• Titles: Barakamon
  • Genre: Slice of Life, Comedy, Awww
  • Episodes: 12
  • Studio: Kinema Citrus

Sei Handa is a calligraphy prodigy. Well he was, now he’s a caaligraphy master who’s been in the business for a while and is widely reognized for his talent. But geniuses and artists tend to be fragile and Hand is both! He’s also super childish. So when his latest competition win is marred because of a critique calling it predictable and dull, he sort of loses it. Enough to get punchy and then get grounded by being forced to g cool off on a remote island village. Months stuck ina place with a signle telephone, almost no modern amenities and only nature for entertasinement? What could be worse? Maybe all the village kids sticking to Handa because his arrival is the most exciting thing to happen in a long time. Yeah, that could be a little worse. It could also be great.

I’m the only person in the world that started watching Barakamon because I liked Handa-kun. And I stand by that. The two shows aren’t really comparable in any way but I like them both. By complete coincidence I started, and finished, reading Yoshi no Zuikara while I was watching Barakamon and kept thinking wow, these two stories have a lot in common. And then I found out they’re from the same author. Duhdoy! For the record, I really liked Yoshi no Zuikara and it’s a much closer experience to Barakamon than Handa-kun.

this is where it starts

Production

You know, I thought Barakamon looked good. Really good. As in I wonder why there isn’t constant fan art of this show. The character models were varied and often had little details that made went with the personalities and backgrounds of each of them. Mostly though, Barakamon is a love letter to Japan’s rural landscapes and there is a lot of care and love poured into the backgrounds. It might make you want to book a plane ticket Even I sort of considered moving to the countryside. For a second.

I also have to give huge props to Suzuko Hara, who voiced Naru and I just learned this very moment was 9 when Barakamon came out. So probably 8 when she was doing the voice-over. I was about to say that Naru is one of the most authentic-sounding little kids I had ever heard in anime but well, he was a little kid so it makes sense. Nevertheless, Naru is a deceptively layered role and the beating heart of Barakamon. Hara pulled it off beautifully! I hope we hear from her more in the future.

The rest of the cast was really good as well, it’s just that Naru stood out to me. Daisuke Ono was of course impeccable as always. And he had some fantastic chemistry with just about every single member of the cast. That’s also fairly extraordinary now that I think about it.

You can feel the love

Story & Characters

Barakamon is about a calligraphy artist who goes to the countryside in an attempt to get his inspiration back. He doesn’t like it at first but eventually starts to really enjoy the lifestyle and people. Eventually, he gets his inspiration back. Along the way he has tiny little adventures, like going fishing, catching bugs, teaching calligraphy to local kids. And that’s it. That’s really the whole thing. And it’s kind of great.

In case you haven’t noticed, I have a real soft spot for calm Slice of Life anime in a rural setting. Maybe it’s because I’m a big city girl but I have always liked fiction set in remote villages like that. Every time I watched an episode, I just felt relaxed.

So how am I supposed to discuss an anime like this? I liked it a whole lot. I think you should watch it. Because it’s relaxing and the characters are pleasant. And you know, that’s about it. It’s not one of those animes that deeply moved me and I can wax poetic about. And it’s so well made that I don’t have anything to pick on.

That’s a bit dramatic

I guess I could go on about Naru some more. I traditionally don’t like little kid characters. And when I do, it’s because they’re not too present, not really kids or they serve more of a narrative role than as actual characters. But that’s not the case for Naru. She’s arguably the second most important character and she gets plenty of screentime. But I think I liked her because, well she’s pretty likeable but she’s also allowed to be a kid.

Naru isn’t particularly precautious or full of wisdom beyond her years. She’s not impossibly cute or sweet. Sometimes she screws up. A lot of times, you’re not really sure what she’s on about, because kids sort of go off in different directions or start conversations in the middle of a thought and it doesn’t always make sense. Naru is like that. She does those little things that can be frustrating about little kids but also quite charming. And I don’t know if the character is simply modelled after a real child or if the author is just particularly skilled in writing children, but Naru felt very authentic to me. I might even say, one of the most authentic child characters I have ever seen.

looks about right

Again I’m going on about Naru only. Fact is, all the characters are balanced and well played. It’s a really good cast and they all felt like real people. I guess I’m just more used to seeing it in adults or teenagers on the page that act and sound like 25-year-olds. But little kids are though usually. So to have that many in the cast and all of them be genuinely good characters. Well, it made an impression on me.

At the end of the day, Barakamon is a feel-good anime. It’s about learning to enjoy everyday life and appreciate the people around you. Nothing extraordinary happens but that’s what makes it great. This fascination and quiet love of an ordinary life gets under your skin and makes you feel better.

You might like this anime if:

You feel like you need a vacation

My favourite character:

I mean it’s pretty obvious it’s Naru but I really liked everyone a lot.

Suggested drink:

a Sea Breeze

  • Every time anyone gets hit in the face – take a sip
    • take another if it’s Sei
  • Every time someone uses Hand’s brushes without permission – take a sip
  • Every time Hina cries – oh no
  • Every time Ink gets spilled – take a sip
  • Every time Handa gets depressed – get some cookies
  • Every time Handa gets hurt or sick – switch to water
  • Every time anyone wants Handa as a teacher – take a sip
  • Every time we see a typical village dish – get some snacks
  • Every time Hiro is a man of the seas – raise your glass
  • Every time anyone falls in the water – put away the water you got earlier
  • Every time we see the sun set – admire
  • Every time Handa gets all chldish – take a sip
  • Every time Handa puts on his hair wrap – take a sip

I save all my screencaps on my Pinterest and you can find more there if you are interested. But I still like to show you a few in the post. If you’re like me, screencaps are something that really helps you decide to watch an anime or not.

8 thoughts

  1. I quite liked the show, but I remember little. I wasn’t actually that fond of the Handa-kun spin-off; I did enjoy it somewhat, but not nearly on the level of Barakamon. Naru was great; more children should voice children. If they made a middle-school, high-school spin-off with Naru, the same voice actor could voice her. If they made a direct sequel, though… I suppose that’s one of the reasons why people don’t usually use kids to voice kids?

    1. There’s a lot of difficulties working with such young children but when yo get it right. Naru sounded fantastic is all I’m saying. I just watched a single episode of March Comes in Like a Lion in English and Momo is so obviously voiced by an adult that it’s completely uncanny.

  2. Loved this series! When I first watched it, I had just gotten my BA degree and feeling kind of frustrated as an artist, so I could really relate with the main character. Though I didn’t punch anyone!

  3. Barakamon!!! This show kickstarted my love for the Slice of Life genre and I haven’t looked back since. For a very long time I considered this my favorite anime. It just feels well produced from start to finish and as you said in the reviews, Naru is a very well written character. After this show I also started recognizing Daisuke Ono in most things I watched. I second the recommendation for sure, this show is just so nice to watch.

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