From left to right: Natsumi, Renge, Hotaru and Komari.
Hotaru Ichijo is a fifth grader from Tokyo who moved with her parents to Asahigaoka, a small village in rural Japan. In Asahigaoka, conveniences are located many kilometres away, and the local Asahigaoka Branch School consists of only five students, each of whom come from different grades of elementary and middle school. With her new-found friends, Hotaru begins to adjust to life in the countryside.Non Non Biyori is a Slice of Life manga by Atto published in Monthly Comic Alive. Its anime adaptation premiered during the Fall 2013 Anime season and was animated by Silver Link.
’’Non Non Biyori’’ provides examples of:
Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Natsumi and Renge have short attention spans, with the former usually getting in trouble for being distracted too easily from her coursework.
Always in Class One: All of the students are in one class because there aren't enough students to fill a whole class; the school's other classrooms sit empty.
Always Someone Better: Hikage Miyauchi, Renge's older, is a first-year high school student who studies in Tokyo. Upon returning home, she eagerly recounts her experiences in the city to her friends until Hotaru arrives.
Ass Kicks You: During a school trip to help Kazuho plant rice in her parents' fields, Komari and Natsumi become stuck in the mud. Renge winds up knocking the both of them over, as she is moving backwards and doesn't see them.
Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Despite constantly teasing Komari and clashing with her mother, Natsumi loves them both as much as they love her, even if it's not immediately apparent. It just might take a bit to see it. When she was younger, Natsumi expressed a wish to marry Suguru. This moment was forever immortalised in a video tape, to her embarrassment.
Beach Episode: The girls hit the beach during their summer vacation in episode five.
Bedsheet Ghost: Komari dons a ghost costume lacking eyes during a Test Of Courage; Natsumi forgot to cut holes for the eyes and drew them on, resulting in a costume that frightens Komari a great deal thanks to the darkness.
Book Dumb: Natsumi is generally disinterested in studying and frequently gets poor grades as a result.
But Wait, There's More!: Besides running a candy store, Kaede also rents out skiing equipment and futons. As she informs Hotaru, she also does mail orders.
Cat Girl: On a day where Kazuha is late for class, the students amuse themselves through a range of activities, including making clay sculptures. Suguru manages to build multi-coloured catgirl figurine out of monochrome clay. Natsumi promptly squashes it, declaring that it's not age-appropriate for Renge.
Cheerful Child: In spite of her perpetually nonchalant expression, Renge is always cheerful, friendly, curious and up for adventure (even if some of her mannerisms might be seen as dark and pessimistic).
Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: This element is downplayed with Suguru, whose lack of presence allows him to disappear on several occasions without being noticed. He typically reappears without warning afterwards, surprising those around him.
City Mouse: Hotaru moves to Asahigaoka from Tokyo and, despite the change in environment, finds herself adjusting to life in the country quite quickly.
Clark Kenting: Komari is unable to recognise Hotaru after the latter decides to meet her while dressed in mature-looking clothes, complete with red-rimmed glasses, some make-up, lipstick, and a different hairstyle.
Cloud Cuckoo Lander: As a six-year-old who is unfamiliar with the world outside of their village, Renge greets people with "good meowning," doesn't notice the fifth seat added to the classroom until someone sits in it, and is unsure whether she actually lives in the country.
The Comically Serious: Suguru expresses very little reaction to some of the things in his surroundings, but he is quick to escape following
Continuity Cameo: Elements from Atto's previous work, Pretty Little Devil Meringue, appear a few times when Hikage is present, including Haruka (one of her friends from Tokyo). Hikage also wears a 'Meringue' T-shirt during the babysitting episode.
Cool Big Sis: Komari sees Hotaru as thus, being envious of the former's stature and maturity.
Cringe Comedy: Episode nine sees the girls take on some embarrassing roles in their school's small Culture Festival.
Cute Little Fangs: Komari's fangs are especially pronounced when she's angry at not being treated as an older sister and senpai.
Cuteness Overload: When Renge was one, Kaede was asked to babysit her. Her experience changed her opinions of babies and since then, she's quite happy to spend time with Renge.
Cuteness Proximity: Kaede is susceptible to Renge’s adorable nature, caving in to requests whenever Renge is present, such as when Natsumi and Konomi were trying to persuade Kaede to attend their school’s cultural festival.
Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: While trying to to comfort Komari regarding her short stature, Kazuho thinks out loud that she shouldn't let Komari know that her numbers were actually from the Meiji Restoration.
Down on the Farm: Asahigaoka is a rural community that is six hours from Tokyo by train. The community school only has five students, buses have an hourly schedule, and there are no conveniences stores; in its place is a 24-hour vegetable stand that works on an honour system.
Fish out of Water: Hotaru initially finds herself unaccustomed to life in the village, while the others find the world outside their village to be completely foreign.
Floorboard Failure: Natsumi mentions that their school’s floorboards are quite unstable, but only the most absent-minded would fall through them. Moments later, it turns out that Suguru has fallen through the floor.
Leave the Camera Running: In episode four, Renge spends a few afternoons playing with a new friend and exploring the countryside. Upon learning that she had unexpectedly returned to the city, the camera remains focused on Renge's face. Despite remaining expressionless for a few moments, Renge soon tears up before making her way home.
Little Brother Is Watching: Natsumi swaps Komari's bowl of noodles with her bowl after accidentally introducing too much spice into it. She then notices Renge staring at her, and, overcome by guilt, promptly switches the bowls back and eats them. It turns out Renge was actually watching a fly and didn't notice anything happen.
Locked in a Rabbit Pen: Hotaru and Renge find themselves locked in the school's rabbit pen after the latter's plan to recapture an escaped rabbit fails.
Mind Screw: Kaede receives a creepy capsule toy of "Horsetail-kun (Screaming Version)" after trying to prove to Renge that opaque capsules don't necessarily yield bad prizes.
The One Guy: Suguru is the only male in-story who is near the main cast's age, but he has a minimal presence and no lines.
One Teacher School: Kazuho is the only instructor at Asahigaoka Branch School and spends most of her time supervising the students' exercises or sleeping during class.
Scenery Porn: In the anime, the landscapes are vividly coloured and beautifully detailed, bringing out the rural charm in Asahigaoka.
Schoolmarm: Kazuho is the only instructor at the Asahigaoka branch school, but far from being an active instructor, she tends to sleep during classes, be late to said classes or even getting her students to help her tend the family’s rice fields.
Sleep Cute: Several moments involving Renge napping with someone are particularly endearing, such as back when Kaede was babysitting Renge, and Kaede and Kaede and Renge on New Year's Day after watching the year's first sunrise. On an autumn day, Komari and Renge doze off together under a tree on a hillside while waiting for Hotaru.
Stalker Shrine: Hotaru has a sizable ollection of home-made Komari dolls, and although she does her best to hide it when her friends are visiting during the summer break, Renge manages to find them. Renge believes that these plushies are part of their summer project, and Hotaru takes this in stride.
"Oh, it's not that we don't have money to hire part-time help or that I just don't want to help my family. That's not why I'm making my students work."
Take a Third Option: After a blizzard leaves Kazuho and her students stranded overnight at their school, Natsumi and Hotaru wind up fighting over the last futon space, with the loser to be relegated to the sleeping bag. Ultimately, the girls reach a compromise and drag Kazuho out of the futon into the sleeping bag.
Too Smart for Strangers: Komari finds herself unable to recognise Hotaru on account of her outfit and believes the latter to be a stranger from Tokyo. Consequently, she tries this excuse to get away from her.
Understatement: Renge's family owns a large quantity of land that encompasses several mountains and finds it surprising that people in Tokyo don't own similarly large amounts of real estate.
Younger than They Look: Even though she's only ten, Hotaru is mistaken for an adult by Komari on some occasions. On the phone, people also mistake Hotaru for her mother.