In the dry riverbed of Arakawa River, undefeated elite Ichinomiya Kou (aka Ric) met the lovely homeless girl Nino, a self-declared Venusian. Their awkward love stirs up trouble among the other strange inhabitants of the riverbed.
"Random", "Over-the-top", "Weird", and "Hilarious" might be some of the descriptions one might come across when reading about the Arakawa Under the Bridge franchise. With the plot's groundwork having been laid out in the first season, Bridge x Bridge showcases more of its eclectic cast's daily life and misadventures with a little character development every now and then, if one pays attention. As Bridge x Bridge is the second season of the original Arakawa Under the Bridge, viewing of the first season is required for full enjoyment. That said, Bridge x Bridge will satisfy most fans of the first season with its ever quirky characters
and humorous hijinks.
Story (no spoilers):
Aforementioned, the story starts off where the first season left off in the banks of the river Arakawa. Bridge x Bridge seeks to develop character relationships whereas the previous season developed the background for the show. One strong point about Bridge x Bridge is that it is very consistent in its quality of humor and episodic storytelling. The bulk of the comedy revolves around the cast's interactions in their daily lives, their penchant for randomness, and Kou's reaction to everything around him from a normal man's point of view (in other words, it's the same as the previous season's type of humor). This approach might be hit-or-miss, depending on how much the viewers will take a liking to the characters, but it will still end up bringing some laugh out loud moments at least every now and then for most.
Oh, where to begin. The personalities of Arakawa are what makes the show truly enjoyable. Each character has a unique and silly personality to his/herself that tends to create hilarious moments when combined. Bridge x Bridge gives more screentime to characters neglected previous season, including Billy, an ex-gangster, Jacqueline, his love interest, and Amazoness, a bulky woman with a personality of a schoolgirl. The show's main focus is comedy, so unfortunately, character development is pushed to the side apart from a few moments of the characters' pasts being revealed (especially Nino's). This is rather disappointing since the show offers so many mysteries and questions about its characters, yet answering very few. In this respect, Bridge x Bridge unfortunately brings less satisfaction in the previous season which delved in detail about Kou's history. Nonetheless, the characters are still a joy to watch.
Art and Animation:
The animation in Bridge x Bridge is a typical SHAFT affair: usually passable with some moments of brilliance and occasionally being surreal. Notably absent from this season is the stock "Kou blink" animation used so often in last season, giving more time for actually animated scenes - always a nice thing. As for the art, Bridge x Bridge features a colorful style that will probably have no problem hooking your attention when you see it. Character designs are also quite nice on the eyes; every single character is visually distinctive from one another and their odd designs match their personality perfectly.
The OP "COSMOS vs. ALIENS" is a strange (but very charming) little song that might take some getting used to, while the ED "Akai Coat" is a nice indie rock tune. Both do a fine job of setting the mood for the show. Voice acting in this series is very well done: Kamiya Hiroshi's stern straight man voice for Kou Ichinomiya, Maaya Sakamoto's soft voice for Nino, Miyuki Sawashiro's sweet but haunting performance for Maria all gets top scores. As for the soundtrack, the music does well to match the mood of moment, which is usually quirky and sometimes over-the-top, but also with relaxing atmospheres that pop up every now and then (and the cold opening for every episode). Overall, SHAFT did a very nice job in the sound department.
Despite the main plot progressing very slowly, a unique story with unique characters and even stranger presentation (as per SHAFT) are several reasons why Bridge x Bridge kept me excited every week to see a new episode. If you've enjoyed the first season, the second season is highly recommended as well. I'd recommend the entire Arakawa Under the Bridge series to anyone looking for an original, funny anime that isn't afraid to stand apart from the conventions of typical anime characters.
(Helpful or Not Helpful, feedback on this review is very welcome)
Where to start? Slight character development spoilers ahead.
Arakawa Under the Bridge x Bridge focuses more of the interactions between Riku/Kou and Nino than the underlying social commentary that the first season reflected in a community of people whom in most cases would be shunned by others. But who despite their superficial eccentricities are still more or less normal human beings inside, with all the flaws and strengths that encompasses, who find a home together in the middle of, yet separated from the judgmental eyes of society.
In some ways Riku/Kou is the most bizzare among them. But despite his constant attempts to separate himself from the
group and establish himself as the only normal human being among them he eventually reaches a sort of acceptance of the situation, not out of necessity, but from honestly looking past the superficial attributes to the persons underneath the facade and finds people who aren't controlled by his father's egocentric, conceited outlook on life, and through that learns to see the fundamental flaw in his own reasoning.
That in his constant attempts to imitate his father he has completely accepted his father's twisted world view and morality as his own, without ever questioning whether or not it is right. Neither objectively nor subjectively.
Arakawa Under the Bridge x Bridge, and prequiel, take the viewer on a journey, where we get to follow a deeply incomplete and arrogant man through a world that constantly challenges all of his convictions, most fundamental principles and ideology, in a battle against his own prejudice and maladaption.
A journey in which he learns the meaning of true happiness; trust; family; and love.
Unoriginal, Safe and linear compared to the first season are all true when talking about Arakawa Under The Bridge x Bridge. But WAIT! Before you instantly disregard this sequel you MUST know that in many ways Arakawa Under the Bridge x Bridge is better that it's predecessor and if you loved the first season, than I guarantee you that you will definitely love this season. You may be treading some familiar ground, but hey, who said that more of the same is a bad thing? Welcome back to the crazy, yet humbling place that is, Arakawa Under the Bridge!
(+) For starters, this is indeed
a straight up sequel to the original, Arakawa Under the Bridge. This means that if you haven't seen that yet than I urge you to go back and watch that first before coming here; since there will be plenty of references to it's original that might strike you as odd rather than hilarious. For those who of you that have seen it, the story's no different: a story about the daily lives of all the people under the Arakawa Bridge doing more wacky endeavors, with a few new added characters to rattle up the bunch! What makes the story different however is that this series wanted to focus more on the relationship aspect between Ko and Nino since you didn't get a lot of that in the last season. Because of this, there is a more centered and focused story line between the two. This can make for some nice emotional scenes, and great Character development centered around our main lovers. It was very heartwarming when you can see the two characters grow because of each other. Furthermore, we definitely can't forget about the comedy. As a matter of fact, I would go as far as to say that there was even MORE over the top comedy present here than the first season. Since Ko is now use to life under the bridge, he gets involved in even more crazy events which can honestly make some of the most hilarious scenes throughout the show. Another nice feature was to include comedic references to pop culture. Even though some might be unfamiliar, the way they handled it was comedy gold. GO KAMEARI!
(-) As previously mentioned, this show can outright be unoriginal, safe, and linear and sadly most of these faults come from the story. as I stated, the creators of this show decided to go for a more linear over-arcing plot featuring our main characters. This turns the show from a show about acceptance into a more romance based series. Although it may be a nice addition to some, it loses the charm that it's predecessor had. I found the series had less hidden morals that people can really understand and relate with, and instead I found a show ONLY about the two characters. Another thing I should note was that this show remained constant throughout the series. There wasn't any situations where I truly felt any emotion for the characters, since all sub plot lines were able to conclude by the end of the episode. Therefore, I enjoyed the episodes as a whole, but wasn't urging to watch the next one like it's first season was so masterfully able to do. Another thing I should mention is the ending itself. Even though the ending finished on a nice and subtle note, by the end of the series there are still so many questions left unanswered and the big thing that has been leading up to the conclusion just never got fulfilled, making the closing as a whole anticlimactic. For a series that's not known for it's story, it's really saddening when they do try to include a solid plot but then don't faithfully end it the way it's led to be.
(+) Once again Shaft was able to re-create the whole surrounding of silliness perfectly through its art. Everything you loved about the art is still there, right down to the colorful opening theme to the live action segments at the end (Now even more present!).
(-) Since everything is the same in terms of art, you don't see any upgrade or further development because of it. The character designs still look the same and the Arakawa Bridge is definitely the same one you saw the last time. No extra detail was added and if you're not a fan of the silly art style then this is no different.
(+) Continuing from the first season, all the sound effects are carried on here, and are ever so present now. Another worthy thing I should note is the opening, "COSOMOS VS ALIEN" and the ending, "Akai Coat." Keeping it in the same tradition of the first season, the opening theme acts to show the whole over the top vibe that Bridge X Bridge has, while the ending theme gives the slow and emotionally serious tone that this sequel may drop on you time to time (Go Suneohair!). Oh and once again, Losers Wail makes it comedic return and might even make you chant it time to time! "Himo Hi-"
(+) The quirky comedic characters of the Arakawa Bridge are back and better than ever! Everything you loved (or hated) about the character are present and are once again reprising they're loved (or hated) roles. But now they're even more over the top! Since they are doing more extreme miscellaneous things, I would say that all the characters are even more energetic and crazy than they once were! Whether it's trying to bunk together for a week or all going on a diet to lose wait, the interactions between each character are still ever so comedically funny and can make up for some serious laughs. Second, the series even added more characters to this larger than life cast. An Amazoness and battle star defender (who's not really a space defender) are introduced and even though they have the least screen time, they still left an impression on me and I was laughing every minute they were on screen.
(-) I think this is the one time I would probably say that Character Development would be a negative. Since as mentioned before, the series went for a more solid story line focusing on Nino and Ko. But that's really most of all we get. Sure they get TONS of character development, but in return most of the side characters lose screen time. You might get a little development from a few side characters, but most of the time, they're hardly the center of attention. In some ways this is a bit of a wasted opportunity since all these characters are interesting in their own rights and each deserved the attention. There was even more hints to future character development that ended up never getting it, particularly to The Amazoness. Stella is probably one of my favorite characters in the show, and her personality hardly ever shines off throughout the show!
When I look back on Arakawa Under the Bridge, I remember the first season for it's charm and the second for its comedy. Dropping such relatable themes and forgetting some of the side characters really puts this season a step back from it's original. It's also more of the same so if you seen the first season and you absolutely hated it, than this is not the right place to change your mind. Still, the enjoyment I had for this season is IMMENSE and was easily worth the time I spent with such amusing personalities. So, with one recommendation and one question I ask you, Will you come to Venus?
This review will focus on pretty much both series since they ran in the same year.
Young business man, a future CEO of big conglomerate, falls from a bridge and is saved by mysterious blonde girl Nino. His family’s motto is never be in debt to anyone. And as Nino saves his life, he becomes indebt to her. Trying to make up for it he asks her to wish for anything. And she wishes for love. Thus begins his crazy life under the bridge, amongst group of crazy people, where he may be the craziest.
If I had to sum up Arakawa it would be
“poor man’s Gintama with romance”. Lots of different gag scenes, lots of references, lots of character gimmicks. Some of them good, some of them great, some annoying. This anime WILL make you laugh, but it can become boring at times.
Akiyuki Shinbou’s directing for me personally is hit or miss. Some of his techniques and styles are cool and interesting and some feel forced (earlier in the series, the eye shot got REALLY overused).
I would probably end up giving the series 6/10 if not for its production; which is great. We have A+ voice actors (with my beloved Maaya Sakamoto as Nino) who all do excellent job. Openings and Endings are very enjoyable and mash really well with the tone of the series (first opening is by far my favourite in terms of both visual structure and music itself). When it comes to animation, Shinbou as always uses his specific style and mixes in lots of different stuff to achieve pretty impressive looking show (backgrounds are beautiful).
This anime is very enjoyable for what it is when it works, and watchable when it doesn’t.