Are you all ready for another slice of life comedy about a group of ladies? I’ve reviewed quite a few of these and, to be fair, they’re usually enjoyable enough. Non Non Biyori came out, in anime form, in late 2013. It’s based on a still ongoing manga by Atto that started in 2009. The anime was brought to us by Silver Link, the same studio behind Baka to Test, WataMote, Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry &, the only good thing I’ve seen from them thus far, Yuri Kuma Arashi. I have to say, that pedigree does not inspire confidence. But let’s take a look at the series and see if it can bring Silver Link’s numbers up to two worthwhile anime.
We open in the country with a school where one teacher takes care of all the elementary and middle school students. Her job may sound terribly difficult until you learn that she has all of five students. Our main characters are the four girls in the class. The first grader, Renge. Fifth grader Hotaru. Seventh grader, Natsumi & her older sister, eighth grader Komari. The four of them enjoy their quiet and peaceful lives while keeping one another company and interacting with the friendly folks in their little country town.
Okay, so the ways this slice of life series about a group of girls differentiates itself from other slice of life series about groups of girls is with the country setting and the fairly substantial age differences among the girls. To be fair, that is a pretty big difference and the series is good at taking advantage of both the setting and the age gaps for the sake of humour.
That being said, the humour isn’t always on the mark. There are times where they’ll rely on doing something odd to be fun without regard to the fact that odd does not necessarily equate to funny. This does result in some jokes that fall flat.
The characters in this are pretty nicely done. They aren’t the most complex group out there, but they are nicely fleshed out without being overly exaggerated. Resulting in characters who have a nice level of verisimilitude. The character interactions are also nicely done. A lot of the funniest scenes in the series revolve around the interactions. In fact, the best comedic moments in this series may all stem from Hotaru’s interactions with Komari. It’s not just the comedy, I’ll also give the series credit for having some strong emotional moments that just explore the connections among the characters. Particularly with Renge & Kaede, a side character who runs the candy store. That being said, some of the side characters are a bit weak. You get some sense of personality from them, but it’s not much. Like the one male student who never talks and is just kind of a supportive brother to Konami & Natsumi or Renge’s eldest sister, who acts as the school teacher and has a lazy shtick going.
The artwork in this is quite good. Particularly the nature scenes and backgrounds. The nature scenery in this is really superb. The characters look fine, but they’re also pretty typical of the genre. The various objects that the characters interact with are nicely detailed.
Our major characters are voiced by Murakawa Rie (GochiUsa’s Megumi), Asumi Kana (Neptunia’s Blanc), Sakura Ayane (Love Live’s Arisa) & Koiwai Kotori. The four of them give strong performances. As does Satou Rina. The biggest weakness is Nazuka Kaori. Wile she is a good actress, as evidenced by her performances in Code Geass, Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood & Soul Eater, her character in this just doesn’t have much going for her so she spends the entire anime sounding mellow without any real emotional variation.
There’s a bit. Hotaru openly has a massive crush on Komari. There’s also some indication that the feelings are reciprocated. I wouldn’t be surprised if the two of them ended up dating at some point. Probably won’t last, given their young ages, though. Then again, if Nanoha and Fate can make it work, it’s possible.
That was Non Non Biyori. It holds up pretty strongly. The characters are memorable and endearing. The nature scenes are lovely and it has enough differences from the standard slice of life series to keep it fresh. That being said, I wouldn’t call it one of the best out there, since the humour does fall short at times. But if you want something cutesy with some very strong character interactions, this might be for you. My final rating is going to be a solid 8/10. Next week I’ll take a look at Binbougami ga.