For all of the isekais, shonen series, crappy harems, or a variety of more engaging or seemingly more interesting shows with more involved plots, I’m glad we have Non Non Biyori. Because god willing, this is the kind of stuff I’m gonna be turning to whenever I just need a break from life.
A show about a quartet of girls in the Japanese countryside, this third season is about exactly as what you would expect from a slice of life show that features nothing but a bunch of character interactions from its practically all-female cast in a place where the most remarkable thing to happen over a 24 hour period is the spontaneous desire to do something.
The joy that comes from the story of Non Non Biyori is honestly just seeing what kind of episodic romps the girls get into this time. Typically the episode has a sort of theme, whether or that be an object or a character, running with that over the course of the entire episode until the girls say in the ending screen that “that’s all we have today” and the ending starts playing. Much of the excitement that comes from Non Non Biyori exists within the character interactions since every episode practically has the members of its cast decide to play some kind of game or do some kind of activity whether or not it be on the spot or pre-determined by one of the adults in their lives. Something that feels even more so here in the third season since we’re now in the thick of things where Hotaru has been completely integrated in this group of characters and the day to day lives of everyone have been solidified for almost an in-universe year by this point.
Additionally, the tone and playful cheeriness of the series makes everything feel warm and innocent, and watching it just felt joyful because we got a surprising amount of situation variety from a show marketed as a ‘cute girls doing stuff’ series. That and the comedy of Non Non Biyori sits in a unique category where the ‘dead air’ makes things funnier. Often times the show just freezes in place and does a zoom out while the characters just stare off into space. There’s no noise, no dialogue, and no exaggeration. Just pure silence with only the score in the background playing a few notes on occasion. And for that I commend the show for making me laugh from nothing happening, although that may be on part of the fact that I laugh pretty easily.
All in all, Nonstop remains as a solid season that reminds me why I found Non Non Biyori so entertaining and fun to watch in the first place. While what we get is printed exactly on the tin, the mix of fun and sometimes touching character interactions mixed with its carefree tone and presentation becomes a breath of fresh air that’s a lot more entertaining than it has any right to be. The show feels genuine in what it’s trying to showcase, and it becomes all the better because of it.
While there’s not much to speak of in terms of changes from the 2nd season to Nonstop, I think what this third season manages to do is to solidify and closer knit this cast of characters a lot more from before. Indeed there’re some backstory sequences like before, but instead of being references to past incidences, much of what we’re presented is meant to get some characters reflecting on their relationship with each other in addition to pointing out various flaws like Natsumi being a complete dumbass in most situations she’s in. There might not be a lot of overall character growth, but with what we’re presented here, I’m satisfied with the direction.
Luckily though there’re a few new characters to take into consideration, such as Akane and Shiori, who stand as new additions that slowly get added to the fold of characters. Both of them appear a lot more than I initially expected, which both gives the series a little bit of added spice to interactions that sometimes take some directions I didn’t think the series would actually take. Because eight year olds discussing the laws of friction and gravity were not part of the Non Non Biyori agenda that I was expecting, but it exists anyway. Overall, the cast feels all the better because of these new editions and I’m glad the show expanded more on its cast rather than just sit with who we already had before. Now if only Nii-chan would talk…
Silver Link’s work on Non Non Biyori hasn’t exactly changed much throughout the series’ lifetime, and I’m glad for the consistency that the show has. That being said, a part of me feels like the quality that we got this time around is just ever so better than what we got previously. While the characters are typical cel-shaded fare for character design, the backgrounds stand out to me as one of the more detailed aspects of the art direction. Often times the show just kind of plasters one of these seemingly painted backgrounds onto the screen and just sits there to let the audience admire the view alongside the characters. It’s a little detail, but adds enough for me to equally appreciate the aesthetics of the show because given how in this small town, we get a scope of the fields, the mountains, and the forests that serve as this giant, natural playground for these girls to play in. And it just looks so eye-pleasing.
nano.RIPE’s “Tsugihagi Moyou” is honestly pretty standard fare for the series, being a more laid back song that’s nice to listen to, but honestly doesn’t provide all that much in terms of memorability. I will say that it’s a nice song that serves as a welcome back to the series, and for that I welcome it as a nice feel good song. By the same vein, “Tadaima” sung by the voice actors of the main four girls falls on the same vein, although I kind of like it more simply because the song utilizes instruments like recorders and light percussion reminiscent of the OST often played in the episodes to give it that extra push to being a ‘Non Non Biyori’ song. It’s cute, especially when paired with the graphic of two of the girls coming by to close off the episode when it starts playing.
The older I get, the more special Non Non Biyori feels to watch. While I’ll never have the experience of having grown up in the Japanese countryside and know just how there’s absolutely nothing to do and you have to make up your own fun in order to pass the time, the beauty I find in this series is reminiscent of a carefree childhood where you just kind of lived day by day and played away to your heart’s content. Not many shows I find actually give that me that proper sense of childhood nostalgia, and both the tone and the activities within each episode are different enough to give me something new to look forward to since every game, event, or activity is just another new thing or event that happens within the lives of these characters.
On top of that, the surprising amount of more character-based moments, especially those surrounding Renge give the show such a well deserved bit of heart that says very little but speaks a lot. Renge is by far the best character in the show, and I’d be remised not to mention all of the little things that both happen with her and because of her. And that the show managed to create such a well-rounded child character who’s curious, quirky, and above all, interesting is something that should be commended for due to how good her execution is.
Without a doubt, Non Non Biyori is a series that deserves a watch. It truly encapsulates the idea of a ‘slice of life’ show and manages to keep its pace with surprises and twists that give it the little oomph it needs without becoming something it isn’t. An inoffensive and quaint show with nothing much else beyond a bunch of girls living their lives, sure, but one that not only delivers on that promise, but excels in using the concept as much as it can to showcase it in the best way possible.