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25 July 2014: Barakamon taught me pacing is important even in a show about calligraphy

Seishuu and Tamako
Does this count as a Meet Cute?

Technically, Barakamon is not a show about calligraphy, but rather a show about a calligrapher. It's pretty refreshing because it's one of those increasingly rare anime that's about (1) an adult who is (2) good at something because (3) he works hard at it rather than by virtue of being Anime Jesus. In fact, one of the characters in the show postulates that having the discipline to work hard is a talent itself.

Tamako and Seishuu
"Come here often?"

I say "adult," but Seishuu is 23, which is still a sheltered product of helicopter parenting if you believe what Grown Ups say about Millennials on clickbait drags, or a sophomoric child, if you believe what Grown Ups say about Millennials on IRC, but he's definitely an adult compared to the standard teenage male anime protagonist in basically every other show. Hell, for mecha pilots, 23-year-olds have one foot in the grave. By the time they're 30, they're back-to-back with death.

But I digress.

Barakamon is not actually about calligraphy because it's more about the calligrapher's self-imposed exile as he reflects on his faults and attempts to improve himself both as a professional and as a person. Seishuu doesn't necessarily have to be a calligrapher. Really, he could just as easily be a writer or an artist or a mangaka or a poet or a battle programmer. Barakamon is about how he adjusts (as a city boy) to the rural lifestyle and the folksy people he meets.

Seishuu gives Tamako feelings she can't control.

Curiously, it's notable who he doesn't meet. The following are arguably spoilers from the manga, so avert your eyes if you're adamant about not knowing what doesn't happen in the show. Based on the 25 manga chapters that I've read, there is no love interest in Barakamon. This is not to say that there necessarily needs to be a love interest, but it's pretty common for a show—any show—to slap one or more in even if there's absolutely no chance of any romantic progression. To be honest, I'm a little surprised neither of the two middle school girls who come over every day are presented as potential love interests. Not that I'm suggesting a 23-year-old should be interested in girls a decade younger, but everyone else in the village appears to either be either married, elderly, or both, so there's a good chance this duo is literally the only game in town. I guess there are male characters who could be potential love interests, but I would be more surprised at that development than a viewer-discomforting timeskip that reveals a torrid affair with a much older Naru.

Psycho chicks are the best.

Naru is the kid who basically serves as an older version of Yotsuba. She still has a child's wonder and zest for life, but she's old enough to have a better understanding of the world. Perhaps most importantly, she's also not Seishuu's responsibility so he can (literally) toss her out of his house when he tires of her antics.

Tamako and Seishuu
Actually, maybe she is talking about the wind.

A blog post putatively complaining about the pacing in a show should probably be itself better paced, but I'm still going to address this point now instead of relocating it to the top. (Just pretend I bang out these blog posts on a manual typewriter.) Compared to the manga chapters I read before I started watching, the anime feels a little rushed, trying to hit certain checkpoints before viewers lose interest. As a result, it jumps around a bit and rearranges scenes. This makes it feel more like a 4-koma adaptation than an adaptation of a regular manga. It's still quite good, but it leaves me with the feeling that it could be better if the story wasn't constrained by short-series conventions and potentially impatient young viewers.

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