Author \ Artist (manga series): Satsuki Yoshino
Genre: Shounen, Comedy, School Life
Seishuu Handa is the son of a famous caligraphy. In spite of everyone idolising the young man, he believes that everyone hates him because of a prank by his (secret) best friend Takao Kawafuji. As such, he perceives those around him with suspicion. However, before he knows it, a group of followers known as the Handa Force emerges. Be it would-be female admirers or fanboys, Handa’s life just got a lot more chaotic.
Handa-kun is the eleven episode prequel to the series Barakamon that follows Sieshuu Handa when he is still in high school. This makes for an interesting story as we get a glimpse into the madness that Takao created. The triality between what Handa sees, those around him see and actual reality is hilarious to watch. However, some viewers of Barakamon seem to have taken offence to the silliness of Handa-kun. Me? No way! I think it is a great addition to the universe as it shows the idiocy of children in high school. They are rarely rational, tending to be biased by their own desires and by what people they trust tell them due to that pesky “expert fallacy”.
In the background, Takao Kawafuji is laughing his *ss off. Whilst the prank in question might be a bit harmful in real-world applications, it is the cause of the central conflict of the series. Until Seishuu is able to see the world for what it is, he will continue missing out on a lot of joy. There is a tipping point where Seishuu finally realises the truth that he is idolised rather than hated. However, it turns out that the overzealousness of his fans might also be a bit destructive because their own view of the world doesn’t line up with reality either, which makes the whole thing even more amusing.
Will the humour of this absurd series work for everyone? No. It also moves away from the Slice of Life aspects of Barakamon because it needed to create a contrast between Seishuu as a teenager and Seishuu as an adult artist. But I thought that it worked well because of how it dealt with life as a teenager in school. One might even argue that the situation created by Takao is a positive feedback loop wherein all involved become even more insane due to misunderstandings.
Anyway, I adore this series and intend to rewatch it again soon. If you enjoy over-the-top humour rife with misunderstandings, then I highly recommend this series. It will likely appeal to folks that enjoy series such as Saiki K as well. And yes, the pay-off is satisfying. If you do watch this series, I encourage you to review it yourself because reviews help people decide what to watch. Whether by posting on review sites such as MAL or via a blog, your feedback matters!