natsumi, Komari, Renge and Hotaru a chance to hear Akane play the flute. On a quiet afternoon, Komari decides to stay home while Natsumi and Suguru hit the department store. She ends up hiding in the closet after she is unsuccessful in capturing a weasel that’s broken in, coincidentally timed with a series of mysterious calls to the land line. When Komari and Hotaru decide to exchange knitted gifts, she decides to ask Natsumi to help her present the failed creations to Hotaru. Natsumi is unable to creatively do so, and Komari admits she’d failed. Hotaru suggest they knit together. Later, Komari decides to make dinner to prove to Natsumi she can indeed cook, but when things begin going south, she accepts her mother’s help, ultimately creating a curry that Natsumi finds delicious. This is Nonstop nine episodes in, and with three quarters of the season now complete, Nonstop has taken the effort to continue engaging viewers.

Non Non Biyori‘s cast has grown since the series began running; Konomi is now a more regular character in the series, and the addition of Shiori and Akane means there is no shortage of adventure. With these additional characters, Nonstop nonetheless has taken the time to show viewers different sides to everyone. Shiori is a bright and inquisitive child with an endless curiosity for why things are. Akane is actually a capable flautist who’s kind to those around her in spite of her nerves. She’s become better with new people and become closer to Konomi, slowly taking those first steps towards being more sociable. Konomi is the ever-reliable senior who looks out for everyone around her, but also knows where to draw the line (she wants no part in Natsumi’s get out of trouble scheme during their sleepover). Despite new characters stepping into the spotlight, Nonstop has not abandoned its core characters, either: Natsumi is given a chance to shine when she expertly sets up a fish tank for Renge and her newly caught freshwater crab, after a humiliating showing during Parents’ Day, and Komari is shown as being more mature than her normal mannerisms suggest. Unlike Natsumi, Komari is not too proud to admit when she’s failed and accept help: despite her ineptitude with knitting and cooking, she is able to see where her limits are. Being able to swallow one’s pride is very much a part of growing up, and so, it was great to see Komari both express this, as well as actively learning to better herself, whether it’s accepting Hotaru’s invitation to knit together or asking her mother about how to properly create a tasty curry. As the characters are given a chance to shine in Nonstop, they become increasingly life-like, with their experiences continuing to act as relatable and relevant life lessons about the small things in life that are overlooked.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The comparisons with Chibi Maruko-chan are not without merit: when I was much younger, my parents picked up a Cantonese dub of the series, and one of the episodes had Maruko’s mother, attend a Parents’ Day event to see how she was doing. While doing fractional arithmetic kicked her rear, Maruko ended up winning an award for her essay composition. Of course, by then, Maruko’s mother had already left, disgusted at Maruko’s poor performance. Non Non Biyori is the first time I’ve seen this occur in an anime for quite some time, and how things unfolded for Natsumi was pretty much identical to what happened to Maruko.

  • Non Non Biyori had always made it known that Natsumi’s never been one for book smarts, and in the classroom, she struggles to pay attention and retain information. Kazuho had been quite worried and even suggested cheats at one point, but ended up giving Natsumi a crash course that ends up failing. The other students have no problem with demonstrating their knowledge. In a clever touch, Suguru is shown doing a problem at the chalkboard. Despite her worries, Kazuho is a competent enough teacher: Renge, Hotaru, Komari and Suguru are doing quite well. Natsumi’s learning style is probably more hands-on, as opposed to the more traditional classroom environment.

  • When Renge runs into Shiori, the two decide to play: Shiroi is out taking her soccer ball for a walk, treating the ball as a pet of sorts. The imagination of children is boundless, and there’s a very tranquil, heartwarming feel to listening to children interacting with one another. As the two continue, Shiori begins asking questions that push Renge’s knowledge to the limits: after the two begin rolling the ball on the ground, they wonder how the ball is able to stop on its own when living things can maintain their energy for seemingly longer periods of time. Renge is absolutely right that friction is the force that causes forward kinetic energy to dissipate, eventually bringing the ball to a stop.

  • However, friction flies over Shiori’s head: it is adorable that Shiroi mishears friction (摩擦, Herburn masatsu) as a sweet potato (薩摩芋, Hepburn satsuma-imo). Because she is younger, some words don’t come so easily for her, and Renge, being quite young herself, hasn’t quite grasped that Shiori’s language skills are still developing. This creates a bit of a hilarious disconnect where Renge is unable to follow Shirori’s train of thought, prompting Renge to suggest moving on. When she mentions that the Earth is similar to the ball in having a spherical shape, Shiori wonders what it means to be round.

  • This is a very simple question, but finding a proper explanation can be somewhat vexing: from a mathematical standpoint, roundness refers to how closely a shape approaches the properties of a perfect circle (i.e. a shape where every point on its plane are precisely the same distance from a center point, satisfying a set of properties). This becomes a little too much for Renge to handle, and the two stare into space until the shadows lengthen as the sun begins setting. As a child, I received a book called How Come?, which answered such questions. Communication of complex topics is a skill, and I’ve found that even adults can sometimes struggle to put into words things that we know in terms that children can grasp.

  • This was a fun moment between Renge and Shiori, but also a highly relevant one; being able to understand how children see the world allows adults and youth to walk them through some things more effectively. Natsumi, for instance, is particularly apt at following Renge’s often non-sequitur train of thought, understanding what Renge’s intentions are and doing her best to help her along. When Natsumi encounters Renge fishing for freshwater crabs along a local creek, she decides to lend Renge a tank for keeping the crab over the winter.

  • While Natsumi fetches the spare fish tank they have and makes to prepare filter media, Renge watches a koi in the Koshigaya’s pond. When Natsumi returns, she learns that Renge has named their koi and suggests that it approached her to have a staring contest. In reality, I imagine that the Koshigaya’s koi is accustomed to people and is expecting food: while koi do surface and open their mouths when their water is poorly-oxygenated in an effort to get more air, I imagine that Natsumi’s knowledgeable enough to keep their pond in proper order for the koi.

  • When it comes to animals and hands-on matters, Natsumi is unequalled: the episode was written in such a way as to give Natsumi a chance to shine after she’d been thoroughly trashed during Parents’ Day. This is one aspect of Non Non Biyori that I’ve always liked, and with the seventh episode ending on a very positive note, the message here was that different people have different skills. While perhaps lacking the mind for academics, Natsumi is highly capable of setting up things like fish tanks and identifying animals and their properties.

  • The way Non Non Biyori is set up is such that all of the characters can experience trouble in their own way, but they’re also given positive experiences, as well. I’ve never been fond of seris where one character is made to suffer exclusively; Non Non Biyori avoids this, instead, creating a wide range of scenarios, heartwarming and hilarious, for viewers. In no time at all, Natsumi finishes setting up the fish tank, providing a pleasant environment for the freshwater crab that Renge had caught. Renge intends to release the crab back into the rivers once the spring returns,

  • As thanks for having kept an eye on Renge and setting up a fish tank, Kazuho invites Natsumi over for dinner, bringing the seventh episode to a close. Natsumi’s character in Non Non Biyori has always been an interesting one: she’s voiced by Ayane Sakura (Cocoa Hoto of GochiUsa, Oregairu‘s Iroha Isshiki and The Quintessential Quintuplets‘ Yotsuba Nakano) and has a lazy personality, causing no shortage of trouble for her family and friends, but when she’s properly motivated, she’s also quite capable of getting things done.

  • After Akane runs into Konomi after club activities end, the two visit a local summer festival and share time together: Akane had been quite worried about what would happen as Konomi was approaching her entrance exams and wondered if she’d have the confidence to continue on as a flautist. Unable to bring herself to ask Konomi directly, she finds herself being taken around the summer festival as Konomi seeks out gifts to bring back to the folks in Asahigaoka, and ends up having a wonderful time as a result. Here, the pair attempt a shooting game in which both are successful with their initial shots, but miss on subsequent rounds. I imagine that the corks are rigged in such a way as to travel straight on a first shot to lure players in, and then subsequently, the merchant loads misshapen corks that don’t fly straight.

  • Throughout the fair, Konomi attempts to demonstrate her skills, whether it be at candy-cutting or goldfish scooping, only for things to fail. These subtle moments are meant to help Akane see that Konomi isn’t flawless, and was a clever way of helping the two to connect further. One nice touch about the goldfish scooping scene is that Nonstop chooses to use bouncy balls instead of goldfish: I imagine the practise can sometimes be unsustainable, since folks who do win are left with a goldfish to take care of, and may result in abandonment. Bouncy balls offer no such challenge, and is therefore a more sustainable approach, reflecting on Non Non Biyori‘s respect for the natural world.

  • Akane’s worries turn out to have been greatly exaggerated: she’d been bothered at the prospect of Konomi rolling back on club time to prepare for her entrance exams and sought to thank her properly for everything she’d done. As the two prepare to part ways, Akane finally is able to voice her gratitude to Konomi. In a bit of a twist, Konomi reveals that she’d actually already been accepted to a post secondary and isn’t burdened with entrance exams, so she’d be able to stick around until graduation. This creates a great deal of embarrassment for Akane, acting as a funny means of easing the tension that had been building throughout the summer festival.

  • When Konomi decides to spend the night over with Komari and Natsumi, Natsumi figures the time has come to start a pillow fight. She effortlessly catches Komari’s shot and prepares to return fire, but accidentally hits the wall in the process, seemingly creating a hole in the thin paper on the sliding screen. Natsumi loses her mind when she sees the hole; rather than benig forwards about it, she decides to devise a plan to keep out of trouble. Komari and Konomi are completely unimpressed and are content to watch as Natsumi struggles with a solution.

  • Thanks to clever use of camera angles, viewers are left in suspense as Natsumi does everything she can to cover her mistake, eventually, applying a Fukuwarai (福笑い, “Lucky Laugh”) game to cover the hole. Upon hearing the commotion, Yukiko shows up to check up on the girls. Upon spotting the Fukuwarai and seeing Natsumi’s panic, she explains what had actually happened: while vacuuming, she’d accidentally bumped into the screen and created the hole.

  • Clever use of camera angles meant that we viewers don’t actually get to see what had happened, but in retrospect, the paper siding would’ve yielded without hurting Natsumi: her initial reaction was that of pain, suggesting she’d hit a wooden column instead. It is funny how things turn out, sometimes, and Natsumi is giddy with relief, that her mistake hadn’t been anywhere nearly as severe as she imagined it to be. However, when Natsumi makes to remove the Fukuwarai, she takes out the entire section of wall with her. The subsequent reactions are not shown, leaving things to the viewers’ imaginations.

  • Later, to help Akane with her nerves, Konomi has her stay overnight to practise and also invites Hotaru, Renge, Natsumi and Komari over to watch. With four extra sets of eyes watching her, Akane struggles to find the courage to play, so Konomi takes everyone outside. At this point in time, autumn has fully arrived in Asahigaoka, and the forest foilage has taken on various shades of reds, oranges and yellows.

  • It is out here that Akane delivers her performance, and this was a magical moment in Nonstop, showing that beyond her nerves, Akane is actually quite skillful with her flute. Hotaru, Natsumi, Komari and Renge are thus treated to a delightful performance that speaks to the magical and peaceful atmosphere around Asahigaoka. Traditionally, the gentle sound of a flute is associated with nature and magical realms; I imagine that being outdoors, around Asahigaoka’s landscapes, gives Akane the calm she needs to focus. Non Non Biyori has traditionally included these songs in its soundtrack, and it’s likely Akane’s song will make it to Nonstop‘s soundtrack. Unfortunately, I do not have a release date for Nonstop‘s soundtrack just yet. Having said this, both Non Non Biyori and Repeat‘s soundtracks released a day after the finale, so I’d hazard a guess that March 30 will be the release date for Nonstop‘s soundtrack.

  • Nonstop‘s decision to give Akane an entire episode created an immensely satisfying experience: viewers get to see her grow past her anxiety, as well, and also showcase a bit more of her true self. As the two prepare to sleep, Konomi reveals that she intends to continue playing the flute in post secondary and would be more than happy to continue mentoring Akane. With a bit of the uncertain future rolled back, Akane’s worries are assuaged. The next day, even Renge picks up on the new spring in Akane’s step when the three gather to practise their instruments together.

  • Despite her best efforts at being the dependable older sibling to Natsumi, Komari’s one weakness is ghosts: while she attempts to dismiss them as being fanciful explanation for things that lack an immediate answer, she still fears them nonetheless. Strange noises and unusual phone calls begin afflicting Komari the moment Natsumi and Suguru leave, and while Komari is quite aware that what’s happening does have rational causes, the power of suggestion renders her quite jumpy. Natsumi mentions a Zashiki-warashi spirit that really puts Komari on edge, but looking around, these spirits are actually said to be benevolent.

  • Perhaps Natusmi is referring to a different kind of Zashiki-warashi than the ones I’ve read about. Speaking to the rural setting of Non Non Biyori, a weasel finds its way into the Koshigaya residence. The smallest mammalian carnivore, weasels are often regarded as a nuisance because they target poultry on farms and the like. Komari’s approach, in trying to catch one with a net, is unsuccessful, but since they are carnivores, one could lay out some meat, capture it and then let it go somewhere far from the property: killing them is to be cruel and also to shoot oneself in the foot, since weasels are very voracious predators and do an excellent job of managing rodent populations.

  • Even Natsumi is unable to sustain the series of lies about Komari’s knitting projects; unlike Natsumi, Komari knows where to draw the line and comes forward with the truth that she’s not particularly good at knitting, that everything she’d made came out wrong. While Komari may appear immature and excitable, the ninth episode, being centred around Komari, gives her some shine time and demonstrates that unlike Hotaru and Natsumi, she’s able to admit to the truth even when it is uncomfortable. Natsumi tends to cover up her mistakes, and Hotaru is usually too embarrassed to be honest (as seen during the episode where she and Akane are discussing the mechanised Komari plushie).

  • According to Natsumi, the last time Komari cooked, she, and I quote, “destroyed” gratin. Most gratin dishes entail adding breadcrumbs and then browning this on top of a bed of potatoes, macaroni and cheese or other item. Conceptually, it’s a simple dish to make, and going from Komari’s own thoughts when she decides to make curry, I believe that her failures likely come from improvising too freely and then panicking when things begin falling apart. Watching Natsumi’s response to things is hilarious, because it stands in stark contrast with Suguru, who doesn’t even flinch: the average of their reactions could suggest either that while perhaps not the best gratin in the world, Komari’s cooking is minimally passable, or Suguru is simply so stoic that Komari’s cooking is not enough to faze him.

  • The first time I made curry, my mistake was not boiling the vegetables for long enough (they ended up quite raw) and not adding enough water to the curry roux, which created a curry that was more pasty than creamy. In retrospect, this failure was actually an easy one to resolve: adding more water to dilute the roux up more and allow it to mix more evenly, and then cooking the vegetables until they were tender, would fix things. Indeed, the next day, this was precisely how I ended up with curry of a passable standard. She starts by chopping up some onions, but when the onions become too much to handle, she spots some conveniently-placed leftovers that looks helpful.

  • While curry is a relatively simple dish to cook, requiring only the right amount of water (too much, the curry becomes runny, and too little, the curry roux remanis a difficult paste), Komari appears to be going off mission when she considers adding sugar to the curry. A bit of honey can indeed sweeten curry up, but without honey, Komari attempts to substitute sugar. In a bit of serendipity, Natsumi’s taken the sugar to attract ants, and with this option off the table, Komari begins to panic. Meanwhile. the leftover potato and meat stew begins to burn, causing Yukiko to show up. Like the situation with Hotaru and the knitting, rather than let her pride get in the way, Komari admits that she could use some help.

  • With her mother helping, Komari is able to whip up a good curry in the end. This moment really put a smile on my face: Komari suffers quite a bit of misfortune throughout Non Non Biyori, and things very rarely work out in her favour when she’s given the spotlight in an episode. Nonstop not only devotes an entire episode to her, but also shows how she’s able to overcome shortcomings that she comes across. The art of cooking minimally edible meals isn’t actually too tricky: all cooking entails heating up something until it’s rendered safe to eat. Instead, the act of preparations (e.g. trimming fat from meat, washing and cutting vegetables, determining which seasonings and condiments to add) that is the most time consuming.

  • Natsumi is stunned to see the curry as appearing quite ordinary, and doubly surprised that it tastes exactly as it should. One thing that I’ve come to notice as being a reality, and which was mentioned in Futurama, is that when one did a good job, for the most part, people won’t be able to tell whether one did anything at all. This mindset does speak to the human mind’s ability to hone in on mistakes and negativity – there’s a biological reason behind why this happens (being attuned to what’s bad for us helps us to avoid it), and in general, when things are done well or in working order, we tend to take it for granted and not think about it too much.

  • For Yukiko, this moment is one worthy of a smile – Komari has not only taken the initiative to cook, but also demonstrated maturity in admitting that her skills had limits, but she was willing to learn how to do a proper job. While Yukiko is often seen as being very strict towards Natsumi, this stems from how lax and unconcerned Natsumi is with things: it’s certainly a side of Yukiko that I imagine to be more representative of how she typically is (versus those moments where she overhears or comes across Natsumi doing something bone-headed).

  • Thus, I’ll wrap this post up with Komari smiling – the ninth episode ended in the perfect fashion, giving Komari a chance to really be at her best where most of the series, she ends up on the receiving end of trouble. I get that this is done for comedy’s sake, and that in her day-to-day, things would be more unremarkable, but balancing things out and having her successful every so often shows that Non Non Biyori is about letting everyone have their day on top of putting everyone in unfortunate (but hilarious) situations.

Non Non Biyori originally had the seasons as being the primary backdrop for Hotaru and her friends; after moving to Asahigaoka, she explores the local specialities, goes on summer vacation with new-found friends, settles in to a new term as the leaves yellow, and marvelling at the snowfalls of winter. However, as Non Non Biyori continued, the seasons become a familiar cycle, and it is the people in Asahigaoka that take centre stage. The end result is a series as expansive as a child’s imagination, exploring topics and ideas that we often take for granted: from hilarious misunderstandings to common mistakes, new discoveries and adventure, Nonstop covers a considerable amount of ground during its third quarter. The range of scenarios seen are never overwhelming, inviting viewers to slowly take everything in, and in doing so, imparts a stronger impression than had everything been handed over to viewers on a plate. Because we are now entering Nonstop‘s final quarter, I expect that winter will arrive in Asahigaoka, allowing Non Non Biyori to portray the sorts of things that can only occur when there’s a chill in the air, and a foot of snow on the ground. Of course, the imminent arrival of winter means that Nonstop is also fast drawing to a close: it is a little sad to see the series enter its final quarter so quickly. Each and every episode has been a novel, refreshing experience, and it goes without saying that I’ve certainly been having fun with Nonstop this season; I am looking forwards to seeing what winter adventures await everyone in Nonstop‘s final quarter.

Non Non Biyori Nonstop Review and Reflection At The Halfway Point

“Every time you find some humour in a difficult situation, you win.” –Charles M. Schulz

On a hot summer’s day, the tomatoes that Renge and the others had planted ripen, and she decides to give some to everyone as summer Santa of sorts. Along the way, Renge runs into a little girl who’s lost and offers her a tomato, before promising to take her to the nearest police kiosk. Renge learns that this little girl’s name is Shiori, and she happens to be the daughter of the local police officer. In thanks, Shori addresses Renge as onee-chan. Inspired, Renge later picks up a pair of toy handcuffs at Kaede’s candy store, but accidentally leaves Kaede locked up after they play around. Shiori joins Renge in helping to ‘arrest’ Natsumi and Hikage, but when Shiori becomes tired and falls asleep, Renge tries her best to be an older sister. As the summer wears on, Hotaru constructs a robot for her summer project, programming it to walk around and adding a Komari plushie covering. However, when the robot escapes and wanders around the village, Akane runs into it after a misunderstanding results in her coming over to Konomi’s house on the wrong day. Akane decides to cover her error by suggesting she’d come to hang out with Renge instead and ends up trying to elude Konomi and Natsumi. When Akane recounts her story to Hotaru and Komari, Komari becomes convinced that there’s a curse floating around, while Hotaru is too embarrassed to admit that Akane had run into her summer project. Kazuho invites everyone to go camping, and after a relaxing day, Kazuho’s knocked back a few too many. When Natsumi and Renge go hunting for rhinoceros beetle, a still-drunk Kazuho heads off after them, but in the dark of the forest, is mistaken for an onryō. Komari faints from shock after Kazuho returns to their tent. With summer vacation drawing to a close soon after, Natsumi and Hikage attempt to put off their homework, but guilt-ridden, both decide it’s better to make one final push and get everything done ahead of the new term in September.

Halfway into Non Non Biyori Nonstop, it is evident that this third season is living up to its name, Nonstop: each episode has consistently featured nonstop humour resulting from a combination of comedy of errors, and dramatic irony. However, beyond amusement, Nonstop has also taken time to have the characters maturing over time, and present gentle lessons, as well: when Renge meets and helps Shiori return to her father, she discovers the joys of being called onee-chan, which signifies being looked up to and seen as someone who is reliable. Akane’s misadventures come from her being too anxious to be open about making a mistake, and what would’ve been something that would’ve otherwise seen a swift resolution transform into a chase through the forests near Asahigaoka. Similarly, Hotaru’s inability to be truthful about the mechanised Komari plushie leads Akane and Komari to speculate, with increasing fervour, what Akane might’ve seen. When Hikage and Natsumi lapse into their old ways surrounding the matter of homework, chaos results as the two try to reconcile with what they want to do, versus what they know is the right thing to do. Underlying all of the humour in Nonstop is a relevant moral, which mirrors the sorts of challenges that children may face. Viewers of the show are undoubtedly reminded of similar mishaps and misadventures in their childhood; these events, seemingly irreconcilable and world-ending back then, are now something that comes across as quite funny once our perspective’s shifted a little. This striking balance between telling a meaningful story and presenting comical situations that the characters find themselves in has something that Non Non Biyori has always done well, and by Nonstop, having established the main characters’ traits, has really been able to explore new scenarios.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Nonstop continually finds ways to impress and entertain: through the eyes of Renge, the world is an endless opportunity for adventure and discovery. This is where my fondness of slice-of-life series come from, and of the series I’ve seen, Non Non Biyori particularly excels with its ability to create humour through situational, dramatic and verbal irony. Here, Renge holds a tomato up to the sun to admire it, and it appears as though she’s offering the first ripe tomato back to the land as thanks for having made their harvest possible.

  • With a solid crop of tomatoes ready for harvest, Renge decides to walk around town and give everyone a tomato as thanks for helping out setting things up earlier. Renge envisions herself as a summer Santa of sorts, and while the jolly fellow with the red suit and snow-white beard might seem as far removed from summer as imaginable, Renge’s vivid imagination means that for her, anything that can be considered is fair game. Her innocence and naïveté mirrors the boundless wonder in a child’s mind, and while as adults, our imaginations are blunted from years of considering things from more practical and pragmatic standpoints, I feel that people can still appreciate the train of thought that children take towards different things.

  • On her walk, Renge runs into a child even younger than herself; it turns out this is Shiori, and she’s lost. While Renge is only slightly older than Shiori, she does demonstrate maturity beyond her years. Shiori only knows that she’s lost, but doesn’t know where her house is, and when she realises the situation she’s in, bursts into a fresh round of tears. This leaves Renge with little to work with, but Renge’s strength has always been creativity. She decides to give Shiori a tomato from her garden, feeling it to be the next best thing to sweets.

  • The refreshing, juicy tomato helps Shiori to regroup, and Renge falls back on something that I’m sure Kazuho would’ve told her: if ever lost, the local police officer might be of assistance. With this in mind, Renge decides to take Shiori to the police kiosk, confident that the officer there will be able to help Shiori get in touch with her parents and get back home. Children can be surprisingly creative when it comes to solving problems, opting for simple but effective solutions even adults may occasionally overlook. Non Non Biyori has always excelled in this area, and for this reason, never fails to put a smile on my face.

  • In a bit of irony, it turns out the police officer happens to be Shiori’s father, as well. This turn of events is probably meant to accentuate the fact that Asahigaoka is a very small village, to the extent where everyone knows everyone. Police kiosks are known as kōban (交番) in Japan – these are small offices that police officers work out of in areas where it is not necessary to have a full on police station, and as Non Non Biyori presents, officers are also responsible for providing directions, acting as a lost and found and connecting with emergency services on top of law enforcement. Many translations put kōban as a “police box”, but this has nothing to do with the dedicated call boxes for getting in touch with police that are commonly found in Britain.

  • In Non Non Biyori‘s first season, Renge has a chance encounter with Honoka Ishikawa, and the two quickly became fast friends. However, when Honoka leaves at the end of summer, Renge was visibly saddened, at least until she received a letter from Honoka, who promises they’ll be able to hang out again next summer. This time around, since Shiori also is a resident of Asahigaoka, Renge won’t run into that particular hurdle, and one wonders if Honoka will return in the future to hang out with everyone.

  • Excited by the sort of work that police officers do, Renge ends up purchasing a pair of plastic handcuffs from Kaede with her New Year’s money. While playing around with them, Renge accidentally locks Kaede up and is unable to find the keys to unlock them. While Kaede considers brute-forcing her way out, she also understands what the toy handcuffs mean to Renge, and the two attempt to find a solution, to no avail. Things get more complicated when Natsumi shows up, and Kaede’s initial inclination is to conceal the situation with a towel, which promptly fails.

  • Despite being considerably older than Natsumi, Kaede is not immune to Natsumi’s antics and often resorts to physical force to express her displeasure. Kaede’s fears quickly come to pass as Natsumi decides to exploit the situation and tickle Kaede, supposedly in revenge for kicking her down a hill during their ski trip back in season one. Once things settle down a little, Natsumi reveals that there’s a switch on the handcuffs that cause them to release. In revenge for earlier, Kaede has Renge “arrest” Natsumi and then proceeds to tickle Natsumi silly. Because of this mention of season one’s ski trip, I am able to conclude that Nonstop is indeed a continuation of the events seen in season one: one of my readers suggested that Non Non Biyori employs a floating timeline in which characters never age and is therefore timeless.

  • However, I would contend that events of Non Non Biyori are simply so slowly-paced that time appears to stand still. At the end of the day, this is a matter of semantics, and one that does not impact the series’ ability to deliver its themes. One aspect of Non Non Biyori I’m particularly fond of, and which makes a return in Nonstop, are the beautiful landscape shots of the satoyama (里山) in and around Asahigaoka. Careful inspection of these scenes often find the characters walking about the dense vegetation in Asahigaoka, speaking to Silver Link’s capabilities in animation.

  • While inaka (田舎) is used to describe the rural parts of Japan outside of a major urban centre, satoyama specifically refers to the interface between the farmer’s fields and foothills of Japan. For centuries, farmers have cultivated this land in harmony with nature, creating a very unique (and highly sustainable) ecosystem that forms the backdrop for Non Non Biyori. When Renge next runs into Shiori, she invites Shiori over to hang out. They run into Hikage and Natsumi, and things escalate after Renge figures it’s time to soak the pair for their “crimes”. Although Hikage and Natsumi are able to talk their way out of a soaking, situational irony results when the two get soaked anyways.

  • Nonstop can change gears at the drop of a hat: Shiori soon tires out from the excitement and becomes sleepy. Renge does her best to carry her upstairs into a futon where she may rest, while the others make to call her father for a pickup. Renge’s determination here shows that she appreciates being seen as reliable, and she wants to be there for Shiori, much as how her family and friends are always there for her. It’s a touching moment, and one hopes that Shiori will make at least a few more appearances before Nonstop concludes.

  • Hotaru’s summer project entails using a do-it-yourself robotics kit to put together a bot that can walk, play pre-recorded messages and change directions in response to obstacles. A handful of viewers expressed surprise that Hotaru was able to put something like this together without too much effort, but in reality, things like programmable robotics and LEGO Mindstorms have made it possible to do some very impressive stuff without requiring too extensive a knowledge on electrical or software engineering. Mindstorms uses a very similar approach as MIT’s Scratch, presenting users with a visual programming language that can be used to create intricate routines without being demanding on the user. As such, the sky is the limit for these tools, and it’s not terribly surprising that Hotaru is able to get her robot set up in very little time.

  • Pecchi is initially hostile towards the mechanised Komari plushie, but once it’s clear that the mechanised plushie is harmless, leaves it alone. Unfortunately for Hotaru, she’s accidentally left the power switch in the on position – the mechanised Komari plushie manages to slip through an open window and, without instructions or instruments to define a binding box that keeps it in a certain boundary, goes on a wild adventure through Asahigaoka. It is a shame that Hotaru didn’t hook a camera or GoPro to this plushie, as the resulting adventure is quite noteworthy.

  • After leaving home, the mechanised Komari plushie wanders into the woods, fords a creek and is picked up by a bird that subsequently drops it. Despite sustaining impact damage and becoming waterlogged, the robot manages to keep running even after all of the abuse it’s taken. It typifies Non Non Biyori‘s ability to convey humour even without dialogue or characters, and the fifth episode’s segment with the plushie had me smiling the entire way. Of course, all jokes grow stale after a while, so Nonstop changes the pacing up by turning the viewer’s attention over to Akane’s misfortune.

  • In any other scenario, it would’ve been simpler to have Akane be forwards with Konomi about having gotten the dates mixed up. However, doing that would prevent what was one of the best setups to a joke in recent memory. Akane’s anxiety means she’s unable to will herself to face Konomi, so instead, she’s left quivering in front of Konomi’s place. Renge soon finds her, and Akane decides to chill with Renge. However, playing with Renge can be an out-of-this-world experience, since she’s got such a unique outlook on things; even hopscotch becomes a high-energy activity.

  • When Konomi and Natsumi appears, Akane’s put into a bit of a bind: she hides in the shrubs in the hopes that Konomi and Natsumi might move on. However, Akane leaves a visible impression in the bushes that lead Konomi and Natsumi to believe there’s an animal trail worth following. Feeling that she’s out of option, Akane cheeses it. The noise she makes prompts Konomi, Natsumi and Renge to take off into the bush.

  • Akane ends up tripping, and after she explains things, it did turn out that there was no misunderstanding. Akane ends up practising with Konomi earlier than expected, but beyond this, no other trouble occurred. The use of time and spacing in Non Non Biyori is highly effective in creating humour, and numerous moments suggest to viewers that things become ludicrous the more we are given time to step back and think about it. When things are happening too quickly, the impact is diminished because there is no time to take everything in. Nonstop particularly excels with using visual breaks to really drive home to viewers what’s happened.

  • In the excitement of Akane’s misadventures, thoughts of the mechanised Komari plushie would’ve been pushed to the back of viewers’ minds. After the day draws to a close, however, Akane finds herself face-to-face with Hotaru’s creation, which greets her with Hotaru’s pre-recorded message. The scene immediately cuts away, and Hotaru is later shown to have retrieved her mechanised plushie, hoping no one’s seen her. Use of timing her makes it clear to viewers that the opposite is true, but moreover, the mechanised Komari plushie is far more resilient than anyone could have expected. It isn’t until this point where the enormity of the moment sinks in, which, coupled with knowledge of what previously happened, make things additionally hilarious.

  • The remainder of the fifth episode has Akane and Hotaru meeting up with Komari to chat, and while things start out normally enough, Akane’s story transforms the conversation into a fright-fest. Komari’s particularly afraid of all things supernatural, while Hotaru’s entire experience during these moments is one of abjact terror at being found out. Again, this is a moment where being forwards would’ve averted a great deal of trouble, but then, there’d be nothing to laugh at. In the end, Hotaru’s secret is safe for another day, and Komari gives her some salt to ward off evil spirits: like the Chinese, Japanese people believe that salt is a cleansing agent capable of absorbing misfortune.

  • The sixth episode to Nonstop is a camping episode: summer vacation is rapidly drawing to a close, and Kazuho takes her students camping before term starts. Unlike Yuru Camp△, however, I’ve not bothered doing a location hunt for this series because its location is fictitious. Asahigaoka Branch School is based off a real school in Ogawa, Saitama, but the remainder of the series is set in an undisclosed location, much like how the place where Calvin and Hobbes takes place is never specified. Of course, there are guesses, and much as how some folks speculate Calvin and Hobbes is set in Ohio, it is possible that Asahigaoka is modelled after a town somewhere in Saitama prefecture.

  • Renge is excited beyond words upon recalling that everyone’s set to go camping together, and a glance at the calendar that Kazuho is referencing finds that August 25, the date of their trip, falls on a Wednesday. The Japanese calendar somewhat resembles the Chinese ones, although the lunar equivalent dates underneath the date itself are replaced kanji underneath, which are supposed to indicate the luck for that day. These calendars are known as Rokuyō, and it appears that Kazuho’s planned a trip out for a day marked shakkō (赤口, or “good luck between 11 AM and 1 PM, with poor luck everywhere else). The best luck comes on days marked taian (大安), and butsumetsu (仏滅) days have the worst luck.

  • A quick glance at my calendar shows that the year is either 2010 or 2021, with 2010 being more likely, given this is when Non Non Biyori began running. Shortly after arriving at the campsite, Kazuho and her students begin setting up their tent. Renge is particularly curious about the pegs, and Natsumi helps to show how to hammer them into the ground in a gentle fashion, the same way Rin handles the hammering of her pegs in Yuru Camp△. That Nonstop and Yuru Camp△ have been running together this season has made it a time to really kick back and relax: my peers have been engaged with shows that are rather more exciting and action-packed than both Nonstop and Yuru Camp△, but I continue to hold that my favourite shows of a given season involve a more ordinary experience.

  • Speaking with my peers in the community, I’ve become somewhat known for my love for anime with the moé aesthetic, to the point where folks wonder if I’m actively following every show with cute girls in it, every season. My response to this is that I pick and choose shows to watch based not on the aesthetic, but rather, the premise. However, it so happens that many of the anime with premises up my alley also happen to have the moé aesthetic to it. Having said this, I do have a fondness for this style of art and presentation, and while I may not be watching each and every show in a given season for the aesthetic, I am always open to suggestions.

  • With it being the Family Day long weekend, I’ve been able to kick back a little and relax today. The temperatures, while still frigid (today’s high was -15°C, with a wind-chill of -24°C), was considerably warmer than it had been all week, making it finally possible to take a short walk around the area. Traditionally, the Family Day long weekend sees me headed off to window-shop at a local mall, but with the current circumstances, it felt more prudent to sleep in and then take the day slowly. It’s a nice change of pace, allowing me to read books and write at a much slower pace.

  • Long weekends also mean being able to sit down to fancier meals: I sat down to a homemade burger and bistro fries for lunch, and for dinner, we ended up making a tender and juicy sirloin roast with shrimp cocktail for dinner. Back in Nonstop, as evening sets in, Kazuho and the students break out the barbeque grill: on the menu are a variety of fresh vegetables, skewered fish, meat and rice. While the others dig in, Kazuho kicks back with the remainder of the beer: here, she’s still fine, but having solo’d a six pack on her own, Kazuho soon begins to feel the effects. Unlike Sayaka of Houkago Teibou Nisshi, who becomes a mean drunk, Kazuha simply becomes sleepy, similarly to Yuru Camp△‘s Minami. Once dinner draws to a close, Kazuho is so drunk that a slap to the face doesn’t faze her.

  • As the night sets in, the students begin playing various card games, a classic standby. While game-makers have gotten very creative with playing cards (Exploding Kittens and Cards Against Humanity come to mind), the French-suited 52-card deck remains the world’s most widely used playing cards: creativity with the rules and combinations of cards have resulted in games from Old Maid and Blackjack to Bridge, Solitaire and Texas Hold ’em Poker. Their versatility makes for an excellent activity that can be set up, and unlike Rin and Nadeshiko, who camp to explore, Nonstop has Renge and the others camp for the outdoors experience.

  • The day’s fortunes, based on what the calendar indicated, turned out to be spot-on, with trouble befalling the campers by nightfall: when Renge and Natsumi head off to try and fetch some Rhinoceros Beatles, Kazuho takes off after them, but because she’s still feeling the effects of having taken on so much beer, she’s having trouble standing. She ends up crawling the trail to follow Renge and Natsumi, and gets her hair caught in a branch, forcing her to undo her hair. By the time she reaches Natsumi and Renge, she resembles an onryō. Kazuho’s mere appearance terrifies the pair, who run back to the tent, all other thoughts abandoned, and while they make it back okay, Komari suffers the shock of the age when Kazuho returns, as well.

  • What happens next is left to the viewers’ imagination: Nonstop doesn’t mention the incident again and switches things up to the days before summer vacation formally draws to a close. It seems that despite their rocky relationship, Hikage and Natsumi are more alike than they’d care to admit. Both have left their summer assignments to the last minute, and while it is Hikage who initially resists Natsumi’s suggestions of boycotting their homework, she winds up following along, and the pair procrastinate by playing games. I realise that earlier, I mentioned that 2010 is likely to be the year that Nonstop‘s events were set in, and the Miyauichis have a console with wireless controllers. However, the PlayStation 3 was released in 2006, featuring wireless controllers.

  • In a surprising twist, it is Natsumi who gives in to guilt and begins looking after her assignments. After a brief tussle between the two results in their drinks spilling onto Natsumi’s work, the pair immediately turn around, clean up and change all of their focus. It was a bit of a tense second half to this episode, but it was also nice to see Natsumi and Hikage become aware of the situation they found themselves in and make an attempt to set things right. I never could procrastinate on important stuff, and preferred to get it done sooner rather than later to prevent it weighing on my mind. With my hobbies, I have the opposite problem; I always tell myself I’ll find time to watch that anime, play that game, etc., resulting in a years-long backlog.

  • In the end, the pair fall asleep before finishing everything, and Renge decides to sketch the pair. However, I would imagine that their existing resolve would be preserved, and while the results might not be their best work, both Natsumi and Hikage will pull through. I’ll be returning at the three quarters mark for Non Non Biyori, and looking ahead, with the latest manhunt for The Division 2 finally in the books, it means I’ve finally got more time to spend on other things now: I finished Black Mesa‘s Xen missions last week on Superbowl Sunday, and I can begin looking at writing that post soon. As well, I’m beginning to make some headway into Left 4 Dead 2‘s classic campaigns and have resumed Halo co-op with my friend; after his computer’s power supply died, he’s been running a backup machine that took a little bit of configuring to get The Master Chief Collection working on. We’re nearly done with Halo 3: ODST now and will look at Halo 4 as able.

Six episodes are in the books, and Nonstop now enters the autumn season: traditionally, Non Non Biyori has always covered the flow of time and the passage of the different seasons during its run. Asahigaoka is blessed with four distinct seasons, and previously, the series has shown this sleepy rural village from the hottest day of the summer to the snowiest weather that winter offers. In a place where time seemingly stands still, the different seasons form a backdrop for each of Renge, Hotaru, Natsumi and Komari’s experiences: the different seasons and corresponding events that the characters experience form a central part of the theme in Non Non Biyori, indicating that in an urbanised world where hustle is the name of the game, people often forget to stop and smell the roses. In this case, each of the four seasons has something unique to offer, and fortunately, this can be as simple as taking one’s eyes off their smartphone to watch yellowed leaves flutter to the ground as the summer gives way to autumn. Non Non Biyori previously had a few episodes set during the autumn, so I’m excited to see what sort of autumn activities await the characters, especially now that Akane and Shiori have joined the cast in their everyday adventures: while things like pumpkin carving and turkey are unlikely to be a major part of autumn in Asahigaoka, Nonstop‘s track record mean that something fun will doubtlessly await viewers as we enter the series’ third quarter.

Non Non Biyori Nonstop Review and Reflection After Three

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” –Lao Tzu

Renge, Hotaru, Komari, Natsumi and Suguru show up to help Kazuho plant tomatoes on a summer’s day. When a mid-day show appears, Natsumi suggests building a greenhouse to keep the seedlings warm after Renge worries about them, and after a day’s work, the greenhouses are fully set up, to Renge’s joy. Later, to help Akane relax around people she’s unfamiliar with, Konomi bring her over on a visit to Komari’s place. After initially worrying, Akane relaxes and helps the others to bake cookies. After a train ride back from the store, Hotaru is humiliated when she learns Konomi had seen her acting child-like with her parents, although Konomi assures her it’s fine to unwind every now and then. However, when Konomi tries to have Hotaru relax in front of her and Komari, Hotaru runs away. On a hot summer’s day, Hikage returns home and runs into Natsumi. However, while playing ball, Natsumi’s stray pitches knocks over and shatters a potted plant. While the girls consider apologising, upon learning that Yukiko isn’t home, Natsumi decides to cover up their misdeed, only for Yukiko to show up as they begin clearing away the mess. Hikage reminisces about how she and Natsumi were always at odds with one another, but in spite of this, would make up shortly after: as children, Hikage carried Natsumi home after the latter had slipped on a slope and scraped her knees. In the present day, Hikage decides to join Natsumi and Natsumi as they head off to play at a fort Natsumi had built years earlier. Here at the quarter-mark to Non Non Biyori Nonstop, the third season has swiftly hit its stride, bringing back memories of what had made the first two seasons so enjoyable: life lessons are presented in a humourous fashion, all the while set in a laid-back countryside setting where peaceful days go on endlessly.

Having now followed Non Non Biyori for upwards of seven years, the similarities between Non Non Biyori and Chibi Maruko-chan, become visible. Both series recount everyday tribulations and lessons that the protagonists might encounter; Chibi Maruko-chan is a manga that ran from 1986 to 2018, and followed a nine year old girl who was inspired by author Momoko Sakura’s own life. Sakura began writing the manga to convey life lessons in a visual format, and things quickly took off, with critics praising the series as being earnest, sincere and nostalgic. Comedy in Chibi Maruko-chan is derived from unfair or ironic situations Maruko and her friends find themselves in, but each episode has a moral that Maruko must learn in order to solve whatever trouble she’s caused, or overcome whatever problem had appeared. Non Non Biyori follows a similar format, and the series’ success is for the same reason Chibi Maruko-chan succeeded: there’s a timelessness about both works that leave their morals and lessons palatable and relatable to viewers. In Non Non Biyori, each episode is a self-contained experience where Hotaru and the others come out with something (e.g. it’s sometimes okay to be childish when one is still young, and friendships prevail even in the face of trouble). Non Non Biyori subtly includes more continuous events to give the sense that time is moving, and Akane’s introduction in Nonstop gives the sense that the flow of time does exist in Non Non Biyori, but this flow is very languid and relaxed, which allows the series to convey its lessons and morals with a hint of nostalgia, similarly to how Chibi Maruko-chan tells its stories.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • When Kazuho suggests that they’re to be growing green bell peppers (Capsicum annuum), Renge immediately rage quits. There’s actually a neat story behind why bell peppers are universally reviled among Japanese children, to the point of standing in for broccoli and spinach in fiction. Green peppers are a relatively new vegetable in Japan: they were introduced after World War Two and became commonplace by the 1960s. The reason why they’re disliked is for the same reason that North American children dislike broccoli: children’s taste receptors are more sensitive to bitterness as an evolutionary trait (bitterness suggests the presence of alkaloid compounds, some of which are poisonous).

  • Properly prepared broccoli and mature bell peppers are not bitter at all, so I would hazard a guess that a combination of parents not being aware of this and cooking vegetables for their liking, coupled with children’s increased sensitivity to bitterness, are why getting children to eat vegetables is a challenge.  Conversely, when Renge learns they are in fact, growing tomatoes, her excitement returns in full force. Back in my primary school days, one particularly memorable class involved growing bean plants (I believe Phaseolus vulgaris, the common bean), to see how long it would take for the plant to germinate and sprout.

  • After Komari asks Renge to be more mindful of where she should be throwing the dirt, she herself panics upon seeing an earthworm. The comedy in Nonstop is, like the rest of Non Non Biyori, driven by a combination of situational or dramatic irony timed for the moment. Good comedy is the result of creating a situation that is ridiculous or unfair, and then using timing to subvert the viewer’s expectations. In this case, the comedy comes from Komari failing to adhere to her own advice. Humour comes in many forms, and there is a science behind why people laugh at what does not make sense.

  • Once the tomato plants are in the ground and covered with plastic wrap to help them keep warm, Renge wonders if the plants will be alright after an afternoon shower appears and drops the thermometer. Tomatoes typically require temperatures between 13°C and 24°C to develop, and given that Asahigaoka is probably in a warmer part of Japan (as evidence by the blisteringly hot summers), I imagine that greenhouses won’t really be needed to keep the tomato plants happy during the middle of summer. Of course, farmers will construct greenhouses so they can protect their crops and extend the growing season, and doing so gives Renge peace of mind.

  • After a full afternoon’s effort, the greenhouses are finally ready, and Renge is ecstatic that the tomato plants will be protected from the elements. Coming from the Solanum lycopersicum plant, tomatoes originate from Central and South America. Spanish explorers eventually brought the plant back to Europe in the 16th century, and since then, has become widespread. The age old question of whether or not tomatoes count as a fruit or vegetable is easily answered: tomatoes are technically berries owing to the fact that they’re a fleshy body containing seeds (whereas vegetables refer to the leaves or stems, rather than the fleshy seed-bearing part of a plant).

  • Renge’s boundless curiosity and non sequitors makes her a popular character in Non Non Biyori: through her, viewers get to revisit a world defined by endless wonder and possibility. While Non Non Biyori‘s rural setting creates nostalgia and a longing for simpler times, the characters’ naïveté and innocence also brings back memories of simpler times one had as children. In retrospect, I am a very nostalgic person, and while thinkers of old count this as a bad thing, looking to and considering the past is helpful both for getting through tougher times, as well as looking to the past and understanding it to better deal with the future.

  • Especially evident in anime set in the inaka are the fact that houses have floor-to-ceiling sliding doors that oftentimes open directly outside. Where I’m from, these would be impractical, snice the winters are bitterly cold, and such doors would allow a lot of heat to escape our homes. Conversely, the warm climate of Asahigaoka means that such doors reduce the gap between man and nature. It is here that Konomi introduces Akane to Natsumi, Komari and Hotaru. After a rough start, Akane slowly becomes familiar in with this group of friends, although she mistakes Hotaru for a peer because of how mature-looking Hotaru is.

  • The girls eventually decide to bake some cookies to break the ice, and here, Akane really starts to settle in, giving the others instructions on how to prepare the dough. Suguru’s lack of presence makes a brief appearance here to drive comedy: when the girls run out of sugar, Suguru steps in and helps them locate the bag, but since his presence is probably at the same level as Yuru Yuri‘s Akane Akaza, the others begin to think their kitchen is haunted, with stuff moving around of its own accord. In spite of this, the cookies get done, and Akane comes away a little more comfortable with people she’d just met.

  • After coming home from a shopping trip, Hotaru implores her parents to allow her some sweets before dinner. Dropping her usually composed manner, she acts as one might expect someone of her age to. Non Non Biyori Repeat presented to viewers how Hotaru is at home, and it was absolutely heartwarming to behold. I’d always wondered what would happen should any one of Hotaru’s friends had witnessed this, and Nonstop gives viewers their answer. It appears that the Ichijōs are returning back from the Hiyori mall, which Hotaru had visited with the others during the events of Vacation.

  • There is an indescribable adorableness about Hotaru after she realises the jig is up, and that Konomi’s bore full witness to how she acts whilst with her parents. As this dawns upon her, Hotaru’s face turns beet red. Fortunately for Hotaru, Konomi happens to be very understanding of the situation (one imagines that Natsumi and Komari would be a little less mature about things), and introduces herself to Hotaru’s parents.

  • Non Non Biyori‘s setting was well-chosen: stills of the scenery around Asahigaoka are beautiful, and when the moment calls for it, can be cleverly applied to create a visual break. Timing is everything in comedy, and by pulling the camera back to frame the entire scene with the mountains, train station and railway line, viewers are given a moment to take in what’s happened. Non Non Biyori Repeat suggested that Hotaru would be embarrassed past words should this have gotten out, so giving some time and space for viewers to process this prepares them for the humour after.

  • After their meeting, Hotaru’s parents seem perfectly unconcerned with things and allows Hotaru to chill with Konomi, as long as the former is back home on time for dinner. To assuage Hotari’s worries, Konomi explains that Hotaru’s behaviour isn’t all that unusual, and indicates that Komari was also once like that. Even without having a dedicated flashback, Nonstop is able to paint a vivid picture of the characters: it is not difficult at all to imagine Komari as a crybaby of sorts, and even now, despite her efforts to be reliable, circumstance occasionally undermines her.

  • For Konomi, I believe that surprise at seeing a younger, more immature but adorable side to Hotaru also prompts her to wonder if she might be able to look out for Hotaru. Things get to be a little much when they arrive at Komari’s place, and Komari wonders if Hotaru would like a lap pillow. This is, of course, taking things a bit far: for viewers, dramatic irony arises since we know that Hotaru has a crush of sorts on Komari, and the resulting reaction was not outside the realm of what’s expected. The next day, Konomi decides to apologise to Hotaru for taking things too far, preferring to let Hotaru be herself around everyone.

  • I know for a fact that grown men and women both morph into babbling puddles in the presence of something kyute, so Hotaru’s pampering of her Shiba Inu does not seem unusual or embarrassing in any way at all (Konomi’s reaction notwithstanding). A positive reaction to cute things is a part of our evolution, and while Homo Sapiens might have found a way to characterise what we’re feeling, it appears that other mammals demonstrate similar traits, recognising baby animals of other species as someone to instinctively look after.

  • The last time Hikage showed up would’ve been Vacation; in the movie, I felt that Hikage got the short end of the stick after the flight to Okinawa left her with ear barotrauma. Throughout Non Non Biyori, Hikage oftentimes gets humiliated when she tries to act as though she’s knowledgeable in all things related to urban lifestyles, and over time, I began to pity her character. Nonstop gives the series a chance to show more to Hikage’s character, and in this third season, her story starts after she returns home for the summer.

  • Within the first few minutes of the third episode, Natsumi’s antics result in a potted plant being destroyed. While common sense dictates apologising, it takes some time for Natsumi to reach this conclusion despite Hikage’s insistence that this is the only thing to do. Hikage, however, has her doubts, fearing that she’ll suffer too if they’re too honest about what happens. In reality, being straight would probably be the best course of action, and initially, this is what the pair settle on doing.

  • However, with Yukiko nowhere in sight, Natsumi wonders if it would be better for her to conceal all evidence that anything had happened, taking the worst possible route for them (but better for the viewer, who will no doubt laugh at the ensuing chaos). Here, Natsumi and Hikage walk past the living room: a fan’s been placed out, and the sky is of a deep shade of blue, speaking to the heat. Anime typically convey hot days by rendering skies as having a very vivid colour, and pairing this with the sound of cicadas. Through sight and sound alone, the sense of warmth is immediately apparent in a scene within anime.

  • A glance at this still makes it apparent that it’s a hot, pleasant day; it’s a far cry from the -15°C that it’s been where I am. While January has been very mild insofar, yesterday, the cold began returning to my region, and with the wind-chill, it feels like -20°C. The skies are a moody grey, and today, it’s been the sort of day to remain inside. Of course, this hasn’t stopped us from warming up with a much-welcomed take-out dinner from are go-to Chinese restaurant. As the snow rolled in and the thermometer plummeted, we sat down to old favourites: sweet and sour pork chops with peaches and mayonnaise, stir-fried chicken, seafood and crispy egg tofu in a clay pot, stir-fried Chinese broccoli and seafood, and 小炒皇 (jyutping siu2 caau2 wong4, a kind of stir-fry made with various meats, seafood, vegetables and topped with peppers for extra flavour).

  • While Yukiko is presented as being very hard on Natsumi, this is actually a consequence of caring for Natsumi: while she’d set off to pick up some rice crackers at Kaede’s candy store, she ends up buying a bit more than expected. However, this isn’t really a problem – Suguru, Komari and Natsumi would have no trouble going through snacks. At their age, while I was okay with snacks, I typically didn’t really eat them often outside of afternoon tea, and eventually developed a preference for the foods one has during a proper sit-down meal: I’ve always been okay foregoing snacks or afternoon tea to save room for dinner.

  • Of course, the peace is shattered when Yukiko comes home and overhears Natsumi say that the evidence is now sufficiently buried. As an observer, Hikage could’ve probably done a better job of convincing Natsumi to simply be truthful, but this would diminish the humour and furthermore, it would prevent the next part of the episode from progressing. In the aftermath, both get a stern talking to, and Hikage recalls that for as long as she’s known Natsumi, she’s been getting in trouble with Natsumi. In a flashback, Hikage remember a hot summer’s day from long ago, when she’d run into Natsumi on a lonely dirt path.

  • After Natsumi gives Hikage the implements for a makeshift Sentai costume (made from a towel and laundry basket), the two briefly play pretend. Natsumi is a bit speedier than Natsumi at this point, and in frustration, Natsumi kicks her in the shins before taking off. Hikage is unable to catch up and ultimately gives up on chasing after her. It typifies the sort of play that children might get into, acting without much thought for the consequences.

  • Hikage later runs into Natsumi and Konomi, who’ve got popsicles. Natsumi offers Hikage half of hers, which is of the variety that can split, but it melts on account of the heat. Silence created by space and time can often speak volumes about how a character is feeling, and no words are needed to convey to us how Hikage is feeling in this instance: Hikage’s disappointment and dejection is tangible, and as writers are fond of saying, this is what’s consider a “loud silence”.

  • The next day, Hikage decides not to hang out with Natsumi after school, and decides to go browse around at a shop instead; she’s still a little sore about what happened the day before. Nonstop follows in Repeat‘s footsteps, interposing flashbacks in episodes to explore the characters’ experiences when they were younger. There are, of course, moments during one’s childhood or in the past that are relevant even in the present day, and this flashback was meant to show how despite clashing, when the chips are down, Hikage does care about Natsumi: these flashbacks serve to show how learnings from the characters’ past apply in the present.

  • While Hikage had gone to a shop elsewhere, Natsumi decides to take a shortcut to her fort, but slips down a slope and scrapes her knees. She winds up being stranded, unable to move on account of the pain and from being lost. When Hikage returns, she runs into Yukiko, who is worried about Natsumi, who hasn’t come home yet. Hikage agrees to help search for her, and quickly deduces that she’s probably near the fort. Even during such a moment, the artwork in Nonstop is top-tier: beams of sunlight stream through the forest canopy.

  • As it turns out, Hikage was right on the money. Natsumi tears up, but Natsumi decides to carry her back home. It was a nice touch to give Natsumi such a moment, reinforcing the idea that despite the trouble Natsumi causes, Hikage and the others will always be there for her. With experiences such as these, one might wonder why Natsumi isn’t more thoughtful or respectful towards Hikage, but I would imagine that at her present age, Natsumi is still very much driven by the moment, impulsive, and so, when she acts, she doesn’t really have a care for the consequences.

  • I would imagine that Hikage accompanies Natsumi partially out of a wish to keep her out of trouble, even if it means Natsumi’s antics continue dragging the pair of them into hot water periodically. This is what lends itself to the episode title, and I believe that this is the first time in Non Non Biyori that’s been focused on the dynamics between Natsumi and Hikage. Like all slice-of-life series, there isn’t really a limit to how much Non Non Biyori can do with its characters. Assuming a total of nine regular characters, using combinatorics finds that there could be a total of 511 possible stories.

  • Then, assuming a total of 2.5 stories per episode, one could potentially have around 204 episodes of Non Non Biyori, all featuring different combinations of characters. To show the work for readers, I use the expression, Σ(r, i=1) C(n, r), to evaluate this. We can quickly determine that for n = 9 (i.e. nine central characters) and 1 ≤ r ≤ 9 (minimum group size of 1, and maximum of 9), evaluating the expression yields 511. Like Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?, the large number of characters means that the number of stories that could be told, just through different character groups alone, is already large. When different stories are added on top of this, the possibilities are endless.

  • With this memory, Hikage recalls why she hangs out with Natsumi at all, and their earlier disagreement is quietly discarded. It’s another beautiful day, and the azure skies under Asahigaoka are most inviting of adventure. Lens flare from the sunlight further accentuates this, and while Hikage initially feels that it’s too hot to do anything, it turns out that Renge’s invited Natsumi over. Stills of the countryside are shown, indicating to viewers that Hikage is definitely open towards some adventure on this day.

  • With my quarterly Nonstop post in the books, I will be returning at the halfway point to further cover this series: as I’d previously remarked, Non Non Biyori is one of those series where episodic reviews could prove quite tricky to write for unless one were an uncommonly observant reviewer. This series has always offered something noteworthy to talk about (from things like tomatoes to combinatorics, but it’s really the sum of all these individual moments that really make Non Non Biyori something special. Nonstop has, insofar, lived up to its name of offering nonstop comedy, and I am looking forwards to seeing what’s covered in the upcoming episodes.

When I was younger, Chibi Maruko-chan was the première show to watch on Saturday evenings: I used to have a large number of VCDs with the show in Cantonese dub, and in retrospect, the Cantonese dub did a solid job of conveying what was happening in every episode: through situational and dramatic irony, Chibi Maruko-chan left viewers to form their own conclusions about what each episode entailed, and this level of engagement helps to accentuate a particular idea. It is therefore praise to compare Non Non Biyori with Chibi Maruko-chan : the countryside setting and beautiful visuals of Non Non Biyori seem far removed from the simpler art style and Shizuoka setting of Chibi Maruko-chan, but beyond these initial differences, both series excels with their respective stories. This is why I’ve found Non Non Biyori to be enjoyable, as each episode gives viewers plenty to laugh at. From the dialogue, to visual humour and use of timing to set up jokes, Nonstop continues in the manner of its predecessors to deliver a heart-warming and hilarious experience. Now that we are past the third episode, it is reasonable to suggest that Nonstop will be a consistently enjoyable experience as we move into later episodes, and moreover, even after something like a movie, Nonstop has had no trouble easing back into the languid, casual pacing that characterises life in Asahigaoka, rather similarly to how one reacquaints themselves with routine following a vacation of their own.

I Played a Frog Song: Non Non Biyori Nonstop First Episode Impressions and Review

“When you stand in the present moment, you are timeless.” –Rodney Yee

Renge struggles to play a C on her recorder while practising on the way to school. After music lessons and lunch, she crafts some dolls out of toothpicks and clear tape to pass the time as Hotaru and Komari work on their class duties. Natsumi only manages to annoy Komari, and as they finish, they make a log in the notebooks that their instructor is too lazy. When Akane Shinoda, a first year high school student in the concert band club, struggles to play with confidence in front of her classmates, Konomi suggests that they practise together, Renge goes to pick her up from the bus stop, before getting distracted by cockleburs and a toad on the roadside. Once they arrive at Konomi’s place, Konomi notes that Akane has no trouble conversing with Renge, and Akane notices that Renge’s not properly using the fingering for the C note. After Renge masters this note, she plays the Frog Song along with Akane and Konomi. Akane is thrilled and asks if she can come practise at Konomi’s house again in the future. Later, Renge impresses Natsumi, Komari and Hotaru with her improved skill with the recorder. This is Non Non Biyori Nonstop, the third season to a story about life in the peaceful and remote village of Asahigaoka, a place where time seems to stand still, and one where adventure is seemingly around every corner. Non Non Biyori originally ran as a manga that began serialisation in 2009, and continues to this day. Earlier chapters were adapted into an anime in 2013, and a second season aired two years later. During its earlier run, Non Non Biyori captured audiences with its unique charm and portrayal of a tranquil, rural life away from the hustle and bustle of Japan’s urban centres. Striking a balance between comedy and life lessons about everyday experiences, Non Non Biyori quickly established a reputation for being immensely calming and relaxing, an iyashikei series. It’s been six years since the second season, but Non Non Biyori‘s continued to endure, and in this third season, Non Non Biyori continues with its excellent portrayal of Renge, Hotaru, Natsumi and Komari’s experiences in Asahigaoka.

Non Non Biyori Nonstop (Nonstop from here on out for brevity) continues in the same vein as its predecessors, opening with Renge playing the recorder on her way to school. The first half of the episode sees familiar faces return for familiar misadventures in their one-teacher class at Asahigaoka Branch School: Komari’s attempts to be a proper older sibling and Natsumi’s immature (but amusing) antics, as well as Renge’s endless sense of curiosity immediately re-establish what Non Non Biyori had been about; this time around, rather than using rulers for desktop games, the students fashion dolls out of common everyday objects in boredom after class draws to a close. This typifies the idea that even in a setting where things are laid-back and languid, there is rarely a dull moment. Where things are quiet, Natsumi and Renge always seem to find a way to liven things up, and as Nonstop continues, finding the extraordinary in the mundane will yield numerous moments of discovery and reflection. Nonstop shifts gears in its second half, introducing Akane to Renge and setting the table for new friendship. Through a fateful meeting, Akane discovers that she can indeed play flute in front of others and warms up to Renge, while Renge becomes excited about the sorts of things Akane knows: she and Konomi help her to properly play a new note on her recorder. With this first episode of Nonstop in the books, the precedence for the remainder of the season is set, and I look forwards to seeing what sorts of adventures await Akane: it is inevitable that she will eventually meet Hotaru, Natsumi and Komari at some point in the future.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • To be precise, the last time Non Non Biyori graced this blog was two years ago, when I wrote about Non Non Biyori Vacation. The film premièred in Japanese theatres in August 2018, and the home release became available in February 2019. Non Non Biyori Repeat, the second season, ran during the summer of 2015, right during the middle of my graduate studies. At the time, my research project had been well under way, and I was gearing up to write the thesis paper itself. I still remember that when Repeat began airing, I struggled to write a talk for the first episode and ended up going for a quarterly review.

  • For Nonstop, I’ve chosen to take the quarterly review approach because, even though Non Non Biyori has been structured so that episodes are thematically self-contained, the series’ emphasis on the mundane, and appreciation for moments of quiet, means that it can be a little challenging to find something meaningful to say for each and every moment. I’ve found that the quarterly approach I took with Repeat to have worked reasonably well, allowing me to explore themes and messages to a reasonable depth.

  • Renge playing the recorder on her way to school is a callback to how the first season had started; this was my magic moment, and immediately convinced me that the series was worth watching. Here, Renge accompanies Konomi for a short moment as the pair head to their respective schools. Asahigaoka is a small enough village such that younger students can be taught in a single classroom, and for high school, students must travel to the town over.

  • There is something immensely reassuring and calming about the Japanese countryside that I struggle to find the words to describe: of all the places I’ve seen and read about, it seems that rural Japan best exemplifies how humanity can harmoniously exist with nature. These landscapes are known as the satoyama (里山), the interface between villages and forests. Consisting of rice paddies and ponds, satoyama is the result of centuries of a coexistence between Japan’s rural communities and their environment to create a sustainable ecosystem. The European equivalent of the satoyama is the Bocage, which consists of mixed woodlands and pastures.

  • Despite being an older building, Asahigaoka Branch School still has an occupied, well looked-after air about it. There is a charm about traditional, wooden Japanese schools: these dot the Japanese countryside, and many of the wooden buildings were built between the Meiji Restoration and World War Two. Today, as more people move into urban areas, an increasing number of these schools are abandoned. Filled with life and vigour during their operation, the abandoned schools have a drastically different vibe to them.

  • To this day, I cannot help but smile in the knowledge that Natsumi is voiced by Ayane Sakura, whereas Rie Murakawa plays Hotaru. Folks fond of GochiUsa will know Sakura for playing Cocoa, and Murakawa is Megu Natsu. Sakura’s performance of Natsumi is completely different than for Cocoa: unlike Cocoa, Natsumi is mischievous and carefree, preferring to live life on her own terms. Conversely, Hotaru sounds a great deal like Megu.

  • Renge’s concerns about being unable to play a C note stem from worry that she’ll stick out like a sore thumb during music class. It would appear that beyond this, she’s reasonably well-versed in playing a recorder, a woodwind instrument that dates back to the Middle Ages, being used by shepherds. It’s a common instrument that primary school students pick up, and I remember that back in my time as a primary student, I had my own recorder. Once I reached middle school, I ended up playing the Clarinet because it was similar to the recorder. The classroom is the only time Suguru shows up this episode: a recurring joke in Non Non Biyori is that Suguru silently comes and goes, having very little presence.

  • Lunch on today’s menu for Renge, Hotaru, Komari and Natsumi is curry rice. In many ways, Non Non Biyori brings to life the scenes described in Jordy Meow’s Abandoned Japan: in his chapter about derelict schools, his text describe energetic young students learning to read and write for the first time before breaking to handmade obento lunches. The teacher’s instructions and student chatter would’ve filled the hallways to buildings that now lay empty. The scenes that Meow describes are captured in Non Non Biyori perfectly: now-musty and dank classrooms were once lively, happy places of learning.

  • After classes come to an end, Renge breaks out the toothpicks she’d brought from home earlier and fashions homemade dolls with them. Natsumi joins in, and even Suguru can be seen making a doll in the background. Such moments speaks to Renge’s creativity, and for the next few minutes, Natsumi annoys the living daylights out of Komari, until the latter’s limit is reached and she swats the doll from Natsumi’s hands, leaving it in separate pieces. As Komari and Hotaru focus on their remaining task of logging the day, they start running out of things to write about.

  • Eventually, the students craft a range of dolls out of tape and toothpicks to prank Kazuho, who’s fallen fast asleep. Her lethargic and lazy manner at school is apparent, but this is not her entire personality: during the events of Non Non Biyori Vacation, she looks after her students well and frees Komari and Hotaru from a branch during a kayaking trip. My conclusions about Kazuho’s character are therefore simple enough; she’s lazy and lacks motivation where the humour requires it, but otherwise, is a competent teacher.

  • Nonstop‘s episode is broken up into two halves: the first half is set entirely in the classroom, while the second introduces Akane to the cast. Her blank stare after disembarking the bus suggests shock at the setting and what circumstances led her here to the sticks. The phrase “the sticks” appears to have originated from 1800s Chicago as a way of referring to places in the middle of nowhere, likely on the assumption that remote places are remotely forested. These days, the phrase generically refers to somewhere backwater and remote. While there’s a bit of a negative connotation with this phrase, Non Non Biyori does a fine job of showing a different side of rural areas, and this is one of the strongest points about the series.

  • In a flashback, Akane is seen speaking with Konomi; after expressing her doubts about being able to participate in the concert band on account of nerves, Konomi suggests heading to her place for some practise. This is the first time I’ve seen Konomi’s high school, which is likely located over the hill and across the water – rural high schools in Japan often serve students from different small towns and villages, but with dwindling populations, even these schools might be on the verge of being closed.

  • The amount of detail in Asahigaoka is always impressive. Everything from blades of grass in a recently-drained rice paddy to reflections in an adjacent canal are portrayed in great detail. Like the first two seasons and the film, Nonstop is produced by Silver Link (Brave WitchesBofuri and Kokoro Connect) – among their repertoire of works, Non Non Biyori stands as being one of the most visually impressive, as stills of the countryside in and surrounding Asahigaoka can attest.

  • After meeting Renge, Akane initially is struck by nerves and doesn’t know what to say to her, but she declines Renge’s suggestion of calling her Aka-chan (赤ちゃん is an affectionate way of referring to babies, since babies have redder complexions). However, while running down a road she frequents, Renge soon finds cockleburs (genus Xanthium) and names them a mortal enemy for getting stuck in her clothing. These plants are a member of the sunflower tribe, but are also counted as a weed; the seeds are toxic, and some animals will refuse to graze in areas where cockleburs are present. After finding some, Renge gifts one to Akane, before trying to give her a toad, as well. In the ensuing chaos, Renge and Akane end up at Konomi’s house.

  • Konomi’s room is very clean and organised – Konomi had only made a few appearances in Non Non Biyori and had a more prominent role in the movie, so it was good to see Nonstop gave her a bit more screentime. The oldest of the students, Konomi is mature and composed; until recently, I would mistake her for being Hotaru. The two begin practising, and Renge soon takes an interest in Akane’s flute, calling it an octo-corder on account of the fact that the complex mechanisms on the flute resemble an octopus’ tentacles and grippers.

  • While Akane might be shy and cannot play too well in front of others, she is sufficiently knowledgeable with woodwind instruments. After helping Renge to properly play a C note (she refers to them by the Solfège syllable “do”), Renge is ecstatic and she subsequently asks to play alongside the others. This simple session helps Akane to realise that playing in front of and communicating with others isn’t as terrifying as she’d thought. For Renge, she’s met someone who she can befriend and look up to.

  • This moment is what lends the first episode its title: Konomi, Akane and Renge play a song together on their instruments. Non Non Biyori episodes are typically named for the episode’s main event, and one has a good idea of what’s upcoming in each episode, although seeing which characters experience the event described by the title is always exciting. On the topic of music, Nonstop‘s opening and ending songs are both excellent, and the album with these tracks will be titled Non Non Biyori Days. Retailing for 2970 Yen (around 36.32 CAD), this album releases on February 24 and is a best-of album, with the opening songs for the first and second seasons, as well as the film.

  • With the day drawing to a close, Akane prepares to head home, thanking Konomi for having her over and asking if it’s cool for her to come over again. Because Akane figured prominently in the key visuals for Nonstop, she’ll definitely be returning: Akane is voiced by Aimi Tanaka (Himouto! Umaru-chan‘s Umaru Doma and Akane Sawatari from Anima Yell!). The main advantage about long-running series is that they can slowly introduce relevant characters, which balances keeping things fresh for viewers without disrupting existing dynamics. GochiUsa is an excellent example of a series that does this well.

  • Akane is positively thrilled with how the day turned out, jumping for joy under a warm sunset. While the cocklebur might be counted a weed, for Akane, it’s also come to be a tangible representation of the day that she’d taken a step forwards towards being able to play her flute in front of others. While Renge’s non-sequitur way of thinking can be confusing, I imagine that this is done deliberately, both to viscerally show that a six-year-old has a very different view of the world than youth do, and further to this, the idea that symbols and objects take their meaning based on what people choose to attach to them.

  • Each episode in Non Non Biyori does have a standalone theme or messages that makes the series worth writing about, and Nonstop is no different: even just an episode in, I’ve managed to cover quite a bit of turf here. However, my schedule means that I can only focus on one series episodically this season (Yuru Camp△ 2 takes this slot), and previously, I’ve found that Non Non Biyori was a series that works best when I consider several episodes together in a sort of big-picture style talk. Thus, I’ll be writing about Nonstop in a quarterly fashion, and will return to write about this one after the third episode. Having said this, I anticipate that Nonstop will be every bit as enjoyable as Yuru Camp△ 2 in its own right, and with this post in the books, the winter 2021 season looking to be off to a very solid start, one that will give slice-of-life fans much to smile about.

When Non Non Biyori Repeat began airing, I had been surprised that the story had actually been set in between episodes of the first season. The second season continued to impress with its subtle incorporation of life lessons into a gentle and humourous story, leaving a decidedly positive impression on its conclusion. Upon watching Nonstop, my initial question was whether or not this third season would be similar to the second, being set in the same time-frame as the first and second seasons. As this first episode continued, it became apparent that Nonstop is a proper continuation, set after the events of the first and second season. Renge is accustomed to life at school, and Akane is introduced, indicating that this third season is ready to keep things rolling. With this being said, the time-frames in Non Non Biyori seem to hardly matter, speaking to the sense of timelessness in Non Non Biyori; Asahigaoka is so far removed from major population centres that going to a department store is a big deal, and here in Asahigaoka, things like smartphones and tablets are non-existent. The end result is that time does seem to stand still here, and without the pressures of an urban setting, each of Renge, Hotaru, Komari, Natsumi, and now, Akane, are each able to really appreciate the sights and sounds of home. Moreover, the timelessness of Non Non Biyori‘s setting means that, despite a six year gap between the second and third season, Asahigaoka has not aged a day. It only feels like yesterday that Renge and the others met up on a hill with a blossoming cherry tree to welcome a new spring: Nonstop picks up where things have left off, ready to take viewers on another relaxing, cathartic journey alongside Renge and her friends. If it were not apparent, I’m definitely excited about Nonstop: the lovable cast and breathtaking scenery that brought me into this series has only continued to find new ways to impress with time, and I’m confident that viewers will be treated to another wonderful season with Nonstop.