What They Say:
“Handa-kun and the Cultural Festival”
High-school student Handa Sei is well-liked and highly regarded. As the school cultural festival comes to a close, Handa’s world opens up before him.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
It’s the end of the journey and though we’ve had our setbacks, all that matters is we’ve reached the desired conclusion. Handa-kun’s last episode set me straight for believing everybody had made an appearance in last episode. I’d forgotten about the kids from Shiro high school. Well, I didn’t forget about them, more like I thought they wouldn’t be going to another school’s festival. They are not the focus of the episode though, but another component in the well-oiled ensemble machine that is Handa-kun. It’s a testament to the series that it’s able to add new characters in the last episodes without making it feel bloated.
The new characters would be a group of delinquents from Kuro high who’ve come looking for Handa. They try asking around the school but everybody just screams and runs away. For me the best part was their encounter with Tsugumi (the girl who can read the future) as she starts predicting the leader’s future, saying his existence will fade away and shock will rain from above. At first he reacts nonchalantly, he’s a toughened delinquent after all, of course he doesn’t believe in this superstitious crap, but it doesn’t take much for him to start running away, hands over ears screaming about how she’s going to take control of his mind. There’s also the hilarious encounter with Haneda and his army of Handas courtesy of his makeup skills. He’s really, really good, who would’ve though? And the basketball club guys who don’t want to play basketball. That’s how they introduce themselves, who am I to take their thunder away?
The whole thing culminates in class 7 (Handa’s class) with a brief and confused showdown between Kuro and Shiro high school. Even if it’s purely for comedic effect I liked how the fight looks utterly ridiculous and yet, in a way, realistic. What I mean is no matter how much they build up themselves to be hooligans, they’re still untrained teenagers and they fight as such, fisticuffs and all. It takes Handa’s intervention to stop the fight; he’s been behind the play’s fake wall all the time, waiting to say his line as he thinks the play is under way and he is absolutely devoted to say this one line. Apparently he’s forgotten his improvisation from last week. Sadly, it’s too late for the leader of Kuro high school.
The second part is where the story really gets to shine, though it was kind of confusing to me as well. It’s the night after the festival, the big bonfire celebration, and they’re all reunited to present the award to the most successful class activity. Because the student council president’s is who she is, instead of a crown they will give away a kabuto, the typical Japanese warrior helmet you see in series about the Sengoku period. Well, that and a cardboard crown to the second place, which ends up being the boys from the bishoujo club. To be honest after my initial reaction, I’ve lost all animosity towards them and they did deserve the award. That Handa-chan manga sold tons; even the Ichimiya force bought 30 copies. First place is, you guessed it, Handa’s class and it’s up to Handa to accept the honor, except he doesn´t want to because he’s seen Carrie and he’s sure they’re just calling him up there to humiliate him. He has no choice as usual, but when he gets up there, something really strange happens. Suddenly Kawafuji gets up on stage and declares he wants the helmet, so Handa should give it to him. Everybody gets angry of course, Handa is just confused but he keeps insisting Handa should give it to him because they’re friends after all. I got what Kawafuji was trying to do and his intentions were good. By declaring in front of everybody that he and Handa are friends, he can cast away the shadow of doubt and show him that he’s not ashamed of him, in fact, no one is. This is made more obvious when he declares that they’ve been friends forever. His way of doing it was still kind of weird and forceful, I’m not surprised at all Handa felt bullied and brought out his wall. This was the one time everybody agreed with him. It goes to show that Kawafuji practically had to explain himself, asking Handa to remove his wall and really look around him, even going so far as to deny having ever said that everybody hated him. Didn’t fool Handa though, but I loved how once he looked at all this weird kids worshipping him in so many strange ways, both he and Kawafuji had to agree they didn’t really understand what was happening.
Seeing the events in a new light however, Handa finally accepts reality and they all end up watching a giant effigy of Handa being burned to a crisp. It may be unsettling at first but it’s a fitting image for his journey. His past self disappear as he embarks on a new path surrounded by all his friends, even if he’s still unsure of how to handle it.
The series ends on a high note as even the ending is changed to reflect Handa smiling happily, no longer left alone.
I’m definitely going to miss Handa-kun. It was always a breath of fresh air after a stressful week. It had an amazing set of characters for such a silly story, if you can call it that, and no matter how ridiculous it got, I always felt it was laughing with them instead of at them. It was also the perfect length, more of this and it could have easily overstayed its welcome. Would I love to spend more time with these kids? Sure, they were tons of fun, but the series reached its natural conclusion and there’s nothing more to say. To want more would be greedy, though saying goodbye to the Handa force it’s a bit sad.Handa-kun may not have had the maturity of Barakamon but amidst all the joking the message remains strong. Sometimes all it takes is a change in perspective; don’t get too wrapped up inside your head. Focus instead in what’s right in front of you, you may be pleasantly surprised.
Streamed By: Funimation