Anime Review: Arakawa Under the Bridge Episodes 7, 8, and 9

(Originally published on Livejournal on 7/1/10)

Anime Review:
Arakawa Under the Bridge Episodes 7, 8 and 9

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.

ep.7 tl;dr review: Recruit attempts to teach common sense to people incapable of understanding common sense; P-ko’s bizarre infatuation with the Kappa Chief remains…bizarre.

Episode 7 Synopsis: First day of class as Recruit sets up shop under the bridge, aiming to teach the two metal-headed kids some common sense. Of course, his efforts are immediately futile, as he realizes that they’re not going to learn what they do not *want* to learn. Stella shows up in full-yakuza-boss-mode, demanding a hundred trillion yen in shakedown money for starting a business on her turf. Realizing that she’s really just feeling left out, he tries to get her involved in the class with a bottle rocket, and she eventually comes around and joins them. Later, Recruit visits with P-ko to help her with her garden. The Kappa Chief shows up, feeling a bit down; P-ko recommends that he shake things up by changing his appearance, and Chief turns a “dial” on the top of his head making his hair “grow” longer. P-ko immediately gets all worried, concerned that the other women under the bridge will suddenly fall for the Chief with his new look. At the end of the episode, Recruit is left questioning his grasp on his sanity as he is spotted by a couple of his co-workers from the bridge above.

ep.8 tl;dr review: Kou tries to trick his subordinates with a fake story of why he’s under the bridge but it all goes awry; Hoshi attempts to drive a wedge between Recruit and Nino but it backfires terribly.

Episode 8 Synopsis: Now that Recruit has been discovered by his co-workers and family, he scrambles to construct a believable story for them. Returning to his life as Kou Ichinomiya, he fools them into believing he is setting up an energy production company under the bridge. Dressing up the most “normal” people available in fancy suits (Sister, Maria and Shiro), he introduces them as his new business partners. Despite the strange introductions, Kou almost has them fooled when Hoshi, Nino and the Kappa Chief come prancing up, turning everything into a circus. When Nino refuses to go along with the ploy and insists that she is Kou’s girlfriend, Takai (Kou’s long-time personal secretary) is floored. Fast-forward a few days, and Takai has been waiting on Kou/Recruit hand-and-foot at his under-the-bridge residents in the interim. Hoshi and Nino show up, and Takai is bothered with the idea that Nino (or anyone for that matter) could come between him and his beloved Kou. Hoshi senses a kindred spirit and joins with Takai to goad Kou that even though they are a couple, they have never kissed. As tensions rise and Hoshi attempts to drive a wedge between them, Nino reaches over and plants a wet one on Kou. Hoshi’s mind snaps, and he is reduced to a mere, worthless “starfish” on the river’s edge.

ep.9 tl;dr review: Rejected Hoshi reveals Sister is sweet for Maria, setting up a showdown with Stella; Recruit learns Hoshi’s past as a chart-topping singer and why he’s infatuated with Nino.

Episode 9 Synopsis: Hoshi has lost any reason to live, and is reduced to a lifeless lump, just a useless starfish. Along with Recruit, Stella grabs Hoshi and drags him along to feed him, when Hoshi inadvertently reveals that Sister is actually in love with Maria. Enraged, Stella grows to Hokuto-no-Ken proportions and confronts Maria in a showdown. Given Stella’s gargantuan size, one would think it’s a lopsided match; but it turns out that Maria is not as defenseless as she looks. With lightning-quick moves the fight is soon over and Stella is defeated. Later, Recruit sees someone (a “normal” person) enter Hoshi’s trailer, so he rushes up to investigate, only to learn that was really Hoshi. He tells Recruit his story, about how he used to be a chart-topping singer, but always with others’ songs — his own material was awful. He would secretly come down under the bridge to play the guitar and sing his own terrible songs, wearing a mask of the crescent moon because he thought he could only shine with the reflected light from others. Nino, alone, would watch him perform, and pointed out that he was singing from his own heart; because of this he wasn’t the moon, but should be a shining star.

My Thoughts: C’mon, Recruit, you should have realized right off the bat that trying to teach “common sense” to people who are inherently incapable of even understanding the concept was impossible. But at least it gave him the opportunity to win over Stella — even when she is acting as an intimidating yakuza boss (quite effectively, too). That kid is just all kinds of scary.

It was only a matter of time Recruit/Kou’s past life would catch up to him, and now he has some ‘splaining to do. His attempts to justify everything are beyond ridiculous, and the only reason it “works” at all is because the two secretaries have their own agendas. The female secretary was actually sent to spy on him and report back to his father, and the male secretary, Takai, has a serious father-figure man-crush on Recruit.

Ninth episode – focusing on all of my least-favorite characters. Yayyyy. Anyone who knocks that brat Stella down a few pegs earns points in my book, but does it really have to be the sweet-and-sour Maria? Then there’s poor Hoshi, reduced to a quivering blob after realizing his unrequited love for Nino was never meant to be – what a pitiable little starfish. But how he ended up under the bridge wearing the star mask, pining for Nino makes perfect sense when we learn his backstory.

Hm, not so much commentary this time around, not much to add, really. Looking forward to the conclusion, how will everything resolve in the end?

The Verdict:

Up Next: The Tatami Galaxy.

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