• Titles: Handa-kun
  • Genre: Comedy, School, Slice of Life
  • Episodes: 12
  • Studio: diomedéa

Handa-kun has everything going for him. He’s smart, handsome and already an extremely talented calligrapher who can compete with the pros any time. So why doesn’t everyone at school love him (they do). Girls should be fighting over him, not planning to fight him (they’re not). Heck, Handa-kun is the type of guy who could have his own fan club instead of being scared to talk to a single person in school (he does have his own fan club, they are just too in awe of him to talk to him). Still, Handa-kun is not going to let himself be defeated. He might be a shy and sensitive boy who is easily prone to depression, but he’s going to do what he can to make some friends and have a great high school career. If everyone could just stop being so scary!

Honestly, I only picked up Handa-kun because it was a school-set comedy. A haha comedy. You know, with jokes and ridiculous characters. As someone who loves to laugh, I tend to enjoy a good comedy now and then. Even just an o.k. comedy. I figured I had little to lose.

As a side-note. Handa-kun is apparently a prequel to Barakamon which is its biggest sin. I have not seen Barakamon (but I will) so I didn’t spend my whole time comparing the two but just to start off with they are different genres of anime with Handa-kun being slapstick comedy which is much less popular with western fans. From what I understand, if you go into Handa-kun expecting to watch another Barakamon you will be disappointed.

after watching the series I ran into a lot of Handa-hate


The production of Handa-kun isn’t exactly anything to write home about but it’s not bad either. It’s what I would call a decent production. There were a few sunset scenes that I thought were particularly pretty but that’s about all that stood out. Otherwise, the character designs were pretty, the backgrounds did their job, the art was consistent which is a plus but should be way more normal in anime, and the animation was fine.

The one spot where the production does get more impressive, in my opinion, is the voice acting. Both in Japanese and in English, the cast does a great job and the characters sound like genuine friends. This isn’t surprising as this type of comedy relies very heavily on the line delivery so I’m glad that the production emphasis was put on it.

awwww, friendship!

Story & Characters

I’m just going to say it, the first thing I thought when I started watching Handa-kun was wow, this reminds me of Saiki K. And it really does, all the way to the end, but it also doesn’t. See the content is similar but the type of humour is a little different.

Handa-kun tells the story of an extraordinary boy who just wants to be normal. There are a lot of misinterpretations and the people around him are a bit nuts and that’s where the humour comes from. In the end, though, everyone is really a nice person and the series is kind to its characters and makes sure not to paint anyone as a lower or as the but of all the jokes. It’s sweet.

Also, it has that generic anime high school setting that is meant to play on the nostalgia of Japanese audiences (or at least be relatable to them) but for me, it works on my anime nostalgia. Inceptionstalgia!

I don’t remember my grade school graduation but I bet it wasn’t this nice

So all in all, it’s that type of show. Like Saiki K., Daily Lives of High School Boys, Wasteful Days of High School Girls.

However, it doesn’t have the super fast-paced delivery of a stand-up act like the previous shows I stated. Most of these types of comedies are often breakneck setup-punch line structures with a lot of narrative exposition that really brings across the feel of a comedy routine. It’s one of the things I tend to love about anime.

Handa-kun is by no means slow. Episodes are broken down into shorter segments although not always. But it’s more like a sketch comedy show and there is a separate narrator that serves more like a fourth-wall-breaking cast member than an engine for exposition.

This means that there’s a lot more visual humour and callbacks to earlier episodes or sketches for the sake of repetition or contrast jokes. There are actual strong ongoing character arcs as well. It’s neither better nor worse, just a different type of structure.


Oh, and it did allow them to have a pretty strong theme going for the 12 episode run. Namely, don’t be afraid to take a chance. Handa-kun is a shy kid who thinks everyone hates him even though they really don’t. And throughout the series, he makes some genuine efforts to become a bit more sociable. By the end, he realizes many of his hang-ups were entirely in his head and he can make friends if he puts himself out there. It’s a really sweet lesson and a nice little coming-of-age. Sure, it’s not super original but it still took me by surprise in this type of show. And I won’t lie, it gave me some feels.

All in all, I found Handa-kun to just be an uncomplicated good time. It made me smile regularly. I was always looking forward to the next episode. I found something to like in just about all the characters and I was a bit bummed when it was over. It’s not the best the genre has to offer but I still found it enjoyable.

You might like this anime if:

You like slapstick comedies that aren’t meanspirited.

My favourite character:

This one is tough. I really did end up liking pretty much all the characters. Probably Takao, after all, I loves me a troll.

Suggested drink:

Black Negroni

  • Every time the show is being meta – take a sip
  • Every time Handa misreads a situation – take a sip
  • Every time the Handa wall comes up – take a sip
  • Every time a new member joins the Handa club – toast
  • Every time Handa’s reputation precedes him – take a sip
  • Every time anyone blushes – awwwwww
  • Every time Handa does calligraphy – clap
  • Every time Kondou is exasperated – take a sip
  • Every time Akane resorts to violence – take a sip
  • Every time Kondou doesn’t get it – take a sip
  • Every time a girl has no eyes – gasp
  • Every time we see the carnivore girls – take a sip
  • Every time there’s a kitty – squeee
  • Every time Takao is a troll – take a sip
  • Every time fake Hand shows up – take a sip

In case you’re new here, I have a Pinterest with all my screencaps (there are a lot!). If you can’t find a show you are looking for in my mainboards, just go to Anime Screenshots. I move the shows I have reviewed there. Of course, I’m still going to add a few images here!

10 thoughts

  1. You know, I remember nothing about the show. The only character I recognise from the screenshots is Handa. I know I’ve seen it, and I remember thinking it was so-so. But beyond that I’m drawing an absolute blank. I guess that means I found the show to be forgettable. (I knew it was related to Barakamon, but I never saw it as prequel – more like a genre spin-off: comedy. I mean it technically is a prequel, but I’m connecting the shows as much as say Attack on Titan and the Junior High spin-off.)

  2. Even though it’s a 4-koma manga, the season as a whole flows well and like you, I had good time watching it. Can’t wait for you to see Barakamon (maybe you’ve already did since you’ve written the post? :D), it’s one of my all-time favorites!

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