Handa-kun – Preview
Original Air Dates: Jul 8, 2016 to ???
Synopsis: Sei Handa lives in his father’s shadow and footsteps. He’s a famous teenage calligrapher and his reputation precedes him. In fact, he’s so well known and beloved that he’s become a superstar among his classmates– it’s too bad Handa thinks everyone actually hates them though. Watch as Handa-kun navigates his high school life through misunderstanding after misunderstanding.
1st Episode Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Handa-kun is a show about the early years of the titular character, one that might be already known to lots of viewers through the show Barakamon, of which Handa-kun is a prequel/spin-off to. If you were picking this show up hoping to get more of the kind of humour and content that you got from Barakamon, you are in for disappointment. While we have the same lead character, this show about his school years is in a completely different style, choosing to focus on absurdist and meta humour rather than the comedy that can arise from everyday life. There’s a ton of meta humour in this episode, some good some bad, taking up close to half the show so if you aren’t a fan of meta humour, you may not wish to bother.
Tom: I want to stress how painfully annoying the meta-humor gets. It’s funny, mildly so, at first, but for anyone entirely unfamiliar with the Handa-kun manga it really drags on and on. The characters are outrageously obsessed with Handa getting an anime, but for someone entirely unfamiliar with any of them the humor is lost on me, and as the scene drags out the jokes become more and more annoying. I don’t know enough about the characters, or setting, to see what’s so funny. It’s only by the end of the episode, after Handa-kun and the anime’s entire concept has been introduced that I understand from a fan’s perspective why it might be funny, but by then it’s too late and the charm it might’ve had is long lost.
Linny: If you’re someone who can’t stand the concept of obsessive fan worship and crazes, watching the hordes of classmates all worshipping Handa with absolute awe seems less funny and more annoying. It’s never clearly explained exactly why Handa came to this position of fame, other than his calligraphy lineage and skills. This is the absurdist humour and is the catalyst for all Handa-kun’s humour but it also reduces this series to being one note. If you find the concept extremely amusing from the get go, you’ll have a great time. For those who find the initial concept silly, there’s some enjoyment to be had once the story focuses on one of Handa’s female classmates and gives her a personality and story of her own which earns the viewer’s sympathy and interest.
Tom: I’ll give this show that the concept of Handa being unaware that he’s popular, and thinking everyone hates on him is amusing, but I’m with Linny in my inability to understand why everyone thinks he’s so cool. Handa himself is a fun character, and relatable as most everyone has feared they’re unpopular or disliked through their teenage years. But I haven’t been shown why Handa is so cool. It’s the same disconnect that I came upon with Sakamoto, but perhaps even more pronounced as Handa-kun has done little this first episode to sell me on its concept.
Linny: Handa’s self loathing personality is one of his most recognizable features, one that will entertain newcomers to the franchise and bring back fond memories for Barakamon fans. It is also one of the best parts of the show when the focus is on how Handa overthinks and misinterprets things in the most comedic way possible. On the other hand, it’s hard to shake off how heavy handed the praise and worship everyone showers on Handa is. From the introductory Handa Force to his classmates, one can’t help but wonder exactly why they think Handa is so awesome.
Tom: Handa-kun is a potentially humorous comedy but it comes with some caveats. Firstly this anime adaptation makes me wonder if the manga might be the better jumping on point. With its meta humor book ending the episode I feel like this is a product not meant for the uninitiated. Also, Handa-kun requires you to either suspend your disbelief or you must yourself believe Handa-kun is cool. If either of these seem like a problem, I think you’d best look elsewhere for your comedy this season.
Linny: If you enjoy meta humour taken to the extreme and a focus on comedy of errors and misinterpretations, Handa-kun does exactly that and should be right up your alley. However if you are a Barakamon fan hoping for similar humour, Handa-kun is not the show for you.
Handa-kun is available for streaming via Funimation.com.