As the exhibition nears, Seishuu Handa faces increasing pressure and makes the sudden decision to return to Tokyo without warning Naru or the other children, much to their dismay.
Seishuu Handa has spent quite a bit of time on the island and has changed substantially thanks to his exposure to the country living and the wild children who refuse to leave him alone. In preparation for the exhibition in Tokyo, he creates his own stylistic calligraphy to enter, and when the director offers to forgive him, Kawafuji convinces him to make an impromptu return to Tokyo. Unable to tell the children, Handa makes a quick getaway, but that doesn’t stop them from pushing their way into his life again anyways.
Slice-of-life fans will find this series appealing, as Barakamon embodies many of the traditional scenarios the genre follows with its own twists.
Much like the third volume, Barakamon returns to a more plot-centric story arc in its 6th entry, and I felt like this one paid off just as much if not more than the last time. Reviewing Barakamon volume-by-volume is actually one of the more challenging series of reviews for me to write because many of the volumes are good for very similar reasons, but this 6th volume is slightly easier than usual because it takes what is so great about other volumes and really amplifies their quality.
Seishuu Handa has finally decided that it is time to return to Tokyo for the big calligraphy competition, and as you might imagine the fact that he leaves the island alone makes this volume significantly different from the others in terms of general story progression, at the very least. The shift from island mishaps to continued mishaps in Tokyo was a welcome shift as it continued what I liked from the previous books while making the series feel more fresh than usual. The major focus of character development in Barakamon has been the progression of Handa both as a calligrapher and as a person, and a sort of major milestone felt like it was crossed because his work from the island was finally put on display without his feeling of depression from his much earlier submission back in the third volume.
Hitting this major point in character progression was relatively moving because Handa really realized that his relationship with the villagers was highly beneficial for himself. The village children themselves are devastated at the unannounced temporary disappearance of their beloved ‘sensei’, and the narrative frequently transitions between Tokyo and the island to show the children and how they handle Handa’s absence. The obvious bond that has formed is emotional in and of itself, but isn’t the only draw to the story: the comedy is still quite amusing. In fact, the blending of those ‘how cute’ moments with the amusing antics of the village children was handled far better than previous volumes, which is saying something. There was also a 4-koma panel section in the middle of the story detailing a shopping trip between Handa and Kawafuji, and while it seemed a bit strange to break up the story in the middle of the arc so abruptly, it was hardly a deal breaker in determining the quality of the book and overall seemed to be a worthy addition to the volume.
Barakamon’s 6th volume felt like an excellent wrapping up of Handa’s early island experiences as it more-or-less showed how his time on the island had brought his struggles to fruition. The developing relationship between Handa and the village children felt like it had reached a critical moment, and was both emotionally satisfying as well as comedic, essentially giving myself and other readers more of what we look for in the series. Needless to say, if you like Barakamon, then this is definitely a solid purchase.
Barakamon Vol. 6 was authored by Satsuki Yoshino and published by Yen Press on August 18, 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 7 will be released in English on October 27th, 2015.
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*Copy provided for Taykobon by publisher
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