Handa-kun is the story of Handa, a shy high schooler who believes himself bullied all the time, when in fact he is the most popular boy in school. It is also the prequel to Barakamon, the story of how Handa works to overcome his seemingly inherent persecution complex by finding acceptance in an island community far from the city he was raised in.

But while the two anime follow the same main character, the tales have remained largely unconnected, with only Handa’s mother and best friend crossing over between the shows. Well, until the latest episode of Handa-kun, that is.

The third vignette of episode six follows one of Handa’s classmates, who has gotten so good at palm reading that she is considering becoming a professional fortune teller–even if she doesn’t really believe in it. Her current goal is to read the palms of as many people as possible—especially those of the most and least popular kids in the school.

Hearing this goal, Handa decides to try to help her out by faking falling asleep at his desk in an odd posture that leaves his hand outstretched and easily accessible. The girl takes this gesture as assent and leaps at the chance–only to discover the reading to be as far from what she expected as possible.

According to his palm, Handa is completely average in skills and suffers from the world’s worst persecution complex–which is 100% accurate, though she can’t believe it. But it’s when she looks six years into his future that she sees something incomprehensible: Handa will be loved by numerous children but will remain romantically uninvolved. Shocked by this information, she is unable to figure out how such a thing could come to pass and doubts her own predictions so much that she makes up a completely different story that seems better suited to someone as cool as Handa–i.e., a future of never-ending conflict to overcome.

Of course, the joke is that her actual palm reading is correct. Six years after Handa-kun is when Barakamon is set. Self-exiled to an island near Nagasaki, Handa befriends a precocious grade schooler, her friends, and the teenagers that call the island their home. And while he has no love interest of any sort, through these children he finds true acceptance and true popularity, instead of the isolated “popularity” he experiences in Handa-kun.

All in all, it’s a scene that, while both comedic and tragic, reminds us that as bad as life currently is for Handa, things will get better. The isolation he feels will go away and he will meet those who will accept him and love him for who he is.

…It’s just eternally depressing, though, that because of his classmate’s little white lie, he missed out on the chance to know that happiness was coming.

Handa-kun airs for free and with English subtitles in the US on FUNimation. Barakamon does as well.

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