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