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Arakawa Under the Bridge – 02 »

Arakawa Under the Bridge – 01


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.


April 5, 2010 at 1:22 am
  • April 5, 2010 at 1:44 amRei

    Ohhhhhhhhhhhhmygod the Kappa freaks me out so much D8 I’ll watch this for Nino :D and doubt this can ever beat Bakemonogatari.

  • April 5, 2010 at 1:57 amDrl

    hahaha… Shaft is trolling us again… this is the same shit like bakemonogatari was :D

    • April 5, 2010 at 7:30 pmNobiscult

      Your comment is trolling everyone else.

  • April 5, 2010 at 2:16 amjanuarism

    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

  • April 5, 2010 at 2:17 amSecsuey

    I wanted to read this manga put never found it translated and now the anime is already here

  • April 5, 2010 at 2:39 amHagiri

    Kappa !!! Kappaaaaaaaaa !!!

  • April 5, 2010 at 3:36 amfrubam

    The color tones of this first ep looks AMAZING! I’m gonna have to check it out now \(^,^)

  • April 5, 2010 at 4:26 amjoshua

    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.

  • April 5, 2010 at 5:59 amLe

    Omg What is the meaning of that last picture in the preview.. D:

    • April 5, 2010 at 11:54 amdivine

      It’s a kappa, live-action style! The promotion video had the same thing.

  • April 5, 2010 at 6:04 amSteve

    Hey Guys,
    I’ve made an unofficial fb page kinda thing for the blog, please join and become a fan.

    • April 5, 2010 at 10:20 amdivine

      Steve, I understand your enthusiasm, but please stop posting this in every post. As you’ve probably already noticed, I’ve been removing them.

    • April 5, 2010 at 11:04 amStinger

      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.

      • April 5, 2010 at 11:42 pmSteve

        My enthusiasm has gotten carried away. I did not realize that I would be such a bother.
        My apologies

  • April 5, 2010 at 7:14 amHm

    seems like it has a decent animation quality

  • April 5, 2010 at 7:21 amjellayrei

    lol that kappa loos so wierd, cant get over it =.=
    thanks and keep up the hard work divine!

  • April 5, 2010 at 8:35 amStinger

    Two words. Your Awesome!

  • April 5, 2010 at 10:50 amJD

    Seems to use a very similar art style to Bakemonogatari, looking forward to seeing this a lot.

  • April 5, 2010 at 11:09 amdkp

    Troll Shaft’s a troll…

  • April 5, 2010 at 11:47 amShadoWanderer

    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.

  • April 5, 2010 at 12:14 pmgnomtastic

    It looks interesting i like the weird stuff no translations are up yet jesus and his eggs… but i will watch this anime for sure.

  • April 5, 2010 at 12:26 pmblinx01

    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. :-P

    • April 5, 2010 at 1:39 pmdivine

      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.

  • April 5, 2010 at 12:48 pmxHoneythief

    I was thinking about watching this because I adore SHAFT and… Maaya Sakamoto. I am now for sure going to be watching this because… it looks weird. KAPPA.

  • April 5, 2010 at 1:30 pmLeticia

    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! ^.^

    • April 5, 2010 at 2:27 pmRFayt

      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 !

  • April 5, 2010 at 4:01 pmsaiko

    Gonna do this up TONIGHT.

  • April 5, 2010 at 4:19 pmDragonite88

    Was looking forward to this and I missed it lol. I have to watch it now that you blogged it.

  • April 5, 2010 at 4:23 pmkyosei

    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.

  • April 5, 2010 at 4:49 pmdeco

    Great show, love the humor on it, seems bakemonogatari 2 D:

  • April 5, 2010 at 4:54 pmwahahaha

    It had a rumor .The REAL Kappa was played by Evangelion Producer……

  • April 5, 2010 at 5:06 pmJay

    damn divine, you’re such a badass. look at all of these reviews.

  • April 5, 2010 at 5:06 pminfinite

    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.

  • April 5, 2010 at 5:09 pmK.L.

    sweet three toed sloth of ice planet hoth! sakamoto maaya, alright i love her voice

    well divine, continue on and if i may say you are one hell of a trooper

  • April 5, 2010 at 5:10 pminfinite

    And PS keep up with these blogs I enjoy reading reviews I agree with.

  • April 5, 2010 at 6:10 pmKalliente

    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.

  • April 5, 2010 at 7:09 pmcutemi2

    remembering Niea_7 anyway

  • April 5, 2010 at 7:12 pmgrOOvy


  • April 5, 2010 at 7:17 pmSplash

    I wonder if she really will end up being from Venus? I guess almost anything is possible in this series.

  • April 5, 2010 at 7:20 pmPanda

    Just watched this and Keiji Fujiwara as the Kappa is instant win and yay Sakamoto Maaya and Kamiya Hiroshi!
    Awesome work divine!

  • April 5, 2010 at 10:40 pmAzar

    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.

  • April 6, 2010 at 12:03 ammeowed

    This is hilarious xD

  • April 6, 2010 at 1:01 amtenchu1990

    Shit This really freaking funny! hahaha

  • April 6, 2010 at 1:03 amJoojoobees

    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.

  • April 6, 2010 at 6:47 amamado

    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.

  • April 6, 2010 at 7:14 amWingZeroZXT

    looking forward to it!!

  • April 6, 2010 at 9:07 amSchmell

    SHAFT == weirdness

    So funny, but i completely dont get it

  • April 6, 2010 at 9:30 amkarnos

    it may just be me but i think the funniest part of this epi was how nino got her name.

  • April 6, 2010 at 9:58 amRuu

    I’m expecting at some point that the Kappa sports a “Yaranaika” face

  • April 6, 2010 at 7:09 pmTeekuh

    Ahhhh loooved the first episode. So weird yet funny. <3 Kappa

  • April 6, 2010 at 8:44 pmCyuu

    love this!
    totally original, funny, unpredictable and KAPPA!

    naivety/randomness/calmness/mix some Natsu no Arashi in there…Obviously bakemonogatari/
    not the typical female character XD

    must read the MANGA

  • April 7, 2010 at 1:25 amAuroraFlame

    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.

  • April 7, 2010 at 2:22 amsherry

    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? ^^;;).

  • April 7, 2010 at 4:12 amIlia

    “I wouldn’t judge someone by the color of their skin ”
    *Kappa appears*
    I couldn’t help but laughing out so hard.XD

  • April 7, 2010 at 11:36 amJon

    The part Kon father becomes baby just ridiculously hilarious, LOL

  • April 7, 2010 at 10:55 pmc2710

    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

  • April 12, 2010 at 7:33 pmehron

    I liked the Phoenix Wright shout out by Ko.

  • April 12, 2010 at 8:00 pmShiz

    Loving this. Turns out there are actually a few series that I might enjoy this series. (note: Im a big shaft fan after bakemono)

    • April 12, 2010 at 8:01 pmShiz

      Sorry, was meant to say “… I might enjoy this season”