Arakawa Under the Bridge x Bridge – No Place Like Home

arakawa-under-the-bridge-x-bridge-3285

 

  • Genre: Comedy, Slice of Life, Surrealism, Romane, Fish
  • Episodes: 13
  • Studio: Shaft

 

When we last left Arakawa and its assortment of wacky residents, it was a silly place that was at times warm and welcoming and at times slightly pointless. So much has changed since then. Now… There’s an Amazon that visits occasionally. Arakawa has long been a refuge for those that don’t quite belong in society. A place where even the overachieving Kou could loosen his tie and relax. People like to pretend that we can force some order on the world but what about those that don’t fit the boxes? They gather in magical places like Arakawa and prepare to go to Venus. Dreamers, artists and gardeners alike come together to make the world just a little less ordered and dreamy.

I had seen the first season of this anime some time ago and remembered it as one of the few romantic series I didn’t mind. When I rewatched it more recently and I found that it was also creative and silly in that distinctive Shaft style. I also discovered that there was a second season and I was surprisingly thrilled. Now, I’ve watched that second season!

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let me tell you about it

I don’t actually know how much time passed between the production of season 1 and season 2 of Arakawa under the Bridge. As far as the technical aspects are concerned, you could tell me they were concurrently produced and I wouldn’t be surprised at all. They look and sound pretty much the same. Bridge x Bridge might be slightly more animated on average but that’s about it.

The only clear improvement in the production is the OPs. I love this thing. From the lushly coloured visuals drawn in a style that never appears at all in the series, to the cutesy, bubbly song and the extremely distinctive and perfectly chosen singer, these are some of the funnest OP s I’ve seen in a while. And of course I’ll share the main one with you:

 

If the animation hasn’t changed much between seasons, the delivery sure has. I’m exaggerating, it’s really not that flagrant. There’s a bit of a tightening in the writing. Wow that sentence made no sense! What I mean is that the first season was all over the place. It had a loose, experimental feel, blending all kinds of visual styles with disparate types of humor and seemingly random and absurd storylines. Characters acted in non sequitur ways and consistency was achieved through comical repetitiveness rather than logical follow-through.

The second season cleans that up a little. There are running gags that evolve rather than simply repeat and actual mini arcs that take multiple episodes to conclude. The humour has become much more referential (a staple of comedic anime). All together it feels as though the season was more thought out with a better defined sense of narrative direction.

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where is this going….

However, it also felt, for lack of a better word, less fun. At least to me. It’s a bit like it traded in some of that carefree attitude for a more polished and professional approach. That’s not a bad thing in and of itself mind you. There are some fantastic moments in season two. And depending on your personal sense of humor you might even prefer this approach.

Another thing the second season did, is pull the focus away from Nino and Kou a bit to explore more thoroughly the supporting characters making this more of an ensemble piece than before.  There are a lot of weirdos in Arakawa and they would probably need at least one more season to develop them properly. I did enjoy this start though. Particularly the ongoing saga of Jacqueline and Billy who consistently made me laugh.

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I’m still not sure what’s written there

You know, there’s not that much for me to say about a show like Arakawa Under the Bridge x Bridge. It’s a silly little absurdist slice of life with some interesting stylistic touches and some very light romantic elements. If that sounds like your jam, you should give it a shot. Let me put it this way, if you enjoyed the first season but thought it was just a little too random for your tastes, you might like this second season better. If you didn’t like the first season, then stay away. There are some tweaks in tone and approach but it’s still very much the same show.

For me it’s one of those grower series. Shows I seem to enjoy more in hindsight than in the moment. This said, I believe Arakawa Under the Bridge x Bridge is the type of series that greatly benefits from you being in the right “mood”. It can get boring or even a bit grating if you’re not up for a nonsense comedy with over the top characters.

So what’s the verdict? It’s a well made show with specific humour. If you haven’t seen any of it before, give an episode or two a try. Whatever else it may be, it’s unusual enough to offer an experience not easily reproduced and that’s always valuable.

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you’ve earned it!

Favorite character: Sister and Maria, as a couple!

What this anime taught me: eventually, it’s time to go back to Venus

Now if you’ll excuse me, tonight’s bad decision isn’t going to make itself

Suggested drink: Sex on the Bridge

  • Every time we learn of Birds and Bees – Raise your glass
  • Every time we hear the narrator – take a sip
  • Every time Nino sleepwalks – take a sip
  • Every time we see the inside of someone’s “home” – take a sip
  • Every time the chief dispenses “sage” advice – take a gulp
  • Every time we see a fish – get a snack
  • Every time P-ko gets lost in romance – take a sip
  • Every time anyone says Venus or Venusian – take a sip
  • Every time Sister’s scar opens – take a sip
  • Every time Nino cries – oh no!
  • Every time Rec makes a weird facial expression – take a sip
  • Every time Hoshi tries to steal Nino away – take a sip
  • Every time anyone gets “moefied” – take a sip
  • Every time Billy is just too cool – cheer!
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this seems like a good place to leave things

I ended up with a surprising amount of great pics. I’m going to add a few and you can see the rest here

Irina

I'm much nicer than I seem, we should be friends!

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24 Responses

  1. foovay says:

    I watched Arakawa early in my anime explorations. I found it delightful but confusingly random to a mind conditioned to western TV series and linear or at least episodic story lines. And then I got a bit more used to anime – and went and watched it again and enjoyed it more. And again. And more. And so on… because really, I’m a bit of a free wheeling nutball myself. Once I relaxed and melted into this… it was a perfect fit. It’s one of my “comfort food” animes now.

  2. 7mononoke says:

    Thanks for this great post! I looove Arakawa Under the Bridge, and it made me laugh more than any other anime besides Nichijou. It’s my sense of humor in anime form. Absurd! I liked the second season as well, but the first is like you said, a little more fun.

  3. Krystallina says:

    Reading the manga and lovin’ it. So many weirdos and yet surprisingly heartwarming.

  4. Dawnstorm says:

    It’s been a while, but I definitely remember season 1 more fondly, too (which doesn’t seem to be a rare reaction). It felt a little like an extended OVA full of sidestories. (I agree, Billy/Jaqueline were great.) I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t quite the first season.

    Aside: the first I ever heard about Madoka was a commercial during this season of Arakawa. (Madoka aired the next season, which is how I remember that Arakawa 2 aired Fall 2010) I’d watched anime for a long time by then, but I’ve never been emmersed in any kind of otaku culture prior to that, so I found myself a little surprised to find a magical girl show (like Sailor Moon, Sakura, or Doremi) advertised within this show. Had I known then what I know now… (about the industry, not about Madoka – this clarification sort of ruins my ellipses but I leave them there anyway).

  5. sabakuink says:

    Shoot, I forgot to mention that “Arakawa Under the Bridge” reminds me of the film “King of Hearts” starring Alan Bates!

  6. sabakuink says:

    I also preferred season 1 for similar reasons. The jokes in season 2 felt a bit more repetitive, less creative, and dare I say it, “boring” compared to the freewheeling quirkiness of season 1. Some plot lines were drawn out past their expiration date for no particular goal, as if the writer couldn’t choose between being narrative or wacky and just gave up. E.g., the all-out battle competition that ended up as a showdown between Sister and Maria. Still a fun series overall. 🙂

  7. This seems hilarious! Right up my alley! Will definitely add it to my watchlist lol

  8. I enjoyed season one more as well. I think the shift in focus away from Nino and Rec takes some of the heart out of the series.

  9. I watched the first season. I loved it but over time the incessant absurdity got tiring. Too much of a good thing? A one trick pony? I don’t know. By season’s end the MC wasn’t as interesting.

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