Barakamon Review

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By Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)

How many of you really know yourselves? I’m sure the majority of you will say you know yourselves very well. I’d probably say the same. But how do we really know who we are? What we are capable of? What do we have the potential to do? It’s often much harder to know these aspects of ourselves unless we are put in situations where we are forced to find out about them. And these are the times in our lives when we see personal growth. Such is the foundation of the latest anime from Kinema Citrus Studio, Barakamon.

Seishu Handa is a professional calligrapher. Even at his young age of 23, he’s been widely praised for his talents and potential for greatness. But when the curator of an exhibition he is taking part in criticizes his work for being too unoriginal, Seishu snaps and punches the curator in the face while in the middle of a trove of people. Now the once promising calligrapher has a stigma about him, causing his father to send him off on a retreat on Gotō Island, near Kyūshū. While on the island, he is to focus on finding himself and work on his calligraphy, but what he finds is a diverse group of villagers who help him learn the true meaning of life.

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Barakamon isn’t your typical anime. There aren’t any swords or guns, no magic or supernatural elements, no harems of women or mecha to be found. This is truly a slice-of-life story everyone can relate to in some way, shape, or form. What we are given is a person who is slightly broken, who needs to find himself, and through the various people who live around him, he is able to find and understand aspects of who he is and the world around him. In turn, he grows as a human being and, eventually, as an artist. But, like much of life, what Barakamon really imparts on us is the fact that we tend to lead such busy lives that we forget to take time out for the simple things in life: to enjoy an ocean, or the play of children, spending time with friends or just having a conversation. Barakamon reminds us that it is these simple things in life that really make life worth living and bring out the utmost joy.

None of this would be possible without the human interaction element, and Seishu has it in abundance. From the moment he gets to his new home, he’s bombarded with the local children who use his place as a club house of sorts, with their own secret way to get in which bypasses any locked doors. And the biggest personality comes from a seven-year-old girl named Naru. Naru is very energetic and curious and immediately takes a liking to Seishu, and often emulates things she shouldn’t from a 14-year-old student named Miwa. Miwa is a middle school student with a tomboy-ish personality, and, along with her best friend Tamako, an aspiring manga artist, tend to run the group of kids and keep everyone in line with a bit of an iron fist. Then there’s Hina, Naru’s best friend, who is quick to cry, especially around strangers. There’s also Kentaro, a bald boy who goes around jabbing his fingers into peoples butts. There are also other children around, plus the village chief, the vice principal of Naru’s school, Naru’s grandfather, and many others. And, just like in life, it is all of the people around us with their varying personalities and dispositions which help mold us into the people we become.

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Barakamon is an easy-going anime with plenty of touching moments, drama, and comedy. One minute you’ll find yourself literally laughing out loud, and a few minutes later you’ll be empathizing with a character as they are experiencing something that you’ve experienced in your life, and further on you’ll find yourself shedding a tear with these characters. Such is the ability of great storytelling with well-rounded characters that everyone can relate to. This is a true slice-of-life story with enough substance to leave you feeling fully satiated after the final episode.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars


    2 Comments

  1. Carlos R. VargasOctober 14th, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    Thanks for the review, guys! A suggestion: Why not mention on the article where we can find/watch the series?

  2. JustinOctober 14th, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    Thanks for the input Carlos. I’ll give a place in future reviews where you can find it to watch online

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