Review for Non Non Biyori Nonstop - Season 3
I love that we’re getting so much Non Non Biyori this summer, one of my favourite slice of life shows. Although it must be said that chronologically, MVM are a little out of kilter, as the first two seasons were produced in 2013 and 2015 respectively. This third season, Nonstop was actually made in 2021, while the movie, which MVM are releasing the month after this third season was actually made in between, in 2018. In short form comedy anime that stretch multiple seasons, it’s easy to suspect that the best material gets adapted first, leaving the lesser content for later seasons to adapt. I hope that’s not the case here, and given that the Non Non Biyori manga continued to be published until 2021, it’s certainly not a forlorn hope. Besides, Non Non Biyori will have to go a long way to disappoint me.
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. Non Non Biyori and Non Non Biyori Repeat covered a whole year in the life of the four friends. Non Non Biyori Nonstop offers more stories that took place during that year.
12 episodes of Non Non Biyori Nonstop plus extras are presented across 2 Blu-rays from Sentai Filmworks.
1. I Played the Frog Song
2. Hotaru Was Really Mature?
3. We Were Always Like This
4. I Turned Into Santa to Deliver Tomatoes
5. I Made Something Incredible
6. We All Went Camping Together
7. It Was a Thrilling Autumn
8. My Senpai Had Entrance Exams Coming Up
9. We Made Tasty Food
10. It Got Cold and Then Hot
11. I Got Drunk and Remembered
12. The Cherry Blossoms Bloomed Again
OAD: Our Club Worked Hard
Non Non Biyori Nonstop 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. The Blu-ray really does deliver when it comes to clarity, richness of colours, and detailed line art and animation.
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 voice acting too is perfect, great performances that really engage the audience with the characters.
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 are on disc 2, and comprise the following...
Textless Openings x2
Textless Closings x3
Previous Season Recap (2:53)
Online Event: Non Non Biyori Meowning Festival (23:26)
With every season, and the movie of Non Non Biyori set during a single year, with episodes usually consisting of short skits, vignettes, or at the most half episode story arcs, you could conceivably just keep on making Non Non Biyori. There are 365 days in a year after all, and as this third season indicates, an expanding roster of characters to tell stories about. Yet there is an air of finality about this third season, a sense that it is drawing a veil over the Non Non Biyori franchise, wrapping up loose ends, and tying up plot threads that you probably didn’t realise existed. If this is the last of Non Non Biyori though, it is a good place to end, as the series never slipped in quality, and always managed to entertain with its heart-warming rural slice of life charm.
You’ll be familiar with Non Non Biyori’s brand of gentle character based comedy at this point, and in many ways, Nonstop offers more of the same. Discussing the best bits of this series, would just really result in a long list of spoilers, so I’ll dodge that bullet. Still, seeing these characters interact, and display their respective foibles and quirks, is still a joy. But supporting that sense of finality, it did seem that more of the jokes were calling back to gags from earlier series, as we get to see Hotaru’s childish side again, Natsumi still doesn’t like to study and is most liable to get in trouble with her mother, Komari is still easily spooked, and Renge’s perspective on the world remains endearingly unique. There are also plenty of flashbacks to when the characters were younger, adding a reflective feel to many of the skits.
There is plenty that is new in this season too, as the roster of characters continues to expand. Konomi was introduced in the first season, a final year student in high school who lives next door to Komari and Natsumi, but after this season introduces her underclassman, a shy girl named Akane, she gets someone to regularly interact with, and they get more screen time. Both Akane and Konomi play flute in the high school band, and Konomi helps Akane practice and overcome her shyness as well. Pretty early on, Renge joins them to practice her recorder.
This season also introduces a young girl named Shiori, a year younger than Renge, and a new friend for her to play with. Shiori’s family are new to the area, and Renge gets to take on the big sister role for once, as she introduces Shiori to the wonders of the countryside.
What really underlines the idea of Nonstop as a conclusion is that it takes a step outside the playing field. The previous seasons of Non Non Biyori stayed within the bounds of that single year. Nonstop takes us right to the end of that school year, and with its final episode takes us to graduation, where Natsumi and Komari’s older brother, the silent Suguru graduates from middle school. There’s a general sense of melancholy for the characters as they see that some things comes to end. Then there is the OAD episode, a special which goes to the start of a potential second year, to remind us that with every end there are beginnings too, as the school gets a new student, Shiori, who is starting elementary school, and will no doubt be calling Renge, senpai. There are plenty of call-backs to earlier series, but this bonus episode also calls back to the movie, so you might want to leave it until MVM release the film.
The nostalgia is strong in this third season of Non Non Biyori. It has a sense of reflection on top of its delightful character comedy, which makes it all the more emotionally evocative. It’s rare to find a franchise that is so consistently strong across all its iterations, but Non Non Biyori has managed just that. This third season is just as recommended as the first two.
Non Non Biyori Nonstop S3 is available direct from MVM's webstore, Anime on Line, United Publications, Anime Limited, and mainstream retailers.