There are a few rare occasions in which you will find me enjoying a, what could be termed, “slice of life” series. In Barakamon, the combination of comedy, small town life, and just a hint of forward progress for Handa makes the series absolutely endearing.
When young, master calligrapher Handa takes a swing at a critic, he is pushed off to the countryside by his manager until things blow over. While there Handa actually thinks about the critic’s words and begins to rediscover who he is as an artist.
This is all facilitated by Handa’s interactions with the many colorful people of the town chiefly elementary schooler Naru who is the first person to befriend “sensei” driving him crazy with her rambunctious antics. There are high schoolers and best friends Miwa and Tamako who are charming in their mildly malicious tricks. And semi-delinquent Hiroshi who probably comes closest to being a peer and friend to Handa. Plus, a whole array of other semi-recurrent eccentric folks for Handa to play off of.
Satsuki Yoshino does a great job of changing up the pace of each story. Sometimes is centers around a calligraphy project of Handa’s, sometimes is a problem one of the townspeople is having, sometimes unexpected visitors arrive, sometimes we learn a bit about the past, sometimes it is a lazy day, and so on and so forth. Whatever it may be the comedic timing always pulls it together.
At the same time, there is always an undercurrent of sentimentality only coming to the forefront in single passing moments. It is there just enough. This let’s Barakmaon feel like more than a situational comedy.
I always catch myself smiling about Barakamon long after I’ve finished a volume. Barakamon is a true delight.