First Impressions: Barakamon

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After a long and painful wait, it’s finally upon us. Funimation, after much delay, has finally opened their simulcasting of Barakamon in North America after announcing licensing prior to the season beginning. While reasons remain unclear, let’s just find out what we’ve been missing out on!

fibarakamon1Synopsis
Handa Seishu is a professional calligrapher who has always been known for his short temper and inability to take criticism. Well, one day he takes that a bit too far after punching out a director who calls his work “too textbook” and questions if he has “overcome the wall of mediocrity.” Following this incident, Handa’s father sends him off to a remote island to cool his head and mainly to find his humanity before he can progress as a calligrapher.

Once arriving at this island, Handa quickly discovers a stark difference in culture as it’s rather deserted and the only ride he finds is a tractor. Though he seems to keep rather positive and gets to moving into his new home.  To his surprise he discovers that it’s filled with school girls using it as a club, a village scamp, mice, and even seals lining the closet wall.

fibarakamon13While he tries to push everyone out and get started on his calligraphy practice, one person still remains at the house to bug him. The village scamp whose name is Kotoishi Naru. She’s instantly intrigued by his writing and calls out its similarity to her teacher’s writing. This reminds Handa of the “textbook” comments the director made and causes him to lash out at Naru.

Later Naru finds Handa sulking at a nearby cliff. She attempts to apologize for making him upset, though Handa clears the air by apologizing as well. As the two head back, they take a short detour to a nearby beach front to sight-see the sunset over the horizon. When they finally arrive home, Handa finds that the entire village had arrived to help him move in. Being as people don’t visit often, they all made their way there by habit to welcome in a stranger.

fibarakamon9Following this whole ordeal, Handa finally understands why his father sent him there. He becomes inspired to write a new style and even asks his brother to apologize for him to the director he punched. Though he’s unable to apologize himself.

During these first days and the following days, Handa would meet many of the villagers while struggling to find inspiration (or rather peace and quiet). Hina is a very young girl who is extremely shy but will also cry loudly if she doesn’t get attention. Kenta is also the same age as Hina and Naru but seems to be a trouble maker. Up the scale in age, Miwa and Tama are the two girls using Handa’s home as a clubhouse and refuse to give it up. Though Tama on the side writes extremely disturbing and gory manga.

fibarakamon12Thoughts
Before the season rolled out, Barakamon stood out as possibly being something special.  Coming right out of One Week Friends, I was expecting possibly a heart filled experience.  While the tone for Barakamon has a bit of heart to it, it turned out to be more about the comedy and antics involved with that.  Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just much less impactful than expected.  Though we could just be getting to know our characters before we get too involved with them.

The comedy for a good majority was solid.  Often playing off the pure innocence of a child being involved with a very serious man who doesn’t want to be bothered.  The result is a constant battle between chaos and patience.  In the first episode I was laughing, in the second episode I was chuckling, however in the third episode I began to be filled with some minor doubts.  While the concept of chaos versus patience is a good one, it does manage to get beat a bit too often as a dead horse.  I’m hoping that moving forward that this formula will change.  It’s not hurting the show so much as causing a concern.

fibarakamon8The other element that was a bit displeasing was the introduction of Tama’s hidden secret.  Her writing dark manga was funny and trope shattering, but I do feel that they took her inner monologue a bit too far.  It drug out a tad too long and began to get tiresome.  She’s just a very loud character.

Humor and all else aside, Naru is a very cute character and really does sell the show.  Even though I was expecting a more traditional loli voice, it seems a bit more infant.  This is because Suzuko Hara who is voicing Naru is an actual kid. Not a teenager or young adult (or even 40-year-old like some American dubs do), but an actual kid. This makes a huge difference as the voice sells the character as a real carefree child. Just hearing her give off a random gut laugh is just priceless and manages to snap any mood into a completely different and light-hearted direction.

Episode 1: Barakakodon – Spirited Child
Episode 2: Yakamashika – Noisy
Episode 3: Hitonmochi – Rice Cakes Thrown At Celebration

THUMBS UP!

THUMBS UP!

IMPRESSIONS VERDICT:
Great!

Pros:

  • Interesting cast
  • Some hilarious moments
  • Naru is adorable

Cons:

  • Some jokes get beat to death
  • Some elements repeat

Impressions are based on a single episode and don’t necessarily reflect the series as a whole. Unless dropped, we will continue to give updates on thoughts and impressions of the series as time goes by.

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Co-Founder of OtakuSpirit.com and Co-Host of the OtakuSpirit Animecast. A huge fan of anime since the early 1990s, consuming over 800 shows. While he's late to the collecting scene, he's found a lot of joy in filling his DVD/Blu-ray collection as well as collecting figures. Once a week, he posts unboxing and feature videos on anime goods to YouTube.