Barakamon – Anime Review
Synopsis: Seishu exiles himself to a small island to rediscover his passion as a calligrapher after violently attacking one of his most vocal critics. While the Goto Islands appear to be a tranquil paradise on the surface, this young mapmaker soon learns that wacky neighbors and hyperactive children just might provide him the sense of humor he needs on his journey towards self-discovery. (Official Funimation Synopsis)
Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Barakamon’s anime adaptation is a well done piece of work. It does a great job of showcasing the cast’s lovable and eccentric personalities in a manner that will really appeal to fans of the slice of life genre, especially viewers looking for something that extends beyond cute characters being cute. While it does rearrange some events from the manga and exclude others, the story flows smoothly, weaving an enjoyable tale of a city boy horrified by the oddballs and lifestyle in this secluded village he finds himself in. And of course, eventually finding himself falling in love with the community and way of life out there.
Tom: Barakamon blows you away with its adorable, odd ball cast of characters, from the kids to the off-beat adults. It creates a fun atmosphere, one that services Seishu Handa’s character arc and really allows his personality to flourish. Speaking of Handa himself, he’s extremely relatable as he struggles with fears of inability and ineptitude concerning his work as a calligrapher. He’s extremely identifiable for anyone who’s ever found themselves in a more creative oriented field where work quality is subjective, and talent isn’t immediately obvious. His fear, self-loathing, and struggle to craft work he’s happy with is something many creative types will identify with. It’s all bolstered by the adorable Naru, a tom-boyish, spunky little girl who’s lively and kooky, not to mention other characters: Like Miwa and Tamako, two high school girls who never give Handa a moment’s peace. All these crazy personalities help to keep the show fresh over its short, but sweet twelve episode run.
Linny: The story may seem cliche at first glance, an arrogant protagonist falls from grace and ends up in a backwater location where everyone has hearts of gold that change him for good. But Barakamon manages to make every bit of it feel enjoyable and fresh thanks to Handa, who turns out to be more than just a cliche protagonist, and as Tom mentioned, actually someone that viewers can connect to. And while the reactions and expressions in the story can be outrageous, the humour itself rarely ever feels forced with jokes popping up at an organic pace, rather than crammed into every possible spot without a break.
Tom: Barakamon isn’t quite as laughed out loud funny as other comedy anime offerings, like Konosuba or Nozaki-kun. There’s less emphasis on the humor and more time devoted to heartfelt character moments and development, allowing Handa and other characters to grow and change over these twelve episodes. It’s particularly notable as earlier episodes aren’t quite as tight between balancing the comedy and drama, forcing viewers to wait a little as the series rams up and comes into itself. All that said, Barakamon does have some stellar ‘surprise’ gags spread throughout, easily delivering a few incredibly hilarious surprises.
Linny: I have to give Barakamon props once more for handling its material and adaptation so well. The animation and the voice acting adds so much more to a story that was already very expressive and enjoyable in manga form. There’s plenty to savor about the animation itself too, such as seeing Handa engage in some extreme calligraphy. As slice of life with deep emotional notes go, Barakamon has what it takes to be one of the best of its genre, with a good mix of comedy and heart once it gets into the groove. It’s never super dramatic but it has enough passion to really connect with its viewers. With a relatable protagonist and a cast of enjoyable oddballs, Barakamon is a slice of life with depth and laughs that’ll please most if not all fans of the genre.
Tom: Barakamon only ever got one season, and the manga quickly sped ahead. The manga has now concluded, and its final volume actually releases for the West in just a few days as of this review. [Correction: Misinformation was floating around and it had been briefly implied Volume 14 was Barakamon’s final volume. This is not the case and the series continues through at least Volume 15, coming out next year.] I don’t think there’s too much hope that it’ll return with a second season to finish adapting the manga, but what’s here is still well worth a watch and actually concludes in such a way that the anime feels complete, even if more manga has been left on the table. Barakamon remains one of the best anime to come out of 2014.