Nonchan Noriben

Original Title: のんちゃんのり弁
Alternate English Title: Noriben – The Recipe for Fortune
Release date: September 26, 2009
Director: Akira Ogata
Marga by: Kiwa Irie
Screenplay by: Takuji Suzuki, Akira Ogata
Cast: Manami Konishi, Yoshinori Okada, Rio Sasaki, Jun Murakami, Sayaka Yamaguchi, Ittoku Kishibe, Mitsuko Baisho

Considering Ghost’s Top10 list, he doesn’t know what good life is.

Just like Charaben is a portmanteau of the words “character” and “bento,” a Noriben is a portmanteau of the words for “seaweed” (nori) and “bento” []. It’s just that… a lunchbox of rice and seaweed, so what’s special about that?

Nonchan Noriben is a movie about a woman’s struggle to get on her feet after she decides to get a divorce, just as much as it is a movie about food-making.

Actress Manami Konishi — who coincidentally also has a movie called Udon in her filmography — plays Komaki, a 31-year-old woman leaving her good-for-nothing novelist husband Noritomo (Okada), who lives on his parents’ paychecks. She’s had enough of him and serves him with divorce papers to sign, as she leaves for her mother’s (Baisho) place with her daughter, Noriko (Sasaki), who lives for one thing only: her mother’s handmade, simple but delicious Noribento.

Surprisingly, Nonchan Noriben isn’t a feminist movie that puts down its male characters to make our heroine shine. Sure, it may look that way at first, showing us all of Noritomo’s faults as a husband, but in the end, we are shown how faulty both of them actually were~ I mean, dude. The girl serves her husband divorce papers without warning! And it all ends with a comically dramatic show of hands between ex-husband and ex-wife… that I’m not entirely sure works, but it sure puts an end to the conflict.

But we’re here about the food. Nonchan Noriben‘s relationship to food is a rather special one, avoiding the showing of fancy food in favor of very simple dishes — like simple mackerel with sauce — and favoring healthy, balanced seaweed lunchboxes instead of fancy lunch menus. The movie even includes animated segments to explain what each different Noriben includes as ingredients… layer by layer.

Komaki’s own relationship to food is also interesting to watch, considering she’s not used to eating out and completely ADORES making lunchboxes for other people, until finally she realizes she can open her own lunchbox place! It’s actually halfway through when Nonchan Noriben finally gets a clear path of where it wants to head.

But the prize for best enjoyment of food has got to go to the adorable Rio Sasaki, who apparently was cast in the role of Komaki’s Noriben-loving daughter for her Noriben-eating abilities during the casting sessions. It’s so good to see people on screen actually enjoying their on-screen food with much gusto.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Part of the 2012 YAMYUM Food Blogathon.


YAM Magazine editor, photographer, blogger, translator and part-time web designer. Film junkie, music junkie… and lately series (a.k.a. TV) junkie.

2 Responses

  1. ghost says:

    All things considered, maybe you should have an Iijima tag after all.

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