The power of childhood is terrifying
Barakamon is a slice-of-life gem! Seishuu Handa is an up-and-coming calligrapher: young, handsome, talented, and unfortunately, a narcissist to boot. When a veteran labels his award-winning piece as “unoriginal,” Seishuu quickly loses his cool with severe repercussions.
As punishment, and to aid him in self-reflection, Seishuu’s father exiles him to the Goto Islands, far from the comfortable Tokyo lifestyle the temperamental artist is used to. Now thrown into a rural setting, Seishuu must attempt to find new inspiration and develop his own unique art style—that is, if boisterous children (headed by the frisky Naru Kotoishi), fujoshi middle schoolers, and energetic old men stop barging into his house! The newest addition to the intimate and quirky Goto community only wants to get some work done, but the islands are far from the peaceful countryside he signed up for. Thanks to his wacky neighbours who are entirely incapable of minding their own business, the arrogant calligrapher learns so much more than he ever hoped to.
Native and/or alternative titles: ばらかもん
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Family, Friendship, Slice of Life
Barakamon is what you call a perfect ‘slice of life’ story. Not too over-dramatic, nothing flashy, nothing goes too deep, nothing that creates too much excitement. Just a glimpse into the lives of a few people. A very humble story. You enter in the lives of the characters at a point and you leave their lives at another point. That is it. There are no magical creatures, there are no fortunate/unfortunate incidents, and there are no romances and neither people finding their feelings for their family/friends/persons. Things they do, their interactions, their relationships, their joys, their misfortunes, their pretty much mundane life…that is the story. At several points, I was scared of melodramatic turns but to my surprise, the anime did not take any melodramatic turn and kept everything simple. In my experience, nearly every film or show turns towards melodrama at some point in the story. So, this was a pleasant surprise.
You might think that there is no point in watching something so mundane. Well, no. Actually, the joy of watching all the characters together is unexplainable. Actually, it is a very simple story but not completely devoid of what you call the ‘base’ of the story. Seishuu Handa is a calligrapher prodigy. A genius but also a narcissist and short-tempered. After receiving criticism from an expert he loses his temper and attacks him. For his punishment, his father sends him to a remote island to get some grip. That is where Handa meets all the beautiful people.
Unlike other anime, movies or shows, here all characters are equally important in whatever is happening on-screen. Naru is a typical bubbly kid. Unlike other anime kids, she is like a real kid. Mischievous, annoying, playful kid who keeps pestering you but you cannot help but love her! If Naru is a bubbly kid then Hina is your typical shy kid. Both of them are so adorable together! Combine them with three bratty boys and that completes their gang of kids. On one occasion Handa says,
The power of childhood is terrifying!
And he is right! All the kids are full of energy and playing or fighting with them helps Handa to settle down in the unknown rural environment. Akki is a boy who is quite mature for his age. In fact, even more, mature than Handa who is 23 years old! Then there are two middle-school girls – Tama and Miwa. Both are like leaders of the gang and have made Handa’s house their ‘base’. One is a tomboy and another gets excited by boys’ love and keeps seeing boy-on-boy action in everything she sees. Hiroshi is a boy looking forward to getting a job. Along with the kids, Akki, the two girls and Hiroshi are very instrumental in the development of Handa and a human and artiste. They all are loveable and their relationship with each other is heart-warming.
As I said earlier, the story is simple. There is a base story about the calligraphy of Handa. However, it does not get too much attention. It takes the backseat throughout the anime whereas the interactions between Handa and other characters take the front seat. Throughout the anime, Handa learns so much from his village friends that help him find his ‘own style’ in calligraphy. Naru wants to show Handa the beautiful sunset but it is dangerous to climb the wall. Handa points that out to Naru but Naru replies that if he does not climb he won’t get to see the beautiful scenery.
You don’t try, you don’t get
At some event, villagers teach him that it is okay to move patiently at your own pace. It is no good if you are always looking up at your goal. Be patient and take the chance once it hits the ground. You will find a mess of opportunities fallen on the ground rather than up in the sky.
Hiroshi learns from Handa that, there is talent but the talent is useless without hard work. People working hard aimlessly are doing everything half-assed. Also,
Being able to work hard is best of the talents. If you try with all your might then nobody can beat you, it can be a talent on its own!
The animation is quite good. Loved the funny animations of Handa’s mum, Naru and Hina’s tantrums! It is hilarious throughout. Much more comedic than I had expected. The big surprise for me was the way Handa looks. He looks exactly like ‘Hachiman Hikigaya’ from the ‘Oregairu’. A better looking Hachiman in his 20’s – bit more handsome, cooler and taller. One hilarious thing about the animation is how they have censored little things. I think that if some things were left uncensored there would not have ignited perverted thoughts in mind but because they have censored, you cannot help but have perverted thoughts. Anyway, I would not say that censoring/perverted thoughts ruined the anime; in fact, it made it funnier! But in my opinion, they should not have censored anything.
I highly recommend this anime to those who are fans of the slice-of-life genre and even to those who are not the typical demographic of this genre. Barakamon is a good place to start. I am pretty sure that everyone will like its simple story. As Handa says,
It’s the best when there is nothing special.
I recommend it to everyone. Just sit back and relax!