Writing One’s Feelings
Series in a Sentence
After punching an art director for criticizing his works, professional calligrapher Seishu Handa is sent from Tokyo to live on Goto Island as a form of exile and self-reflection.
What I liked
Barakamon is special because, like I said in my spoiler free review, it is very well balanced. That extends to the various characters, character developments, and storylines. Handa’s growth from a cold character to one that respects his surroundings and understands his desires starts pretty quickly, but events like visiting Naru’s family grave, going to his first ever festival, and even just being able to hold a cat for a first time shed light on his past without depending too much on flashback sequences. Likewise, Naru’s boundless energy in guiding him through island life is a great contrast to a sadder and lonelier existence that the anime hints at but never fully touches upon. Characters like Hiro, Miwa, and Tama also have subtle yet impressive character expositions and issues: Hiro is the mediocre high school boy that doesn’t truly know what he wants to o in life, Miwa hints that she loes the island and hates that people leave and its traditions die, and Tama struggles with her otaku tendencies because of how close knit and old school the countryside is. All of these issues are present, but one of them become overblow (most are even relegated to some truly funny gag scenes). The point is, the characters in this series are naturally layered and their complex characters all play perfectly into the theme of self-discovery and self-improvement. While some characters are the obvious focus, like Handa and Naru, the fact that such subtle complexity exists is impressive. To wrap things up, even though I mentioned this in my prior review, the island itself is amazingly done. As a microcosm of the idea of a friendly countryside, Goto Island and its traditions are what drive this series forward. It forces characters from a harsher, more fast-paced world to adapt to a lifestyle where everyone knows and helps each other and common activities include fishing, bug-catching, and swimming. Contrasted with the stress that Handa feels when returning to Tokyo, and coupled with actually seeing a character change when he leaves the island, the setting does a really good job of guiding the entire plot.
What I Didn’t Like
Just like with my spoiler free review, my issue is that stories aren’t entirely completed. Yes, this complaint comes from someone that is up to date on the manga so I know way more, but it also comes from someone that just wanted more of the series. Will Hiro ever find what he wants to do? Will Tama achieve her goal or better herself as a mangaka? How will Miwa deal with people leaving? What’s the deal with Naru’s family? All of the questions are brought up ever so slightly in the series but are never answered fully: Instead, they are brushed to the side as Handa develops as a character. On that topic, while his discovery of his own style was nice to see, Handa himself still had a lot of room to grow. I get that it was a short series so they couldn’t explore more, but the fact that a second season isn’t coming is a bummer. Go read the manga if you want a more filling experience, it is really worth it.
Again, I need to praise Barakamon for being one of the best feel good series I’ve seen. With a great mix of humor, emotion, and inspiration, this series captivated me on m first watch and kept me held during my second. Although some characters don’t get as fleshed out as I wanted, resulting in me going to the manga for answers, the wrap up for the series was good enough to leave the average viewer satisfied. You want a good time? Watch this. Changes of pace sometimes lead to the best changes of life.