Barakamon – 12 (End ) and Series Review

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As with Zankyou no Terror, a major problem with Barakamon was expectations.

As I mentioned in the Daiya post, my sisters are in town from the USA just as I’ve been hit with a bad cold, so posts are going to be shorter than normal and possibly not quite as timely for a bit thanks to that double-whammy.  I hate to shortchange a series review post, but it’s 1245 AM, I need to be up in six hours and my head feels like a lead weight, so it is what it is…

Long story short, Barakamon was a pretty good show – probably a half-step above that, even – but not quite the adaptation I was hoping for.  I felt that the finale was pretty much in-line with that – it was good, but somehow the emotional spectrum feels more primary colors than it did with the manga.  I was expecting a bigger impact when Handa-san returned to Gotou and reunited with Naru and the gang, but it was more along the lines of a predictable happy ending than a cathartic moment.

It’s been an odd season, really.  If you’d told me going in that neither Barakamon or Zankyou would be in my top three shows of the season, I’d have bet it was going to be a disaster – but it ended up being modestly decent, because there were other shows like Majimoji Rurumo and Nozaki-kun that surpassed my expectations and made up the difference (that, and Kuroshitsuji delivered famously on the strong source material it was adapting).

Be that as it may, I did enjoy Barakamon and it seems likely to do pretty well on disc (we’ll know tomorrow) – and we’ve already had a good result with Aldnoah, Tokyo Ghoul and Baby Steps (!) getting sequels, with Nozaki-kun’s a mortal lock.  So I think we might just get another season of Barakamon and there’s enough manga material to do is as soon Kinema Citrus and the production committee would like to.  There’s not much reason to believe it’d be any more faithful to the manga than this season was, but even dumbed-down Barakamon is better than 80% of the anime out there.

From the finale, we learned for certain that Handa’s Mom is a bit of a head-case.  The jokes with her went on a bit too long and lost some edge as a result, but the core is pretty true to life – there are a lot of mothers like that (mine was, to some extent).  And she wasn’t just overprotective either, but a bit of an elitist – “Lie down with dogs and you get fleas” is one of the most versatile pieces of prejudicial code language out there.  I was happy to see his father come around, though – that’s been hinted at for a while – and I especially liked the reveal that he’d lived on the island himself.  And his protest – “I wouldn’t have sent you there if I hadn’t live there myself.”  Turns out he’s a pretty good dad after all (better than Ging, anyway).

5th Place at the exhibition aside, it was a pretty good ending for Handa-san.  He won back the respect of the director, and came to realize that Gotou was a place that felt like home to him now.  There’s much more to Barakamon than a comedic slice-of-life, but it is an appealing one – and I look forward to seeing more of that, even if it’s all we get.

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End Card:

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  1. S

    First of all, I hope you get well soon, so you can enjoy Japan with your sisters as much as possible!

    As for Barakamon, this was such a sweet show. There were a few series at the start of the season that started really impressive and interesting, but as the season progresses some series genuinely make you look forward to watching them at the end of the day, when they air. I guess that's when I personally realize which series I enjoyed the most. Barakamon was definitely one of these series providing that warm fuzzy feeling resembling the Aria-series, but with a nice (big) portion of comedy. Now, I can't wait to start the manga for comparison.

  2. R

    Wishing you a speedy recovery and an awesome time with your sisters…family reunion is precious.

    Barakamon was one of my top picks of the season, but it didn't live up to what I expected. Having said that, it's still entertaining enough to keep me watching. I liked the last episode, but, to me, the finale may probably be the worst — the way that Handa's mother is depicted here totally is horrible. I know that there are mothers who don't understand and are persistent, but, for Christ's sake, please don't turn mom into a joke and even give her a moe look — why did she need to pout? Have some respect for moms please! And it's totally not funny at all to treat a character like that — one minute she's like a crazy person hitting everyone who gets in her way and the next minute she suddenly understands and gives up her stand…? So, dad (the man in the house) is the one who has the intellect and empathy, and mom (the woman who acts like a servant?) is a joke? This whole sequence completely went off on a tangent and ended the series with a bad taste. Luckily, Handa went back to the island — the same way that he did the first time — but he's now a whole new person, a mature person who appreciates — this is the best part of the finale to me.

    Honestly, one season is fine and enough if Barakamon is going to be adapted the way that it has been — unless its direction is gonna change, which is quite unlikely.

  3. K

    So I stopped watching this after the first few episodes and chose to wait until it finished and then decide whether to continue this or read the manga first. So now that it's over which would you recommend?

    On one hand if the manga really is as much better as you say I'd rather not spoil it by watching the anime first. But on the other hand it seems like pretty much everyone else really enjoyed the anime while you were disappointed with it due to having read the manga…

  4. Honestly, I would just read the manga at this point.

  5. H

    I think the anime is worth your while (Enzo concedes it's better than most out there), these characters were simply the best this season and brought to life on screen amazingly by Kinema Citrus surely enhances that. Naru's seiyuu alone is stellar. But if you want more out of the story there's the manga waiting at the end.

  6. J

    I would love to see an entire episode of Haru vs. Emi.

  7. g

    I was actually moved by the ending of this series–enough to shed a tear, and then write an article about it. 🙂 It may have something to do with me being able to identify with Handa a bit at this stage in my life. The story of him recovering through a healthy, communal environment filled with love and affection just really got to me sometimes, and it brought back memories of the one time I was a camp counselor…when I was even more awkward than I am now, but the kids were so kind and sweet by the end anyway.

    It sounds like the manga is even better so I will definitely check that out.

  8. T

    It's quite unfortunate that during the reveal of Seishu's father, Seimei, also visited the island, they skipped over the important fact that what inspired Seimei to be able to write was due to seeing of Kosaku's newborn (Naru's father or mother).

    Barakamon is one of those series where it was definitely better going in blind, as I couldn't enjoy the series as much as I wanted, due to reading the manga beforehand.

  9. There are many similar decisions one could point to. It's hard to explain to someone who doesn't understand what's missing from the anime what's missing from the anime. But there's an essence that's definitely missing.

  10. H

    This was the surprise summer stunner (yeah, that'll sound cute to manga readers) for me. It was solid slice of life and an excellent comedy peppered with surprisingly thoughtful and memorable characters. I can sense some of the issues with the deliberate episode structuring ratio (comedy:serious) that may have sapped some authenticity out of the genuinely heartfelt moments of the mango, but I always got more out of the characters' laughs myself. Kinema Citrus did a splendid job bringing Gotou and its inhabitants to life, doing justice to the special moments the shared in this quirky series. B+

    Just to clarify, was the last few episodes anime original at all?

  11. G

    WOW you have one of those dreaded Japanese colds? I'm surprised you were even able to post. Don't drive any machinery and maybe you should wear a crash helmet in case you suddenly pass out. From what I have seen in anime those Japanese colds are almost as bad as Ebola.

  12. That phenomena may be a bit exaggerated.

  13. l

    Barakamon was a nice pleasant watch. That's all. It fell below my expectations due to the general hype I heard about the manga that raised initial expectations.

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