TL;DR – it is not just the characters are too cute, it is also all those wonderful moments that can be experienced in childhood that are captured in this slice-of-life anime.
Review (warning: spoilers)
There is something about how anime captures the country. The picturesque mountains, rolling green fields, lush forests, running creeks and clear blue skies. Non Non Biyori is just such an anime, set in the little country town Asahigaoka and shows a landscape beauty that had me wanting to live there.
And then you get to meet a cast of characters that are unbelievably cute. The most adorable of these is Renge, a first-grade student whose every action makes you want to pick her up and cuddle her. Then you have sisters, Natsumi and Komari. Natsumi (first-year middle school) is the younger sister, gregarious, flighty, and taller than her older sister. Komari (second-year middle school) is a bit more serious and does not like being teased by her younger sister about her short stature. The fourth and final main character is Hotaru, a fifth grade student, who has transferred from Tokyo.
Because Asahigaoka has so few people and kids, the school has only one class whereby all four of our main cast attend with a third-year middle school boy named Suguru (the older brother of Natsumi and Komari).
Each episode of Non Non Biyori captures the innocence of youth, and the simplicity of living in a small country village compared to city life. From the first episode where Renge uses a stick to draw a line in the dirt path to ensure she does not get lost, you know exactly what you are watching. An anime about childhood games and adventures, a place where technology has not infiltrated every nook and cranny, and the joy of friendships. Non Non Biyori is a place where you can breathe in the fresh air and take your time, where you can stop and smell the cherry blossoms, and take a stroll without fear of getting mugged.
The charm and humour exudes in every episode. For example, how an anime can make a kid’s game involving knocking rulers back and forth enjoyable is beyond me but somehow Non Non Biyori succeeds in doing just that. Another example is watching our foursome go about cleaning a pool during a hot summer day, the sound of cicadas in the background, and the things they do to try and make the job more enjoyable. Their antics are both funny and innocent in equal measure. And that is the key to this anime’s appeal. Only those who have a heart of stone would find Non Non Biyori unenjoyable.
8 out of 10