Barakamon and what to live for. spoiler free The manga industry is a powerful one. It has blessed us with works of art undying and unyielding to the passage of time. It is indisputable to say that series like Berserk Monster Vagabond Once Piece Slam Dunk and many others are quintessential and are recognized by everyone in the community. But every once in a while you come across a manga that has not been bestowed upon the stroke of paint that makes them an iconic series in the canvas of Japanese manga but still manages to capture ones heart and leave you with a warm feeling of joy. Barakamon is a manga Ive known for a while. Ive owned the first volume for many years but never actually read it until the beginning of 2021. This was mainly because it didnt seem appealing to me for a while and I eventually left it to rot on my shelf. For those unaware Barakamon is a series about a calligrapher named Sei Handa a city boy who is very fond of the fundamentals of calligraphy. This leads him to punch an old curator at an art gallery because he told Handa his art was uninspiring and unoriginal. His dad makes him stay on an island so he can reform and grow as an individual. Of course when I received the first volume as a gift I was very much into shonen much more than I am now. I also remember choosing what anime to watch based on potential waifus. Yeah I know. Pathetic. But I was young and didnt know much better. So it was a nobrainer that this slice of life manga with no waifu material felt uninteresting. Now Ive grown and of course Ive experienced my fair share of grim days and I still do. Now Im constantly adding things into my worldview and how I perceive life. And I have to say that this manga did quite a bit for me. Naru and Handa The thematic facet of Barakamon is in my opinion one of its strongest elements. The power of words and communication the influence of kids and the importance of youth loneliness the feeling of being lost following your dreams and the meaning of life are some of the many topics that Barakamon covers. This series taught me that living is about the relationships you build with other people and the significance of forming a bond to unite with the world and with yourself. This is reflected in every chapter of this manga. From a man having his relationships based and neglected by the task that was forced on his shoulders or a girl who has always lacked a proper family circle and has had to adapt in order to not fall into the deep void of social deprivation. And this central idea ramifies into all of the other concepts that it tries to implement. How kids are influenced by the words of an adult who doesnt know how much he means to them and how he himself feels fulfilled by the smile that reflects hope and the little details that make his life that much more meaningful. The dread of not knowing where to go and the encouragement to keep moving forward. The pursuit of ambition being propelled by the belief and aspiration of others. The purpose in ones life what and why. The demeanor of a soul searching for light lifted by the warm current of faith and love. Am I good or am I bad? What is that I strive for? What or who do I keep living for? Can I give meaning to my existence? Is it enough? These are all questions that the characters in Barakamon struggle with. For some success and fame is their only goal but for others being able to help is more than enough to fulfill their heart. Because is it that bad to exist without a set purpose? Do I really need to undergo what society expects of me in order to declare that I am important? Is it not receiving a smile back enough of a goal to feel like Ive accomplished something grand for me or for one special other? The meaning of life is a very present theme and the arguably most important one in Barakamon. I love seeing this shown through the perspective of every character and not just the main cast but also the lesser plotimportant characters that still serve a purpose maybe in just one persons heart but that is ok and dont let others convince you otherwise. Because everyone in Barakamon is important from Handa and Naru to the most incidental of characters. You are important thats why you should act like yourself. After all Im not you and youre not me. So go and find and be the best version of yourself you can. A topic I would also like to touch on is how youth is presented and it relates to all that Ive talked about. We see all stages of it from the innocent kids like Naru and Hina. I love the idea in them as people that act like they do because thats how they are and there is no further reasoning for their actions and beliefs. It is a very impactful aspect to see these kids being themselves because they cant be anybody else they dont need any reasoning to love things just are the way they are and that is an aspect of youth that is integral to the development of ones own self. We have other kids like Miwa and Tama who are middle schoolers and they show us how that part of our life has much more than we could give it credit for. Miwa and Tama both also have their struggles and their personal battles with themselves and the world surrounding them makes for a perfectly fitting battle in the world of selfesteem. Then the notsokids like Hiro and Handa and their struggle to give meaning to their own life. Fighting against what society expects of them and what they themselves expect their own actions to fulfill their ambitions. This battle is very significant in the understanding of letting ones own inner child flourish. The characters and character development are nothing short of praiseworthy. All of the characters have something to offer and their evolution occurs thanks to this concept of selfdiscovery in relationships. The characters all go through various struggles and seeing them overcome their adversities is something Barakamon does incredibly well. Handa is a character that undergoes deep development from start to finish. Even visually in the beginning he looks so lifeless but slowly you can start to see his eyes fill with emotion. A city boy like him starts to fit in the rural lifestyle and it all starts with the little details like greeting the islanders every morning. This makes him appreciate himself and his surroundings a lot more. Another character that I love is Naru. Naru is everything that Barakamon illustrates heck the series is named after her an energetic and overactive child. She wears the themes of the series so well. The depth that isnt all that visible in the anime comes to shine in the manga. A complex background with deep emotions because Narus got it hard but she still gives it her all for everyone showing a smile so others can do the same. The relationship between Handa and Naru is probably my favorite thing in this manga. They compliment each other in a fashion that demonstrates the idea of relationships and makes even you the reader feel better. It also portrays the fact that Handa needs to connect with his inner child because he was prived of a normal childhood thanks to calligraphy. This all comes back to the thematic values of Barakamon it is a series that captures its essence so well via the themes it portrays everything comes full circle. On that note Id like to briefly talk about the opening and ending of the anime cause damn they are truly perfect for the show. Rashisa by Super Beaver The opening for Barakamon talks about finding and being yourself how youre someone unique and special. It talks about how we change as people. The meaning of growing into an adult but also the importance of your childhood. The small things that make us who we are and make us chase after our dreams. Innocence by NoisyCell The ending talks about the relevance of relationships and how those little things we do or say can influence others. It focuses more on Handa and Narus relationship and how important they are to each other and their growth as individuals. Overall I love Barakamon. It was very meaningful to me and I love how it managed to make a balance between comedy and emotion. I loved the characters and I laughed at almost every chapter. But I also cried with them and felt their inner struggles because it is a manga that expresses itself very realistically. It is certainly one of my favorites and it always will be. So go out there. Find yourself and have fun while youre at it.
92 /100
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