Non Non Biyori: A Quick Take

nnb01aA group of elementary and middle school girls do assorted things in the countryside in the first episode of this healing type anime. An exchange student from Tokyo is introduced to the class which is made up of 4 other kids all in different grades. She quickly becomes friends with the other three girls in the class and the differences between city and rural life make up plenty of their conversation. This is after all a world where no one locks their doors and buses come around once every 2 hours. How much fun can there be in this world filled with inconvenience?

I think this is actually a much philosophically deeper series than it appears on first glance. It goes beyond the simple jokes of “city folk do this while country folk do that” sort of comedy into some sort of deeper truth about how these characters feel about their situation. The youngest of the group, Renge, really wants to know whether they are in the country and what it really means to be there. In the same group, Natsumi does everything to draw similarities between life in Tokyo and where they are now. Her older sister, Komari  sees things more logically. They collectively decide that this is the countryside once they realize the bus schedule is incredibly inconvenient. That’s the peculiar thing I find about this series. Collectively, the 4 girls work well together, but there’s not enough to go on to individually judge any of them.

On an artistic level, I think this first episode did a good job of making the country feel like a real place. It’s painfully inconvenient, there’s not a whole lot to do, but it’s also a place where you can not worry about locking doors during the day and there are many sights to see. The whole community feels alive in a way even as very little is happening. The minimalist musical direction during the episode was also a good touch in my opinion. It adds to the atmosphere of the show in a nice way.

Reasons to Continue Watching

  • As good an example of iyashikei anime as you will probably see this season
  • Willing to explore the urban/rural cultural divide in greater depth than expected
  • The jokes come without being incredibly over the top

Reasons to Drop

  • Very little actually happens
  • The setting may feature too heavily as filler between scenes
  • There’s little to judge the characters on individually

My Verdict: I don’t think I’ve liked the first episode of this type of series as much as I did this one. It created a relaxing atmosphere, yet was still engaging when needed. I’m almost always up for a show that is as intellectually curious as this one is. Renge may ultimately carry the rest of the girls, but I think that may turn out to be a winning idea.