My next topic is Barakamon. Barakamon was really a big surprise for me actually and seeing the comments made on this anime it was a big surprise for everyone else also. Its manga started being published in 2009 by Satsuki Yoshino. Anime aired on television in October, 2013. Barakamon consists of 12 episodes in total and the genre is slice of life.
Okay, moving on to the subject. Our main character Handa Seishu is young and a professional calligrapher like his father. He is granted a big prize in an important competition but when a famous critic defines Handa’s work as ‘mediocre’ and ‘like text-book’ Handa cannot contain himself and punches critic in the face in front of everyone.
Even though Handa thinks that he has every right to punch the old guy, the incident creates a big fuss in the calligraphy community and Handa’s father sends his son off to God-knows-where, an island called Gxxx, for him to reflect upon what he did. Handa seems very unhappy at the beginning; since he has always lived in a big city and lived a comfortable life, it becomes very hard to heat up the water when he wants to take a bath, cook his own meals, having trouble finding transportation and being around ‘villagers’ that have an accent which is very hard to understand. When he finally arrives at the house, the first people to meet are a little girl and the villager guy. Even though Handa tries to get rid of them because he wants to ‘be alone and immersed in writing’ in an arrogant manner, Naru infiltrates the house constantly and continues to ‘bother’ Handa and actually their friendship starts to build up. When people in the village come to Handa’s house during the evening to help him settle down, our city boy understands that the villagers are extremely friendly, helpful and interesting people. Different from the way he lives in Tokyo, people here communicates with each other a lot and this way Handa’s character starts to change, also his calligraphy starts to improve and becomes much more ‘personal’.
The other main character is Handa’s little friend Naru! In the name of manga gods, I cannot even find words to decribe my love towards Naru even though i have a genuine hostility towards children xD. If I were to be given guarantee that my child would be like Naru, I wouldn’t think twice and have someone’s baby right away! I really liked her because she’s designed in an extremely sweet way and have a very nice accent (everyone in the village talks in Kansai dialect). I should give seiyuu’s credits by the way, every child and young people are voiced by child or young actors and they are extremely successful in my opinion. One point which surprised me dearly (and then I was surprised why I was surprised) was that the kids in the village were really kids! I mean, okay, kids acting like kids should be normal but most of the time the kids I see in anime or manga are acting like adults or they are adults’ little versions. Both with the way they act and talk, every character is full and shines brightly in Barakamon. Especially in one of the episodes, Naru learns a couple of Kana syllables and thinks she’s an adult now, saying things like “The world seems more beautiful to me now.” . It was hillarious! Look at how she’s so gung-ho about it:
There aren’t any information about Naru’s family situation, all we know is she lives with her grandfather. Although, the peaople in village live together like a big family, I cannot help but think that there is a hidden sadness behind the happy picture (because I didn’t read the manga, I am not sure whether it is covered in there or not, sorry!).
There is another special character that deserves the attention: Tama. She’s a middle school student and a total otaku! She aspires to be a mangaka and actually shows her work to Handa in an episode and asks for his opinion. There is another ‘secret’ about her; one day a relative of her hands Tama down a handful of manga . Reading them through, she encounters a ‘yaoi manga’ for the first time and has the ‘trauma of her life’. : ) She later becomes addicted to yaoi and becomes a fujoshi, her imagination runs wild whenever she sees Handa and Hiroshi close but constantly denies liking the genre. She’s a really cute and special character in my opinion.
This is the overall framework of anime. There is not a specific happening in anime actually, each episode is Handa and villagers struggling away their daily lives but anime couldn’t be more interesting to watch; I don’t recall even a second i thought about getting bored or skipping over a scene. On the contrary, the tone of the comedy is nice and makes the audience wondering what will happen next. We are interested in watching Handa transforming from a “walking douchebag” to a person who can communicate, caring, who can say he’s sorry or thankful.
And of course, for me there is a BUT. I found Handa Seishu is a bit problematic because he seems as one of the “superman(übermensch) learning the meaning of life from people he initially precluded or ridiculed”. If I were to expand it with an example; the wise person in the moovies are blacks (this is a huge trope actually) and this side-character only serves a purpose of helping the white protagonist to get back on his feet. Therefore, in anime the villagers seem to solely exist for Handa’s mental improvement. During first few episodes I wished that it wouldn’t turn as I feared it would be but when Handa was called back to Tokyo before the competition, he went back without saying anything to anybody in village and seeing Naru’s expression when she came to see Handa and couldn’t find him was terribly sad. Of course I’ll leave an open door here, maybe I got emotionally too attached to Naru (so I cannot bare seeing her hurt hehe ^^’), but still this trope is so over-used and I felt like it occured here again.
Overall, I really loved each and every character in the serie, Barakamon has really nice visuals and a warm story, making us wish that there would be a second season! Also it has a very good opening theme with a catchy song called Rashisa from Super Beavers, I highly recommend it.