Ha! Finally some free time. I had to reorganize my schedules and such, so I’ve been a tad busy come November. Well…that, and I just can’t put Fate/Extra down >.<
…and on a completely random note, I turned 17 the other day ^^ *cue party poppers*
Anyway, I did take the opportunity to watch some anime during my break. This title in particular had been on my list for quite some time now (I think since the release of Bridge x Bridge). I guess my new found fixation on Etsuko Yakushimaru (OP singer for Arakawa, and Mawaru Penguindrum) was pretty much the last push I needed to watch the series.
And pushed I was; into the wackiness that is Arakawa Under the Bridge
Arakawa Under the Bridge is an adaptation of a manga series with the same name. This series has thirteen episodes, and also has a sequel (which I did not include in this review) The manga is still ongoing, but as of now is on a break, since the mangaka, Hikaru Nakamura, is on a maternity leave.
Genre/s: Comedy, Romance
I knew from the start that Arakawa would be a comedy series, and a good one at that, based on forums and receptions. Looking back at my list, I realized that I’ve watched only a few shows labeled as Comedy (Working!! and OreImo are some) So I wasn’t really sure what to expect. On the other hand, I also knew that Hiroshi Kamiya, who voiced some pretty funny characters like Koyomi Araragi (Bakemonogatari), Souma (Working!!) and Orihara Izaya (DRRR!!), would be voicing our main male character. Needless to say, I had high hopes from all that.
Then came the time when I watched the first episode and well, it was more than I expected. First off, I didn’t actually read a synopsis beforehand, so the premise really took me by surprise. We have our male lead, Kou Ichinomiya, a young and successful guy, coincidentally gets stripped off his pants by a bunch of eccentric children at a bridge over the Arakawa river. To make matters worse (and funnier) his pants were hung at one of the bridge’s supporting beams. The scenario would have been resolved easier if Kou had asked for help, but the Ichinomiya family, under any circumstance, does not ask for help. Based solely on the fact that asking for help would mean being indebted, and the Ichinomiya family code is to never be indebted to anyone.
These were only the first few minutes, but already I was enjoying it. It was a nice setup, and SHAFT couldn’t have done it better. But the clincher was yet to come. It was then that I recognized an all-too familiar voice that belonged to no other than Maaya Sakamoto. A seiyuu whose voice had been embedded in my memory for quite some time. The roles that I know her in (Shiki Ryougi from Kara no Kyoukai, Alphard from CANAAN) were much more serious in terms of both the story, and the characters themselves. So imagine my surprise when I heard our Venusian female lead, Nino, speak for the first time.
There are a lot of other familiar voices as well, and I think they fit their characters nicely. Which is a pretty rough task considering the kind of characters we have under the bridge. Aside from Nino, who proclaims to be a being from Venus, we have a kappa who is also the mayor, a “sister” who was a former war veteran (and, yes, he’s a dude), a guitarist/singer wearing a star-shaped mask, a guy who made a rule for himself to only walk on white lines, two kids wearing iron masks so that they can “escape the laboratory”, a sharp-tongued farm girl, and a lot more.
You could say that it’s pretty lively with such a wide cast, but you must also be worried about character development, especially since Arakawa was only slated for thirteen episodes. But the manga had a certain style of episodicity (not even close to a real term, lol) or a style of being episodic, which, the anime adapted, to an extent. Each episode is chopped up into nine (maybe more) mini-episodes, to accommodate the scenes needed for all the characters. They even gave the last episode for the other characters who didn’t get much screen time. I think it was a good move. Though I do say that it tilts the pacing sometimes, especially in between the Kou and Nino scenes. As far as character development goes, I think they did well enough to show how everyone acts and such.
I’ve talked about the comedy of Arakawa. Now let’s see the romance side of it. To summarize, it’s a refreshing kind of romance. It’s not forced, in contrast to how the romance situation came to be, rather, the interactions between Kou and Nino was very fluid. Even though they were “lovers” right away, you can see that Kou really cares for Nino, and vice versa. The attraction is always present, which is good. Add the fact that both of them are clueless about how relationships really work, which in turn makes them adorable and fun to watch.
I was also surprised at how touching some of the scenes were – for example, Kou and Nino’s first “date”. We also have some one-sided comedic romances like Sister’s and P-ko’s. It was unusual yet, I couldn’t help but appreciate it. I mean, it’s nice to see something different from the shoujo and tsundere romance that I’ve seen.
If I were to point out something negative about it, I guess its the lack of further development in regards to who everyone was before they were under the bridge, and why they stayed there. At first I thought it was some form of escape or something. But then again, that’s something subjective, since they did talk about themselves; it was just me trying to get deeper into the story, which is probably not the correct way of watching this series. Something that I really liked though were Kou’s monologues before the start of the episode. Most, if not all of them, are really thought provoking.
So yeah. Arakawa Under the Bridge is a really nice series, very light and easy to pick up. I’d recommend it to those who want a good laugh, while enjoying some romance on the side.