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Non Non Biyori Movie: Vacation Anime Cover

Score: 8.23/10

Synopsis

Summer vacation is drawing to an end. When Suguru wins a free trip to Okinawa, all of the five students of Asahigaoka branch school are excited to end their vacation with a bang. Along with Hikage, Konomi, and their teacher and the candy store owner, everyone goes to Okinawa for a fun three-day trip. There, Natsumi makes friends with Aoi, the girl who helps out at the hotel they stay in. (Source: ANN)

I have looked forward to Non Non Biyori: Vacation for quite some time, and I am pleased to report that it stacks up very well against the original series. Continuing from the season 1 OVA, it follows the Asahigaoka group as they travel to tropical Okinawa for a summer vacation.

Story and Character (7/10):
NNB has never held a large focus on narrative, and neither does Vacation, but this is by no means to its detriment. Instead, an essentially anecdotal story is told as the girls explore Okinawa and enjoy themselves. The new setting does not bring any changes to the series’ established structure, and its pacing provides the same mood, ensuring that a few brief laughs are had and that everything remains calming and enjoyable.

Renge, Natsumi, and all other main characters from the original series return, and it’s great to see more of them. Additionally, Aoi, the daughter of an Okinawa hotel owner, joins the group as a newcomer. Her interactions with the group were fun to watch, and I especially liked her friendship with Natsumi. Hopefully she will reappear in any future material.

Coming in, the film does expect viewers to know who the characters are, and they are not introduced individually. Given its short runtime, this is not unexpected, but watching NNB’s first season before jumping into Vacation so that you are familiar with the group definitely enhances the experience.

Art (10/10):
This is where Vacation truly shines. The original series’ art was impressive enough, but the film’s increased production values have provided truly spectacular landscapes that accentuate its relaxing aesthetic. From the streets of Okinawa, to the forest rivers, and to the beach, everything is finely detailed, colorful, and a pleasure to look at. Background objects such as waterfalls feature more vibrant animation, which helps to increase realism.

Side note: if you’re in the market for some new scenery-based desktop backgrounds, look no further than this film.

Sound (7/10):
There isn’t much to discuss in the sound department, as it’s perfectly serviceable. The OP and ED are upbeat, and the soundtrack itself is well-composed and fits NNB’s laid-back nature, but ultimately none of it was too memorable. The seiyuu gave excellent performances as always.

Conclusion:
Non Non Biyori: Vacation is an relaxing visual treat that all fans of the original series will enjoy. It likely won’t win over viewers who aren’t already fans of aesthetic-based slice-of-life anime or CGDCT shows, but for those of you who do enjoy the genre, it’s a short and sweet adventure that’s definitely worth 70 minutes of your time.

I live in Japan and got to see this movie in theaters the day it released. I am currently studying Japanese, and I'm not even at the JLPT N5 level yet. But I still went to see it with obviously no subs, and I enjoyed every second of it! Non Non Biyori was the perfect movie to go see without a grasp on the language because the story-telling is so easy to follow due to visuals and characters. While there is really no "plot" in the movie, you shouldn't expect that if you've already seen the two season of the original series. The girls and friends go on vacation to Okinawa... they eat, they kayak, they snorkle, and they swim. And that's it. The movie is meant to be JUST as feel-good as the series was. The production was very engaging (it had to in order to keep my attention as an English speaker) and very fun for anyone who loved the original show. I also teared up a bit at the end, because Non Non Biyori has always brought a certain innocence and charm that touches my heart.

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