And so; much like slipping on a well worn pair of slippers, reclining in to an old comfy armchair and sipping a nice cup of warm milky coffee, I find myself relaxing once again whilst watching Non Non Biyori. This show is one of those shows that you cant help but find unwinding and it seems a completely alien concept to be stressed or angry whilst watching as it really shows a simpler and idealistic life that we cant but romanticise. Now naturally, to assume that Non Non Biyori is a realistic portrayal of what life living in an isolated and remote part of the Japanese countryside is a rather naive idea and in reality the impracticalities of living in such a location would really far out-way the novelty of it and the pretty scenery. I can imagine that frustrating problems such as having no phone signal would drive me mad after an embarrassingly short time (but more on mobile phones later *wink wink nudge nudge*. However this much doesn’t stop one from enjoying watching the show and in the long run this much is probably the whole point in having an anime of this kind as it allows us to enjoy the concept of such a life but without having to deal with the inevitable problems.
However simply talking about how nice the concept of a relaxing anime set in the country side is all well and good but Non Non Biyori has more up its sleeve than just an idealistic setting and I fear that if I spend much more time talking about how much I like the concept of a slice of life anime that takes the scenic route in terms of both location and pacing, I will run out of contrived ways to describe this much by less than halfway through the season. So I will now move on to discussing the cast who we are reintroduced to in this episode.
Non Non Biyori does something that is rather unusual in that it splits its cast across the school classifications. However unlike the only other anime (at last off the top of my head) that I know also does this, Minami-ke, this much is largely a superficial point as the number of students in their collective schools totals just five and as such their classes are combined. Further adding to the scenic charm -while also being something of a social commentary about Japans ageing population for those of us that like to over think things- this fact never means that episodes should be pressed for time to keep us updated on what all of the main cast are up to and doesn’t mean that we have to wait until midway though the fourth season before some characters are even introduced to each other. The cast itself is well-balanced having diverse enough characters to make them very memorable but never too much as to make interactions unnatural and the whole cast has something of a relatable feel. Coupled with a few more comedic supporting characters the cast on the whole is definitely a charm point for the series.
In terms of what actually transpired in this episode, we actually had quite a few occurrences transpire. Episode one showcases the time leading up the tiny school’s entrance ceremony and we follow Renge as she practices how she will walk to school on what will be one of the most important days in her life thus far. Naturally she, being still an elementary school student at this point, does not go alone and for the first half of the journey she is accompanied by the ever misfortunate Hikage before being handed over to Komari and Natusmi who are also schoolward bound. We are once again grated with the familiar site of a school way to large for its contingent and the usual sort of idle conversations and happenings ensue. Taking a momentary break from the central plot of the episode we witness Hikage leave for Tokyo, attitude full of pride but a pocket in which she would keep the phone she is so proud of empty after leaving said phone at the station. The latter half of the episode shows us the next day, on which Renge walks her practiced route to school alone for her entrance ceremony. With her ever stoic attitude, Renge undergoes the ceremony. The tone of this is really rather of note as rather than doing it with much pomp and hype, the ceremony has a feeling of normality to it perhaps floating the notion that despite its quirks, the school that our story is centered around is still a school.
The last scene we see is one of Hotaru, who up to this point has been notably absent from events, unpacking belongings as she moves into her new house in the village. Leaving us with the dramatically ironic question of “Do you think I’ll make friends at my new school?”. With the fact that this episode at least, is a prequel to the events of the first season rather hammered home I do feel that it is worth bringing the “repeat” in the story’s namesake into discussion. I can not say that I am up-to-date on the Non Non Biyori manga but I do know that it is yet to move on the show a second school year so what we are likely to see in this season is a non-chronological assortment of events that were not covered in the first season. This much is not a problem though as for shows like this the chronology is only really felt in the kinds a gorgeous scenery we are treated to (Seriously, P.A.Works should maybe be looking a little nervous). Though that said it might be interesting to compile a time line of events simply for the sake of interest as if the first episode is anything to go by, I foresee this series being filled with time related references (the comments about the floorboards, the recorder, etc).
Well I guess that is it from me for this episode. Reviews from me will, like this one, be somewhat shorter this season than the multiple thousand word essays I have previously done, though I really don’t think that I have mastered how to be concise in my writing more I have chosen to write about something which would have always resulted in less text.
Also my apologies for the delays this week, though not weeks late like I was in January, lateness is still lateness. Thankfully there is actually reason behind this weeks delays and with a little good luck (though I’m not know for that) reviews this season will be much more punctual.