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Barakamon Vol. #16 Manga Review

3 min read

Hiroshi graduates!

Creative Staff
Story/Art: Satsuki Yoshino
Translation/Adaptation: Krista Shipley and Karie Shipley

What They Say
Life never seems to get easier for Handa-sensei in this funny, heartwarming slice-of-life series!

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Handa may be the main character, but Hiroshi steals the spotlight for most of these chapters. This installment even includes sketches of Hiroshi at different ages in between chapters. So if you’re a fan of the village’s “ordinary” teenager, you won’t want to miss this volume.

It begins with graduation day at Hiroshi’s school, in which Yoshino-sensei uses the four-panel style she used for the Handa-kun series. And in the midst of parting words from educators, well-wishes from younger students, commemorative photos, and other classic graduation moments, Rina Tajima struggles to make a love confession to Hiroshi. However, Hiroshi is extraordinarily dense for an ordinary person, and Rina’s attempts to express her feelings get misinterpreted time and again. For those who enjoyed the comic miscommunications of the Handakun manga, Act. 115: ”Hiroshi Graduates” offers the same flavor of humor.

The book then delivers two brief, silly chapters about Handa and the village kids before shifting the focus to dads. Although it begins with Handa senior’s latest calligraphy piece, Act. 118 turns into a joint reflection between Handa and Hiroshi about their fathers. Then Act. 119 takes it a big step further with Handa pondering Naru’s relationship with her father as Yuuichirou Kotoishi mails a steady stream of one-line messages to the young calligrapher. We only got one glimpse of Yuuichirou before, and his postcards don’t provide any additional solid information about him although they do confirm his quirky personality. However, the mail exchange does prompt Handa to ask Hiroshi about Naru’s mom (something I’ve been wondering about this entire series). While Hiroshi also doesn’t have any concrete facts to offer, his reply does confirm that none of the villagers—with the possible exception of Naru’s grandpa—knows the true circumstances behind Naru’s origins.

Then Hiroshi retakes the spotlight with a barf-inducing roadtrip to a local landmark and finally his grand exit via ferry. Departures generally spark memories, and we get lots of anecdotes—both funny and fond—as friends and family give Hiroshi a ticker tape style send off. Personally, I’ve liked Hiroshi a lot, and I’m sad to see the village’s most level-headed member go.

Extras include bonus manga, translation notes, translated advertisements for Barakamon related merchandise, and another installment of “Barakamon News.”

In Summary
Like so many small town kids, Hiroshi’s been fixin’ to leave for the big city once he’s graduated, and that moment has arrived. Although the long-suffering teenager has gotten the short end of the stick time and again, these chapters do show how well-regarded he is among family and friends. So amid Hiroshi’s aspirations for the future are fond memories and comical last-minute attempts to make memories before he leaves home.

Content Grade: B+
Art Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Text/Translation Grade: B

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: September 25th, 2018
MSRP: $13.00

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