Anime Review: Handa-kun. The comedic nonsensical “prequel” to Barakamon.

I don’t think I mentioned this in my Barakamon review, but I actually started watching Handa-kun before realizing it was a prequel. In fact I think I only found out about the show from this gif;

Japan has been fooling us all along!

That gif is actually a great example of what you can expect from the show, and to be honest if they’d dropped the idea of it being a prequel I think it would’ve made a better standalone show. Also if you’ve got the chance to watch it with the English dub, I’d highly recommend it! I only got to see the first 2 episodes that way, but I think it definitely helps with the comedic elements listening in one’s native language. At least as far as Handa-kun is involved.

Hated by everyone around him, Sei Handa goes about his high school life regarded as an outcast—or at least that’s what he believes. In reality, Sei is the most popular student on campus, revered by all for his incomparable calligraphy skills, good looks, and cool personality. However, due an endless series of misunderstandings, Handa perceives the worship he receives from his legions of fans as bullying, leading the school’s idol to shut himself off from the rest of his classmates.

But distancing himself from his peers doesn’t deter them from adoring him; in fact, his attempts at drawing attention away from himself often end up unintentionally converting even the most skeptical of students into believers. Fashion models, shut-in delinquents, obsessive fangirls, and more—none can stand against the brilliance that is Sei Handa.

[Written by MAL Rewrite]

Handa-kun has a lot of things working for it as a comedy with a funny implementation of breaking the fourth wall in the first episode, two “straight-man” characters to balance most scenes, and a variety of crazy Handa-obsessed students in every episode. However it’s when viewing it as a sequel to Barakamon that things start to unravel. In that light, Handa’s best friend, Takao Kawafuji, is actually kind of the villain of the show in a way. We learn it was because of his jealously of Handa that he told him everyone hates him. He then delights in Handa’s suffering while telling himself he’s reveal the truth some day. The show also loves to remind you it’s a prequel by showing you that Handa is allergic to cats as frequently as possible, and I don’t ever remember Handa being this dense in Barakamon.

All that said, I found the show pretty enjoyable for the most part. It’s only 12 episodes, and I managed to binge the first 10 in one day, however I did get a little bored with the show towards the end. The side characters such as those in, The Handa Force, really make this show what it is — in that way I guess it is like Barakamon. Much in the same way that Handa is always misinterpreting everyone else around him, they also misinterpret him and somehow become better people for it… Or much much worse as one girl nearly kills herself early in the show and becomes somewhat of a hitman/bodyguard for Handa shortly after.


Image from Jeroz on Reddit

To a degree Handa has this affect on almost every character including, or should I say mostly, those who hate him. Everyone in the Handa Force except for Yukio disliked Handa in the beginning — usually as the result of some kind of misunderstanding. Of course this being a comedy, reason goes out the window as the characters all ultimately “understand” how much Handa has “helped” them, and thus devote their lives to him. So is it really any surprise this concept gets old after a while?

But yeah, it feels a little dishonest to refer to this show as a prequel when it’s so loosely connected. Handa’s personality might be the biggest common denominator between the two series as his paranoia and otaku nature still shine through. However the insanity in Handa-kun is unparalleled even by Naru in Barakamon, and I feel like that really says something. Overall I’d say both series are worth the watch, and I’d even say the order I watched them is probably better. However I can’t stress enough that you shouldn’t go into either series carrying any expectations from the other.

This review felt a little light on substance, but sadly so did the show in many ways. However as far as visual gags go this show was a winner!


4 thoughts on “Anime Review: Handa-kun. The comedic nonsensical “prequel” to Barakamon.

  1. I really wasn’t a fan of this. The first episode rubbed me the wrong way and then the repetitive nature of the show just didn’t really work for me. That said, I did watch it all the way through which for a comedy is still pretty unusual so it wasn’t that bad. But yeah, I’d have been happier if this had no connection with Barakamon given there really is almost zero substantial connection between the two.

    1. Yeah aside from the visual gags there’s not a lot of actual substance to the show. There were times the Handa Force seemed funny and other times I wondered what in the hell I was watching.

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