There’s a lot of buzz around this anime for being one of the better slice-of-life’s in recent years with it hovering around the top 100 among MyAnimeList’s anime rankings. Even so, it doesn’t seem to get a lot of notoriety, particularly now-a-days. I’ve had friends describe to me in intimate detail how wonderful the series was around its air date, but still I never see a lot about it from the general community. Barakamon seems to have disappeared into relative obscurity, despite its near-universal acclaim. What exactly makes it so compelling?
Not the adults, that’s for sure. If there’s one thing about Barakamon that makes itself admirable is the focus on energizing the simpler things in life. One of the things about Non Non Biyori that many loved and I didn’t care for was the focus on the simpler things in life and nothing more. That sort of pure, genuine “slice-of-life” that doesn’t try to coat itself in miscellaneous aspects such as comedy or romance—at least not heavily. Comedy and romance appeared, but within the environment that was present, which was normally of a normal caliber of normal. Barakamon dabbles in exaggerating the monotony just enough to make it a nice balance of the slice-of-life I enjoy, which relies on character charm, and the slice-of-life genre purists enjoy, which shows the world in a tranquil and calming light.
It’s one of the rare cases where the children are the most likable characters. They fit the show’s carefree mood a lot more than the adults, though they manage to fit in well enough. The male lead, Handa, mixes well with the kids’ antics with his own immaturity, which admittedly doesn’t make him a very likable character due to the inability to settle his own issues, which drags the show down. Should the plot of a particular episode follow Handa and the quest for ultimate fun by the neighbor kids, it shines with a distinguished light that provides a source of guidance to those wandering in. Even better, while Handa’s growth as a person is frustratingly slow, there is a warmness, an “all together” mentality within the foreign town that’s infectious enough to crumble a cynical heart. It helps Handa with his passion for calligraphy and the motivational constipation that plagues him throughout the series. Because there exists a point within the pointless existence of fun and living life through less accessories, it proves to be more insightful than most others.
Still, it’s by no means perfect. While his plight is relatable, I don’t care for Handa. His immaturity may create some extra fun, but it also distinguishes his realistic qualities. He’s supposed to be my age, yet he’s constantly arguing with children, stubbornly narrow-minded, and oblivious to an absurd degree. There is some emphasis on his sheltered childhood that, to some extent, justifies this, but it makes him no more likable regardless. The kids, particularly Naru, end up outshining him by means of character charm and vocal charisma. And may I just step aside for a moment to praise Barakamon for actually using a child voice actor for a child?! The industry standard of using a young adult female with a super squeaky voice to narrate for child characters gets so grating sometimes… And her voice is actually cute! I adore her laughter! A rare scenario where a voice truly carries a show, no matter the type of situation onscreen.
I can’t say the series is particularly funny, either. A very subjective criticism so it may be, the exaggerated screams and faces of the characters to various events only shines in the most varied of build-ups. The comedy also tends to be one-dimensional depending on who the focus of the joke is. There’s a closet-fujoshi girl who constantly ships Handa and another male character together, another middle school girl whose an energetic tomboy, a friend of Naru who never stops crying, and Handa himself, who’s a fish out of water throughout the entire series. And then there’s Handa’s mother… who… just… should fuck off. That’s it. She should just fuck off. The final episode was single-handedly ruined with her incredibly one-dimensional and irrational behavior, delaying the inevitable conclusion to the series.
My apologies if this post seems a little unorganized. My thoughts on the series is a bit of a hazy entity that enjoys slipping through the creases in my brain. Barakamon has a slight issue with consistency of what it tries to do along with what it wants to do, attempting to balance a lifestyle that soothes the soul and crafting a story about giving birth to a young man’s passion and creativity. Sometimes the clashing of these two things made the sequences dull, other times unnecessarily ordinary. Overall, there’s enough of both to please those looking for either, as well as the charm of a large roster of characters that don’t overstay their welcome (outside of the Handa bloodline). Animation’s nice, too.
The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.