Well this review is pretty late isn’t it? Regrettably this much was pretty much unavoidable as at time of writing I was moving back to university after spending the summer back with my family in my hometown and my internet service provider, bt, were dragging their heals about activating my broadband so I have had to live with only the 3G on my phone as a lifeline to the digital world. Of course reasons are not necessarily excuses an it is possible that I could have gotten this uploaded earlier using public Wi-Fi in a restaurant or something but, well my internet providers were not the only utility company to mess me around (I seriously have to worst luck when it comes to these things) and going out and spending the time formatting and uploading posts is sadly something that got pushed down on the priorities list.
But enough of me complaining about real world problems (I’m willing to bet more than a few of you aren’t even old enough to be bothered by these kinds of things yet, you lucky sods); Non Non Biyori episode 10:
This week things go really rather deep and I very much feel that Non Non Biyori is very often understated in just how emotionally complex many of its situations are. Situations that are really well juxtaposed against the very light-hearted and jovial would in which the story exists so as if to provide an example of just this episode 10, and by extension my commentary on it will begin in such a manner.
Episode 10 kicks off with a short scene featuring Renge and the ever trollish Konomi with the latter tricking the former into believing that she is, in fact, a youkai firstly with a pair of vinyl gloves and then with a magic trick making it look as though her thumb has been severed from her hand. A most amusing scene indeed, but Konomi is not quite so immature enough to do this for kicks so further plays on Renge’s innocence by telling her than she too can become a youkai by studying maths and doing well in exams (If it were that simply then I fear a certain grumpy shrine maiden might be very annoyed). Needless to say the illusion of Konomi being the friendly neighborhood youkai does not last for ever and the spell is broken by the explaining the follows Renge discovering that it is not only Konomi who can do the thumb trick.
However, as it have previously stated, this episode does get emotionally deep so, all be it with the benefit of looking at things retrospectively, why chose to start off the episode with this scene specifically? This much is quite obvious really, it emphasizes Renge’s age and reminds us that despite being a very complex and profound child, a child she still is. Which brings us nicely on to the much talked up component of the episode. In simple terms it is about Renge learning to ride her bike without stabilizers however I wouldn’t be banging on about it this much were it only that much. Naturally learning to ride a bike at such a young age is going to result in falling off a couple of times and as such is something best done under supervision but due to her drive for getting on with it and the fact that people generally have pretty full schedules it falls to Kaede to somewhat supervise her practicing outside of her shop. Kaede feels rather guilty about this when she discovers that Renge’s knees are scuffed up but bandages them up and sends her on her way, ‘Renge is hardy after all.’
A phone call from Kazuho-Sensei the next day informing Kaede that Renge has become unwell, coming down with a fever. Griped with guilt, Kaede dramatically closes up shop for the day and tears her way over on her motorbike. Only to arrive at possibly the worst moment for her dignity as she bursts into the room with a concerned look on her face only to find that Hotaru, Komari and Natsumi are already there, visiting their friend who was absent from school. Natsumi takes this chance to tease Kaede who promptly goes very much tsun-tsun and attempts to hide her purposes but this much is really a blessing in disguise as it breaks the tension and lets her know that Renge is ok, staying until she has gone to bed and then promptly falls asleep in the Miyauchi house. She wakes up later and is given dinner also finding that while she was asleep Renge had placed a coat over her.
Disappointed with herself and guilty that even in her sickened state, Renge was considerate, Kaede endeavours to do a better job of looking out for Renge so when she is in good enough shape Kaede deliberately makes time to do a better job of supervising Renge and actually teaching her properly. Needless to say it is time-consuming and hard work (this whole story arc wouldn’t be a thing if it weren’t), showing the entire days’ worth of struggling in a simply beautiful montage. The relationship between these two really is one of the strongest things about Non Non Biyori as a whole. In the various flashbacks we have seen though out the course of both seasons we have been able to watch as Kaede is, for lack of a better word, forced into a role that is neither that of a mother nor an older sister but almost somewhere in-between. After all we have actually yet to see Renge and Kazuho-Sensei’s parents (which I know is kind of par for the course for anime but it is explicitly stated that their parents are not often around) and Kazuho-Sensei, her real sister, is not exactly the best influence and is also busy teaching and farming. I feel that perhaps Kaede is not fully aware of how attached she has become to Renge though, till this episode’s story as it makes Kaede accept her position fully; a “whether she likes it or not, this is the role she plays so she might as well do a good job of it” kind of affair.