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Non Non Biyori - Season 1 (Blu-ray Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000222524
Added by: Jitendar Canth
Added on: 17/6/2023 14:42
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    Review for Non Non Biyori - Season 1

    9 / 10


    I wonder if my subtle pestering has paid off. MVM work hand in glove with Sentai Filmworks to release anime in the UK, and they have released many ‘iyashikei’ heartwarming slice of life shows. And when I reviewed them, I’d often sneak in an “it’s good, but it’s no Non Non Biyori”. Proof then, that someone reads these reviews, as this summer MVM are now releasing all three seasons of Non Non Biyori, and the spin-off feature film as well. That’s good for me as while Sentai released the first two seasons on DVD which I could spin, their Blu-rays were locked to Region A, and while they initially suggested that they would continue to release franchises started on DVD on that format, anime DVDs pretty much died out by the time Sentai got to releasing the third season and the movie of Non Non Biyori. This summer I’ll be watching all of Non Non Biyori on Blu-ray.

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    It could have been a painful culture shock when Hotaru Ichijo’s father got transferred out of Tokyo for work. Taking a city girl and putting her in the middle of the countryside is isolating enough, but 5th year Hotaru’s new school is small! It takes place in one classroom combining Elementary and Middle Schools, and has just four other students, siblings Natsumi, Komari and Suguru Koshigaya, in 7th, 8th, and 9th years respectively, and young Renge Miyauchi is a first year. Renge’s oldest sister Kazuho is their teacher. It could have been a big shock, but in Renge, Natsumi and Komari, Hotaru’s found her best friends.

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    12 episodes of Non Non Biyori are presented across 2 Blu-rays from MVM.

    Disc 1
    1. A New Transfer Student Came
    2. We Went to the Candy Store
    3. I Ran Away from Home with My Sister
    4. Summer Vacation Started
    5. I Pretended I Forgot My Swimsuit
    6. I Became a Ghost and Tried Hard
    7. My Rice Crackers Turned into Curry
    8. We Cooked Rice at School
    9. We Tried Having a Cultural Festival

    Disc 2
    10. We Watched the First Sunrise of the Year
    11. We Made Snow Houses
    12. Spring Came Again

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    Non Non Biyori gets a 1.78:1 widescreen 1080p transfer on these discs, and it offers smooth, clear and vibrant animation. The image is clear and sharp, compression is minimal, and the colours are bright and vivid. The character designs are appealing, and friendly, but the world design, the rural setting really makes the show warm and nostalgic. Studio Silver Link do the honours, and they present an expressive and character focused animation. And as you would expect from the Blu-ray, it is a significant uplift from the DVD when it comes to clarity, richness of colours, and detailed line art and animation.

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    The audio comes in DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo Japanese flavour, with player locked English subtitles. The dialogue is clear, and the sound comes across without any glitches or dropouts. The subtitles are accurately timed and free of typos. The show gets some really nice music, a nano.RIPE opening theme, and the voice cast supplying the end theme in character, while the show’s incidental music suits the rustic feel perfectly. The character voices too are perfect, great performances that really engage the audience with the characters.

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    You get two discs in a BD Amaray style case, with one disc on a centrally hinged panel. MVM offer a reversible sleeve if you don’t like BBFC ratings logos. The discs boot to static menus and each episode is followed by a translated English credits scroll.

    The extras on disc 2 comprise the textless opening and two textless closings.

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    If it wasn’t so far away from the city, everyone would live in the country. Every time I see a show like Non Non Biyori, or Silver Spoon, movies like Only Yesterday, I get hit with a massive dose of nostalgia for those family vacations I had as a child, when we’d visit the ‘old country’. Miles from the city in rural Punjab, it was a big, fun adventure for a child, making new friends, exploring the countryside, and Non Non Biyori in particular takes me right back. Of course it doesn’t hurt that it’s just a brilliant, warm-hearted, slice of life comedy, revelling in friendship, and adopting the same languid pace as its setting implies. Slice of life shows are ten-a-penny these days in anime, but Non Non Biyori’s particular niche, following four friends in that countryside setting makes it stand out above the rest.

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    Non Non Biyori follows four friends over the course of a year, after Hotaru moves to the village from Tokyo. She’s actually younger than sisters Natsumi and Komari, but she’s taller, and looks more mature for her age, especially with her cosmopolitan outlook and dress sense. Komari’s the eldest of the group, but she’s short for her age, shorter than her sister, and tries to be the mature one, although she’s let down by being easily flustered, and spooked. Hotaru thinks she’s adorable, and quickly develops a schoolgirl crush. Natsumi’s the brash extrovert, not too smart, but quick with the daft ideas. Renge is the adorable, cute, youngest member of the group, only just starting elementary school, and fitting the grey-haired, expressionless stereotype, but with a seriously quirky and odd outlook on life. The four quickly become close friends, when Komari, Natsumi and Renge welcome Hotaru into their lives.

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    Other notable characters include Renge’s eldest sister Kazuho, who is the school teacher, although given that everyone is in different grades, it’s all self-study and working from textbooks, so she tends to sleep, or find ways to have an easier life. Kaede Kagaya runs the local candy store, and she also helped babysit Renge when she was younger, and of course there is Natsumi and Komari’s mother, Yukiko, who has to confront Natsumi’s idiocy on more than one occasion. I mustn’t forget to mention Komari and Natsumi’s older brother Suguru, a constant presence in class, but who never get the chance to speak in the show, added comic relief in an entertaining comedy.

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    There’s no great plot or narrative to Non Non Biyori. It’s all about the friendships, as the girls hang out and have fun together, and we dip in and out of their lives over the course of the year. The first episode sets things up, introducing the city girl to a rural setting, and offering a bit of culture clash as they get to know each other, and as Renge, Komari, and Natsumi show Hotaru around. One nice touch is that Hotaru is the only girl with a house-key in a village where no one has a lock on their door.

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    Subsequently, it’s the little vignettes in their lives that entertain, such as Komari offering to meet up with Hotaru to show her around the village, only Hotaru dresses up and Komari doesn’t recognise her; or the class outing being a trip to Kazuho’s family fields to plant some rice, a regular ploy to get free labour. Renge’s other sister Hikage comes back from school in Tokyo ready to show off how chic she now is; only she loses her air of superiority when she meets Hotaru. A day at the beach doesn’t start well for Komari when she hasn’t grown enough to warrant buying a new swimsuit, and it gets worse when she’s mistaken for a lost infant. Hotaru’s Komari crush gets out of hand, and explodes out of a closet. Renge and Hotaru are outsmarted by a bunny, Komari can’t cook. It turns out that a school with just five children can’t really put on a Cultural Festival. Being snowed in at school can be fun. And Komari really, really can’t cook!

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    Writing about what happens in Non Non Biyori is really a pointless exercise. Most of the events here are trivialities with little dramatic or narrative import, but a sense of fun and heart. They are little moments of comedy in everyday life. What make the show so special aside from the wonderfully drawn and realised rural setting, are the characters and their interactions. You wind up investing in these characters, falling in love with them, hanging on their every word, revelling in their joyful friendship, laughing at their silly mishaps, and occasionally feeling for them as well. There’s one, summer holiday episode, where Renge makes friends with a girl named Honoka visiting from the city. It will be the coldest of hearts that won’t feel for Renge in this story.

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    Non Non Biyori is just fun. When I was a little boy, I’d have hours of fun, just hanging out with my friends, goofing around. Now I’m all grown up, I can do it vicariously, watching Non Non Biyori. These are 12 perfect episodes of nostalgia. I loved Non Non Biyori when I streamed it. I loved it on the Region 1 DVDs that I imported, and I love it even more on MVM’s Blu-ray release. If you want the ultimate feel-good anime, it doesn’t get much better than Non Non Biyori.

    Non Non Biyori Season 1 can be bought directly from MVM’s webstore, Anime Online, United Publications, All the Anime, and mainstream retailers.

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