Anime Review: Arakawa Under the Bridge Episode 3

(Originally published on Livejournal on May 20, 2010)

Anime Review:
Arakawa Under the Bridge Episode 3

What This Is All About: Over the past several weeks, I watched the first episode of every fansubbed anime show of the Spring 2010 season. Ten of those first episodes passed the muster (out of more than thirty). Out of those shows getting the thumbs up, eight of them passed the second round, and now I am taking a look at the third episodes. Just a quick synopsis, my thoughts, and a verdict — nothing too fancy.

About The Series: Kou Ichinomiya has it all: a bright future, a spot at Tokyo University, a penthouse suite. But his life is turned upside-down when he is saved from drowning by Nino, a homeless girl who lives under a bridge. To repay the debt, he becomes Nino’s lover at her request and moves in to live under the bridge himself. As the newcomer, he is renamed Recruit by the ‘Village Chief’ (a man dressed in a kappa suit), and does his best to retain his sanity among the unlikely group that makes their life along the riverbanks.

In This Episode: Hoshi (the guy who has a head shaped like a giant yellow star) sees Nino leaving Recruit’s home in the morning and becomes insanely jealous. With the help of Hokuto no Sister, Hoshi confronts him in the confession booth at the church, with Sister serving as a lie detector. Recruit, a bit bemused and resigned, answers honestly: that Nino just comes over to sleep on the couch and that they have never even had a date. Hoshi, completely disarmed as his misunderstanding is exposed, then jokes that Recruit may be gay, much to his annoyance.

But that got Recruit thinking: Even though he is “Nino’s Lover”, they have never even been out on a date. In fact, despite his great success in life and popularity among the ladies, he’s never been out on a date himself. So, he sets out on planning the most impressive date he can imagine. Recruit dons his fanciest suit, charges down to Nino on the riverbank in a fancy car, and explains his plans. They’ll go to one of the best restaurants in Roppongi, dine with the Prime Minister and is wife, then view fireworks over the bay in a private helicopter. But it all flies over Nino’s head, both impressed and nonplussed at the same time, explaining she can’t leave the riverbed “because of the gravity” (remember – she says she is Venusian). Instead, all Nino wants to do for a date is travel down to the estuary at the river’s mouth to see if the grass-leaf boats she made go all the way to the sea. The divide between the upwardly-mobile Recruit and the simple, carefree Nino remains as wide as ever, it seems.

My Thoughts: Arakawa Under the Bridge remains primarily a gag-driven show, and this episode is filled with some fairly silly quick-hits, such as Hoshi’s misdirected interrogation of Recruit. But, for some reason, the jokes this time around seemed a bit off — like they aimed for the 50-point-hole in skeeball, and instead keep hitting the 10 and 20-point rings.

On the other hand, the non-comedy parts of the show did get my attention. To whit, the slowly unfolding relationship between Recruit and Nino. She remains as much of a cipher as before, her true thoughts unknowable behind that blank stare, especially when she explains the nonsensical by saying she is Venusian. Nino truly does lead a life free of worries and responsibilities, taking enjoyment in the simplest of things and completely unimpressed by wealth or power. This, of course, is the polar opposite of Recruit, whose entire life is based entirely on wealth and power. How can there be any sort of relationship between this odd couple? Well, perhaps it is possible, and all it takes is a reality check from Nino to knock the wind out of Recruit’s sails. Oh, and looking positively radiant in a fancy pink dress doesn’t hurt, either.

Slapstick humor and quick one-off gags? Or a slowly growing romantic relationship story? Dunno which direction this show will go (I suspect both, they are not mutually exclusive), but I am interested in seeing what happens next. I would only hope that the jokes in the future are less lame.

The Verdict:

My review of the first episode:
My review of the second episode:
Random Curiosity Review of Episode 3:
Wikipedia Entry:

Passing Grade for Round Three: Working!!, Angel Beats, Kaichou wa Maid-sama, K-On Season 2

Up Next: Giant Killing, The Tatami Galaxy, House of Five Leaves

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