Tag Archives: Barakamon

Manga Review: Barakamon Vol. 14

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?

The Review

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.”

In Summary

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.

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Manga Review: Handa-Kun Vol. 7

Fans of Satsuki Yoshino’s Barakamon can now get even more Handa-centric comedy. Yen Press has released Handa-Kun, a prequel series which chronicles the high school days of our favorite genius calligrapher. Read on for my review of Volume 7. (Click here for reviews of other volumes).

Back Cover Blurb

Just when you thought it was all over, the whole crew makes a surprising return for three extra chapters! How will the Handa Army react to the news that their beloved Handa will be the focus of an anime series? By blowing it all ridiculously out of proportion, of course! The final volume of Handa-kun is full of high jinks with the Handa Army, plus some special extras from the author.

The Review

It’s the final volume of the series! But it’s not so much a final arc as it is a collection of illustrations, comics, and mini-stories. It opens with a Special Comic Gallery: nine full color pages of color manga that had previously been only published in the magazine.

Next are three mini-arcs, each with a lengthy note from the Yoshino-sensei about its creation. Although all the stories take place after Handa realizes he’s not actually an outcast, the feel of first two stories don’t differ all that much from the earlier arcs. That is because even though Handa’s eyes have been opened to the truth, that doesn’t mean his classmates are suddenly cured of HND-syndrome. As such, fans of the impassioned hijinks of the Handa Army will get to enjoy one additional chapter of the same in “Handa-kun and the TV Anime.” As you might guess, this mini-arc includes a tie-in to the actual Handa-kun anime as well as the Handa Army’s disastrous attempt to create an anime of their own. As for “Handa-kun and the Person in Front,” it follows the “Handa-kun through a side character’s POV” format. Again, even though Handa realizes he’s not despised, that doesn’t stop his classmates from grossly misinterpreting his words and actions.

The final mini-arc, “Handa-kun and the Handa Army,” is a more standard type of postscript story. Handa’s homeroom class holds a reunion, and we get to see how everyone looks six years later. One of the nice touches of this volume is that the cover illustration is a class photo and the book’s final illustration shows everyone in the same pose as adults. Since Handa has a whole series dedicated to his life after school, Yoshino-sensei instead uses the reunion as a way for the class to gossip about Handa and each other. However, she does manage to connect it to the Barakamon series at the end.

Interspersed amid the mini-arcs are a lot of bonus illustrations, and finally, the volume wraps up with several pages of mini-comics, even more bonus illustrations, and the last installment of “Handa-Kun News.”

In Summary

It’s the final volume of Handa-kun, but it feels more like a fan book with all the illustrations and bonus material crammed inside. However, Yoshino-sensei does deliver three final mini-arcs. Two are simply more manifestations of HND-syndrome, but the third is a fun glimpse of Handa’s classmates as adults and how they’ve grown up (or not).

First published at The Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Handa-Kun Vol. 6

Fans of Satsuki Yoshino’s Barakamon can now get even more Handa-centric comedy. Yen Press has released Handa-Kun, a prequel series which chronicles the high school days of our favorite genius calligrapher. Read on for my review of Volume 6. (Click here for reviews of other volumes).

Back Cover Blurb

Handa-kun and company have survived the class trip, but now the culture festival is right on top of them! Will Handa get to contribute to the festival preparations, or will the culture festival be his biggest high school frustration yet?

The Review

The previous volume mentioned that this would be the final volume in the series. As it turns out, Volume 6 is the penultimate, not the final volume. The Handa-kun News at the end of the book explains that, due to popular demand, a seventh volume with an extra arc will be released as the last in the series. However, the structure of Volume 6 is very much that of a finale.

A single arc focusing on the school’s annual cultural festival comprises this book. Three chapters are about the festival preparations, two chapters about the event itself, and one about the festival after-party. Because the entire school is involved in preparations and the festival is an open event, it provides the perfect setting to revisit the impact HND-syndrome has had on the cast, even the White Shirts from the rival school. Thus, seemingly everyone, from fortuneteller Tsugumi to the carnivore girls, gets a cameo, like in so many manga and anime finales.

The setting also lends itself to some comical visuals, ranging from various Handa themed games to the fake Handa’s Handa Clone Army. In addition, we get the novelty of seeing Handa’s class in period crossdress for their drama cafe.

Unfortunately, the plot is lackluster. Yoshino-sensei has relied heavily on Handa and his fans misinterpreting one another throughout the series for laughs, and getting more of the same at this point is rather tiresome. The drama cafe play is an inane interpretation of Romeo and Juliet with a badly selected cast, which is a situation that has been done to death in anime/manga. The introduction of the “black suits” makes things interesting for a while, but then it just gets confusing when they reveal why they’ve come to the festival.

As for the conclusion to the arc, Kawafuji’s remorse and efforts to rectify the situation are believable. The final resolution is not. After several volumes of reinforcing Handa’s paranoia of his classmates, the sudden collapse of the “Handa wall” feels like cheating.

Extras include the title illustration in color, bonus manga, translation notes, and an installment of “Handa-Kun News.”

In Summary

It’s not the final volume of Handa-kun, but it’s definitely written like one. The school festival provides a recap of Handa’s impact on his adorning fans. However, many gags are just variations of jokes we’ve seen before. A seventh volume follows this one, but it already feels like the series has gone on too long.

First published at The Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Barakamon Vol. 13

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 13! (For my reviews of previous volumes, click here.)

Back cover blurb

Tagging along on Handa-sensei’s visit home, Naru finally arrives in Tokyo! Trains, tall buildings, the zoo-the big city’s full of amazing first experiences! But what will Handa decide when his dad asks him to come back to Tokyo? Volume 13 promises growth, courage, and farewells!

The Review

The tables are turned when Naru joins Handa on a trip to Tokyo. Now he’s the regional expert, and she can barely comprehend her hectic surroundings. But while she makes an atypical guest in the Handa household, this arc is less about her and more about the interactions Handa has with the adults of Tokyo.

For starters, Yoshino-sensei introduces Ojou, a college student working part time for the Kawafuji business. She’s also the girl Handa was asked to consider as a marriage prospect. After Handa turned the proposal down, I didn’t think she’d be mentioned again, let alone make an appearance. However, she is quite unlike her photo and, despite certain shortcomings, can hold her own in the art business world. Except for Kawafuji, Handa hasn’t had much opportunity to hang out with people his age, and as he and Ojou interact, we get a pretty good idea why he doesn’t have a girlfriend.

Then on the professional end of things, Handa meets the representatives for the major hotel project his father is working on as well as a young calligrapher just starting his career. Because Handa has been producing commissioned works and participating in contests (and is the son of a master calligrapher), I assumed he knew what a career as a calligrapher would entail. This trip to Tokyo shows just how much he doesn’t know about the art business. While Naru does have the opportunity to cause her particular brand of mayhem away from home, these chapters are less about her city experience and more about Handa’s reflections on the trajectory of his life.

However, the village isn’t completely left out of this volume. Kanzaki runs away to the village, supposedly to get away from “society’s strictures,” and Handa gives the kid permission to stay at his house while he’s in Tokyo. Thus the island gets another city boy in Handa’s absence. Kanzaki though is less of a clueless urbanite than he is an annoying, whiny one, and poor Hiroshi gets saddled with the brunt of Kanzaki’s damage.

Extras include two bonus manga, translation notes, and another installment of “Barakamon News.”

In Summary

Handa finally gets his chance to show one of the villagers around his home turf. However, this arc winds up less about city versus county life and more about the direction of Handa’s life. Naru displays some of her usual kiddie antics, but for the most part this arc is an intriguing glimpse into the demands on a professional artist and the relationship possibilities for Handa’s personal life.

First published at The Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Handa-Kun Vol. 5

Fans of Satsuki Yoshino’s Barakamon can now get even more Handa-centric comedy. Yen Press has released Handa-Kun, a prequel series which chronicles the high school days of our favorite genius calligrapher. Read on for my review of Volume 5. (Click here for reviews of other volumes).

Back Cover Blurb

The class trip has begun, but now it’s not just his own classmates Handa needs to worry about. When a rival school ends up going along for the ride, isn’t it a given that Handa-kun’s going to run afoul of a whole new set of kids? The Handa Army have met their nemesee…nemenisee…neemessss–their rivals! There is no way they will allow their beloved Handa to be diminished by the white shirts! Meanwhile, poor Handa-kun is trying REALLY hard just to fit in…

The Review

Volume 5 covers the class trip that Handa’s been anticipating as an opportunity to make friends. Although it does include the usual misunderstandings and failed attempts at bonding with classmates, most of the plot is dominated by students from another school. Nicknamed the “White Shirts,” they get along with the students of Handa’s school like cats and dogs. And this rival school has its own charismatic leader and minions to match Handa and his army.

By “match,” I do mean match. Ichimiya’s bodyguards are comprised of a burly delinquent, a bespectacled nerd, a pretty fashionista, and a no-name ordinary guy. The most entertaining of them is Sousuke Kojika, who goes to interesting lengths for the sake of beauty and has a unique connection to the delinquent of the Handa Army.

As with Handa and his Army, Ichimiya’s Bodyguards operate largely independent of the leader they idolize. So while Handa and Ichimiya are touring Kyoto’s sights, the Army and Bodyguards are waging war, which alternates between group efforts and individuals facing off against his equivalent. Much of this fighting is just a hyped version of the usual Handa Army antics, but the big surprise is the clash between the average guys. Kondou has been a levelheaded observer for most of this series, but it turns out he’s not completely dispassionate when it comes to Handa either.

A major challenge Western readers will have with the arc is the Kyoto backdrop. In keeping with the tourist spots they visit, characters dress up as Japanese icons and make historical references in jokes and insults. If you’ve studied Japanese history or watched one of the many anime or Japanese dramas about the Shinsengumi/Ryouma Sakamoto/Bakumatsu, you have a decent chance of enjoying these chapters. If not, the translation notes in the back of the book provide a lot of information, but it will require much flipping back and forth.

Extras include the title illustration in color, bonus manga, translation notes, and an installment of “Handa-Kun News.”

In Summary

It’s delusion insanity squared when the Handa Army clashes with students from a rival school during their class trip. While the Kyoto setting allows for fun props and samurai cosplay, these chapters are heavy on historical references, which will go over the heads of most Western readers. And although most of the Handa Army’s hijinks are predictable, the trip brings out a surprising side of Kondou, who isn’t as immune to HND Syndrome as previously thought.

First published at The Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Handa-Kun Vol. 4

Fans of Satsuki Yoshino’s Barakamon can now get even more Handa-centric comedy. Yen Press has released Handa-Kun, a prequel series which chronicles the high school days of our favorite genius calligrapher. Read on for my review of Volume 4. (Click here for reviews of other volumes).

Back Cover Blurb

The trials of high school life continue to vex poor Handa-kun. This time he’s drawn the attention of the school’s wannabe manga creators and a passive aggressive library rep, but the true horror high school has in store for him waits just around the corner…

The Review

Of the Handa Army, Yukio is the only one who isn’t delusional. He’s also the one member who doesn’t actually want to be part of the group. But the others won’t let him go, and it’s only a matter of time before Yukio’s reputation is affected. Thus, we have Chapter 16: Handa-kun and the Mundane, in which Yukio experiences a classic high school manga scenario, the letter in the shoe locker. But instead of romance, it turns into a parody, thanks to his association with the Handa Army. While the Handa Army’s commentary on the subject is predictably off the wall, Yoshino-sensei does a good job of setting up Yukio’s expectations and then pulling the rug out from under him.

Then the story moves on to introduce new characters. In Chapter 17, we meet the Beautie-Girls Art Club, an otaku mangaka club. Although they make Handa the subject of their next bulletin in hopes of boosting sales, this chapter mainly pokes fun at extreme geek culture and mannerisms, which, for some reason, include an inordinate amount of puking. To add to the club members’ already unstylish appearances, Yoshino-sensei doesn’t seem to put much effort into drawing them. And despite devoting a 38-page chapter to the club’s creative efforts, we don’t actually see any of the Handa-centric manga they make.

Chapter 18 follows with yet another new character. Kasumi Hirayama is a more typical personality in that she is a Handa fan who admires him from afar. And as library representative, she does most of her admiring amid the bookshelves. However, just as Chapter 16 was more about Yukio’s interaction with the Handa Army than Handa himself, Chapter 18 winds up more about the Handa Army’s impact on the introverted student librarian than her interactions with Handa.

Then as if to showcase all those who’ve fallen under Handa’s spell, Chapter 19 offers a massive convergence of HND-sufferers stalking–I mean, lovingly watching over him as he walks home. The funniest is the most recent evolution of Miyoko Kinjou, whose nickname Eraser is surprisingly fitting. For the most part, Handa avoids direct interaction with his classmates but under such an onslaught, the chapter culminates in a rare moment where he directly addresses the fanatics (but gets completely misunderstood as usual).

Extras include bonus manga, translation notes, and an installment of “Handa-Kun News.”

In Summary

A little Handa goes a long way. Although his actions are minimal in the first three chapters, they’re still enough to save a club and revitalize the school’s neglected library. We do experience a bit of Handa’s thoughts when fanatics descend en masse after school, but even then, the focus in more on the victims of HND syndrome than the angsty teen himself.

First published at The Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Barakamon Vol. 12

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 12! (For my reviews of previous volumes, click here.)

Back cover blurb

Santa, huh…? Guess each household tends to have its own customs…. Jingle jingle jingle jingle….Christmas has come to the island!Handsome young calligrapher Seishuu Handa tries his hand at the Santa business for the first time! But could it be that Handa Claus isn’t the only one who’s come to visit all the nice little children…? The love of every dad warms the world in Volume 12 of this hot ‘n’ hearty island comedy!

The Review

Volume 12 opens with two filler chapters, both highlighting the immaturity of our cast, no matter what their actual age. Act 88 has the first graders’ lesson in personal pronouns turning into a three-way challenge between Hina, Naru, and Handa. Act 89 focuses on the middle school kids with Shin Yoshida correcting Miwa and Tama’s misconceptions about Higashino (I thought he was Dash, too, girls!) and farmer Higashino winding up with a worse replacement nickname.

The story then dives into a three-chapter Christmastime arc that addresses one of the long-standing mysteries of the series: what happened to Naru’s parents. As it turns out, the truth isn’t tragic or dramatic at all. It’s so disappointingly mundane that it’s a wonder the islanders, with their supposed penchant for local gossip, haven’t mentioned Naru’s dad Yuuichiro. Despite his infrequent visits home, he’s still considered part of the community, so much so that he can’t take ten steps through the village without someone stopping him to chat.

But even though the reasons that keep him away from Naru are hardly titillating, Yuuichiro does make an exciting entrance when he first appears. His return is preceded by an intense Christmas Eve debate among the children regarding the existence of Santa Claus. Of course, Handa gets dragged into it, and as midnight approaches, readers get to see how Christmas in Japan is like and unlike western celebrations.

With the villagers treating Yuuichiro’s return as no big deal, Handa’s finally able to broach subjects he’d previously assumed were taboo. In fact, Yuuichiro is the one to invite Handa to chat with him. The conversation that follows is an interesting one. Although Yuuichiro does not communicate with his daughter and is mostly absent from the village, he calls Handa, who has been watching over Naru, “an outsider.” This gets Handa thinking about who the insiders and outsiders are in his life, once more causing him to reflect upon the connections he’s made in the village.

Extras include two bonus manga, translation notes, and another installment of “Barakamon News.”

In Summary

Christmas comes to the island! With small children eagerly anticipating gifts, Handa takes on the role of Santa Claus only to get upstaged by Naru’s dad. If you’ve been wondering where Naru’s parents are or if they even exist, this is the volume to get.

First published at The Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Handa-Kun Vol. 3

Fans of Satsuki Yoshino’s Barakamon can now get even more Handa-centric comedy. Yen Press has released Handa-Kun, a prequel series which chronicles the high school days of our favorite genius calligrapher. Read on for my review of Volume 3. (Click here for reviews of other volumes).

Back Cover Blurb

With the masses conspiring against him, wasn’t it merely a matter of time before poor Handa-kun came to grievous bodily harm? But maybe a bout of amnesia is just what the doctor ordered. Forgetting himself, won’t Handa-kun escape his greatest enemy of all? Uhhhh…maybe not.

The Review

In the previous volume, Yoshino-sensei introduced a couple new male characters; in this volume, we get new female characters. The first is Sawako Tennouji, the student council president. While it doesn’t look like she will be appearing as regularly as the self-declared “Handa Army” (i.e., Aizawa, Reo, Tsutsui, and Kondou), that doesn’t make her any less wacky. An extreme manhater, she wears a boys uniform and commands the admiration of the student council and all the girls at school. Not surprisingly, she sets her sights on destroying Handa, but she’s interesting in how readily she uses slander to take him down. It’s inevitable that she’ll fall victim to HND syndrome, but things take an unexpected twist when she inadvertently causes Handa to lose his memory.

In most manga, this would result in consternation; in Handa’s case, it’s a chance to see the student he would’ve been if he didn’t think everyone hated him. While he no longer has a persecution complex, Handa’s delusions take another form. Tennouji quickly drops from the foreground to be replaced by the Handa Army, who are unable to cope with the perky new Handa. The funniest part of this chapter is when the entire school rejects Handa because they think he’s another fake.

After the amnesia chapter, we have a chapter with Kawafuji, the one person who sees Handa as he actually is. A trip to the game center starts as an attempt to help Handa recover from the extreme methods used to recover his memories, but it quickly devolves into Kawafuji laughing at his friend’s expense. The Handa of Barakamon is notoriously inept at anything but calligraphy, and this chapter brings some of that physical humor to Handa-kun.

Then another person gets a glimpse of the real Handa. Enter Tsugumi, a schoolmate with a talent for palm-reading. She, like Tennouji, looks like a relatively minor character, and most of the energy from this arc comes from the reactions of the Handa Army. However, her reading of Handa’s future and how she interprets it should be hilarious to Barakamon fans.

Extras include bonus manga, translation notes, and an installment of “Handa-Kun News.”

In Summary

A man-hating student president and a fortune-telling classmate join the cast, but it’s still the wild comments of the Aizawa, Reo, Tsutsui, and Kondou foursome that carry this series. However, a bout of amnesia changes things up by bringing out a completely different side of Handa, and a trip to the game center with Kawafuji provides a refreshing break from the Handa-enthralled masses.

First published at The Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Barakamon Vol. 11

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 11! (For my reviews of previous volumes, click here.)

Back cover blurb

Damn it!! I’m getting married and leaving this crazy island!!!! (teary)

Handa’s parents’ true motivation for coming to the island is made clear-an arranged m-m-m-marriage?!!

Will handsome young calligrapher Seishuu Handa find the resolve to meet his fate?!

Add in a fight with the neighboring village’s own handsome young guy, Kazuma Higashino, and Hiroshi’s spate of delinquency, and you get the super-chaotic Volume 11 of this hot ‘n’ hearty island comedy, Barakamon!

The Review

The last volume left readers dangling with Handa’s parents springing a marriage meeting on him. It was the sort of event I thought would launch a new multi-chapter  trip to Tokyo for Handa. As it turns out, the whole marriage meeting issue gets resolved in a single chapter. While I’m surprised it wrapped up so quickly, the villagers’ reactions to the prospect of Handa marrying are pretty funny, and Yoshino-sensei does an excellent job of keeping readers intrigued about the woman who wants to marry Handa.

Then the focus switches to Hiroshi. The uber-ordinary teen has been sharing the role of anguished young man with Handa of late, and when he receives the results of his job interview, he gets super-charged fuel for despair. The ever-suffering Hiroshi generally doesn’t blow his top so to see him unleash a once-every-three-years rampage upon Miwa, Tama, and Handa is a hilarious sight.

After torturing Hiroshi about his future, the plot shifts to Handa and his past in an unexpected encounter with a former middle school classmate outside Handa’s house. “Dash” Higashino and his grudge against Handa over Handa’s house is a lot funnier if you’ve read the Handa-Kun prequel. However, even without knowing anything about their history, readers can still laugh at the way Dash goads Handa into a bet. Handa once more devolves into clueless city boy as he attempts to prove he can grow vegetables, but there is a shift from other Handa the Idiot episodes. While he still plays the fool, his actions this time are motivated by the attachment that’s grown between him and the village.

Extras include a bonus one-page manga, translation notes, and another installment of “Barakamon News.”

In Summary

The threat to Handa’s carefree bachelor life disappears almost as soon as it arises. While the marriage meeting arc is disappointingly brief, Yoshino-sensei follows up with a hilarious Hiroshi wild phase episode before launching into an arc involving a former Handa classmate. While it’s entertaining even if you aren’t familiar with their past relationship, it’s a lot funnier if you’ve read the Handa-Kun prequel.

First published at The Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Barakamon Vol. 10

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 10! (For my reviews of previous volumes, click here.)

Back cover blurb

The cold north wind sets in on the island and handsome young calligrapher Seishuu Handa longs for his winter clothes. But instead of Kawafuji making the delivery, Handa’s parents decide to make their island debut–and come bearing much more than just winter clothes!

The Review

Our young calligrapher has been on the island a while now, long enough for the seasons to change. Volume 10 opens with the approach of fall and some goofy fun in preparation for cold weather. Then Handa makes the seemingly innocuous move of requesting that his winter clothes be sent to the island. The next thing he knows, his parents make that delivery in person. Thus, the island gets another invasion of city folk.

While there are the usual comic elements of rural life assaulting urban sensibilities, interactions go beyond simple culture shock thanks to two tagalongs. Apparently, when you are a master calligrapher, you can’t go anywhere without your agent watching your every move, and Seimei Handa’s agent just happens to be another member of the Kawafuji family. With Takao Kawafuji rounding out the roster, we have two artist-agent teams of different generations plus two parent-child relationships that provide plenty of fodder for insight, strife, and insecurity. The father-son calligraphy battle in the schoolhouse is particularly fun and clever. Not only does it demonstrate the differences between Handa and his dad as artists, it also brings the islanders in as participants.

Inserted in the midst of the Handa/Kawafuji family trip, we get a completely Hiroshi-centric chapter. Those who follow the Handa-Kun spinoff will not only enjoy the similar four-frames per page format but the string of misinterpretations that characterize the narrative. Given all the grief Hiroshi suffers at his village, it’s nice to see him appreciated at school (even if he doesn’t realize it).

Extras include character introductions, a bonus one-page manga, translation notes, and another installment of “Barakamon News.”

In Summary

It’s family bonding time on the island! Mrs. Handa provides an even more extreme level of Tokyoite-meets-country shock, but bumpkin humor aside, Yoshino-sensei explores our wacky characters from an intriguing new angle as parent-child relationships and expectations takes center stage.

First published at The Fandom Post.