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 6! (For my reviews of previous volumes, click here.)
Back cover blurb
Handsome young calligrapher Seishuu Handa has returned to Tokyo for a calligraphy competition. But being away from the island is preventing him from perfecting his work?! Meanwhile, Sensei’s sudden absence is causing turmoil for his island neighbors!
The interesting thing about Volume 6 is that our main character and the islander cast spend nearly the entire volume apart. Thus, we get an extended look at Handa in his native environment. Yet the craziness that characterizes this series is not limited to the country and continues in the city. This is partly thanks to Handa’s own high strung temperament and delicate ego. The rest can mostly be attributed to his mother. Unlike Handa’s stone-faced dad, his mom looks young and acts even younger. She’s kind of a cross between Hina’s ultra sensitivity and the island nurse’s ill temper. Between her and Kousuke serving as a kind of Naru substitute, it’s as if Handa never left the island.
However, Handa has gone home for a purpose, and the impact of his time on the island is evident as he accomplishes his goal and more. Not only does he reconcile with the Director and grow as an artist, he matures as a human being. And in the midst of an intense Handa family discussion, we get an unexpected look at Handa Senior’s past with the island and another snippet of information connected to Naru.
Meanwhile, back at the island, the kids are feeling Handa’s absence. He may be gone, but he dominates Volume 6′s three island arcs. Act 45 is packed with the kids’ mini-anecdotes about Handa so it’s like he’s never left. Act 48 shows the fruits of the calligraphy lessons he’s given Miwa and Tama, and it’s a fun change of pace to watch the girls, who usually gang up on their sensei, turn on each other. And in Act 51, we get a variation on Handa’s house getting messed up with Hiroshi subbing in as the adult figure trying to get everyone to clean the place up. In short, our highbrow calligrapher may have rubbed off on them some, but some things won’t ever change.
Extras include a bonus four-page manga, translation notes, and pictures of a Barakamon limited-edition figure (which is sadly only available in Japan).
Volume 6 is both pivotal and revealing. Not only does Handa return home to apologize for the incident that resulted in his island exile, he also makes decisions that will determine the trajectory of his life and career. On top of that, Handa’s parents bring out a whole new aspect of our genius calligrapher. For those who favor Barakamon’s boisterous style of humor, fear not. Handa may not have the villagers driving him nuts, but his mom does a fine job on her own, and it’s a nice change from the usual clueless-city-boy-in-the-country fare.
First published at The Fandom Post.