Of all the anime that are produced throughout the year, it is surprising to some what might be considered popular in the market. The global anime market seems to favor very specific types of shows, usually involving action sequences, thought-provoking ideas, post-apocalyptic worlds, death flags everywhere, and a boy hero we can count on. But in Japan, where anime is made and meant to market, popularity sometimes takes a different route.
Non Non Biyori came out for the Fall 2013 season of anime and according to some charts, was Japan’s most popular anime in Fall 2013, possibly considered Japan’s Anime of the Year! That’s right. This country-side comedy about four girls doing silly things was on par with the other popular things that were all the rage that year (of which I will not be naming for the sake of butt-hurt fans). It’s kind of a shame it got overlooked by global simulcast viewers. But enough about what’s hot and what’s not. You aren’t reading this to see what people other than me had to say about this!
Non Non Biyori is great purely because each episode is half an hour (give or take commercials) of heartwarming nonsense. Yes, I said that!
Unlike most of your favorite slice of life comedies, this series takes place in a rural part of Japan, where there isn’t very much to do. Not much you can do really, when there’s only one school in town for all of five students who are in different grades! So to make up for it, the four girls of the series have adventures of their own. And what wonderful adventures they have indeed!
Whether it’s playing in a vacated silo, planting rice for the next season, drying persimmons, coloring with crayons, making dolls of your favorite senpai (upperclassman), playing old video games because you don’t have the most updated console, or watching the New Year’s first sunrise, the amount of fun things these country girls can do seem to be endless! And who needs an actual plot when you got these characters to put in various situations?
Fair warning: while this series is a comedy, it does have its share of the Feels. In one of the episodes, the star of the show, Renge Miyauchi (the most adorable girl I’ve ever seen in any anime, who coined the catchphrase “Nyanpasu”) meets Honoka, a girl her age, who is visiting her grandmother over the summer vacation. The half-episode shows the two of them having a good time, establishing a lasting friendship. And then, when morning came one day, the excited Renge goes to see her again; only to find out that Honoka had already left to go back to the city.
Renge, who often has something silly to say to cheer people up, was stunned. When I first watched this episode, I thought my video was broken. And after the longest minute of the series, Renge and I were both in tears. So much can be felt without a single word.
No worries though. For every Feels moment in this series, there’s at least five times more absolute humor!
And if you thought a bunch of girls doing crazy things couldn’t get any funnier, then meet Suguru Koshigaya, the eldest brother of Komari and Natsumi! His character, while not on screen most of the time, has no lines, no words; just physical and facial expressions. Some people wonder what he sounds like or what he’s saying. I don’t know. I’d rather just leave it up to one’s imagination.
So if you’re looking for a fun series that has good laughs and occasional cries, try Non Non Biyori. If it’s good enough for the Japanese anime lovers, it’s good for us as well! And if you didn’t have enough of it, there will be another season of these girls’ adventures is on its way!