The one series I was worried about due to SHAFT studio and director Shinbou Akiyuki‘s involvement turned out much better than I expected in its premiere episode. Naturally I had my expectations somewhat low coming in, but the most immediate surprise was the quality of the animation. It’s not top-notch by any means, but for SHAFT, it’s miles ahead what they’ve been churning out as of late. I found the blue skies and sunset backdrops particularly nice and like how the characters blended smoothly into them. As for the characters themselves, I have to say that I absolutely love Nino, in terms of both her character design and her personality with Sakamoto Maaya‘s voice behind it. Placing her in front of those backdrops made me second guess myself on whether or not this is really the same SHAFT from seasons prior. I’m skeptical on whether they’ll be able to keep it up, but for a premiere episode, it was pretty up to snuff and subsided my first concern.

My other concern revolving around director Shinbou Akiyuki and his very unorthodox style is usually in regards to the split-second walls of text he likes to use. Well much to my pleasant surprise, they were completely nonexistent here, and instead became well-transitioned scenes with text that stayed on screen for several seconds. I have no idea if he’ll go back to his usual style on, but for a first showing, I’m pretty relieved. I say “relieved” here because I like what I read of the Arakawa Under the Bridge manga and the gag comedy it entailed, and really want to see that transition well into an anime adaptation. With Kamiya Hiroshi starring as Ichinomiya Kou here, I subconsciously drew parallels to the ever-so-popular Bakemonogatari. Quite frankly, I enjoyed Bakemonogatari, but there were various stylistic touches I could have done without. Also, it had what I considered pretty sub-par animation quality for something so popular and is ultimately why I considered it a series that “Exceeded Expectations” in the Best of Anime 2009 post rather than a “Favorite of the Year”.

In regards to Arakawa, the series is starting out a lot more like how I hoped Bakemonogatari would have in terms of style, quality, and direction. In the last case, Shinbou has decided to follow the manga exclusively here, which as you can probably imagine, is music to my ears. However, he has gone out of his way to break the story down into various sub-chapters, with this first episode being comprised of nine mini episodes. That’s how it is on paper anyway, but in practice these sub-divisions haven’t really taken anything away from the story’s continuity thus far, so I kind of question why they’re even needed. In any case, we have one story so far and it involves Ichinomiya Kou who is on top of the business world and whose family motto is to never be in debt to anyone for anything. That mentality has been so ridiculously ingrained into his entire family at very young age that the mere thought of owing someone something gives them asthmatic panic attacks.

One day, while trying to retrieve his pants that some kids played a prank on him with, he falls into Arakawa River and is saved by a homeless girl named Nino living below. In addition to landing the biggest debt possible, Kou soon finds out that she’s a “denpa-kei” (person who likes to make believe) who considers herself a Venusian (i.e. of the planet Venus). His attempt to repay her by buying her a house fails due to her denpa-kei nature, but he insists on letting him repay her somehow, so Nino simply asks him to love her. Thus begins Kou’s life under the bridge with her and all the random gag comedy to go with it, starting with the village chief (Fujiwara Keiji) — a man clearly in a suit yet claims to be a real kappa. The comedy picks up from then on since Kou thinks these people are absolutely crazy, but goes along with everything because of his debt to Nino. In fact, it’s probably more correct to say that he can’t go against anything or he’ll have a panic attack and die.

That’s the gist of what happened so far anyway, and I really enjoyed it all because it followed the manga and wasn’t plagued by the “Shinbou SHAFT” (…as I like to call it). I’m hoping this will keep up and turn out more like Maria Holic, which I felt was one of the better Shinbou x SHAFT series to date. Sakamoto Maaya is a huge reason on why I want to follow this and with Nino’s somewhat distant personality, it should be a lot of fun. If you’re into gag comedies as well, I strongly recommend checking out this first episode. I can’t say anything about how it’ll turn out, but at least it got out the door on the right foot.

Note: There were no opening and ending sequences included in this episode.



  1. You’re covering all the season premieres I was curious about. I was quite worried about the whole Shinbou/SHAFT thing for this series but I’ll give it a try after reading your take on it. Thanks you very much for keeping randomc running for now. <3

  2. The screen shots of this leave me feeling pretty seriously confused… graphics wise it looks good though so I’ll at least give it a shot… Thanks doing write ups on so many new shows Divine.

    1. Please stop. Divine is doing the best he can to make everyone happy on this website. You should be happy that some one like Divine is actually blogging on the website, so be thankful please and stop bothering him.

  3. Haha, I watched this show mainly because of Maaya Sakamoto too!

    Is it me or all Kamiya Hiroshi’s shaft roles are pretty much the same? ’cause i see many similar characteristics with Itoshiki-sensei, Araragi and Ichinomiya. Ichinomiya even did the zetsubou-shita scene, but without the words in this ep.

  4. Why on earth would people be put off by the words ‘SHAFT’ and ‘Shinbou Akiyuki’?
    If anything, they are one of the best animation studios of late along with the best director.
    And with them you know you’re going to get something different and unique compared to your usual generic crap.
    Okay, yeah, SHAFT don’t have the work force other studios do and sometimes have to delay stuff or put out in-complete episodes, but that’s what DVD’s and Blu-rays are for.
    Don’t go knocking a studio/director/show based on a TV airing. Judge the final product. 😛

    1. To be fair, I’m basing my judgment on their work as of late. There’s no argument that Shinbou’s work is unique and he creates some pretty original adaptations, but it’s hard to deny that his direction is somewhat questionable at times (i.e. a little too over-the-top). In SHAFT’s case, their quality tends to waver a lot, so I’m just worried about consistency here.

      Also, I personally feel that a TV airing is a “final product” from a broadcast standpoint, as you wouldn’t expect your viewers to buy DVD/BDs by showing them incomplete scenes first. If anything, you remove censoring (if any) and add additional scenes in DVD/BD releases. It’s pretty unusual for a studio to completely re-do the animation in a lot of episodes like SHAFT did with Bakemonogatari, which seemed to indicate that they themselves weren’t happy with what they put out originally.

  5. This series looks hilarious, the main girl is gorgeous and seems kind of interesting, and Kamiya Hiroshi is the voice of the protagonist, so what else can I ask for? Definitely watching it.

    P.S. Thanks for the hard work! Keep it up! ^.^

    1. Kamiya Hiroshi is indeed awesome…. but in my case, it doesnt work out when each anime you watch has him in it >_<

      Anyways, this is great ~
      I just went and read parts of the manga, doesnt seem to have me laughing as much as the anime, so ill stick with the anime i guess..

      ITS GREEN !

  6. Ah Maaya Sakamoto. I’m such a whore for her voice. This already pretty much guarantees that I’m going to be following this series. The fact that it looks nice and hilarious is a big plus.

  7. This episode was better then I thought coming in to it. Its not a bad thing, but you can tell this show is like Bakemonogatari little sister, from the dialouge and the character designs, even some of the comedy. So I liked the first episode. I just hope it can find its own identity and not become Bakemonogatari retarded twin sister.

  8. This is another great whacky show. I kept expecting one or more of the Zetsubo Sensei girls to show up with a puzzled look. Since I dearly love SZS this show looks to be a perfect fit.
    BTW, thanks again for keeping RC far more alive than any of us had a right to expect.

  9. Ok here is something i don’t get. Why didn’t the guy just ask the girl to come with him to his house, rather then live under the bridge with her. There was no mention that they had to live under the bridge in the first place.

  10. I really enjoyed the first episode. I’ll admit that I enjoyed Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei, which probably means many folks will dismiss my opinion on Shinbo/Shaft. Arakawa, however (at least so far) has made good use of the experimental style that Shinbo used in earlier shows. Regarding Hiroshi Kamiya, I think he was used effectively here as well; especially by being paired with Maaya Sakamoto. Kou’s yelling and rambling is really set off by Nino’s restraint; one of my favorite lines was Nino’s non-plussed “Good luck,” as Kou falls off the bridge.

  11. the kappa part was so funny.
    kou-“it must be very lonely for him”
    then notices the zipper……

    and divine try not to overexert yourself since it looks like your covering both your “guarantied” and “good” shows.

  12. I enjoyed this episode for the most part, but I’m wondering how long they can keep it up. For something like FLCL, it was easy to watch because it was more like a two hour film. I’m wondering how far extremely eccentric humor can go; I, personally, might not last for the whole 12 episodes if their isn’t at least some shred of plot, though I’m a big fan of SHAFT.

  13. It was…..weird ^^;;
    I’m the type who tries out everything so I will keep watching for a few more episodes, but I hope the eccentricity will actually makes some sens (is that even possible? ^^;;).

  14. downright hilarious. this’s definately on my watch list and aside from that, i find shaft’s productions to be unique from your usual anime (despite the fact that the company that produced baka to test tried to imitate shaft) though 1st 3 ep of dance in the vampire bund seemed like a train wreck (subsequently dropped it). i’m still waiting for bake 15


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