“Glad you’re back” 「かえってきてうりしか」
I’ve been putting off the inevitable final episode to this beautiful, heartwarming anime that has kept my spirits up week after week all through Summer 2014. Without missing a beat, Barakamon’s final episode has been just as funny, light-hearted and warm-fuzzy-feeling-filling as the 11 episodes before it. What are we to do now to fill this void?!
Yay! Sensei’s moving back! As it turns out, he never meant to return permanently to Tokyo and was intending to just go and apologise. Still, why didn’t the guy tell anyone?! Oh Handa… in any case, the kids managed to take over Handa’s house and use it for their own, creating quite the mess. Thankfully we have Hiro-nii who takes charge as the oldest among the bunch in getting the place all tidied up in time because this is Handa’s ‘home’ after all, right?
No. Handa mama is full on upset and very tsun (hence the tsun in Handa-kun’s tsunbaka) about Sei-san leaving again. I haven’t heard a male seiyuu of Ono Daisuke‘s experience/calibre call out ‘okaasan’ that many times in any show in a long time (school based slice-of-life animes aside). And so that was funny in itself for me. But really, you can see how Handa-kun ended up the way he is now – she’s so protective of her only child! But can we blame her as a mother? No, because Handa-kun did actually get hospitalised, hurt and lost while on the island among many other things, and she made sure the point was clearly punched into Kawafuji lol. Poor lady’s surrounded by insensitive males in her life, it’s no wonder she wants to stand her ground firmly on Handa staying, even if Handa papa supports his son based on personal experience. How young the village chief was back then – the baby in the photo isn’t Hiro; read the manga if you want to know more~ the 4-koma series of young Handa Seimei and the village chief are quite funny too!
Eventually, Handa mama gives in and removes one of the many “DO NOT RETURN TO THE ISLAND” charms she has plastered all over Handa-kun’s room like witchcraft. She realises her son’s actually grown up and others do need him. Otherwise, a hikikomori in Tokyo or in Gotou’s the same right? How timely then it was for the package to have come from Gotou (although not timely enough to inspire Handa-kun for the competition!) filled with random stuff only those kids will fill the box with. Handa mama does get overprotective upon hearing Naru’s name which was to hilarious effect even though her antics are overly dramatic. That’s how forgiving I am towards Handa mama!
Although in the last 2 episodes we don’t get much of what really brought us back to Barakamon week after week – Naru and sensei interacting together, the series has managed to do a very satisfactory adaptation of the original manga series in ending at this particular point. I’ve mentioned it before but have to for one last time – this anime has surpassed the manga because with the OST, seiyuus and an animated Naru (pun intended), they’ve really brought this story to life. Even Handa-kun’s final calligraphy entry seemed to come alive more in the anime. I personally still prefer the ‘star’ work for impact but you’ve gotta admit that the name stacking (remember the stone/rock stacking from last episode) was just as great, even if he’s still so impulsive and has painful lessons lol. Handa-kun’s really developing his true style now as he’s personally (finally) maturing into a better person and better calligrapher. Can’t believe I’ve actually come to appreciate calligraphy! Anyway going back to Naru & sensei – was I the only one who went awwwwww towards the end when she snuggled up and hugged him cheek-to-cheek? I’m really going to miss Naru and sensei and everyone else (even Tama’s fujoshi interpretation of Handa-Hiro lol). Where else am I going to enjoy an anime that actually lets me smile from start to finish with Naru’s infectious smile? This is just such a healing show and in a non-cheesy way too!!! Barakamon has been the sleepy hit of Summer 2014. I’m quite sure few people out there expected anything great out of Barakamon because it’s about calligraphy and a young adult man interacting with a young child with maybe some promise of feel-good, slice-of-life humour. Summer 2014 was a very strong season with a lot of shows for a variety of people. Yet as one of the first shows to premier this season, it charmed everybody from episode 01 because honestly, how can anyone resist Naru?
So what do we do now?
If you’ve not seen the Mijikamon series after each episode of Barakamon then please do go watch them because the chibi characters are just SO CUTE. These short one and a half to two min long clips are aired exclusively online so not all anime viewers would know they exist. A quick search on YouTube should give you search results for eng subbed versions (the raws are Japanese territory exclusive but if you have niconico, search for みじかもん). Naru holds a signboard saying these clips are ad-libbed and while they are scripted by the same scriptwriter as the Barakamon anime series, the seiyuus do actually ad-lib sometimes, such as in clip 06 when Kaji Yuuki had to rise up to the challenge and did a hilarious impromptu bit that apparently got everyone in the recording studio laughing in stitches.
I try to catch up with a show’s web radio show if I’m interested enough in it; Barakamon’s Rajikamon has been the only web radio show I’ve caught all episodes of so far because that’s just how much I love this story. I’m glad to have listened to it too because you hear guests like Naru and Hina appear and just think how aptly cast these 2 little girls are. There are stories too of what happens in the recording sessions, how at Hiro’s first recording he thought he was at a new year’s family gathering, how the entire cast behave just as the characters in Barakamon do, how the kids ask Ono Daisuke sensei to accompany them to go see a tortoise in the pond within the recording studio premise, how Miwa’s actually from the Gotou Islands and has been the dialect coach for everyone and been very professional about it and my personal favourite, how Ono Daisuke’s got such chemistry with Hara Suzuko that it just became natural for him to hold onto her hand when they go for or leave from Barakamon-related interviews and events – they’re even doing a spinoff DVD where the seiyuus visit Gotou Island! It’s this off-screen interaction that extends the beauty of on-screen Barakamon for me that I really enjoyed while listening to the shows hosted by OnoD and screenwriter Sugiura Pierre (OnoD’s peer in university, reunited after so many years). Just listen to that last final ‘arigatou gozaimashita’ at the end of the credits! Tells you a lot that everyone sounds so happy :)
The manga’s still serialising and is currently up to chapter 72. Read it if you want to find out what happens to the glass door Hiro brought over in this episode or to find out how Handa handles the typhoon that Naru’s grandpa was stacking rocks for. The story following where Barakamon anime ends off gets more emotional but retains its light-hearted humour and so comes very highly recommended. For those of you more inclined to animation since it’s done such an amazingly consistent job of adapting the original material, the first DVD featuring episodes 1 – 3 is out. After all, this final episode brought Handa Seishuu and us full circle right back to where he started at Fukue airport, figuring his way to home, the other place he now calls home. I watched episode 01 again right after finishing this series and if you do, you’ll be impressed by just how much Handa’s grown since then. Normal’s the best indeed. I promise it’s better watching it the second time around. That’ll have to do until there’s enough source material to even explore the possibility of a season 2, which won’t be at least for another couple of years by my guestimate. So if you’re ever feeling down, just watch any random episode of Barakamon and hopefully you’ll remember what a great Summer 2014 you had with Handa, Naru, Miwa, Tama, Hiro, Kenta, 2 other boys, Akki, Kawafuji, Kanzaki, Panchi, Village Chief, Mrs. Village Chief, nurse with awesome fish-scooping skills and everyone else in the village. Like Miwa said in Mijikamon 12, ‘Barakamon means a person full of energy, right? The director said: I hope watching this anime gave you energy no matter how down you feel.’
If that’s not enough, Handa-kun has his own manga which explores his life as an awkward high school 2nd grade student. It’s only recently serialised so there’s only a couple of chapters but it’s quite funny on its own as a prelude to the Handa sensei we now have endearingly come to know of. Naru’s not there (she was probably just born then if you do the math) but hey, if you want to get your hands on all things Baraka, go ahead :)
Thanks for clicking/reading through these reviews. It’s been one of my favourite to write all season and from the very first episode too. One of the most outstanding animes in years to have graced our laptop screens and it’s really tough to let go so… like Naru mentioned (oh Hara Suzuko you’re ad-lib is just soooo cute I wanna squeeze and hug you!) in the last Mijikamon episode, it says finale but it’s really just the beginning. Whims or words of truth of a child? Doesn’t matter right? Either way we’re all going to miss Barakamon! So one last wallpaper before we say まったね〜
(For different sizes – http://www.ganganonline.com/comic/barakamon/sp_wall.html)