Manga Review: Barakamon Vol. 3

The contrast between city and rural life has been a source of entertainment since the time of Aesop’s fables. It remains a popular subject in manga and anime today, and joining the ranks of Silver Nina, Non Non Biyori, and Silver Spoon is Yen Press’ series Barakamon. Read on for my review of Volume 3! (For my reviews of previous volumes, click here.)

Back cover blurb

Kawafuji, the only friend of handsome young calligrapher Seishuu Handa, has come to visit the island…!! However, the lack of cell phone signal and any useful landmarks is preventing the two of them from meeting up!! And who is this Kyousuke Kamisaki who’s come along for the ride…? There’s a storm brewing in the third volume of this sophisticated (?), heartwarming island comedy!!

The Review

The “Handa’s visitors from the city” arc is the best this series has delivered so far. Two Tokyoites come to the island to find Handa, and all sorts of misunderstanding and mayhem erupt. Part of the reason these chapters are so fun is because Handa’s not the sole butt of the ignorant-city-slicker type jokes. Also, the kids, who usually are the ones doing the mocking, wind up looking pretty foolish for Handa’s sake.

The other reason these chapters are so entertaining is because Handa’s visitors are unlike anything I expected. I assumed they had to be good friends given the three hour trip to Gotou, but eighteen-year-old Kousuke Kanzaki is anything but. He’s a rival and an obsessed one. Despite never having met Handa before, Kousuke comes to Gotou to embarrass, provoke, and belittle Handa. On the other hand, visitor Kawafuji actually is a good friend of Handa’s. He spends most of the arc drunk/hung over, but when he does sober up, he provides insight into the type of person Handa was and how he’s changed since his move.

Handa’s two visitors cause him to reflect on these changes himself. However, it’s not until Naru gets her hands on Kousuke’s calligraphy magazines that readers realize how badly Handa wants to transform himself. For once, Naru’s actually spreading factual information on the island gossip network, and though I don’t quite understand Handa’s embarrassment, it’s still pretty funny watching the locals ask him for autographs.

Then Kousuke and Kawafuji leave, and it’s back to Handa being the sole stupid city boy in time for a typhoon to hit the island. While his ignorance is an element of the story, the island’s strong neighborly culture and spooky stories (like the type kids tell at camp) factors in as well. It’s an odd combination but works in getting laughs and setting Handa up with his next dilemma: destroyed home electronics.

Extras include a character lineup, bonus five-page manga, translation notes, and information about the story’s island setting.

In Summary

Lively comedy abounds when Handa gets guests from Tokyo. Not only do they provide two more variations on the city-boy-in-the-country theme, but the local kids revert to some crazy distraction tactics when they realize one of the visitors is Handa’s rival. In the midst of bug attacks and severe hangovers, we get a clearer picture of pre-Gotou Handa, which Yoshida-sensei manages to turn into a new flavor of embarrassment for our resident calligrapher. All in all, Volume 3 is a fun read with a nice mix of humor.

First published at The Fandom Post.

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