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 14! (For my reviews of previous volumes, click here.)
Back Cover Blurb
Reality is tough, but…surely, the future must be bright. Handa-sensei has returned from Tokyo with a new declaration–he’s going to start his own calligraphy school! But will he find any students!? But when an unusually cold winter brings rare snow to the island, is Handa prepared to hibernate the time away?
Handa’s returned to the island! However, he is a (somewhat) changed man with a new dream. Before he was an artist striving to find inspiration and his own unique means of expression. Now Handa’s quitting contests and commissioned work to open his very own calligraphy school!
It’s a well-established fact that Handa has no practical skills to speak of and that the Kawafujis have always handled the business end of his calligraphy. That combined with Handa’s unrealistic expectations regarding his new endeavor now gives readers the beginnings of an extended arc with a lot of potential. But before Handa can attempt to recruit Gotou students for his ¥20,000 per month (approximately $200 per month) lessons, he has two obstacles to contend with: the daikon bet and Kanzaki.
The daikon bet was struck a couple volumes back between Farmer Mush and Handa and further complicated by Kanzaki’s thoughtlessness. With Handa certain that Mush will ask for the rights to his house if the daikon are not up to snuff, Yoshino-sensei packs quite a bit of tension into the daikon picking. However, the ultimate outcome culminates in a hilarious illustration that took me completely by surprise. Chapter 103 mixes up the fallout from the bet with the village children’s tag game, which, though not quite as funny as Chapter 102, still incorporates a lot of entertaining action.
As for Kanzaki, he can’t bear to see the artist he idolized leave the calligraphy world. And unfortunately for Handa, a blizzard snows them in so he’s stuck having to listen to Kanzaki’s protests. While it’s funny watching two hapless city boys trying to cope when the water pipes freeze, Kanzaki’s whining comes off as annoying and shrill rather than comical, so it’s a relief when he finally flies back to Tokyo.
Extras include bonus manga on the inside of the cover flaps, translation notes (which are for some reason placed between Chapters 106 and 107), and another installment of “Barakamon News.”
A new dream for Handa means a new arc for Barakamon! Opening a calligraphy school out in the sticks poses a whole different set of challenges for our displaced Tokyoite, starting with securing his teaching space from Farmer Mush and defending his decision against Kanzaki’s protests. While the daikon showdown is quite a bit more fun than I expected, Kanzaki’s whining gets irritating fast, and it’s a relief when he finally leaves the island at the end of the volume.
First published at The Fandom Post.