Barakamon – 05

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I guess it isn’t surprising, but watching Barakamon has roughly paralleled the stages of grief for me.

  • Denial: “That premiere was really good.  They changed a couple of things, but I’m sure it’s nothing.  The manga is so could they couldn’t possibly screw it up.”
  • Anger: “Fuck!  How could they possibly skip that chapter?  It might be the best chapter in the entire series and it’s the most important in establishing Handa’s character and the overall tone!”
  • Bargaining: “Maybe they’re just rearranging things.  They wanted to put a few trendy chapters first to suck people in, but they’ll get to the real Barakamon once that happens.  I’m sure they will…”
  • Depression: “I wish this adaptation had never been made.  I can’t really enjoy it knowing what I know, and now most people will walk away thinking this is what Barakamon really is.  This sucks.”

And finally, with this episode, acceptance.  The series is almost half over, and there’s really no denying the truth, no reason (well…) to be angry about it, and nothing I say will make any difference.  As for being depressed about it well, truth be told I’m still fighting through that one.  Loving a source material as much as I do here it’s hard to let go, but you can stack up sanitized and abortive anime adaptations alongside death, taxes and self-serving LN with 30-word titles as inevitable facts of life.

As for the episode itself, it was certainly pleasant.  As usual there were some quite funny moments, most especially Naru’s reaction when she thought Handa-sensei was a “married woman” and Tama’s when she thought Handa was sweet on Hiroshi (indeed, her fujoshi urges and the consternation they cause her are the closest thing to an edge that’s survived into the anime).  And the show displays an agile comic touch, both with facial expression and verbal banter.

It is what it is, though, and the beach trip is a good example of why Barakamon is a good series but will never be more.  It deftly creates a relaxed, pleasant sense of idle – something intrinsic to island life in my experience.  But the moments that go deeper are few and far between, and when the show tries to get a little serious it plays as treacly and a little preachy.  I think it’s mainly because the series has done none of the heavy lifting in establishing these characters, choosing to skip enormous character-building content in favor or Naru-Tama-Miwa cuteness.  But it’s also because it’s obvious that Barakamon the anime’s heart isn’t in it when it comes to these serious moments – the feeling in watching them is that they’re meant to impart a “message” and be skimmed through quickly so it can get on to the next gag or moe display.

I have considered dropping the series in terms of blogging (though certainly not watching) because of the uniquely unpleasant situation it puts me in.   But it would feel quite odd to me to not blog a show that was so far above the threshold of shows I normally cover both in terms of abstract quality and enjoyment, even for reasons such as those in play here.  So I’ll give this acceptance thing a try for a while, and if I can walk the walk maybe I can actually get past the depression stage to the degree where I really can enjoy Barakamon largely unencumbered.

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  1. G

    Is it weird that I like the side characters (especially Naru) and can't stand the main character? His non stop whining about Caliigraphy and winning an award for it is getting so annoying now.

  2. I don't have that problem, but maybe it's because I know him well enough that all the characterization the anime has skipped doesn't matter. If other anime viewers feel that way it's all the more reason to bemoan the axing of a very specific chapter in the first volume.

  3. K

    I don't feel that way he is one of my favorite characters of the season probably only beaten by Mikorin in Nozaki Kun.

    But as I said I do plan to read the manga and I look forward to it but I wouldn't even be interested in the manga if I didn't enjoy the anime so much. I even bought the 2015 calendar.

  4. v

    Seems like it'd be a sin for me to not check out the source material after the anime is over.

  5. Cardinal at the very least.

  6. t

    Lol you really are turning into a butthurt manga fan (I mean seriously it's probably only you out so many fans that aren't liking the adaptation) but hey we all have our moments of weakness as fans of the source material.

  7. S

    I can not understand your distress about this adaptation since I haven't read the manga. But I understand the disappointment when an adaption does not invoke the same "atmosphere" in me, as the the original media did. (Similar to the reasons why Azuma Kiyohiko does not want his Yotsuba manga being adapted into anime, I guess); or when significant content/plot has been skipped.

    But at least the former does not seem to be the case here, or does it? For what it is, I find this anime really enjoyable. Haru's voice, e.g. is just so perfect for her character and the situational comedy it leads to.
    And doesn't having thoughts like "Yes, that exactly how I imagined this character" or even rediscovering a character through the differences from your own impressions, makes an adaption worth watching?

    I guess differentiating between such cloudy terms like "atmosphere" and "content" is kind of risky, but I hope you get what I mean.

  8. Well, for obvious reasons I don't want to get specific. But if you're asking whether significant content and plot has been skipped, the answer is that "significant" doesn't even begin to cover it – pretty much everything that isn't related to the 25% or so of the manga thematic structure that the anime is focusing on has been axed. And you can't really separate the matter of atmosphere from that, because by neutering all the rough edges from the manga they've totally changed the feel of the story. In terms of tone, it's like a completely different series. A pretty good one that's well-suited to the realities of the anime commercial environment of the day (which was surely the point) but not all that much like the original.

  9. S

    That makes me really curious about the source material!

  10. And that's a good thing. I heartily encourage you to devour it – but not until after the anime ends, or I doubt you'd be able to enjoy it as much as you are now.

  11. m

    What pains me is that they didn't even skip whole chapters. Rather, the anime adapted almost all the chapters, but sucked each of them of their emotional nuance. They did that pretty drastically with Hiro's introduction, but I was especially annoyed with how they butchered the cats episode, removing any development to Handa's rocky relationship with his father.

    Which chapter were you thinking of, Enzo? From your anger stage.

  12. The one with Kenta and an amphibian.

  13. g

    I won't read the manga before the anime ends, because I don't want to sour my watching time. But I suppose every anime adaptation of manga, which is characters' driven (and most slice of life are), will suffer when so much content is cut. I feel ya because it sucks – you know the anime is good or, even worse, barley good but could be sooooo much better. A wasted potential hurts!

  14. F

    I never really read any manga, but seeing how you loved this one I will probably go ahead and look it up once the anime is over!

  15. D

    Damn, I'm glad I'm not in the position you're in. Because the show is still pretty good as far as I'm concerned and I feel it's one of the better slice-of-life shows of the year so far, but then, I don't know the manga. I wonder if I'd feel the same way if I did. So far, I've actually been lucky when it comes to seeing adaptations of manga I've read – they've either been really good (Watamote) or the skipping of important stuff was something that only came up once or twice, not throughout the entire show (Hunter X Hunter, Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood). I'm not a manga purist either – most changes don't really bother me. But it's bound to happen sometime, and I wonder how I'd react.

    And in a way, I can see where you're coming from considering what I've seen so far. Because while Barakamon is fun, it feels rather rushed and disjointed at times (the hospital episode) and in general it really is a case of 'good but not great'. It kind of feels like it lacks the edge a show like Silver Spoon earlier this year had. I wonder how the manga would hold up in that comparison.

    Either way, the anime is at least doing its job in getting me interested in the source material. Since the manga's been licensed and there's an English version coming out around the time the anime ends, I might as well wait and check it out then.

  16. Comparing it against Silver Spoon is interesting. That's an adaptation that pretty much kept the substance of the manga intact. I would say that the Gin no Saji and Barakamon manga are about on-par with how much edge and how much they deal with serious issues – that should give you a general idea of the difference in the adaptation choices each studio has made.

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