Who are we to decide that Slice of Life is a genre filled with shows that are all the same? Isn’t there still a batch of examples that still have those same aspects of what makes Slice of Life and still create a fresh atmosphere and aura to its world and characters? The answer is quite simply: yes. There are still shows of this nature that do provide more than just cute girls doing cute things, though there’s nothing inherently bad about it to begin with. To this, Non Non Biyori is one such show that fits the category perfectly as an instant slice of life classic.
One phrase that perfectly summarizes the show as whole would be, a breath of fresh air. I mean that literally too. If there is one thing that does distinguish Non Non Biyori from most shows like it is the blissful atmosphere that engulfs the world of the show. From its character interactions being so grounded in real-life, down-to-earth manner that actually makes it more memorable and so real to the environment to the subtle hints of its artistry to the backgrounds and characters. With the plot detailing the issues of differentiating what city life is like than the rural countryside areas of society, it doesn’t necessarily paint a perfect demonstrated structure of how the plot goes. But if you look at it further down the road, that really isn’t very necessary for this show. It just lets the plot speak for itself through normal day dialogue rather than pointless exposition to explain anything since there’s hardly anything to explain in the first place. Sure, that might capsulize the slice of life genre as a whole, but Non Non Biyori is probably one of the few that does it better than the vast majority of them.
What little plot that Non Non Biyori showcases makes up for the supreme colorful cast of characters that make the show worthwhile to watch all the way through. Every single girl has their own unique personality that distinguishes them from the rest in terms of how the writers build up to how their sense of humor is like in the comedy. They aren’t just this mesh of girls that have personality A, B, or C, the difference of personality constructs them up to actually feeling like real human beings that anybody can relate to whether it be from their own disposition or their typical actions. Renge, for instance, is the youngest of the bunch and you’d think that they’d make her into this really young girl who acts older than her original age but it is, in fact, quite the opposite to this general aspect; at least in most cases to be specific. Her kindergarten mind ranges from being cute and curious that, in some cases, can be construed to how come kids at her age act in a civil manner.
Expanding on my point about the artistry, the art is actually pretty breathtaking to look at considering how minimal the scope is to the show. It actually enhances the atmosphere greatly in its relaxed tone and inflection from how the characters look so crisp and clear from the actual colors and designs of them. The backgrounds especially give a wide range of detail into perfecting this countryside town in giving its structure more creativity and care to designing how the characters live through their day-to-day lives.
What’s quite unique about the comedy itself is how the timing is so minimal and slow that quickly makes the scenes more memorable just from the silence and pauses that lasts up to even about ten seconds. Again, the atmospheres helps to the show’s credit with this in that the environment is so chill and down-to-earth that the jokes fit the show perfectly, even with its mild attempts at trying to be wacky in typical moe comedy fashion. That at least is always welcomed, thanks to the hilarious antics of Renge and Natsumi, who’s air-headed ways always tickles the moe-bone whenever her actions are on-screen.
Casting couldn’t have been better to give these characters the voices that fits them very well to their archetypes. Highlights include Kana Asumi with her very distinct, sarcastic voice that matches very well to Komari’s senpai attitude that all the other girls look up to her. Ayane Sakura has definitely made a name for herself in the seiyuu community by gracing her beautiful voice on the spotlight and she has done it once again with Natsumi, a role that was begging to be played by her; though it would be interesting to hear someone like Yui Ogura to play her as well.
For what it is, Non Non Biyori might be a big surprise for anyone who might be getting a little tired of the Slice of Life genre dominating the majority of the seasons lately. I myself am one of these people, though I don’t necessarily have any contempt or hatred to all of the shows like this, but Non Non Biyori is a clear sign that the genre definitely has a lot of things going for it and reminds us why it’s still considered a popular genre for so many people. One thing that the show does do amazingly right in slice of life, is perfectly capturing what it was like to be middle school aged kid. In that it does want us to remember what it was like being at that age filled with mystery and friends, or lack thereof. Most slice of life fail to capture this essence but we finally have one, and its name is Non Non Biyori.