Non Non Biyori Vacation
The core female cast of Non Non Biyori, plus Suguru, are off to Okinawa when the latter wins them tickets there. There Natsumi befriends a local Okinawan girl her age named Aoi, while Renge hopes to see a dolphin.
Tim: I typically don't care for anime movies based on televised anime. Not only because they seldom add anything to their respective TV anime counterpart, but also because
1.) They can take years to come out on R1 DVD/Blu-ray after their Japanese release, and
Luckily for me, Non Non Biyori Vacation was worth both the wait and money.
Stig: My feelings about movies tend to center more around what one could expect. If it's a movie based on a shounen franchise, it's gonna be a mixed bag depending on how much the show itself is based around powerlevelling. On the other hand, you can also end up with something really good, like the Natsume's Book of Friends movie or, yes, even the Non Non Biyori Vacation. Mostly because slice of life shows tend to be much nicer to standalone stories. Yeah, Tim's two points still stand, granted - lord knows if I'll ever get to experience the Aria movies - but if we do get them, they're usually worth the time.
At first Non Non Biyori Vacation, at least visual-wise, doesn't look all too much better than the show. The frame rate is about the same and the scenery, while still lush and gorgeous at times like the TV series, is far from theatrical level. (You could probably argue that, since the TV anime season of Non Non Biyori are already pretty gorgeous, you're less liable to notice differences.) That changes, though, once the girls land in Okinawa...for pretty obvious reasons.
Silver Link went all-out on the scenery porn when it comes to Okinawa: vast oceans, wooden signs, the lush palm trees, newly designed buildings, all the way to beautiful night skies. It's easily some of the, if not THE, prettiest visuals Non Non Biyori has ever seen, even if the characters still look a bit wonky in a few farawary shots here and there. In some respect, they probably had to; Non Non Biyori was already a bit of a love letter to pastoral countrysides, so to make Okinawa more appealing, they really couldn't do halfsies on this. (In my case, particularly so, since I live on the west coast of Norway, and the main reason I love living here is that it's an almost literal paradise for the hiker in me. I mean...ask me why I love Encouragement of Climb and Laid-Back Camp as much as I do. - Stig.)
Another plus is that Non Non Biyori Vacation uses its cast very well when it comes to scenes involving them. Since the hotel rooms the cast stay at are divided between adult and kids' rooms, we get to see both sides having fun, sneaking in food, and conversing with one another. Hikage, the oddball out, is given a running gag where due to turbulence from the plane, she partially loses her hearing, and the movie wrings out all the joke it can with this premise. It's a fun break from her usual moaning and childish antics with Natsumi. She also provides quite possibly one of the most over-the-top, bereft-of-dignity ways ever to ask to go to Okinawa, in one of the movie's funniest scenes.
The main stars of the movie, as the synopsis above notes, are Renge and Natsumi. Renge opens the movie by drawing pictures of her hometown of Asahigoaka, and then when she arrives in Okinawa, shows off said pictures to the scenery. It's very much a Renge thing. (And let us add; she's an amazing artist for her young age.) One big hope she holds for the trip is to see a dolphin, so she can draw it and show it back to the scenery of her hometown. So throughout the movie we see more of Renge's cute drawings, again showing us her skills for being such a young child.
But in all honesty, Natsumi of all characters is the star of the movie. She befriends new movie-only character Aoi, the hard-working daughter of the hotel they stay at, who's her polar opposite on an upfront level: polite, helpful, and always helping others. (And no, the movie is not afraid to poke joking jabs at Natsumi on this.) She also has a not-so-secret love of badmington, which she tries (badly) to hide from her mother. (When Natsumi finds out, we learn that she actually is very, very competitive about it.) Aoi even guides the girls on a tour during the end of their trip, resulting in a gorgeous night-time beach scene - you know, part of the scenery-porn-y parcel we mentioned above.
What really makes Non Non Biyori Vacation stand out from a lot of TV anime turned movies is how natural it feels, and yet different at the same time. The Non Non Biyori cast were seldom ones to stand around in one place and just talk, and the movie is no different. On their first full day the girls divide up into two groups for exploration: Kaede/Candy Store takes some of the girls for snorkling, and Kazuho chaperones the rest for kayaking while being (mostly) successful at it. (Making me joke to Stig as we watched the movie, "It's like getting Amanchu!! and the camp episode of Is the Order a Rabbit?? for the price of one!" - Tim). At the same time, them going to Okinawa also leads them go places the TV series didn't, like to more modern stores, an actual school ground, and various local nature sights including, of course, the beach. It really shows the strength of Non Non Biyori that even when you put the cast in a different place/situation, it's still deep down the same series we've grown to know and love over three TV seasons.
It's also a bit bittersweet at the same time to who's ever been on vacation, in a way that's very relatable to kids and even those who remember what it was like to be one. Everyone in the movie is having a fun time, but sadly the days they have to spend at Okinawa are few, and they're far too quickly over. And not to give much away, but not everyone walks away with getting to do the things they wanted to do. They even pull off a touching, sweet scene with Natsumi in a way you wouldn't really expect, but still feels incredibly natural regarding her personality. Granted, Natsumi tends to be the hardest character for adult viewers of Non Non Biyori to enjoy, because a lot of the things she does tend to be less than responsible, but still within the expectations of someone as willful and easily bored as her. But much like jokes about Satanichia (Gabriel Dropout) being dunked on, it gets a bit much with how many jokes in the TV series revolved around Natsumi doing something stupid, and then trying to hide it and being punished when it's inevitably discovered. Hence why it WAS nice when the TV series occasionally showed some of her better side. And Non Non Biyori Vacation shows Natsumi at some of her absolute best, showing just how deep a friendship she developed with Aoi in the small timeframe they knew each other.
Tim: I greatly enjoyed Non Non Biyori Vacation. The scenerty is beautiful, the setting and new characters allow for interesting new dynamics, and of course the ending is so sweet yet sad at the same time. I wish I didn't sit on the movie as long as I did (I didn't buy it until it came time to watch it with Stig for this review), because I ended up greatly enjoying it.
Stig: Much like the Natsume's Book of Friends movie, Non Non Biyori made sure to take all our favorite characters from this show and let them enjoy some new scenery. As nice as their countryside is, this movie is both a nice change of pace and a continuation of everything that makes the characters in it feel like real people, Aoi included. Unlike Tim, I had bought the Blu-ray long beforehand, but for some unexplainable reason, I've been sitting on it all this time. Having watched it, I cannot even fathom why.
Recommended Audience: Very minor fanservice with the older female cast members, since the girls ARE on vacation and all. Nothing else otherwise. Honestly, unless you have a VERY strong wandering eye, you're probably not going to see it as fanservice at all, since there's no leering camera angles.
Version(s) Viewed: Blu-ray (region A), Japanese with English subtitles.
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Non Non Biyori Vacation © 2018 Atto / KADOKAWA CORPORATION / asahigaoka Project the Movie
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