Barakamon Review

Barakamon the most pleasant series you will watch all year, plus you can watch free on YouTube.
Barakamon follows Seishū Handa, a professional calligrapher, and after a well respected judge tells Handa that his work is unoriginal, he gets angry and punches the old man. To atone for his outburst, Handa's father sends him to a small village on Gotō Island so that Handa can develop his own unique style of calligraphy. On the island, Handa meets a young seven year old girl named Naru, along with the colorful cast of other characters. Throughout the series, Handa unknowingly ends up in a journey of self discovery.

Generally, the slice-of-life genre is populated with high school and romance anime, and while some of anime's best work has come from such settings, finally getting to see a series like Barakamon about a guy in his early twenties on a journey of self-discovery is a refreshing change. Throw in clever humor with an excellent character story and you have one of the best slice-of-life anime ever.

The Good: Incredibly pleasant to watch, Naru is insanely lovable, Unique setting, Often hilarious, Perfect character arc, Relatable characters, Beautiful animation, Strong themes, Great comedic timing, Fantastic opening and ending, Satisfying conclusion, Superb voice work,

The Bad:

Plot: 8.2/10- Barakamon is, first and foremost, a character story about Handa and how he changes as a character throughout the series, as well as a comedy. As such, most episodes feature something that happens in the small village, which creates situations for both comedy and character development.
Tonally, Barakamon is the definition of pleasant. It is the picture of a quaint country side, except with the colorful cast of characters that produce a lot of clever comedy. Despite the character development, the series is never overly dramatic, or even bordering on being overly dramatic. It balances the humor and character moments perfectly, with it leaning towards the comedic side for the most part. Unlike most slice-of-life series, Barakamon concludes well, with an ending that provides a fitting and satisfying end to Handa's character arc, while still leaving the door open for more stories.

Characterization: 9.7/10- Of summer 2014, Barakamon has the best and most lovable characters. Handa, or Sensei as the locals call him, is the main character. Like other somewhat similar stories where the city-slicker lives in the country, the first couple of episodes are mostly about him adjusting to life in the country, which produces a lot of comedy. Towards the end of the series, he develops bonds with the other people of the village, particularly Naru, as well as developing as a person.
Naru is one of the aspects that make Barakamon amazing, and she is one of my favorite characters from 2014. Naru is the seven year old girl, who formerly used Handa's new house as her clubroom of sorts, and thus she encounters, and at first pesters, Handa. She is a tomboy of a girl that loves to run around outside, and she is a ball of energetic fun. However, Naru does not devolve into the usual moe lolicon like most other child characters. She is cute, but in a realistic way, to the point where she reminds me my friend's little sister.
Miwa and Tama are two fourteen year old middle schoolers, who often pester Handa, and they add great comedy. Other members of the supporting cast include Hiroshi Kido, son of the village chief, Hina Kubota, Naru's best friend, and Takao Kawafuji, Handa's friend from Tokyo. All of these characters, plus several more, make up the varied and fun supporting cast. They all have hilarious comedic moments and add to the overall experience of the series. Also, none of the characters fall into usual anime archetypes.

Acting: 9.6/10- Barakamon's voice acting is another highlight of the series, most notably Suzuko Hara as Naru (picture below). Suzuko, just like her character, is seven years old. Typically, older women actors would be cast to voice child characters, and while it usually works, casting an age accurate voice actress is a refreshing change. Without her fun performance, Naru would not be the same, and if/when the series is dubbed, I will be disappointed if a child is not cast in the role. As for the rest of the cast, they are all superb, particularly Daisuke Ono as Handa.
Art Style: 8.9/10- A relative newcomer to animation, studio Kinema Citrus' art style and character models are unique and rather beautiful throughout the series. The animators seem to use a style that employs brushstroke like edges to the character models and backgrounds, which fits perfectly with the calligraphy theme. Also, aside from a few shirtless dudes, there is absolutely zero fanservice.

Soundtrack: 8.4/10- Barakamon's score fits the series perfectly to produce the intended emotion, from the comedic to the uplifting.

Humor: 9.5/10- After Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, Barakamon is easily the funniest series of the summer, and one of the funniest of the year. Most of the humor is the result from the Handa's unfamiliarity with the county and from the interaction of the lovable characters. Almost all of the humor is clean and just fun and clever.
" Let's face it, this is not the worst thing you've caught me doing."
(Does anyone else get the reference?)

Opening and Ending: 9.2/10- Barakamon's opening song, “Rashisa” by Super Beaver, is a perfect song for the series with top notch animation and an energetic rhythm. The ending song and animation is slower, yet very pleasant. 

Entertainment Value: 9.5/10- Every single episode of Barakamon entertained me from beginning to end with its humor, lovable characters, and appealing artwork. It had me counting the hours until the most recent episode was released. 

Overall: 9.0/10- Barakamon is the definition of a pleasant experience. Due to neither being a romance or high school anime, Barakamon sets itself apart from most of the genre making it one of the best slice-of-life anime ever. If you have any interest in comedy or slice-of-life, Barakamon is an absolute must-watch.

Closing comments: If you want to relax and have an enjoyable time with lovable characters and clever humor, Barakamon is the anime for you, and my pick for the second best anime of summer 2014.

Recommended for: Slice-of-Life fans, Comedy fans, Animation fans,

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If you are still not convinced, watch the first episode from Funimation's official YouTube, and if you video does not work in your country, check out the entire series over on KissAnime by clicking here.

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