Episode 1 thoughts: That was quite cute and heartwarming. Usually I'm not a fan of small 'troublemaker' kid types, but they managed to keep the trouble making light. Quite the idyllic little island town we have going here, the whole town coming to help Seishu move in. The calligraphy scene and the punch scene right at the beginning was very well animated. Also enjoyed Naru's rolling out the house.
Cool that they juxtaposed those two scenes right at the beginning, because first you see this calligrapher letting out his emotions onto the canvas, then you show him being criticized by this old man in a suit saying he is 'too textbook'. Then we find out at the end that the calligraphy scene was AFTER the entire village helped him settle in. And we see the result, and having seen Seishu's earlier 'textbook' calligraphy, it is fairly easy to tell that this final character is very messy! (He even got the walls a little dirty!)
I enjoyed the difference in accent/dialect (not sure) with the first villager. Something that doesn't translate well with subtitles unfortunately xD. Really cute overall. Not much going on yet, it established the whole 'uptight city life' vs. 'relaxed simple rural life'. The interesting part of this series is how Seishu's calligraphy will develop with his stay on the island and as he interacts with the other villagers, what can the 'simple rural island life' teach him?
This series is almost the perfect summer comedy/slice of life! It reminds me of Squid Girl actually. You have moments when you are annoyed at Squid Girl, or in this case the young girls Haru, Miwa and Tama, for doing silly things, making mistakes or being troublesome. For example for looking through Sensei's stuff, or doing potentially dangerous stunts at the beach. But by the end of the episode, everything wraps up with a nice group hug and everyone has bonded a little more.
The sea cucumber scene felt uncomfortable. Partly because of animal abuse, partly because it's a phallic reference. So seeing Miwa and Naru make the sea cucumber squirt felt strange.. especially since they had already talked about how Sensei doesn't have a girlfriend and how Naru really likes Sensei. Then there was Tama/Miwa wondering whether Sensei has a girlfriend or is gay. Not sure what to make of all that, but in the end the anime somehow still manages to feel fairly light-hearted, and all the teasing feels mostly good-natured. =/ The humor definitely has some 'bite' in a that sense.
I think also the main-character is very relatable for anyone who has worked really hard on something and gotten really invested into a hobby or studying or working. At times you start to believe that everyone should invest the same amount of seriousness, time and effort into your chosen hobby/subject, and start to lose sight of the 'simple' things in life, like the importance of social connection, or taking time to relax away from your typical work/study environment.
That was nice we got to learn more about Handa-sensei's calligraphy style through his two visitors. It sounds like his friend Kawafuji is a sort of 'art dealer' who specializes in showcasing and selling Japanese calligraphy works, and two of the calligraphers he works with are Handa and Kanzaki. It was cool that they briefly brought up the whole "why do you create art" discussion, questioning what motivates Handa and Kanzaki. It sounds like they were both very 'textbook' artists, and only now is Handa starting to re-discover his own personal voice, his own style. And Kanzaki was just upset that his role model, who he has been mimicking, has changed.
Overall the episodes did a pretty great job of working with its ensemble cast. On the one hand you have the "rural" characters, which includes Hiro, Miwa, Naru and Hina. Then you have the "city" character: Handa, Kawafuji, Kanzaki. And some of the humor is had from showing one group fumbling with something, or overreacting while the other group laughs lightheartedly. For example, the fishing scene was fairly comical because we got to see the city-folk characters fumbling with fishing and arguing with each other about calligraphy.
I'm glad I gave Barakamon a try, it was quite an enjoyable and fun show. Naru's voice is really cute. And I love these types of settings, the summer at its peak, the Japanese countryside, their houses (except the toilets), etc. But too many bugs, ha ha...