Seriously though, it’s alright.
Non Non Biyori is a series that wears its iyashikei label proudly, albeit not obnoxiously. The iyashikei label carries with it certain responsibilities that must be abided by: A primarily female cast, a younger character talking in deadpan that makes up approximately 99% of the series’ humor/fanservice, and a strict adherence to a “no excitement ever” policy. Basically it’s the kind of show that we at The Cart Driver collectively drool over.
For the most part, it holds up its end of the bargain almost to a fault. The only male with screen presence spends half of that time trapped in a wooden floor, and the only thing approaching excitement is a missed bus ride toward the episode’s end. Basically, it does all it can to deliver the message that day to day life is to be savored, and not callously disregarded in favor of frivolous material gains and unnecessary stress. Most importantly, convenience does not necessarily equal happiness. Sometimes, I can’t help but think that this message is being peddled to the wrong demographic.
For what it’s worth, there is a certain tranquility to be found here, even with the constantly out of tune recorder and harmonica BGM that viciously mauls any potentially negative emotion that might otherwise sprout. The show does a great job at cultivating an ideal environment for the viewer to project their idyllic fantasies on, thanks in part to making the village feel virtually untainted by the scourge of modernity. The setting is lovably rendered, but lacks a personality to really bring it to life; personality would imply some kind of excitement after all, which we already covered as a bad thing.
It’s somehow not boring (and not at all creepy I swear), to play witness to school-age children frolicking about without a care in the world, and periodically reminding me that they leave their houses unlocked at night. They aren’t memorable and dynamic leads, but they do a great job at conveying the laughable irrelevance of their existences in as endearing a fashion as possible. Also, for a show with Silver Link’s involvement, there’s a surprising lack of sexual focus. The fact that it involves middle schoolers only makes this more surprising. The camera refuses to do anything but show off the lovely scenery, and not once does a character mention tits.
Ultimately, the actual characters and their lives play second fiddle to the series’ insistence on bombarding its viewers with gorgeous pastoral scenery. Even the message that the countryside holds untold visual riches is overshadowed by the insistence on forcing that scenery on the audience. This isn’t a bad thing, since it is very pretty, but it does make the appeal of the show rather one-dimensional in nature. Still, at the very least Non Non Biyori will probably keep up its “momentum” for most of its run. I’d hardly call it a good start, but it sure as shit isn’t bound to get anybody riled, unless they really hate rural Japanese villages for some reason.