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Manga / Non Non Biyori

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This is my village. It's a quiet, peaceful place. But sometimes I think... Do I actually live in the country?
-Renge Miyauchi, from the opening lines of the anime.

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, the teacher's little sister Renge (aged six), sisters Natsumi and Komari (ages thirteen & fourteen), and their older brother Suguru (aged fifteen), 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 which was published in Monthly Comic Alive from 2009 to 2021. Its anime adaptation premiered in the fall of 2013 and was animated by Silver Link. This was followed by an OVA, which features the cast preparing a trip to Okinawa.

A second season, titled Non Non Biyori Repeat, aired during the summer of 2015, and takes place between the events shown in the first season. A second OVA followed, covering most of the chapters of the manga up to that point. Both seasons are available to watch at Crunchyroll. A movie, titled Non Non Biyori Movie: Vacation, premiered in July 2018, and adapts the girls' trip to Okinawa; the movie has been licensed by Sentai Filmworks for future release in North America. The third season, Non Non Biyori: Nonstop aired between January and March 2021.

Non Non Biyori provides examples of:

  • 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: In the anime, various vehicles and the roads are more noticeable as CG elements.
  • 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 sister, 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.
  • Animation Bump: Episode eleven of Repeat shows improved animation quality. This is apparent during the "Sosunser" sequence where Renge rapidly and repeatedly jabs her older sister Hikage's collarbone for trying to peek on the New Years card she was drawing on.
  • Arcadia: The anime is set in the idyllic Japanese countryside and depicts the lives of four young schoolgirls.
  • Ass Kicks You: During a school trip to help Kazuho plant rice in her parents' paddies, 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.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Natsumi and Renge have short attention spans, and the former usually gets in trouble for being distracted too easily from her coursework.
  • Aw, 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.
  • Batman Gambit: Natsumi and Renge's play in the ruler game to knock out Suguru. Natsumi first positions her and Renge's rulers so that Suguru is forced to flee to the edge, and then has Hotaru hit both of their rulers so that Suguru is distracted by the first ruler flying off the edge and misses his hitting the ground.
  • Beach Bury: In an inversion of the usual trope, Natsumi managed to convince her brother Suguru to have his head buried in the sand (he was wearing a snorkel) and forgot about him until they all went home.
  • 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.
  • Blank White Eyes: Several characters have this from time to time. Komari is especially susceptible to this, being the one who's most easily surprised.
  • Blue with Shock: Natsumi and Hikage go through this in episode nine of Repeat, when they learn that the dumplings they ate were for a moon viewing later that night.
  • Book Dumb: Natsumi is generally disinterested in studying and frequently gets poor grades as a result.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The anime's first season ends with the main cast waving good-bye towards the screen.
  • Bucket Booby-Trap: Natsumi and Renge try to prank their teacher by putting a chalkboard eraser on top of the door. Komari is caught in it instead, shown from three different angles in a Repeat Cut.
  • Cat Girl: On a day where Kazuho 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.
  • Close-Knit Community: Being a small village next to the mountains and so far away from Tokyo, the inhabitants of Asahigaoka are very close with one another, and the girls look out and care for each other as though they are sisters. Moments include comforting a grieving Renge when the tadpole shrimps died away, immediately warming up to Hotaru, who has no friends and zero experience living in the country, and Kaede escorting Renge back home when the day started to get too dark for a little girl to be out and about alone.
  • 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
  • Contemplate Our Navels: Natsumi contemplates the afterlife when Komari sleeps over after watching horror movies. Unfortunately for Natsumi, Komari is fast asleep, and Natsumi ends up restless and oversleeps the next day.
  • 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:
    • Kazuho to Renge. She's not necessarily cool, but she has the authority.
    • Kaede to Renge, too, though she's downplaying it vigorously.
    • Komari sees Hotaru as thus, being envious of the former's stature and maturity.
    • Hikage tries hard, and fails miserably.
  • Cosplay Café: The event the cast has during their culture "festival". Hotaru dresses up as a cat, Renge is a giraffe though it's mistaken for a robot at first, Natsumi is an Unidentified Mysterious Animal and her "costume" is a paper bag with cardboard ears taped to it over her head, and Komari is a raccoon and she's wearing a full costume, something she does not like one bit.
  • 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 year old, Kaede was asked to babysit her. Her experience changed Kaede's 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.
  • Delayed Reaction: After Hotaru and Renge are locked in the rabbit pen, Renge makes light of the irony of their situation. Hotaru calmly replies and loses her cool seconds later.
  • Description Cut: Natsumi states that ”No idiot has ever fallen through the floor before", but moments later, Suguru is shown waist-deep in a hole in the floor.
  • 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 Era.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: The anime’s ending theme is sung by the main cast’s voice actors.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: While everyone's preparing for their culture festival, Natsumi finds an opportunity to make a pun. When she's met with silence, she explains what she was doing, and Komari says that Natsumi shouldn't even have tried if an explanation was necessary.
  • 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.
  • Embarrassing Old Photo: While cleaning her room, Natsumi finds an old video tape and decides to play it. Unfortunately for her, it's one from her as a child where she said she'd marry her brother Suguru.
  • Epic Fail: Attempts to hide Natsumi's frighteningly poor tests backfire in a spectacular manner.
  • Every Episode Ending: Each episode of the anime, with the exception of the last of each season, ends with two of the main cast standing between "That's all for today" and bowing towards the screen.
  • Everybody Calls Him "Barkeep": Kaede is usually referred to as “Candy Store”.
  • Everyone Went to School Together: It's implied that all of the women and girls in the story attended the branch school at some point of their lives, including both Kazuho and Yukiko (Komari, Suguru and Natsumi's mom).
  • Eyes Always Shut: Kazuho is never seen with her eyes open.
  • Family Business: Kaede runs a candy shop that she took over from her grandmother.
  • Father, I Want to Marry My Brother: As a child, Natsumi claimed she would marry her older brother, Suguru, when she grows up. Her present-day self finds this mortifying.
  • 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.
  • Four Is Death: The fourth episode in the second season seasons explores Renge learning about death and life cycles. After she becomes attached to a tadpole shrimp, it dies overnight and leaves her depressed. However, to her surprise, new tadpole shrimp are born.
  • Free-Range Children: The kids spend a most of their time wandering around the countryside with minimal adult supervision.
  • Hair Antennae: Renge sports these, as a reflection of her youth and carefree outlook on the world.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The anime's episodes are all titled after something that happened during it, e.g. "A New Transfer Student Came", "We Ate Okonomiyaki", and "My Rice Crackers Turned Into Curry".
  • Interquel: Non Non Biyori Repeat and Non Non Biyori Nonstop are set between the events of the first season, illustrating moments within the girls' lives that the first season did not depict.
  • Iris Out: A prop Renge makes for the school's cultural festival is a black board with hole cut out in the middle, and she demonstrates its use by popping out of it and delivering a one-liner. The segment concludes with Natsumi doing it for real.
  • Ironic Echo Cut: While thinking of people to invite to the school cultural festival, Renge proposes Kaede, and Natsumi remarks that Kaede will probably tell them to buy something or get out. One cut later, Kaede tells the group that if they're not buying anything to get out.
  • Iyashikei: With its beautiful scenery, calming music and a focus on the slow-paced, idyllic life in rural Japan, Non Non Biyori is immensely relaxing to watch.
  • Kimodameshi: Natsumi decides to hold one at the end of summer vacation, but they use the village shrine rather than a graveyard for safety reasons. Komari gets picked to be the scarer, but the supplies Natsumi provided are pretty lacking; she gets caught in a Bedsheet Ghost without eye holes. Her brother Suguru makes it to the shrine and back without her noticing, making her think there really is a ghost.
  • 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 Room: Hotaru and Renge find themselves locked in the school's rabbit pen after the latter's plan to recapture an escaped rabbit fails.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: The adorable Renge sings an upbeat song, Yabure Kabure, about a quack doctor implied to be Driven to Suicide. Kaede lampshades how harsh the song is.
  • Maternity Crisis:Reconstructedand Downplayed After playing outside, when they leave Shiori at her home they discover that Shiori's mother is in labor and unfortunately, due to the pain, she cannot stand up. Fortunately, they help the mother by calling a taxi.
  • 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.
    "What the heck does 'Screaming Version' mean?"
  • Mundane Made Awesome:
  • The Napoleon: Komari resents her stature of 140 cm (roughly 4 foot 7 inches).
  • Never My Fault: Natsumi never sees herself at fault for her poor academic performance, or for the miscellaneous bits of skulduggery that tend to happen whenever she's around.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Despite her Book Dumbness, Natsumi is quite knowledgeable about various local plants and wildlife.
  • Oddly Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo: The second season is labelled as "Repeat", and as per its name, the second season fills in the gaps between the events shown during the first season. The third season and final is, ironically enough, labelled "Nonstop".
  • Offscreen Teleportation:
    • During the ruler game, Suguru demonstrates this by suddenly appearing from one side of the desk to another in order to save his ruler. Natsumi even wonders when he got over there to begin with.
    • When Hikage tries to peek with binoculars at what Renge is drawing, Renge is at the table, minding her own business. One cut later, when Hikage pulls up the binoculars to get a good look, Renge is suddenly beside Hikage, looking disappointed at Hikage's antics.
  • Older Than They Look: Komari is frequently mistaken for a child, despite being in grade eight.
  • 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.
  • Parental Abandonment: The Miyauchi parents are never seen because they spend long days working in the rice paddies. We understand that Kazuho is essentially a parental substitute for her much younger sister Renge, however, one can get the idea that the Miyauchi parents are so distant from the life of their youngest daughter that they never even show up for milestone events for Renge at the school she attends where their oldest daughter is the teacher.
  • Playing House: Renge makes Hotaru and Komari play house with her while they're all hanging out. Komari plays as the dad, Hotaru plays as the mom, and Renge plays as a flying fish.
  • Pose of Supplication:
    • Natsumi drops into this position as a means of apologies to her her mother for her bad grades.
    • Suguru takes on this state after losing the ruler game.
    • Natsumi and Hikage do this to apologise for eating the mochi that was intended for that evening's events. Hikage does so on two other occasion, when she gets down and begs Kazuho to take her to Okinawa, and when asking for New Year's money.
  • Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs: Hikage is subjected to rapid-fire jabs to the collarbone from Renge when she forcefully tries to look at some New Year's cards before they're ready.
  • Recognition Failure: When Hotaru overdresses after Komari offers to walk her around town, Komari does not recognise her and believes she's spending time with someone from out of town.
  • Recursive Canon: In the Stinger of the OVA "We're Going to Okinawa" the flight attendant indicates tha complimentary Non Non Biyori mangas are available for the passengers to read, and displays them on the front screen, as well.
  • Right Behind Me: Natsumi shoots down the idea of inviting parents to the culture festival, specifically saying that her mother is like a messenger from hell. Unfortunately, her mother happens to be standing right behind her.
  • Scenery Porn: In the anime, the landscapes are vividly coloured and beautifully detailed, bringing out the rural charm in Asahigaoka.
  • School Festival: The Asahigaoka students attempt to have one because Natsumi requested it. However, because of a multitude of factors, everything goes wrong.
  • 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 paddies.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sleep Cute: Several moments involving Renge napping with someone are particularly endearing, such as back when Kaede was babysitting Renge, 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.
  • Something We Forgot: Twice in the Beach Episode.
    • Natsumi buries Suguru's head in sand, and forgets about him when it's time to leave. He's fine, even arriving on the train before them.
    • At the train station, Kazuho falls asleep on the bench, and the girls don't realize she's still there until the train's already leaving.
  • Stalker Shrine: Hotaru has a sizable collection 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.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Kazuho makes the girls work in her family's rice paddy, but when questioned about it, replies with a lengthy:
    "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.
  • Tablecloth Yank: Natsumi attempts this trick as part of an improvised trick during the school "festival" but ends up spilling everything onto the floor.
  • Teru-Teru Bōzu: It's the focus of one segment when Renge dresses up as a giant one with a white raincoat and paper plate mask and walks around outside in the rain. Komari happens to see it and mistakes it for a monster because of the fog.
  • Too Smart for Strangers: Komari doesn't recognise Hotaru in her grown-up outfit and believes that Hotaru is a strange lady from Tokyo. Consequently, she tries this excuse to get away from her.
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: Renge subscribes to this branch of thought; despite her talent for drawing realistic images, she prefers abstract art, claiming that realism has limited artistic merit.
  • Two Decades Behind: While helping Natsumi clean her room, Komari and Konomi find a slinky and poppers, toys that were hand-me-downs from Kaede. Given Asahigaoka's distance from major urban centers, the toys were likely fashionable well before Kaede's time. Similarly, Natsumi and Komari even have an old Famicom that belongs to their father.
  • 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.
  • We Sell Everything: Besides running a candy store, Kaede also rents out skiing equipment and futons. As she informs Hotaru, she also does mail orders.
  • We Win, Because You Didn't: Natsumi and Renge adopt this stance when Suguru joins their ruler game. Their final plan has their rulers go off the desk along with his, but they're fine with it because it means Hotaru claims the victory and Suguru doesn't.
  • 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.