From the onset, we follow the story of Handa Seishuu, a professional calligrapher who happens to screw up when he punched a curator. Since respect for the elderly/authority has been one of the standard values in Japan, he was more or less condemned by others for such an insolent and immature reaction to a criticism (no matter how funny the scene was). As some sort of punishment/time off, his father decided to exile him on an island to contemplate and reflect on what he did.
I’ve been reading the source manga for over a year now and the mellow and subtle story quickly pulled me in. The first episode was pretty good but we missed some more dosage of comedy which I though was necessary for a complete and awkward first impression of the neighborhood. I thought this was necessary to establish and emphasize how eccentric the island life is compared to city life that Handa was used to.
For example, the anime jumbled the events of chapter 1 and 2 a bit so I don’t know if they are planning to put what they skipped in the next episode. I think they missed to showcase how weird Naru’s grandpa is, and how much of a child Naru is despite how easily she can tug the heartstrings of Handa. She was very likeable in the first episode, especially the good casting of her voice. This is never a bad thing but I think they decided to show Naru as someone very tamed in this episode when she is NOT. Yes, she is not mischievous enough in this episode. Her development is something I’m looking forward to see because from what I’ve read so far, Handa is hogging all of it.
This is probably the first anime I watched that is set to countryside and at the same time, has nothing to do with fantasy like Mushishi or Natsume. As such, it is very amusing to watch how this is taken through the lens of a more realistic daily life. I’ve got to admit that this is one of the reasons why I liked it from the jump start. I can only think of Persona 4, Shiki, Another, and Higurashi with characters moving to suburb/countryside and notice that those four places might not be the best places to choose from. For the first time, we are moving to the countryside for a damn breather, and not to solve some paranormal case.
I guess one of the things I’m not so sure what anime/manga wants to come across is the concept of calligraphy. I have this side who wants the series to become technical about the whole shodo/calligraphy, and there’s a side of me who’s perfectly fine that hardcore calligraphy is never touched on. It would be nice if some principles of calligraphy can mirror as a metaphor for some of the character development we’ll get. I get the impression however that the focus of the series will never be this, but simply the island life and the neighborhood. The heart of the show is the interaction between Handa and Naru so as long as they do the justice of adapting the manga, I don’t think it’s going to do bad regardless of the sidelines the series would like to do.
One of the things that fascinates me as well is the accent of the characters. It was challenging as far as I’ve heard to capture the “local” feeling of the accent as per the manga translators. “Ya just moved in din’cha?” I just cringe every time I read phrases translated in a similar way in the manga. For the case of the anime, it helps that there’s audio so hearing the quirky accent is enough while the subtitles can be transcribed in a normal way of speech. This is one of the things I’ll appreciate now that it has an anime. No more of these cringe-inducing localized phrases in the manga. Don’t get me wrong, I get that they are trying to add that colloquial feeling but it just doesn’t fit my taste. I’m used to hearing Kansai-ben, thanks to Hattori of Conan but it was never translated to capture any twangs in the accent. We’ll cross the bridge when this gets considered for a dub.
This series can depict island life in such a comedic way and at the same time effortlessly turn on the switch at a right time when it comes to Handa’s self-esteem issues. As of now, what I’m just looking forward for is for the anime to cover the chapters way ahead of the translated chapters so we can get more Handa and Naru moments. We need more of this adult-youngster duos.
What are you waiting for guys, watch it.
image credit: pixiv user そらすこ