Cheerful Child「ばらかこどん 訳：元気な子供」
Ono Daisuke‘s back as the main character in not 1 but 2 shows this Summer 2014 of which one of them is Barakamon! And what a delightful opening episode this has been. I’m a fan of the Barakamon manga and one of the biggest fear is that an anime adaptation doesn’t live up to the original work. Safe to say, my expectations have been wonderfully exceeded because Hara Suzuko just stole the show along with my heart! *Kyun!*
OP “Rashisa” by SUPER BEAVER
Handa Seishun (Ono Daisuke) is a young calligrapher from Tokyo. At an awards exhibit, his work though awarded, was criticised by the exhibit hall director for being conformist, textbook-like, dull and seemingly in a style done just to win awards. The hot-headed man disagrees with the criticisms and proceeds to fatefully punch the director, a man who needs to use a cane. His friend/manager Kawafuji Takao (Suwabe Junichi) couldn’t stop Handa in time and now disgraced (the older man needs a cane for goodness’ sake!), Handa’s father has told him to take off to Fukue island to cool his head off, stating that Handa’s flawed as a human being, let alone a calligrapher. With that, the city boy ends up in back water village Nanatsutaka where the bus runs once a day, Handa’s home only has a pit toilet (i.e. not a western one) and the bath heater runs on a balanced-flue manually cranked system. But in the village, people are kinder and nicer to one another, even if they speak in a dialect that’s very difficult to understand (this ain’t remotely close to kansai-ben). This is precisely the change of environment Handa needs, to grow as a person and from there to grow his own true calligraphy style. He hitches a ride from the airport from a random passerby and is greeted personally by the village chief. His things arrive but unlike in Tokyo, the moving company doesn’t help bring it inside his new home. Instead, the villagers invite themselves in the evening presumably after a day’s work, to volunteer helping Handa move his things in and to help him settle into his new home. Heartwarming right?
This is a slice-of-life show and of course, what’s that genre without the comedy to balance out the feels? Kotoishi Naru (Haru Suzuki turns in a veteran-level debut performance) is the village scamp who’s made Handa’s house her personal base to hang out in (hilariously along with the village chief whom together, get thrown out numerous times by Handa) and her interactions with Handa are the base of Barakamon’s laughs and tears. Naru convinces Handa to climb a sea wall (Handa’s metaphor for wall of mediocrity the director mentioned) to see the most beautiful sunset, which together with the day’s events, inspires Handa to go all out with his calligraphy (somewhat psychotically haha) to write his first calligraphy word ‘FUN’ 「楽」that he’s thoroughly satisfied with. Seems like Handa’s bound to get inspired during his time here! The comedy is fun on top of being out right funny – talisman in the cupboard, Naru hiding in the cupboard, Junon boy, Hina’s opposite reactions (all those tears), Kenta’s butt jab, Naru’s plain idiocy sometimes and when she and Handa end up taking a swim in the sea. Last but not least, Handa’s a stereotypically TSUNDERE type so his blushes are hysterical!
Undoubtedly, many viewers will compare Barakamon to Usagi Drop. Both shows involve amazingly cute little girls (not the loli type please!) and their interactions with parent/older sibling-like men, both learning from one another. We all know that children do and say the darnest things and that’s what makes watching them grow such sheer joy – it teaches us adults a thing or two that we’ve forgotten along the way. Already we see her apologising to Handa without a qualm and oh so innocently, leading Handa to learn to admit that he was at fault and really ought to apologise to the director, even if it’s through Kawafuji (because though he’ll apologise, he still can’t do so personally lol). Tachibana Masaki’s the director in charge and I feel safe that the show’s in his hands what with his experience in drawing out the best out of child characters in shows like Tokyo Magnitude. As it is, the casting of a real child to voice Naru’s couldn’t be better. Kawai Kenji provides the OST which is already a joy for the ears in this debut episode, as is its comedic Hitchcock violin shrill pseudo horror moments. After all, this is the same composer behind Gundam 00 and the Fate/Stay Night series amongst many other famous works. Overall, a great first episode from Barakamon and judging by what’s to come as in the manga, I’m here to stay to watch and review this show for Summer 2014. It’s gonna be great!
ED “Innocence” by NoisyCell