Anime Review: Barakamon

January 1, 2017

Naru Kotoishi happy

Happy New, everyone! I hope you all had fun celebrating this end of the old year and the coming of the new.

I got quite a bit of stuff last year, in addition to those books I said got in my last two posts, and seeing as I have been away from the anime scene for a while after finishing up Rewrite and Orange, so I guess I better get back to it with three titles I got in 2016.

Today, I will be reviewing one of those three titles, which is called Barakamon.

Seishu Handa working

Seishu Handa is a star in the world of calligraphy and has a lot of pride in his work.

However, when he reaches a stumbling block in his career and lashes out at an elderly man, he is sent to an island so that he can find himself and overcome the problem that exists with his work.

Miwa Yamamura giving a good opinion

I kind of liked this show.

From the very first few minutes of the pilot episode, I was pulled into the world of the show and I did not want to stop watching for any reason, though I was interrupted a few times while watching.

Now, some people would probably find it weird that a show like Barakamon would be so engaging in such a short amount of time, especially since this is a slice-of-life series, which tends to get a lot of flak from anime fans, but, as I get older, I find that I want to see more series like Silver Spoon and Clannad where characters grow over the course of the series because of things that people have experienced or might experience in an otherwise peaceful environment, though I do not necessarily hate series that are full of action or mindless comedy.

Not only am I less interested in titles similar to DBZ than I was when I originally got into anime, but it is actually possible for a pilot episode to capture everyone's attention.

For example, Back in January of 2016, when one of my favorites series, Boku Dake ga Inai Machi, got an anime adaptation, many people, including yours truly, were impressed with the pilot episode enough that people were saying that it will go down as the best of 2016.

While many would agree that A-1 Pictures dropped the ball towards the end of that series, its pilot episode did everything that a pilot episode was supposed to do and exceeded expectations.

Seeing as how it happened in this series too, I have to say that this had one of the best pilot episodes I ever saw, and it makes me want to see more work from Kinema Citrus, though I might just become disappointed in their other titles, like I was with the work Nobuhiro produced after Rurouni Kenshin.

I also liked how I could relate to the protagonist and his struggles.

Even though not everyone will enter the creative fields professionally, or even find success in it, we all put a lot of effort into things, but it does really feel like us in the eyes of others, or even that our potential has been reached, and we feel humiliated when our work is criticized.

However, things will continue to remain that way if we do not stop thinking about the opinions of others and find our own styles, because the only way to improve a work is to accept that it is a part of you and needs a human element, otherwise you will come off as stereotypical or cultist-like with obvious signs that you are trying to please the wrong people.

In the case of this show, everything I saw Seishu go through was not only those kinds of issues, but he even got the same questions that we do at one point in our lives, like what he should do if somebody better than us comes along, and focusing more on his craft than giving himself a break.

I am not too sure about you guys, but this is what a slice-of-life series needs, because people do not like it when there is no conflict for the protagonists.

Another nice thing about this series was that the children and teens felt like their age, especially the former.

In many series that have aired and that I have seen, kids tend to be too mature or too intelligent for normal kids, though it is not unheard of for kids to be mature and/or intelligent for their age, and they act just like the adults.

Here, however, the kids all seemed to be the innocent and energetic kids that would be found in real life, wanting what they want now and doing things regardless of what anybody thought.

In my life, I wish that I could be more like them, but, unfortunately, there are people around me that keep worrying about what others would think of me and tries to get me to do what they think is right, instead of doing something from the heart, so I cannot really do that.

Seriously, there would be a lot more shows where all the characters are believable if the kids felt like kids, but that will not really become the norm for quite a while, because most of the people producing the works of fiction that we like have forgotten what children are like, and because Kinema Citrus and FUNimation, who dubbed the show, were able to do this so well, I have to give both companies some major props. Nice job, guys.

I also liked how I found myself laughing throughout the course of this show.

While there have been many anime and manga that were able to make me laugh, they could not always keep up the quality of humor found in the various episodes, which made it easy for me to be able to pick out what had me laughing hysterically and what did not.

Here, however, I cannot think of any episode or moment that did not have me laughing.

As this series is also considered a comedy, I expect the series to make me laugh for a good majority of the series runtime, and Kinema Citrus and FUNimation both pulled this off really well.

In fact, I am not too sure of too many series, aside from D-Frag! And Baka & Test, that had me laughing as much as I did here.

The thing that I liked the most though was how profound this series seemed to be.

While I did not come walking away from this series feeling like a better person, like the Clannad visual novel did, I heard and a saw quite a few things that still stick with me now.

For example, even though Naru had so many friends in her life that Seishu thought that she had things easy, he realized that even she, a 6-7-year-old girl, had to fend for herself when she said that she had more fun visiting her grandmother's grave than she had before Seishu arrived.

This reminds me of what things are like in our society, because the people we know do not know of all of our struggles, but when we get to know what people are really going through, our perspectives change.

Not only did Naru's situation make it clear that we really do need to understand people more, before knowing what their life is like, but even some of things the characters said a good deal of impact.

One of the best quotes from this series that demonstrated this was when Seishu tried to get mocha, an elderly woman said, “If you keep looking up the whole time, you'll miss half the show. Just sit a spell and you might see there are all sorts of goodies on the ground for you. Not everyone can fly, but you'll find your way if you keep looking.”

Everyone has grand dreams or sees something that is outreach and they want to get at them, much like Seishu wanted to get some mochi, but that is nothing more than going with the flow, instead of going to the best of your drum.

This quote hit me hard, because it is something that we all need to be reminded of and we keep on forgetting because we are trying to live up to the standards of everyone else, much like I have done a few things because other people wanted me to do so, not because I wanted to do so.

The thing that really made this the best thing about this series though was when Seishu Handa finally found himself and return to where he belonged.

When he first arrived on the island, he did not seem to care too much about anything other than his work, but when he returned called the weather and the view beautiful, even though it was the same.

This reminds me of how things are not always the same when we return to them, even if they are still the same.

This is because we view things through different lenses and perspectives each time we look through a work. Things that we used to like, such as the things that introduced us to what we are fans of now, might become worse than we remember or better than we remember because we have seen much more out there than we did before or we might not be going through the same things that we went through in past.

After all, would anything really be worth rereading or rewatching if our opinions and views never changed? I do not think so, because everyone would end having the same one or two opinions, instead of the countless number of opinions that exist in our world.

One day, I might look back and say that I was idiot for writing what I did or said what I said, while I realize how profound my elders were, but I might also look back at things that I regret saying and writing now and be proud that I did.

And the fact that this series showed that things can change, even when that they have not, makes me want to say that this is one of the best anime ever produced.

Because the series held my attention right from the first episode and had me laughing almost the entire time, while exploring things that we may have encountered or will encounter, as well as the fact that the series seemed to have real children and felt profound, this was a great series to watch.

Kosaku Kotoishi laughing

Although I liked the show, there are some issues.

However, aside from things that are too minor to talk about, nothing really seemed to bother me too much.

As a result, I will have to say that there was nothing worth mentioning.

Considering that there was so much to like about this, and nothing majorly wrong, this was definitely worth watching.

I recommend this to people who want to have a good laugh or those that want to try something different, or more relaxing.

As for everyone else, it might be worth giving a try because it does have some good life lessons, though it will not be as profound as what Clannad's best stories.

What are your thoughts on Barakamon? Did you like it or hate it? If you liked it, did you find it to be profound, like I did, or did it not have that much impact on you? Was there something that you liked or hated that went unmentioned? Feel free to comment.

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