Winter 2021 is packed to the lid with new, quality anime and sequels that were both the results of COVID delays and the introduction to a new year of excitement. In May, right as we were seeing several COVID-related delays push anime back to Winter 2021 and beyond, studio Silver Link announced they would be releasing the third season of Non Non Biyori. As far back as then, fans anticipated the breath of fresh air amidst the chaos Renge, Hotaru, and the Koshigaya sisters would bring audiences. Some, however, feared that the six-year-long gap in production might make the sequel lesser. I am happy to say that, on first impressions, Non Non Biyori Nonstop is exactly the kind of sequel everyone had hoped it would be without any production drama or drops in quality.
The most incredible part of Non Non Biyori Nonstop is, undoubtedly, how this season does not feel out of step from the rest of the series despite long break between seasons. For being a slice-of-life series with comedy, the tried-and-true formula of following these girls along their small rural town remains warm and entertaining. Structurally, the anime follows the same delivery as the previous seasons perfectly — there are still both those last scenes with a quick comedy bit and the next episode previews are shown on a small CRT in the corner of an empty living room. It would be challenging to spot many differences between these seasons- if a few clips from these first few episodes were mixed into a compilation, chances are it would be difficult to distinguish ones from this season as being more than half a decade removed from the rest. This is certainly a good thing, as the standard the series hums at is one of greatness.
Renge, the first grader with spirit in droves, continues to be the star of the show. It remains endlessly entertaining to watch her find imaginative pastimes and her world in such an innocent way, and her over-the-top revelations and assumptions remain as memorable as ever. Koiwai Kotori returns as the Japanese voice actress for the little fledging musician, bringing a charm that is almost nostalgic. The charm of the other characters are still entertaining with full force, but I would be remiss not to focus on the character that serves as an embodiment of the series.
Nature itself serves as a character in the anime as a healthy amount of time is spent on beautiful shots of the environments and ambient noise. Especially with the latter, these make for a calm, soothing mood that is unlike many other anime. Much of this I attribute as keen attention to detail, as it could be easy to remove subtle touches like the consistent sounds of rain hitting windows and rooftops or soil crunching as the girls help with gardening. I have seen several people on anime Twitter mention this being a solid “end of week” watch, and I think the mood and attention to such natural details go a long way in contributing towards this.
Considering downsides to the anime, this familiarity might not be as well-received by those expecting a significant jump in animation after six years. There being six years between seasons in general might be enough to drive some viewers away from the new installment. Non Non Biyori is one of the textbook definitions of a pure slice-of-life anime, and those who are bored by relaxed pacing might not be able to settle into the series. The “feelgood” comfort might not be challenging enough for some viewers and, as a result, not be very entertaining.
While there are plenty of newer anime in the comedy genre or sequels that are action-packed in Winter 2021, Non Non Biyori: Nonstop is well worth a look for its relaxing execution alone. Renge, Hotaru, the Koshigaya sisters, and all of their friends are as endearing as ever and their adventures are both heartwarming and genuinely amusing. Much has changed over the last six years, but this anime has remained evergreen. In a world with no shortage of negativity and an abundance of evils, Non Non Biyori: Nonstop is a rejuvenating reminder of just how much wonderment, joy, optimism, innocence, and beauty there is in the everyday world of a child.
This article is a part of a series where my fellow AniTAY authors and I offer our initial thoughts on the shows that caught our eye from the 2021 season. Check out our previous entries below, and stay tuned for more!
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