Anime Review: Barakamon (2014)

Updated: Sep 26, 2018

When would be the ideal time to watch Barakamon?

Well, if you are an artist, writer, or content creator of any kind, you know that there are times when your craft is flowing and everything feels great.  Then there is the rest of the time where you struggle to create something, anything, just to ensure that you haven't run out of ideas.

Your creative well feels as if it has run dry.

In the anime Barakamon (2014) Handa, a young award wining Calligrapher, has just reached the bottom of his well, and it is bone dry.  After having his latest piece critiqued by an influential elder in the Calligraphy world, who deemed it unoriginal, Handa loses his cool and punches the man in the face. 

As punishment, Handa's father sends him to live on a rural island.  But there is a secondary agenda as well: on that island he hopes that Handa may find a way to refill his well.

At 12 episodes long, this Slice of Life anime weaves a wonderful story about a narcissistic prodigy finding that he has been living his creative life all wrong.  By putting all of his focus into his craft, he has left no time for living.  And because he has left no time for living, he has no life experiences to create his own unique calligraphy from.

Like other Rural Life anime, this show celebrates small town life.  Where everyone knows each other by name and face.  They drop off meals, don't lock their doors,  and it takes a whole village to raise one young girl, Naru.  

The new setting throws Handa out of his comfort zone.  Showing him exactly how much he does not know about life.  And when Naru latches onto him as the cool new Sensei in town, the comedy of unstoppable childhood imagination and enterprise takes over his life.  

Handa must ask himself:  Do I even enjoy my work?

While Naru does manage to steal the show much of the time, the story remains heavily focused on Handa.  It is not the story of a father-daughter relationship.  Instead, Naru serves as a focus for the argument that Handa REALLY NEEDS TO lighten up.  Have some fun.  And enjoy life.

After Naru, and the villagers, provide him with a healthy dose of reality, (and insults) Handa begins to realize just how far his life has strayed into the territory of paranoid repetition.  

The supporting characters round out the story, providing minor episodic plot points for each episode.  The island villagers, unlike the the jaded and guarded city folk, have no problems showing their enthusiasm for life, and their desire to spend time together.  Even if they aren't doing anything in particular.

Most of the subplots are comedy driven.  Like when Miwa is a bad influence on Naru, or when Tamako is in denial of her love for BL manga.

Overall, Barakamon is an extremely heart warming anime.  None of the 12 episodes feel pointless.  And at the end, I really wanted to know what Handa would decide to do with the rest of his life.  

So when would be the ideal time to watch Barakamon?  

Honestly, any time because it was thoroughly enjoyable!  However, I happened to watch it at a time when I could feel my own creative well running low, and I do think that added an extra layer of meaning to my viewing experience.

I would highly recommend that any of you who may be feeling similar, stop what you're doing, and go watch Barakamon!

Rating: 5/5 for me!

Let me know if you have watched Barakamon?  Or if you recommend any similar anime?

Thanks for reading!

Until next time!


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