Anime Review: Arakawa Under the Bridge Episode 13 (final)

(Originally published on Livejournal on 7/28/10)

Anime Review:
Arakawa Under the Bridge Episode 13 (finale)

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.13 tl;dr review: The Last Samurai takes a little off the top; Recruit and the kids visit the theme park, Arakawa-style.

Episode 13 Synopsis (spoilers): The final episode is used to introduce a few of the characters seen in the background before. First, Nino drags Recruit for a bit of a trim with the resident hair-stylist, The Last Samurai. Recruit is extremely reluctant to get a haircut from someone who sports a top-knot, but in the blink of an eye and the flash of the sword he manages to get the job done — all except for Sister, whose innate reflexes parry every attack. Then Recruit overhears a private conversation between the parrot-headed Billy and the bumble-bee girl Jacqueline, and find their relationship is much more twisted than he imagined. The kids yearn to visit an amusement park, so Recruit promises to build them one under the bridge. After spending three sleepless days on the design, he learns the other members of the community banded together to make their own theme park…Arakawa-style. With the Kappa Chief dressed up in a creepy fursuit, Recruit and the children take a ride on a merry-go-round with real animals, a 3-D extravaganza that is so “3-D” that real bullets fly towards them, and a roller-coaster that is actually an iron maiden. But the kids are none-the-wiser, and end up having a fine day.

My Thoughts: It certainly seemed like the show reached its climax and came to a conclusion on the previous episode…and I was right. I wondered what sort of epilogue they would tack on for the final episode, and it turns out the finale is nothing more than…just another episode. This could have fit right in anywhere during the last half-dozen episodes, there was nothing special about it at all. Why introduce “new” characters at the very end? Why not some sappy ending between Nino and Recruit? Well, because Arakawa Under the Bridge has been picked up for another season, so this serves not so much as a conclusion as a bridge for the *next* story arc, hinted at by a very brief, unexplained bit with all-new characters inspecting what appears to be a rocked, presumably hidden away under the bridge. Hmmm.

The Verdict:

SERIES FINAL GRADE: B+

Never “great”, but certainly the most consistent show of the entire season. A show based on a bunch of wacky gag strips is a very iffy thing — one over-the-top joke after another can get pretty tiring fast, but Arakawa Under the Bridge managed to pull it off. Mainly, because it did not rely on *just* the jokes, but had an actual plot, character development (well, for Kou/Recruit anyway) and progression. Recruit works his best change everyone along the banks of the Arakawa River and show them “common sense”, but ends up being the one changed himself without even realizing it.

So, is it worth watching? Sure, but don’t expect to have your socks knocked off. And what about the upcoming second season, will it be worth watching? Well, I kinda wonder where the show can go from here, other than another string of jokes ripped from the manga. Then again, I wondered the exact same thing at the beginning of the first season as well, and look how that turned out. I suppose it would be an opportunity to delve into Nino’s enigmatic past, which remains as much a mystery now as it was thirteen episodes ago.

Up Next: Ookami-san, Highschool of the Dead, Mitsudomoe, Occult Academy, Black Butler II

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