Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations
Ok, I promise I’ll start covering seasonal stuff soon.
A realization that I have had over the last few weeks is that, while I enjoy keeping up with a few seasonal things, trying to cover everything just gets incredibly frustrating, at least in the sense that it is hard to keep up. Every so often, I find myself scrolling through either Crunchyroll or Funimation’s catalog just to see what is there, and I remember there is so much stuff from previous seasons that I never got the chance to watch. Thus, I decided to finally start catching up on some of these older series, starting with “Barakamon.”
Comedy in Anime Vs Barakamon
A lot of comedy in anime can be boiled down to “comedic misunderstandings,” in which a given character is caught in a situation that, without, or sometimes even with context, looks really bad. While this type of humor is funny on occasion, it feels like it saturates certain shows to the point of being incredibly dull. Luckily, “Barakamon’s” comedy is a bit more original, and more often than not centers itself around the main character’s personality, as well as his lack of understanding of rural Japan.
A good example of this comes in one of the later episodes, as the village leader asks Handa and the older kids to watch the little ones at the beach. The major running gag of the episode is Handa not only having never been to a rockier beach before, but continually running over the rocks and slipping, despite Miwa saying it should only happen once. The episode even ends on Handa running after Naru, who is jumping off the pier, in order to keep her out of danger. However, he himself slips on the rocks and gets knocked out while Naru is fine.
Ultimately, comedy is, to a large extent, subjective. What I find funny is not necessarily going to be the same as what someone else finds funny, and one person’s “boring misunderstanding” could be another’s genius. However, I do think analyzing how a show’s comedy functions within a series is important. Good comedy will make a person laugh, sure, but great comedy will accomplish other things, in addition to making someone laugh.
Handa the Great?
“Barakamon,” while being a comedy series, is also largely about Handa’s development as a person. As the series begins, We come to understand that Handa is a bit entitled. His father was a master calligrapher, and he has been praised for all throughout his life. So, when the director of the calligraphy organization tells him his work is mediocre, Handa feels as though his identity is being attacked. It is actually a very similar arc to the one that Koko goes through in the series “Golden Time,” as she feels like her identity is under attack when Mitsuo, her childhood friend, rejects her romantic advances.
Given the seriousness of assaulting another person, and not understanding the consequences that come with that, Handa’s father forces him to move out of Tokyo and reflect on his actions. Part of me does find it weird that the people of Goto are so quick to welcome him into the community despite knowing what he did, and even let their kids just go freely over to his house. Granted, having a connection to the community through his father probably helps, but initially, at least it feels wrong.
Part of this, at least, comes from another fairly unexplored theme in the anime: Handa’s relationship with his father. Much of this is due to the fact that his “textbook” style of calligraphy is his father’s. However, living among an entirely different group of people helps Handa to re-evaluate not just himself as a person, but also his writing. Handa soon begins creating out of genuine passion rather than a sense of “what is correct calligraphy?”
A New Family
Instrumental to that previously mentioned development is the new community Handa finds himself around. The calligraphy prodigy also has a bias towards the people of Goto at the beginning, thinking them to be just a bunch of country hicks. However, the kindness they offered him unconditionally quickly changes his attitude. From the whole town helping him move his stuff inside the house, to Hiroshi bringing him home-cooked meals, to the middle school girls always always checking in to make sure he is ok.
Then there is Naru, one of the show’s more recognizable characters. The mischievous first grader is always running around Handa’s house and causing trouble. While it is never directly stated in the anime, it is heavily implied in one of the latter episodes that Naru’s parents are not around. This, combined with Naru taking a liking to Handa while he stays there, turns Handa into something of a father figure for her. It is through Naru, as well as the other small kids, that Handa seems to grow the most, as he comes to realize his own lack of maturity.
There is a lot to appreciate about Barakamon. Its comedy and characters are top notch, and the way it implements both character and thematic development into that comedy creates a wonderfully paced story that is unfortunately without a second season. I have yet to read the manga, but if there were ever a case for picking it up after an anime, it would definitely be for a series like this.
How do you feel about “Barakamon?” Let me know in the comments below
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