Non Non Biyori NONSTOP
Another year passes for Hotaru, Renge, Natsumi, and Komori in their quiet Japanese hometown of Asahigaoka. Two new girls, Shiori and Aoi, join the cast as they continue their quiet but fun lives.
Over five years after Non Non Biyori Repeat, here we are on the next season of the charming Non Non Biyori series, Non Non Biyori Nonstop. The first season inparticular remains one of my slice-of-life anime ever, and while I didn't like Repeat nearly as much, it had its moments here and there. The cast are still as lovable as ever, the scenery and backgrounds are as gorgeous as ever, the music is as calming and nice as ever, and the day-to-day antics of the girls are still lots of fun.
Much like Hidamari Sketch's third season, Hidamari Sketch Hoshimittsu, Non Non Biyori Nonstop adds two new characters to the core lineup. And like the aforementioned show, I had very mixed feelings on this. (Sorry Stig, but I never really connected to Nazuna and Nori even after two seasons.) And that's not including the one veteran character who I have yet to come around to, even three seasons in.
The first new addition is a little girl a year younger than Renge named Shiori, who quickly becomes good friends with her. She's not a complex, huge addition to the cast - considering her young age, I wasn't expecting her to be - but she is a harmless enough character. There's also a rater nice scene with her and her family near the end of the season that I won't spoil.
Sadly, the other new addition to the season, Akane, I don't care for. At all. Her main character trait is that she's really, really shy. She's a high school student like Konomi and Hikage, and she is from the city. And while Akane is not a bad character by any means, she eats up way more screentime than she needs to, most of which is her and her school senior Konomi playing the flute.
I wouldn't be as harsh on Akane if she interacted more with the other characters. But aside from a hilarious introduction to the country by Renge and a chase scene in another episode, most of her screentime is self-contained to just her and Konomi. It turns the show into the one thing that I enjoyed so much about Non Non Biyori; the absence OF school girl antics like this. The longest example is an extended sequence of Akane and Konomi in the city at a local festival event, without any of the other characters. This isn't Non Non Biyori to me. If I wanted to watch cute school girls play instruments or go to local events, anime has MANY other shows to fulfill that niche.
Renge's older sister Hikage (not her eldest, Kazuho, who continues to be a spacey but fun teacher) also continues to be a rather weak link in the Non Non Biyori series. While the rest of the cast come across as friends and family who love, support, and help each other, Hikage always come off as an entitled, selfish pain in the ass. She's a brat who acts more like a 10 year-old than the 16 years of age she supposedly is, and her constant grunting and whimpering gets on my nerves really, really quickly. And while the series (appropriately) dumps on her selfish, childish ways, with the exception of the New Year's Day episode, I don't even find her karma laser hits that funny. It says a lot when her best moments this season come with being paired with an actual kid, Natsumi; they're basically on the same wave length.
Fortunately, the rest of the returning cast more than makes up for all of the above. And unlike last season, which opened up with a really slow episode about Hotaru and her family moving to the countryside, Non Non Biyori Nonstop spares you of that, with its first episode almost entirely revolved the series' best character, Renge. The perennainely grumpy looking first-grader continues to make this show, whether with her fascination with just about everything, cute nicknaming styles, fun addressing of others, or even her recorder playing. Her relationship with Candy Store/Kaede, who not-so-secretly adores her as a little sister back, remains one of the sweetest relationships in recent anime memory. (Even if Renge WAS a bit rough as a baby, even slapping her, in what might be one of the season's most hilarious scenes.) Renge also gets so much needed closure with a certain character that I won't dare spoil here, in another adorable scene.
Hotaru, as usual, is a girl as sweet as she is tall for her age. Her obsession with making Komari plushes (one of the series' long-running themes I never cared much for) has thankfully dialed back a tad this season, mostly regulated to an episode where one of her voiced Komari plushies rides on a robot dog that goes on a journey across the town. The episode starts off with this, but throughout the rest of the episode we do get glimpses into its, um, journey. The series also isn't afraid to remind us that despite her height and figure, Hotaru is still very much a child, and is prone to her selfish tantrums as well. (One of which in episode two actually got a decent chuckle out of me.)
Natsumi and Komari continue to be polar opposite sisters: one a tall brat, the other a tiny, vertically chest challenged teenager who wants to be seen as a mature big sister to Hotaru (because Natsumi definitely doesn't see her as one). Natsumi is still a pain, but the series finds funny new spins even three seasons in to mess with her. One of my personal favorite scenes of the season comes when she and Komari are playing and she accidentally makes a hole in the wall of their house. The rest of the segment is her trying to think of ways to cover up said hole, only for a reveal at the end that her mother created the hole. And then Natsumi falls and creates an even bigger hole. Oh Natsumi.
Another fun segment has Natsumi and Hikage trying to hide evidence of a broken planter, which dives into their childhoods more. It's a rare time in the show Hikage acts like, well, an actual caring person too, so points for that! There's also a fun scene with them boycotting summer holiday homework. You can guess the conclusion to that. There's also an episode where Natsumi teams up with her teacher Kazuho to "trick" her mother into thinking she's a good student when the parents of the students have to come to school for a day. The results are hilarious and one I dare not spoil.
Komari continues being a sweetheart on a never-ending journey to be seen as a responsible older sister figure to Hotaru...when she isn't freaking out at the sight of an ermine running around her house, her alone to deal with its antics. Or trying to cook for her family, and her humorous attempts to mix it up that even Akane Tendo would shudder at the idea of. Sadly compared to her sister, Komari doesn't have a lot of her own stories in Non Non Biyori Nonstop. Fortunately she appears often in the show still, and she bounces so well off of her younger friends it's not a big deal. Kana Asumi's adorable voice acting is always welcome.
One thing I always enjoyed about the Non Non Biyori series in general is a feeling of progression. That time does indeed move on for these girls, and things do change. For example, Komari and Natsumi's older brother Suguru graduates from middle school this year, leaving the school with one less student. (And gaining perhaps another in his place.) Shiori talks about earlier in the season that her mother is pregnant, us getting to see said sister in the season finale. And of course the little flashbacks here and there of the characters' pasts, most notably Candy Store's first interactions with Renge. I usually don't like childhood flashbacks in anime much, but Non Non Biyori is an exception to that. I love it when the series explores more about its characters, no matter how minute the scene lasts.
Non Non Biyori Nonstop overall is still a fun, pleasant slice-of-life show, continuing the trend of likable characters in lush scenery with fun stories and set pieces. The Akane stuff is still a bit of a sour spot, but otherwise the quality is about on level with last season. Hopefully we won't have to wait another five years for season four.
Loses a star for Akane, but overall Non Non Biyori Nonstop is still worth the price of admission even the third time around. — Tim Jones
Recommended Audience: If there was anything inappropriate in this show, I definitely didn't recall it. Fine for all audiences.
Version(s) Viewed: crunchyroll.com stream, Japanese with English subtitles
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Non Non Biyori NONSTOP © 2021 Atto / Published by KADOKAWA / Asahigaoka Branch School Management Association Third Term
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