The story of calligrapher Seishuu Handa continues as he and his new island friends make memories in the last days of summer.

Seishuu Handa, popularly known as “Sensei” in the village, continues to work towards entering his first calligraphy competition in a number of months. Getting inspiration from the surrounding nature, Handa still finds himself unable to stay away from the summer shenanigans of the villagers. However, Handa receives an important call that could change his life yet again as the end of his summer with the villagers approaches.

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Barakamon Vol. 5 is undoubtedly more of the heartwarmingly funny material fans of this series have come to enjoy as they follow Handa’s life on the island. The vignettes which make up this volume continue to hit the spot as Handa is pulled out of his shell in various situations to comedic effect. In addition, his interactions with many of the memorable characters that inhabit the village still manage to fascinate as they continue to introduce various aspects of rural Japanese culture while developing a growing cast of interesting characters. Fans of the series will be sure to enjoy Handa struggling to take a wood-heated bath, hunt for bugs and attempting to scare off bullies with the help of his friends, and I found myself continually laughing throughout this entire volume.

One thing I liked about this volume in particular was the tangible sense of character development that Handa continues to show as the series progresses. We begin to see that Handa has developed a real sense of affection for the other villagers (even if he won’t admit it to them or even himself) at times such as when he puts in serious thought to trying to find a birthday present for Naru or tries to fight off bullies from another village. This was great to see and shows how he has changed since the beginning of the series, continuing the development seen in volume 4 when he showed genuine care for Naru while looking after her grandmother’s grave. In addition, we get to see that the villagers have begun to look at Handa as a little less of an oddity and more as an accepted part of the village. It’s been fun to watch the village grow alongside Handa and I’m eager to see this development continue.

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Another excellent thing about this volume was that it felt like we finally got to see some more actual plot development for the first time since volume 3 as Handa was able to take some significant steps forward in terms of calligraphy. While Barakamon’s core remains the vignettes portraying Handa’s island life, I’m still eager to see the overall direction this series will take and I enjoyed that we finally got to see some of that here. We also got to see some of the best art in the series so far portraying the moments Handa gets his inspiration, and I felt this was done particularly well because it came about from the type of comedic vignette this series is all about. This was a natural point of plot progression and I hope that we get to see more of this in the future incorporated into Handa’s eventful daily life on the island.

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Towards the end of the volume, we finally see some more plot progression as Handa begins to contemplate a realistic prospect for his return to Toyko. This segment was surprisingly free of any sort of retrospection on Handa’s part, and I was surprised considering how much he had connected with the villagers that nothing of that sort really crossed his mind. I feel like this would have been nice to see as a way of wrapping up the story arc, but this is a nit-picky complaint on my part more than anything else.

Barakamon Vol. 5 is another satisfying addition to the series, continuing Handa’s hilarious island life effectively. I really enjoyed that we can now see more tangible expressions of Handa’s character development, and with this volume the main plot is finally beginning to lurch forwards again. While the end of the volume wrapped up its story arc a little faster than I would have liked, this volume will undoubtedly please fans of the series with Barakamon’s signature blend of comedy and heart.

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What do our scores mean?

Barakamon Vol. 5 was authored by Satsuki Yoshino and published by Yen Press on June 23, 2015. Barakamon is an ongoing series in Square Enix’s Gangan Online magazine, and received a single-cour anime adaption by Kinema Citrus in Summer 2014. Volume 6 will be released in English on August 18th, 2015.

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*Copy provided for Taykobon by publisher
If you enjoyed this review, you might like our reviews of the rest of the series as well!

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