Going Down The List: Non Non Biyori

(MAL LINK)

When Non Non Biyori first started airing, I was really into these kinds of moe slice of life shows with cute characters and not much happening. The first few episodes of the first season of Non Non Biyori also offered this, but then episode 4 came along and delivered something unexpected: Strong emotional moments (which I didn’t find in stuff like Kiniro Mosaic etc). Unfortunately, the next 5 episodes were fairly disappointing to me, mostly because I didn’t like the relationship between Hotaru and Komari, and Natsumi’s antics got boring and annoying pretty quickly. The last few episodes of the season, however, fortunately capitalised on the strengths of the early episodes and made the experience, as a whole, satisfying, but it was probably the end of the phase where I could enjoy moe slice of life shows without reservation.

The second season, Non Non Biyori Repeat, kind of continued in the same way, with a few good episodes here and a few boring episodes there. Overall it felt similar to the first season, but I think Repeat had much stronger good episodes than season 1. The first episode of Repeat in particular ended up being my favourite Non Non Biyori episode and probably one of my favourite moe slice of life episodes ever. I also liked the season 2 OP more than the one in season 1. However, Repeat also had a side to it that makes it stand out among anime in general: It’s not a straight sequel, but a collection of stories not seen before that take place during the same period of time as season 1. It sacrifices possible character and world development in favour of trying to flesh out the chronology of the first season. In some ways the result is disappointing, because I would have wanted to see the characters grow up (if only by a year or so, but still) and the world change, and it also didn’t really improve my appreciation of Hotaru’s and Komari’s relationship, but as a somewhat uncommon way of telling a story, I think it was a successful experiment.

My favourite elements of Non Non Biyori were Renge and Kaede (Candy Store), and their relationship. Their episode in the first season was my highlight of the season, and their episode in Repeat (the one where Renge learns to ride a bicycle) was very good as well. In addition, Repeat had more scenes with Hikage, which made me like her as well. In conclusion, I think that even though I dislike Hotaru, Komari and Natsumi, the good sides of them combined with the characters I like outweigh the negatives. As a whole, I’m satisfied with the series, and I’m glad I watched it.

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