Megumi HanKouki UchiyamaHiroshi ItoNozomi Furuki
Barakamon
Episode 1 also reviewed here: Anime 1st episodes 2014: B
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2014
Director: Masaki Tachibana
Original creator: Satsuki Yoshino
Actor: Daisuke Ono, Suzuko Hara, Atsushi Ono, Fumihiko Tachiki, Hiroshi Ito, Junichi Suwabe, Kei Hayami, Kouki Uchiyama, Megumi Han, Nozomi Furuki, Rina Endo, Rumi Ookubo, Seiya Kimura, Tanuki Sugino, Toshihiko Miki, Yuuki Kaji
Keywords: anime
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 12 episodes
Url: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=16083
Website category: Anime 2014
Review date: 8 February 2015
Baraka.mon
I believe the term is "slice of life". Seishu Handa is a Tokyo calligrapher who's immature, pathetic and easily thrown by... well, by real life. After taking some criticism badly (i.e. punched the guy), Handa's father packs him off to one of the remote Goto islands to unwind and hopefully evolve beyond his predictable calligraphy style.
It's lovely. The series has no plot and its episodes are just daily life in a rural environment, but the cast make it a delight to watch. The locals all agree that Handa's an idiot, but they love him anyway and treat him like a brother. He's a celebrity. (Ish.) He also plays with the children, because they're on or sometimes above his level. The most important of these is Naru, who turns seven during ep.8 and is the kind of girl whose birthday present should be freshly caught beetles. She has a huge grin and blasts out enough energy to power half of Tokyo. She's great and she's the show's other lead character, sharing top billing with Handa in the title sequence.
The other members of Handa's unwanted gang include Miwa (14-year-old tomboy), Tamako (14-year-old wannabe manga artist and yaoi fangirl), Hiroshi (son of the village chief), Hina (friend of Naru's) and more. These people are often funny in their own right, e.g. Tamako's internal struggles when she's (mistakenly) assumed that real life is imitating boy's love manga. This show has no sex and no romance, thank goodness, although at one point the children scold Handa for not having a girlfriend. The children are all voiced by real children, by the way, who are very good.
There's lots of calligraphy, of course. Handa takes his calligraphy seriously. It's his life. He can filter any experience into his drive to better himself and write in a way he's never written before. This is funny too, naturally.
There's not much to say about this show really, except to praise it. There's no plot to unpick. The characters are great. It's funny and likeable. What more is there to discuss? Handa's the show's main character and his interactions with the world are the source of much of its comedy, but this is no one-man show. Eccentrics are everywhere, whether we're in Tokyo (e.g. Handa's mother) or Goto (e.g. Yakuza Dad). He's not a yakuza, but that's the impression he made on Handa. Oh, and the ejaculating sea slug in ep.5 looks so phallic that it gets a censor mosaic.
The locals' unsophisticated worldview can be funny, e.g. everyone falling about laughing at an airport metal detector, but far more comedy comes from Handa's inability to handle an environment with insects, children and low-tech heating systems. He'll worry when he perceives danger to the children, but of course he's the one who's liable to end up knocking himself unconscious. This is a man who can plunge into suicidal gloom at coming second in a competition, or learn important life lessons from a mochi-catching melee. However what he's looking for is meaningful and the emotional growth we see during the series is real. It would be an exaggeration to say that this show has dark undertones, but there's no sign that Naru for instance has any parents (although she has a grandfather) and it seems clear that she was lonelier before she met Handa and invaded his life.
Overall, this show and its world are a charming place to spend time. The Goto islands look idyllic, if you don't mind, say, your taxi being a tractor. It's the kind of show where it's heartwarming to see Naru kicking Handa in the face while they're both asleep on the porch. I'd recommend it to anyone.
"Amazing! He's only just met you, yet he can tell you're a good-for-nothing and a wimp."