2014 was a goldmine for comedies. This year’s summer provided us with two masterpieces of the genre, Monthly Shoujo Nozaki-kun and Barakamon. Both anime began with great potential and competed on who’d make our stomachs hurt the most. While Nozaku-kun focused on paroding anime cliches, Barakamon tried to build a story on its own. But what kind of story was that?
Foxy Lady Ayame: Barakamon is about Handa Seishu, a calligrapher, who had a small temperament issue, which kicked him out of the respected circles of his profession for awhile. Now he seeks to find his artistic voice in the countryside and make a come back. This ain’t easy with all these kids around, or is it? Sensei is after all very much a ‘kid’ himself, getting worked up and excited like shooting fish in a barrel.
Even though Barakamon was among my “soon to watch” list, I was very reserved as to what to expect from it. One of my pet peeves is the idealization of the countryside. Cities might not be the healthiest places to live in, both emotionally and physically, but the sheer amount of options you have and the freedom to live the way you want to are priceless. One time, I stayed in a village for seven days. It was almost literally away of anything resembling civilization (no radio, no television except for one in the local restaurants). Thankfully I brough a book with me and it proved to be my sanity’s savior. And yet I came to like Barakamon. A lot. Despite portraying the island as an ideal place to live, it didn’t do so while trash-talking cities. It was framed pretty well as a choice that fit Seishu-sensei in particular but not everyone.
Neko-chi: The series also does a great job capturing what it’s like to be surrounded by kids. Children can be really sweet attention seekers and a pain to handle at the same time. Everyone knows raising them is a big responsibility and Barakamon reminds us that fact constantly.
Neko-chi: Another important lesson coming from Barakamon has to do with women. Those who believe in the innocence of teenage girls who aspire to be artists are about to enter a world of pain and horror. If one thought these young ladies draw the elegant, beautiful men of their dreams, guess again. Get ready to view the universe from a fujoshi’s eyes. Nothing will ever be the same again, especially things concerning males working together. I am sure we all have friends just like Tamako -blood lusting fujoshi filled with teen angst who ship real and fictional males alike.
On a more serious tone, I was happy that Tamako isn’t made fun of in a degrading way. Yeah, she does go over the board from time to time -like most members of the great fujoshi clan have done at some point in their lives- but, thankfully, we are given the opportunity to see other sides of her as well. That’s a good sign that Barakamon doesn’t try to win the viewers in a cheap way, exactly the sort of approach a quality series should be following.
Neko-chi: I am confident our Greek readers will understand what I mean when I say that Emi Handa, Seishuu’s mother, has some Greek origin. When she was introduced to us I was scared to see similarities to my mother, but then I heard from other friends that they see their parents in her too. I know this hasn’t much to do with the series but I can understand this situation so well that I couldn’t leave it uncommented.
Foxy Lady: Talking about irrelevant things the episode with the Mandom scene is written in the history of comedy. Naru’s face was the face of the year! I also laughed a lot with Handa-sensei not being able to properly make a call from an old non-mobile phone.
Neko-chi: Getting back on track, perhaps Barakamon’s most important conclusion is that people aren’t the same. Being at the top of the food chain, a famous innovator, acknowledged from the rest of your lot, earning a lot of money to spend on fancy cars and expensive clothing are often presented as the only way one can be successful. But can that model fit everyone’s life? Is it ever possible for all people to find fulfillment living like that?
Peace and real life experience can bring creativity. Success isn’t about being n.1