When an esteemed curator tears into Handa Seishuu’s conformist calligraphy, calling it “a copybook clone”, “award bait”, and “completely lethargic”, Seishuu thinks the old man is full of shit and slugs him in the face. His dad exiles him to a remote island village, where a nosy little girl, knowing nothing about the incident, says almost the exact same things about his writing. The world seems to be telling him something.
Some people just can’t take harsh criticism. I know I can’t sometimes, particularly where art is concerned. Seishuu is the same. He’s sticking stubbornly to the fundamentals, and the rest of the world is wrong, not him. The weight of that fabricated world of his is slowly crushing him. He needs to get out from under it and gain some fresh perspective. That’s what Barakamon (“Cheerful Child”) is all about: getting over yourself, lightening the hell up, and having fun.
Seishuu’s bad attitude and stubborn ways are no match for the fundamental kindness, decency, and joviality of adorable lil’ Naru and the rest of the townsfolk. They’re not there to judge him on why he’s there or what he’s done; he’s a new neighbor, a rarity in the town, so they help him move in. That outpouring of hospitality doesn’t just soften Seishuu’s hard edges, but snaps him out of a creative funk he’d been denying he was in up until now.
Repeating the cold open, but this time with context, we watch Seishuu take to the paper like a lion to a gazelle; and his giant, wild character “楽” (“FUN”) is far more passionate and expressive than anything he’d written up to that point. More to the point, he had a lot of fun writing it (almost too much fun, as he creeps out the mayor). After scaling a literal wall with Naru to get a better look at the island’s spectacular sunset, he’s started to scale what the curator called the “wall of mediocrity.”
I’ll end with one the many great lines in this episode, delivered by Seishuu’s friend Takao:
“You don’t get any sympathy after punching an old man with a cane.”