There are so many popular anime series airing this season, it can be quite overwhelming to try to keep up with them all. Big-name shows returning for new or final seasons, like The Promised Neverland, Laid-Back Camp, BEASTARs, Attack on Titan, Re:Zero, and That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime. Also hugely popular newly-airing shows like Mushoku Tensei and Horimiya. No less than five idol anime, for fans of that genre. In a monster anime season like this, it can be easy to overlook something like Non Non Biyori Nonstop, the long-awaited third season and fan favorite. It’s a really exciting anime, packed with nonstop action, like this!
Non Non Biyori is the Perfect Lazy Slice of Life Anime
Yes, Non Non Biyori — the title translates as “a great day for lazing around doing nothing” — is pretty much the perfect stress-free anime for relaxing after a hard day at work. Once again we once again get to spend lazy days with all our friends, Komari and her younger sister Natsumi, the adorable first-grader Renge (Ren-chon to her friends), the dagashi shop owner everyone calls Candy Store, and of course the adorable big-city girl Hotaru, who moved from bustling Tokyo to this tiny rural community.
Non Non Biyori Makes Us Smile about Living in a Rural Area
J-List is based in Isesaki, a small city of 200,000 located 100 km (60 miles) northwest of Tokyo. It’s a pretty unremarkable place all around, famous (?) for being the birthplace of Nichijo creator Keiichi Arawi, which is why that anime is filled with gag references to Gunma Prefecture. While we’re nowhere as rural as the small town Non Non Biyori is based in — Ogawa-cho in Saitama Prefecture, population 28,490 — there are enough similarities to make Mrs. J-List and me smile. For example:
- J-List’s DVD and ero toy buyer Tomo grew up in a more rural part of Gunma, and had fewer than 100 students at his entire elementary school, meaning just 20 students per grade. The extremely rural train line near his house is featured in an episode of Rail Wars. There are fewer children in the entire elementary school now.
- In one scene, the girls go “shopping”… to a stand-alone vegetable stand where people take whatever vegetables they need, leaving the money in a lockable box. There’s one of these vegetable stands right around the corner from J-List that I often visit and buy cucumbers.
- In the anime, pretty much everyone has a shed next to their house containing the tractor they use to plow their fields during planting season, which is pretty much what I see in most of the houses around J-List.
- Renge puts an n sound at the end of her sentences, which is pure Gunma-ben, the dialect spoken around J-List. Oddly enough, she is the only character speaking that way.
One relaxing and stress-free anime I hope you’re following is #NonNonBiyori. The new season is really enjoyable!
Hotaru is in the fifth grade yet is tall for her age, to the point that everyone assumes she’s older than she is. Her obsession with Komari-senpai is adorable. pic.twitter.com/X28u1y1rm0
— Peter Payne (@JListPeter) February 21, 2021
The Characters are All Adorable
As in all good slice-of-life shows, it’s the cuteness of the characters and how they interact with each other that makes the show fun. The stories are all simple and relaxing, involving topics like:
- The Miyauchi family decides to plant some tomatos, and Ren-chon insists on calling everyone over to help. They build a greenhouse so the tomatoes will be warm.
- Hotaru, who has a bit of an unhealthy obsession with Komari-senpai, does something embarrassing in front of her.
- Everyone goes camping, and Ren-chon won’t rest until she’s caught a beetle to keep as a pet.
- Renge finds a lost child and helps her get home. The girl calls her onee-chan, which thrills Ren-chon, who’s never been called that before.
It Reminds us that Japan is Heiwa (Peaceful)
I grew up in the 70s watching the golden age of reruns, long before the current “Cambrian explosion” of content from Netflix, HBO, and Amazon Prime. It was a simpler era when the sudden rise in UHF TV stations created a demand for a lot of television content, and the logical answer was to show reruns of great shows from the past. The result was that I was able to grow up watching classic programs from before I was born, like Leave it to Beaver, Father Knows Best, I Dream of Genie, and Bewitched. All these shows painted a rosy picture of a simpler time from the past.
Although Non Non Biyori doesn’t have a nostalgia factor per se, as it takes place in the present day, it does show us that there are places that where “slow life” is the norm, far from the busy bustle of big cities, where going for a long walk around the rice fields is a perfectly enjoyable activity to entertain yourself with.
Anime is Real, and You Can Visit!
Ever since 2002’s Onegai Teacher, pretty much every anime has gone out of its way to be set in a real physical location. Sometimes this is done as a shout-out by the creators, like when light novelist Nagaru Tanigawa set the Haruhi-verse in his home school in Nishinomiya, complete with the grueling 2 km uphill trek from the station, or when AnoNatsu creator Mari Okada set the story in her home city of Chichibu, Saitama Prefecture, to help encourage “otaku tourism.” Everything you see in Non Non Biyori is real, and you can visit the small classroom where the characters in the anime study at and even sit down at Ren-chon’s desk if you like. So as soon as we’re all able to travel again, we hope you’ll be able to make plans to visit Japan and make a pilgrimage to all your favorite anime “holy lands”!
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