Handa-kun & Barakamon – Prequel / Sequel Disconnect

Still watching anime G – it’s a bit longer than the previous anime in the challenge.
Good news is that I haven’t dropped it.
Everything else will have to wait till I post about it!

But I still wanted to write about an anime.
I’m starting to see the allure of episodic reviews – so many more opportunities to both read and write about anime. Thinking I’ll try it out with an anime or two next season.

And that brings me to Handa-kun.

I watched Handa-kun a while ago… maybe 6 months ago? Time goes by so fast I can’t remember for sure, plus my life was a blur back then – I wasn’t really doing anything productive so it all sort of melds together.

Anyways, I thought I’d write something about Handa-kun, which ended up becoming something about Handa-kun and it’s relationship to Barakamon.

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I think I’m in the minority here, because I watched Handa-kun with absolutely no knowledge of Barakamon. I didn’t realize it was a “prequel”, and only thought it was a comedy.

To further my minority status, I tried to watch Barakamon after Handa-kun and didn’t like it, so I stopped after the first episode. So full disclaimer I don’t fully know how Barakamon plays out – I just didn’t want to watch an anime with an annoying kid present throughout.

The anime both felt pretty different though, and judging by what I saw and what I’m reading in the top reviews on MyAnimeList. Barakamon is apparently a comedy, although I saw no comedy in the first episode, and Handa-kun is most definitely a comedy throughout.

It’s a weird stylistic change that I don’t think I’ve experienced with any other anime, because while the anime are linked as prequel / sequel, they feel so different that you can’t really go from one to the other in a natural fashion. Or I guess I should say that you can, but it’s difficult to do.

I watched the prequel first, so I definitely noticed how the sequel felt more serious and much less comedic. And I can see why people who watched Barakamon first would feel insulted for the prequel to be this very casual and comedic anime. It’s odd how it works out like that. What should this effect be called? Tonal shift? Prequel / sequel disconnect?

Whatever you’d like to call it, it’s clear that this effect is pretty strong here. I know that the top reviews on MyAnimeList are overly polarized, but just reading the content you can get an idea of this effect. People writing about how Handa-kun is an abomination that should never have been created, repetitive, lacks character development, etc.

makiyoriko
Maki-chan, I’ll always remember you.

I really enjoyed Handa-kun. I definitely think it is an underrated comedy anime. While I understand the circumstances of the “prequel / sequel disconnect”, I don’t think that it’s entirely fair to judge Handa-kun using the same standards as Barakamon. Yeah, it’s a prequel – but it’s clear that the style and intentions are completely different here. Why go into a mindless comedy anime looking for deep / thoughtful developments?

This argument sort of coincides with the whole anime vs. source material argument as well. Should the anime be judged with the source material in mind / as a comparison? And my answer to this question is that the anime should be judged as a standalone work. Of course it’s much more difficult to view a prequel / sequel as a standalone work – it’s natural to expect one to flow into the other with a similar overall theme / design / tone. In most cases, it’s simply expected that the prequel / sequel are consistent like that.

There is the criticism that Handa-kun is an overly repetitive comedy anime. I can see that, although I personally didn’t feel that way. Some jokes don’t get old as fast as others. Just like I don’t have an issue with the “Sasuga Ainz-sama” in Overlord, I didn’t have an issue with the very misunderstood Handa-kun. I genuinely enjoyed it – some themes / ideas are too important to an anime’s premise to drop partway through.

Another example of this is The Disastrous Life of Saiki K., where Saiki is always thinking “yare yare”, and everything is a just an annoyance getting in his way of a regular life. It’s that important premise that the anime uses to create comedic situations.

Funny how that works for Handa-kun, not only is the character misunderstood, but the anime itself is misunderstood when compared side by side to its sequel. While the tonal shift from Handa-kun to Barakamon is odd in itself, I’m sure that both anime are great standalone anime. The disconnect just creates this misunderstanding between them.

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I’ve run out of Handa-kun screencaps.

Not that I’m planning on watching Barakamon.
The first episode didn’t interest me, and if an anime can’t make it work in the first episode, then I think it’s fine to give it up. If the premise was more exciting I’d have tried to watch a little more, but I don’t find that very interesting either.

While I originally intended on just writing whatever about Handa-kun, this all works too. It’s hard to actually write about comedy anime like this, because I never want to spoil the gags in the anime.

Don’t expect crazy character development, or some existential journey like what I’ve read Barakamon has – Handa-kun is a straight up comedy anime.

If you enjoy gag anime like Saiki K., Daily Lives of Highschool Boys, Gintama, etc…
You will probably enjoy Handa-kun.

That’s it for now.

Until next time!
Thanks for reading.

6 thoughts on “Handa-kun & Barakamon – Prequel / Sequel Disconnect

  1. I really enjoyed Barakamon (though that surprised me given it is very slice of life), but I liked the characters enough and the quiet journey they go on throughout the course of the episodes. Handa-Kun on the other hand just felt like it had no connection to that story and while I watched it through, I just felt like it would have been better served naming the main character something else and just making it its own entity. I still wouldn’t have liked it given its heavy comedic focus, but I think it would have been better received if audiences hadn’t been trying to make a connection that really just isn’t there.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am in the middle of the Barakamon manga (it’s way longer than I thought a manga about a calligrapher on a remote island could ever be), but have never watched the anime or the prequel. For me, it just came along at the right time. I’ve lived on the coast of California all my life, next to the ocean, but I moved over the summer and now I’m in a landlocked city. It wasn’t a big “culture shock”, I guess you could call it, as Handa experienced, but I was still the new person at work floundering about, trying not to get lost, and I missed the ocean so much that reading about/seeing all these images of island life was just comforting. And I relate to Handa a lot. That said, I was also hesitant about reading it when I saw how prominently a 7-year-old was going to feature– she’s annoying, but also endearing; I basically got used to her within a few chapters.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That sounds like what I’ve read about it. I’m sure it really is a great story, I probably just went to watch it at the wrong time.
      Reassuring to hear that about the 7 year old too!

      Like

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