Handa-kun – 02

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The Gist: Handa ‘defeats’ the two girls from last week, as well as ‘glasses’ Aizawa Junichi and ‘model’ Nikaido Reo who were introduced as members of Handa-force last week.

As with last week, Handa ‘defeats’ these opponents largely through his lack of understanding and, for the same reason, most people think highly of him. As you may have expected: all’s well that ends well: ‘muscles’ Juri-chan and Maiko-chan are back to being friends… and accept being romantic rivals.

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What makes Handa-kun special: its protagonist is a hot mess of illogical responses that, against all odds, turn out in his favor. Take his misunderstanding of Maiko and his choice to write her a letter.

By making Muscles (Juri) fall for him, she became aware of the inequity of her relationship with Maiko. Then, after they both fail to win his affections and choose to try calligraphy, their relationship realigns, but with a new balance between them. A truer balance. That’s good narrative building!

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What holds Handa-kun back from being great is that it only gives us one side of the coin seen in Barakamon. There, Handa played off of another character, and there was warmth from their back-and-forth.

Here, there is truly no warmth. Handa doesn’t like anyone here, not even a little. This isn’t ‘wrong’ but it is a little weird if you think about it: it’s about a talented jackass getting away with whatever and everyone assuming he’s a nice person.

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The Verdict: Handa-kun has a solid formula and it deserves plenty of laughs. There’s real craft to how the narrative is constructed too. That said, it’s hard to imagine Handa-kun standing out without Barakamon.

And this is no Barakamon.

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2 thoughts on “Handa-kun – 02”

  1. Beside’s Juri’s patently ridiculous character design (there are better ways to draw girls who don’t fit into society’s aesthetic ideal than simply throwing human anatomy out the window), I agree that Handa-kun is simply too isolated from the rest of society in this show, and it’s going to become more problematic if he doesn’t change (and we can be reasonably sure he won’t).

    Handa doesn’t really work as a protagonist to me, since he’s all but immune to the effects of anything anyone says or does around him.

    Rather, Juri, Maiko, and the model guy are the main characters in this episode. And they’re not really enough.

    1. That is a tighter way of defining the show’s problem. Handa is not a protagonist because a protagonist experiences change during the course of a narrative. Handa doesn’t experience anything. Not derived from reality, at least. One off protagonists-as-opponents is a truly strange (flawed) structure for a show…

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