Non Non Biyori Repeat

Non Non Biyori Repeat

imageHotaru Ichijo has moved from Tokyo to attend the sleepy (or at least the teacher is) village school of Asahigaoka Branch School, which has so few pupils (merely four) that they all study in the same classroom. There’s young Renge and the three siblings Komari, Natsumi and Suguru. Non Non Biyori Repeat is the sequel to Non Non Biyori, and continues the girls’ story of  everyday life living deep in the Japanese countryside.

The Non Non Biyori saga returns to our screens with a second season, but things aren’t as straightforward as they seem. This season doesn’t continue on where the first season left off – instead, the opposite happens. Non Non Biyori Repeat goes back before the events of the first season, starting with Renge’s school entrance ceremony (and where she receives her iconic recorder). All events that follow are woven around events that occur in the beginning of the first season.image
But don’t be put off of watching this season just because it sounds like it’s going over ground already covered. Though time is technically not moving forward, the characters do. We get to look at them from new perspectives, in new situations and conversing one-on-one with each other. They progress as characters and we get to see their relationships form anew.image
In my previous Non Non Biyori post, I predicted that a second season would someday be on the cards, and this was because of its ability to strike at my heart with startling precision and deal with what essentially are everyday happenings in such a unique and fascinating way. For example, in the fourth episode, Renge visits the rice fields and catches some tadpole shrimp (and called them all Flatty-san) and keeps a cute, detailed report of their growth in a journal. Unfortunately, she comes to school one day to find that they have all died. Having affected her all day, she buries them in a grave. There’s quite a powerful scene here that just shows Renge standing by the grave, unmoving.Non Non Biyori may be on repeat, but I wouldn't want it any other wayOn the bus ride home, Komari and Hotaru think of ways to cheer her up. They suggest going to catch some more Flatty-sans, but Renge just says listlessly: “That’s OK, I don’t want them to die”. When she gets home, she writes the newest entry in her Flatty-san journal – a single sentence that reads, ‘Flatty-san died’ and draws self-portrait reflecting her current emotions.

Non Non Biyori may be on repeat, but I wouldn't want it any other way
However, Natsumi remembered the life cycle of tadpole shrimp and took a gamble on the previous Flatty-sans laying eggs in the soil of their tank before they died, so she added the soil they threw out back into the tank and set the tank back up again. The eggs hatched over the weekend and Renge was greeted by the sight of baby Flatty-sans on the next day of school. This overjoyed Renge and she immediately started writing a new entry in her Flatty-san journal, visibly wiping away tears while doing so. The entry she wrote simply read, “Flatty-san was born!” I’m not a particular sensitive person, but it’s small yet poignant story-lines like this that encompass just what Non Non Biyori is all about and what makes it stand out from the usual slice-of-life crowd.

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Alongside the plot, we see quirky snapshots of village life that those of us from towns and cities can barely comprehend, such as an unattended roadside stall for vegetables where you take what you want and just drop the money in the box; a single bus that comes through the village once a day and the only shop being a small sweet shop barely maintained by a shopkeeper. Like the last season, the fact that a single episode can base itself around a selection of mundane events and make them so watchable is a big testament to how great the writing is and how endearing the characters are.image
Although Non Non Biyori Repeat is essentially identical to its predecessor, this isn’t a bad thing. It’s good to see the gang back doing more of what we like to see. This is a classic case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. With it’s leisurely pace and beautiful scenery it maintains a sense of nostalgia that we can all relate to from our own childhood experiences: jumping in rivers, going on walks with our friends and being in awe by fireworks. I’m glad I have a second season now to kick back and relax with.

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