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Barakamon - A Heartwarming Manga about Life in Japanese Countryside Island

If you are looking for a slice of life manga to read during this troubled time, you definitely need to give Barakamon (ばらかもん) a chance. This manga, written and illustrated by Satsuki Yoshino (ヨシノサツキ), is about the life of a Japanese calligrapher, Seishuu Handa (半田 清舟), and his quirky neighbors on the quiet rural Japanese island.

You might think that it doesn't sound very appealing because the countryside is boring. However, Barakamon is actually far from dull. Surprisingly, this manga has a lot of exciting developments and heartwarming interactions. Even though the chapters are episodic, you will still notice how the characters are growing up.

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Innocent Story about Growing Up

Right from the first chapter, I can guarantee that Barakamon will hook you on. You will be welcomed with the lighthearted antics of Handa Sensei. And shortly after, you will meet the cute little Naru (琴石 なる). She is one of the younger residents of the island.

Handa, who has just moved from the city, does not know much about living in the countryside. It is funny to see how he tries to adjust his life to the new place.

The dynamic between Handa and Naru will melt your heart away. You will see how Handa reacts to Naru's mischievous adventures. It is also amusing and inspiring to see how Handa as a young adult, is trying to find his own place among the islanders.

barakamon countryside japan slice of life

It is a story about growing up. It doesn't always take itself too seriously, but it is unexpectedly thoughtful. There are some moments in which Handa has to attend serious events held by the island community. Despite he is already in his 20s, he only just begins to realize that the world is not just about himself.

Barakamon is very relatable, especially if you and Handa share the same age. You will notice that you are an adult now, but you still do not know much about how to behave in society.

At first, you may hate Handa's character because you may see a piece of your immaturity in him. But over time, you will root for him as he becomes more reliable.

The islanders, especially Naru, will teach Handa a lot about life. Later on, all of the islanders become Handa's inspiration to try harder to achieve his dream. Barakamon is able to convey those serious ideas in a funny way.

Japanese Calligraphy and the Country Side

One of the plot devices which sets Barakamon apart from other slice-of-life manga is its emphasis on Japanese calligraphy. This manga has taught me that Japanese calligraphy can be quite interesting. It is not the main point of this manga, but it is not a bad addition to the story.

Japanese calligraphy is part of an old honored culture. It may look dull on the outside, but it can be complex. It is an art that can be quite evocative. Japanese calligraphy is not just pretty writing. It is also an artistic drawing.

If you do not know anything about the Japanese alphabet, or if you are not interested in it, I think you would still be able to appreciate Barakamon. Japanese Calligraphy is just a little part of the story. Barakamon is all about the interactions and communications between the characters.

For the female audience, this manga may provide you with a nice little fan service. However, it is not overly done, so even the male audience would not mind it too much. The fan service can be a little bit cringe-worthy, but it is not a big deal.

The art style of this manga is quite relaxing. The drawing is able to convey the feeling of being on the countryside island excellently. It is not as impressive as Yokohama Kaidaishi Kikou, which is also a great manga about countryside Japan. However, Barakamon's artwork is good enough to set the atmosphere. It is quite chill and comfortable to look at.

My Opinion On Barakamon

I read this manga in English. It is officially published by Yen Press. The company did a good job of translating this manga. The translation is still able to convey the humor and the accent. They used the old Southern American English to portray the Japanese islanders' rustic rural dialect. They've also included translation notes at the end of each volume to explain the original context.

Barakamon is an innocent and lighthearted manga. It will provide you with a warm feeling, a lot of laughter, and a yearning to visit the countryside. I give Barakamon a solid 4 out of 5!

Additional Information About Barakamon

  • Title: Barakamon, Vol.1
  • Total Volume: 18
  • Author: Satsuki Yoshino
  • Format: Digital Download
  • ISBN-13: 9780316384414
  • Imprint: Yen Press World
  • Price: $6.99 US / $8.99 CAN
  • On Sale Date: 02/24/2015
  • Original run: February 21, 2009 – December 12, 2018
  • Original Publisher: Square Enix

Barakamon has an anime adaptation. The anime covers the events between the first and the sixth volume. The animation is well done. The voice acting is also top-notch. You can watch the anime and then continue reading from the seventh volume for more Handa-Naru actions.

Barakamon also has a spin-off manga titled Handa-Kun. It tells the story of Handa during his high school days. It was not that interesting, in my opinion. It felt like your run-off-the-mill school-life manga. Art-wise, it was not that great, either. But if you like Handa as a standalone character, it's worth checking out.

The picture within this post belongs to Satsuki Yoshino. No copyright infringement is intended against Yen Press and Square Enix.

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