(Originally published on Livejournal on 7/15/10)
Arakawa Under the Bridge Episodes 10, 11, and 12
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.10 tl;dr review: During the community fire drill Recruit is once again amazed at everyone’s lack of common sense; Recruit’s father sets his plans in motion to redevelop the Under the Bridge area.
Episode 10 Synopsis: What better way than to initiate a surprise fire drill than to set an actual fire? Recruit comes running to find Sister tending a blazing inferno on the riverbank, soon followed by the rest of the misfits to form a bucket brigade. But just when it seems everyone is working in unison under the Kappa Chief’s supervision, the Kappa Chief grabs the bucket to drench himself (since a dried-out kappa becomes weak). As Recruit looks on in befuddlement, the Kappa Chief then runs up to the fire to sprinkle the drops of water from the top of his head. Everyone applauds the chief for his bravery, except for Recruit who is at a total loss over the insanity and total lack of common sense. Later, Recruit is visited by a public official with a notice of eviction, as he learns his father has set things in motion to redevelop the area Under the Bridge. He runs up to inform everyone else in a panic, only to find them nonplussed over the situation. Everyone, that is, except for Nino, who forcefully speaks up that she doesn’t want to leave.
ep.11 tl;dr review: Recruit sets up his own company to compete against his father’s attempt to take over Under the Bridge; But his plans fall through and he is forced to call his father directly.
Episode 11 Synopsis: Recruit sheds his Under the Bridge lifestyle to return as Kou Ichinomiya, cut-throat businessman. He sets up his own corporation to bid on the redevelopment contract in direct competition with his father. With a seemingly perfect plan in place, he triumphantly returns to the Under the Bridge community. But after just three days away, Nino has already forgotten Kou/Recruit’s face — with his daily presence she has a tendency to forget about him. And when he presents his bulletproof plan, all the others nitpick and bellyache about it. Suddenly, the construction company calls to pull out of the plan after sending inspectors over to the site, only to have them run afoul of Sister’s deadly traps. With everything falling to pieces, Recruit is left with his last resort option: actually calling and talking to his father directly. But he’s never called him before, and when he finally tries to call, it does not go through.
ep.12 tl;dr review: Recruit and Hoshi become ‘shooting stars’ to help make wishes come true; Mr. Ichinomiya observes from above and has a discussion with Nino.
Episode 12 Synopsis: Recruit’s inability to call reveals his greatest fear: confronting his father. Hoshi goads him, but Maria twists his words, trapping him in an unlikely position where Hoshi is high above on the bridge and forced to jump off, creating a ‘shooting star’ that everyone can wish upon. In Maria’s typical acidic fashion, she also manages to get Recruit involved, forcing the two of them to jump off the bridge over and over and over again. Meanwhile down below, Nino sends her wishes to the stars, hoping everyone can live together in peace. Later in the afternoon, Mr. Ichinomiya makes a personal visit to the bridge after learning his redevelopment plans have fallen through as well (due to the interventino of an unseen stranger). He ends up with his pants stolen by hooligans (just like Kou in the first episode), and Nino snags them with her fishing pole. Ichinomiya recognizes her but does not identify himself, and also refuses to accept the pants lest he end up in debt to Nino. They have a bit of a discussion, and Ichinomiya is struck with just how much Nino reminds him of Kou’s mother. After watching Kou/Recruit ‘working hard’ to save the community through his nonsensical falling star routine, Ichinomiya decides to leave his son alone and begins to leave. But at that moment the cell phone in his pants pocket rings; he’s far too proud to answer, so tells Nino she can answer it instead. The call is from Recruit, where he confesses his love to Nino, begging him to stop his redevelopment plans, not realizing the plans have fallen through and not realizing Nino is on the other end of the call.
My Thoughts: For a slapstick comedy show that was created from a four-panel gag strip, there sure is quite a bit of drama with an overarching plot involved. And for that I am glad — if it was just wacky joke after joke, that would have gotten increasingly tedious. Still plenty of silliness, but there’s a method to the madness.
For the weeks (months?) that Kou has lived as Recruit while under the bridge, he still maintains his hold on the concept of “common sense” while it seems everyone else under the bridge completely lacks even a semblance of embracing reality. And yet, over time Kou has changed from his stiff-necked selfish persona at the start of the series (a mirror image of his much feared/beloved father), to someone who does care about the other members of the community, someone who is willing to work for them, and someone who is readily willing to admit his new-found love for Nino.
There’s one episode left, but the major plotline has been resolved, so what’s left to cover? More jokes, I guess. There’s still the nagging question of that mysterious man who called off the redistricting plans (my wild-ass guess: Nino’s father), and I really wonder how Kou and Nino can manage a relationship when Nino is unable to remember Kou unless she sees him every day. But no matter, I’m happy with the way things have turned out.
P.S. The “One Shot Comedy Routine” at the end of the eleventh episode with Stella and the magician’s box of swords was the most hilarious one-off joke of the whole series, had me *guffawing* out loud.
Up Next: The Tatami Galaxy.