Settle down on the sofa and get comfy with your favourite cold beverage and prepare to relax once again with one of the comfiest anime in town! Non Non Biyori Repeat brings us back to the peaceful countryside village of Asahigaoka for a whole new bunch of hijinks with schoolgirls Renge, Hotaru, Natsumi and Komari.
Unlike most sequels, Non Non Biyori Repeat takes us back through the same period of time shown in the first season, covering transfer student Hotaru’s first year in the village. This may seem odd at first as you start off watching the same initial setup, but it ends up working really well in the long run as it gives it the opportunity to dive deeper into the main characters and show us a different angle on already established events.
Instead of placing its initial focus on Hotaru, we instead see things more from Renge’s perspective, with the opening episode acting more as a prequel as it shows her entering the school for the first time as a student, complete with all the nerves and jitters that that entails! It’s a cute opener and a really open way to start the series that means you can jump into this fresh whether you’ve seen the first season or not. For those that haven’t, Episode 2 provides a handy recap that re-introduces Hotaru, before it jumps back into all new content that helps elaborate on just why she becomes so latched-on to Komari. Apart from these and giving a different angle on certain things like public holidays, the rest of the show is brand-new and is designed to slot nicely in between episodes from the first season in a way that you could watch them together in chronological order if you wanted to.
It’s interesting to compare the two though, as it feels like Repeat has a more comedic tone with funnier stories. Moments like Renge scaring Komari with her teru teru bozu costume, Komari falling victim to a “curse” which sees her getting endlessly soaked when cleaning the school pool, and Hotaru fangirling over her favourite magical girl anime to the oblivious Natsumi are all a delight and had me in absolute stitches at points! I think this also helped the pacing a bit too, as I felt that even in some of the slower episodes I was still engaged as it was more focused on what the characters were doing, rather than just painting a picture of that idyllic country life.
It still does the latter in Repeat from time to time however, and its effectiveness varies a lot from being a much-needed breather to an awkward distraction. There’s a moment in the first episode for example where the kids are singing the school song, and I felt that the camera should have been on them rather than panning over the landscape. I can see what it was going for, but I felt that it misplaced the emotional beat from what I personally wanted to see.
Apart from this slight misstep it still retains the first series’s strength of delivering on producing heart-warming moments and solid character development despite having more of a focus on the comedy. Renge once again gets perhaps the most emotional of these, with episodes that show her learning to ride her bike or coming to understand the life cycle of tadpole shrimp, but it still does a good job of balancing the characters out and driving each of them out of their comfort zone. As much as the show is about having fun, I like that it is eager to throw its characters in at the deep end (sometimes literally!) and see them come out better for it on the other side; or to put it in other terms, it’s as rewarding as seeing your own children or younger siblings grow up and in that sense it can be very relatable.
It does however skimp out on the adult characters this time around. There’s the odd moment here and there, like Kaede making okonomiyaki, Kazuho taking the kids to see the fireflies or Hotaru’s mother playing along with her wanting to be treated like a child; but they are largely background characters here which is a little bit of a shame as they were handled so well in the first season.
The series continues to be produced by Silver Link, and the animation is consistent with the first season, offering that same bold and colourful look with characters standing out against some beautiful painterly background art. Individual character designs feel more at home here in context as well, as specific parts of the story address things like characters looking too old or too young for their age.
The soundtrack also continues to deliver, with Hiromi Mizutani composing a new batch of wholesome background music to sit alongside returning pieces and themes from the first season, which all blends into the overall soundscape to really build that immersive and peaceful countryside atmosphere. Pop band nano.RIPE return with a lovely new opening theme, “Kodama Kotodama”, while the main cast perform the ending theme “Okaeri”, which serves as a charming bookend to each episode.
Non Non Biyori Repeat is brought to us via MVM and contains all 12 episodes of the TV series in a subtitle- only release. Again, while I think having a dub would have opened the series up to more people, it’s not a deal breaker and the Japanese cast continue to put in some great work, really pulling off the kids’ voices. Kotori Koiwai is still the stand-out here with the amount of authenticity she gives Renge, but there’s plenty to enjoy from the other cast members too.
I wasn’t a big fan of what Sentai have tried to do with the subtitles though. The main subtitle track is largely fine, but it feels like they’ve gone overboard elsewhere, with signs and symbols in all sorts of different fonts and colours. Meanwhile, the script is peppered with translator notes that feel rather unnecessary in places, with some giving off a “keikaku means plan” vibe with how literally they explain one Japanese word that could have been replaced in the main subtitle track. It feels like they are trying to copy from how Discotek have upped their game on subtitling but have completely flopped on the execution. The original review copy we were given also had no main subtitle track on Episode 3, but after contacting MVM, we were issued a reprint that fixed this, so it should be fine for its actual release.
While there’s still no inclusion of the OVA episode for this season, extras are much improved with a selection of commentary tracks for certain episodes, as well as cast interviews, the “Dagashi” bonus series which lets the main cast members loose in a Japanese sweet shop, trailers, promotional videos, and clean opening and ending animations.
Overall, Non Non Biyori Repeat is a strong and consistent follow-up to the original series that continues to show us a relaxing and wholesome country life through the eyes of its fun and charming cast of characters, as they laugh, learn and grow through a variety of engaging adventures. Leaning more into the comedy gives it a slightly different flavour but doesn’t diminish its core qualities, while its approach of adding more content onto the same window gives returning fans enough reason to come back without alienating newcomers. Some annoyances with the subtitles aside, this is an amazingly fun show and one that I’d definitely recommend picking up.