Sep 28, 2014
jawnmewn (All reviews)
One of the hallmarks of a quality slice of life show is its ability to make you forget about the real world and immerse you in their world, if only for a few minutes. You laugh alongside the characters as they do silly things, get anxious as they struggle through trials and tribulations, and then feel relieved when those problems are resolved. Barakamon does an excellent job of accentuating this aspect of the slice of life genre. Through a cast of quirky and unique characters along with simple yet powerful storytelling, Barakamon portrays the life of a man who strives to discover his true identity and style.

Handa Seishuu, a young but promising calligraphy professional, after reacting in an extreme manner to criticism, finds himself whisked away from modern Tokyo to a rural island for a period of reevaluation and reflection. Barakamon tells the story of Handa's time on the island, his interactions with the village folk, and the search for a calligraphy style that he can call his own. With this simple premise, Barakamon delivers a show that is light hearted, comedical, and downright enjoyable to watch. It was nigh impossible to go through a single episode without a big, silly grin all over my face.

From feeling worried for Handa's latest calligraphy contest results to laughing as he attempts to hide his embarrassment due to not knowing how to use a rotary phone, while Barakamon might be a bit slow paced, there is rarely a dull moment. Moreover, although events such as painting the name of a boat onto its hull, or participating in a mochi catching contest may seem to have no deeper meaning other than to define Barakamon as a slice of life, the beautiful aspect of this show is that everything seems to have an underlying meaning or message that helps Handa grow as a person and realize what's important in life.

It is amazing how much adults can learn from children, despite once being children themselves. Their naive and simple way of thinking and positive outlook can do wonders for an adult struggling with the more mature problems of the world. A change in perspective or a shift in thought process; sometimes that's all you need to overcome the more complex issues in life. In Barakamon, this is very apparent as you watch Naru and the other village children completely change Handa through simple actions and conversations. It was a pleasure to watch Handa transform from a hot headed, close minded, and unsociable person into someone with broad horizons and an open mindset who takes life a little less seriously while enjoying it so much more.

The characters are often what makes or breaks a slice of life show, and Barakamon's cast definitely make the show. From the scrappy and unpredictable ball of energy that is Naru, to the calm and reserved Akki, the wide variety of personalities Handa encounters on the island made the show very spirited and refreshing to watch. We have the troublemaking middle school girl duo of Miwa and Tama who are a riot to watch; Tama with her aspirations of being a mangaka and Miwa, the lovable tomboy who just wants life to be a bit more eventful. Although they tease Handa a whole bunch, at the end of the day they genuinely care for him and they, along with the other children, teach him what it means to care about others. In addition to the people of the village, we have Kawafuji, Handa's constant support from behind the scenes and a childhood friend who always looks out for him, and Kanzaki, a fellow calligrapher who idolizes Handa and serves as his rival and motivation to improve his own calligraphy further. It is amazing how Barakamon's supporting cast of characters all affect Handa in some way, and is one of the reasons Barakamon is an excellent slice of life show.

The art is lively and the animation is a bit rough, but fits the style of the show quite well. The highlights were Naru's eccentric movements and general facial expressions in depressing/hilarious situations. The music was pretty standard slice of life fare; however, the opening and ending in particular were well done and fit the show like a glove. While there is room for improvement in both aspects, there is nothing major to complain about.

Barakamon delivers a slice of life show that we've been missing for quite some time. With the amount of cute girls doing cute things and moe shows, Barakamon was a much needed breath of fresh air. A cute, endearing, and heartwarming story about a calligrapher who seeks for a style he can call his own, Barakamon is a solid pick up for any slice of life fan.