Honestly, I tried watching Arakawa Under the Bridge when I was in high school and I did not like it. However, for some odd reason, I went back to this anime about a year ago and my tastes must have changed drastically. Around that time I started getting more into Shaft works which, for anyone who is a fan, knows to expect some crazy art and less than conventional stories. Arakawa Under the Bridge is just that with a heavy emphasis on comedy.
Our story begins with a young businessman getting jumped by a bunch of rowdy kids. The kids steal his pants and the man must try to retrieve them from on top of a bridge. Unfortunately, the man refuses the help of a young lady that is fishing on the bridge and he falls into the river. The young lady saves his life and the man, who lives by the philosophy to not rely on others, demands that he pay her back. The Young lady finds this odd, but does have a request. She wants a lover and the man decides to move in with her. The only problem is that the young lady lives under the bridge. All of that just sounded really crazy. The young businessman is Kou and the young lady is Nino. Although this is crazy, Kou cannot leave himself indebted to anyone and must live under the bridge. Oddly enough, the bridge holds a makeshift community that is run on a system where everyone provides for the group which is very different from the world of capitalism of which Kou is versed. Each of the residents seems to be insane in Kou’s mind and honestly I would have to agree with him because Nino claims to be an alien from Venus. The story revolves around Kou adjusting to life amongst crazy homeless people and, although coherent as a story with good plot progression and character development, is told through a style that is similar to sketch comedy.
Kou is a young businessman that lives by the philosophy to not rely on others. Kou is pretty arrogant and believes that the way of life that Nino and the other bridge residents have chosen is just crazy. However, we do get to see Kou come back down to Earth as the story progresses due to the influence of Nino and even decides to become a teacher for the community in an attempt to instill his version of common sense in the children. Nino on the other hand is a very free spirit that claims to be an alien from Venus. Nino is very popular amongst the bridge residents which is bad news for Kou who out of nowhere started dating Nino. She also provides fish for the village. The village chief is a man who claims to be a kappa, but he is obviously just wearing a costume. Chief decides who gets to stay with the community and gives everyone their new names once they join. Kou receives the name Recruit from chief, but being crazy may only be the tip of the iceberg for this individual with an oddly interesting alternate life. Hoshi is a musician that claims to have an actual star for a head even though you can tell it is a fake. Hoshi has a crush on Nino and has become somewhat of a rival for Recruit even though Nino only seems interested in being with Recruit romantically speaking. Sister runs the church and makes cookies for the residents. Sister claims to be a nun, but is obviously a large man who was once a member of military special forces. Although outwardly insane, Sister actually is one of Recruit’s biggest supporters amongst the residents of the bridge. Maria runs the farm and appears to be your normal farm girl. However, what makes her a fan favorite is the fact that Maria is actually very sadistic and likes to demean the men out the bridge. Maria gives us a much-needed aggressive female character which I believe can spice up any anime. There are quite a few more recurring characters that all are for the most part crazy and do something to provide a service to the village.
Arakawa Under the Bridge is fucking crazy. You get a bunch of sketch comedy featuring obviously crazy people who are constantly giving the only supposedly normal person a fit. However, the comedy is hilarious and we are actually given quite a nice story along the way. We see an emotional journey for Kou where he leaves the business world for the first time in his life to enjoy some of the simpler aspects of life. A lot of us could use a break from this fast paced world and there in lies the connection to the viewers. The question of what is truly normal and what is not is interesting and is a question that is asked everyday by people who follow different walks of life. Also, the interesting part is that one of these residents may actually be what they say they are.
Go watch Arakawa Under the Bridge if you want some good laughs. I was very surprised with how much I enjoyed the insane comedy, but you may need to give it a few episodes before you can really get into it. I liked it and if you do too, there is a season two that you can watch as well. NIS America has rights to the DVD’s and you can pick those up from their website. I would say that Arakawa Under the Bridge is definitely worth the money and buying a series is one of the only ways we can guarantee that people will keep making good series.