Since episode one I’ve been loving Barakamon, but I’ve never really thought it was anything more than just a fun comedy show with good character development, and in a way it still is just that. However these past few episodes have really hit me hard emotionally, so much so that Barakamon might be my favorite anime of the year so far. Yes, admittedly speaking it’s not the best anime this year quality wise, I mean look at Ping Pong and Terror in Resonance, but it’s a show that I really relate to, and that’s what makes it special to me.
That being said these past few episodes, while being the same as usual for the show, have really been quite good at solidifying the bond between Seishu and the townsfolk. It’s now clear more than ever that Seishu and friends are more than just casual acquaintances, and that at this point they have formed deep bonds with each other. From Seishu being worried about Naru being lonely, to Tamako being worried about Seishu leaving the island, the show is making it clear that Seishu is now a part of these people’s lives, and that they don’t want him to leave. It’s quite heartwarming when, at the end of episode 8, Seishu decides to watch out for Naru, and make his time on the island fun for her. Of course this is all inevitable foreshadowing for what is likely going to be the finale of the series, where I’m guessing Seishu is going to be conflicted about whether he should stay or leave the island, but it really makes you feel passionate about their strange friendship.
I also like how these episode has also been showing interactions between people other than Seishu and Naru. In episode 8 we see Seishu interacting with Kenta and the other young boys of the island, in what is basically a scene reminiscent of the tropical island in Animal Crossing: New Leaf. He cooperates with them in bug hunting, and not only is it funny, but it’s cute to see how the kids appreciate him for taking their bug hunting seriously. There’s also been some hints in the past few episodes that Tamako might have a crush on Seishu, and while I usually can’t stand that stuff, it’s mostly in the background and is being downplayed as more of a respect and admiration for his work, rather than the scandalous teacher-love shtick you see in other slice of life anime.
However, the standout scenes from these past few episodes were definitely in episodes 6 and 7, when Seishu’s long time friend and co-worker Kawafuji comes to visit him on Goto Island with a surprise guest named Kosuke Kanzaki. Kosuke turns out to be not only a huge fan of Seishu’s work, but also the young prodigy who got first place above Seishu in a previous episode’s calligraphy contest! He goes on and on about how much he loves Seishu’s work, but then he suddenly starts to complain that Seishu’s lost his touch, and that his work isn’t any good any more. Soon Seishu is on his knees in mental hysteria, but then Naru and Hina start to throw paper airplanes made out of Kosuke’s Seishu paraphernalia. This brings Seishu to his senses, and he talks about how the island has made him start to find his own path as an artist instead of copying his Father’s work.
Not only is this scene triumphant for Seishu’s character, but the visuals carry it well with the paper airplane imagery. Yes it’s pretty basic symbolism in that it represents the old Seishu crumbling as he finds his true artisitic vision, but it’s powerful and carried well by the animation and dialogue. It’s one of those moments that makes me so invested that I started to rejoice with Seishu’s victory. I absolutely loved this scene, and it was not only a great test for Seishu’s character, but it was also just heartwarming and well directed.
I’ve mentioned this before in my first post on the show, but I really relate to Seishu’s struggle here. As a young art student I understand finding your own voice can be difficult, you often find yourself wondering if the work you’re making is truly you. It’s something I understand, and because of that I really connect with the story and conflict presented in this show. There’s a brilliant scene in episode 7 where Seishu talks about how there are just moments where he feels like he has to write calligraphy, which is how I sometimes feel about writing. Sometimes I get the best inspiration, and I just sit down at the computer and write out my thoughts, and it’s the best feeling in the world.
Overall, Barakamon has not gotten worse in the slightest. Yes, it’s still the same heartwarming story about artistic creativity and friendship it also has been, but the highpoints in these past few episodes were just amazing! Everything feels like it’s coming together finally, and I can only hope the series will continue to grow and end satisfactorily in the future. In the end, Barakamon is still a really good show that I definitely would recommend to anyone!