Non Non Biyori Repeat continues following the lives of Renge Miyauchi, Hotaru Ichijo, and Natsumi and Komari Koshigaya. These four girls belong to different grades, but must share the same classroom due to the lack of students at their school. They try to stave off boredom in the Japanese countryside by hanging out with each other, plus other friends and acquaintances of theirs’. Does Non Non Biyori Repeat make it worth repeating the trip to Asahigaoka, or was once enough?
The Return of the Queen
As much as I loved and praised Naru Kotoishi in last year’s Barakamon, she was never my absolute favorite child character in anime. Nay, she was merely a pretender to the throne. The real queen has been Renge, and now she’s back to reclaim what is rightfully hers. While all the central characters in Non Non Biyori are great, Renge is far an away the best, easily stealing any and all scenes she appears in. Part of the reason for that is because the show...
Perfectly Captures Childhood Wonder
Just the way Renge acts makes her my favorite child character in anime, if not all of fiction. She just acts so much like a real child that it is insane. From spouting off random things all the time, to creating her own catchphrases, to taking peoples’ jokes at face value, to even simply believing in fairy tales still, everything Renge does is simply...magical, and not in a literal sense of there being actual magic involved. Rather, it’s a different kind of magic in play. The kind of magic that can only come from seeing a kid being so engrossed in being a kid.
A Kid and a Candy Store
While all the characters play off of each other really well, by far the best interaction between two characters in this series is that between Renge and Kaede Kagayama, a friend of Renge’s oldest sister and teacher, Kazuho. Because Kaede runs a local candy store (that for some reason also handles ski rentals and other kinds of deliveries) she is often nicknamed Candy Store by the kids in Asahigaoka.
Candy Store is usually a bit brash and abrasive and tends to have little tolerance for bullshit, but there is consistently one person who can get through her defenses and that’s Renge. Candy Store quite clearly loves Renge and takes care of her like a big sister, or rather a more proper big sister, as while Kazuho’s not the worst big sister material around, she is extremely lazy and will instead nap every chance she gets.
This leaves Candy Store to actually help Renge with some of the milestones in her life, such as teaching Renge how to ride a bike without training wheels. In turn, thanks to Renge, we get to see the gooey moe caramel center beneath Kaede’s hard candy outer shell. Though they don’t interact often, and in fact it takes several episodes before Candy Store even appears on screen for the first time this season, whenever they do, it is always at the minimum a warm fuzzy moment, though the more significant scenes can be really powerful high grade feels bombs.
Speaking of feels bombs...
It’s the Circle of Life
The fourth episode, “I Made a Teru-teru Bouzu” was primarily built around Renge learning about the circle of life, via her pet tadpole shrimp that she caught and named the lot of them “Flatty-san”. It is an extremely powerful episode that grabs you by the feels in a vice grip and refuses to let go for the rest of the episode. It’s not the first time Renge is portrayed as being sad in Non Non Biyori, but it is the most devestating.
Life is Beautiful
Despite “merely” being a slice of life show, Non Non Biyori Repeat is absolutely gorgeous. It’s not flashy or over the top or anything like that, just mainly a stunningly rended slice of the Japanese countryside. Each episode has several breathtaking shots of the scenery and town. It’s just miles and miles of miles and miles of greenery and rolling hills and mountains. I tip my hat to the folks at Silver Link for creating some of the best scenery porn in anime, especially for a TV series.
Second Verse, Same as the First
Non Non Biyori Repeat doesn’t really progress much at all in terms of moving forward in time. Instead the events take place during the same year as the first season, just at different points in that year. So it’s less of a true sequel in the sense that most sequels do move things forward a bit. But that doesn’t necessarily means things don’t happen at all. We still get character progression for everyone, especially Renge.
Fewer Standout Moments
Compared to the first season, Non Non Biyori Repeat has more episodes that are kind of “lulls” in that the characters are just doing things and not usually things of great note. However this is not a bad thing in the long run, because even the weaker episodes in Non Non Biyori Repeat are stronger than many shows’ best episodes. It’s just this season is a little uneven in this regard.
In the past I considered Non Non Biyori to be part of what I call the holy trinity of Japanese countryside slice of life anime series, which also consists of Silver Spoon and Barakamon, and Non Non Biyori Repeat does nothing to shake my opinion, but rather strengthen it. Of the three it is the most literal when it comes to being “slice of life” as that’s all the show is. The other two have some form of an overall plot going on, but Non Non Biyori is essentially just random chunks in the lives of these girls.
Now you may be thinking this review is rather Renge-centric, and I’ll fully admit that it absolutely is, but that’s because Renge is such a dominating force in this series that the other girls, fun and complex characters that they all are in and of themselves, are so completely and utterly overshadowed by her might that it is pretty damn hard to talk about this show at length and for one to not end up mostly gushing about the recorder playing fairy.
Non Non Biyori Repeat was a much needed breath of calming fresh air in a season where the overwhelming majority of the other “quality” shows were quite heavy in their content or tone. If this is the end for the Non Non Biyori anime, then I’ll begrudgingly accept and be satisfied with the 24+ wonderful episodes that I got, but even then I’m still not quite ready to say goodbye to these characters. In the end, Non Non Biyori Repeat is my second favorite show of the season and I would gladly take a third trip to Asahigaoka in the future.
Non Non Biyori Repeat can be watched on the Crunchyroll and Hulu streaming services. Non Non Biyori Repeat is based on an ongoing manga by Atto that is running in Media Factory’s Monthly Comic Alive magazine.