2016 Summer of Anime – Barakamon

19) Barakamon

No, no Mortal Kombat/Digimon crossover here.

At 23 years of age, Seishuu Handa has it pretty good.  He’s a handsome, talented calligrapher whose work is praised by all.  Well, almost all.  One day at an exhibition, the director of said event laments that Seishuu’s latest piece is too unoriginal.  Seishuu reacts as anyone else would…. He punches the guy in the face.  Wouldn’t be too terrible, but the director happens to be quite an old man who uses a cane to walk.  So, a pro calligrapher decked an elderly curator for critiquing his work.  Hitting that low point, Seishuu is thus exiled by his father to one of the rural Goto Islands.  A calligrapher himself, Seishuu’s father hopes that this will lead to his son maturing.  Solid plan if Seishuu wasn’t such an impulsive ass.  The villagers soon get to him, though, and it’s through their rural spirit along with the friendship of one very hyper six-year-old girl by the name of Naru Kotoishi that the newly named “Sensei” aims to better himself as an artist and a man…. If only they would leave him alone every once in a while.

“Another anime post?” you appropriately think.  “Yes,” says I, “another damned anime post.”  Again, I’m gonna change things up at some point (especially now that summer is soon to end), so bear with me.  In fact, there might only be one more Summer of Anime post after this one, which will bring the total number of anime I’ve completed this summer to 20.  I’ll probably review whatever anime I happen to watch after that, but I don’t know what banner that’ll be under.  Could just go with something like “Anime Review #Blank,” but that’s too normal for me.  Enough about that, though.  Let’s talk about Barakamon.

Just look at that pic up there.  You can actually feel the summer, can’t you?  Taking a nice nap with the fan on you after a fun day outside…feels nice.  And that’s really this anime.  It feels nice.  It’s definitely a perfect anime to watch during the summer.  Fitting, since it aired during the Summer 2014 season.  Couldn’t tell you why I didn’t watch it back then.  Actually, yes I can.  I’d just gotten back from China, and the last thing on my mind was keeping current on anime.  That’s why it took me so long to finish that year’s Spring season.  Glad I finally got around to this.

Of the two slice of life/comedy anime I’ve watched this summer, Barakamon is definitely the winner.  Whereas there wasn’t really anything in Tanaka-kun is Always Listless to stick with me, Barakamon has plenty of that in spades.  The adorably precocious Naru, the closet fujoshi Tamako Arai, the woefully average Hiroshi Kido, and all the other colorful residents of that Goto Island village will be in my memory and heart for a hot minute.  Slice of life thrives off the quirky characters making their mundane situations weird and difficult, and Barakamon excels at it.

I laughed quite a bit during this series.  Probably my favorite recurring gag is Tama’s attempts to refuse her love of yaoi.  The sheer rage she exhibits whenever she feels excitement toward any BL misunderstandings between Seishuu and Hiroshi got me every time.  Also, the fact that Seishuu fits in so well with the kids and teenagers more than the adults always amused me.  Sure, his home was their hangout before he moved in, but they seem to spend all of their free time at his place now that he lives there.  I just liked it, ya know?  And, of course, there’s Naru.  I can’t even do justice in explaining Naru.  Instead, I’ll just post a pic of her after she thought she’d become an adult.

evil-naru

The relationship between Seishuu and Naru is definitely one of the highlights of the anime.  Thankfully, it won’t go into to very, very bad-wrong territory like other series with grown men and young girls as protagonists.  Here, you get to just enjoy the two of them hanging out.  It’s hard to pin down their relationship.  They’re kinda like siblings, but Naru also feels like the entire village’s little sister.  You could say he’s like her dad, but she also seems to take care of him more than he looks out for her.  When it gets down to it, I guess they’re best friends.  It really is one of my favorite relationships I’ve run across this summer.

I’m gonna go with either an 8.5 or a 9 for Barakamon.  It’s great at evoking memories of summers past, and the characters are odd enough to make almost anything humorous.  If there’s one thing keeping me more toward an 8.5, it’s that it doesn’t venture too far outside of established slice of life scenarios (ex. beach trip, someone gets sick, birthday party, etc.).  Having a main character whose introduction is nailing an old dude with a right hook is pretty good in terms of originality, though.

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