A young "elite" man, Kou Ichinomiya, has a policy of not being in debt to anyone. However, a series of events lead to him owing his life to a strange girl who goes by the name Nino. She lives under the bridge of the Arakawa River, and says, to Kou's disbelief, that she's a native of the planet Venus, a Venusian. After the ordeal between the two, they become lovers. Kou adopts the name Recruit (Rec) and ends up living under the bridge with Nino and her group of even stranger friends.
Arakawa Under the Bridge was digitally published in English by Crunchyroll. Vertical Inc. has been physically releasing the series in omnibuses since November 21, 2017.
The manga was adapted into a Japanese live-action drama TV series directed by Ken Iizuka and Keinosuke Hara that aired on TBS and MBS from July 26 to September 27, 2011; and also into a Japanese live-action film directed by Ken Iizuka that was screened on February 4, 2012.
Arakawa Under the Bridge is a gag series that follows the wacky daily lives of an eccentric cast of characters who have sought refuge under a bridge to be free from societal pressures, burdens, norms, and expectations. Through oodles of riverside shenanigans, the enigmatic pasts of the colorful residents are slowly uncovered, an unusual romance gradually blossoms, and strange fantasies inexplicably become even stranger realities. The comical episodic stories, which compose the overwhelming majority of the work, rarely miss the mark; however, the overarching story rooted in romance and drama--although vital in providing depth to the series--may ultimately leave readers wanting more, as the series
haphazardly ends with far more questions than answers.
The primary focus of the series is comedy, and it consistently delivers on that front. The creator, Hikaru Nakamura, essentially develops each chapter as she would a joke. The stories/setups are relatively brief, spanning only a mere handful of pages, with the conclusions/punchlines coming at the end of chapters. Chapters are generally episodic in nature, making the manga incredibly easy for readers to pick up and put down at their own conveniences.
Whereas many similar gag comedies are content in prospering solely as laugh-fests, Arakawa Under the Bridge refuses to be a one-trick pony by also incorporating romance and drama in its overarching story. This change of pace is much appreciated, as it grants readers an intermission from the usual zaniness that is typically found from chapter to chapter. Unfortunately, even though the main story arc begins promisingly, it concludes quite abruptly and unsatisfactorily. Throughout four hundred chapters, readers are given small glimpses into the mysterious histories of the major players of the story, which predictably piques readers' interests and raises countless questions. However, these burning questions that are relevant to the main narrative never dwindle and instead only accumulate and fester, as they are never adequately answered until the end, or, in some cases, never answered at all. Consequently, in the last few concluding chapters of the series, readers who have been largely kept in the dark up to that point suddenly find themselves inundated with a flood of half-baked exposition that resolves only some, not all, mysteries.
Whether or not the main story unfolds as Nakamura had originally intended is unknown (i.e., the series may have ended sooner than she had planned for), but the work as a whole unquestionably suffers because of how it is. Still, despite that, Arakawa Under the Bridge may nonetheless be worth readers' time. After all, it should not be forgotten that Arakawa Under the Bridge is first and foremost a work of comedy, so readers who are simply satisfied with strong humor, which the manga has in spades, may find the experience to be completely worthwhile. Of course, those who require a deeper, well-constructed narrative may want to approach the series with caution or even pass on it entirely.
As an aside, readers who wish to start the manga may find greater overall enjoyment by first completing the anime adaptation. Based on Nakamura's end-of-volume notes in the manga, she was highly involved in the process and seemed to be extremely happy with the final product. The voice acting, in particular, is exceptional, and for me, those same voices carried over into the manga as I was reading it, which gave it an unintended--but very welcome--additional dimension.
Having read the entire manga and watched the anime, I am so glad I chose to read and see both on a whim, a manner very like this work. That is not to say that I don't recommend it, quite the opposite. In fact, this is perhaps my favorite comedy based manga out there because it's so "out there." Arakawa Under the Bridge to me is like Monty Python's Flying Circus with its random, absurdist humor.
But I believe it's so much more, it shows the fragility of how humans act in accordance with one another and how love and friendship can heal all wounds.
I know it sounds cheesy putting it those terms, but it's true. The characters are all zany in their own way and they are brilliantly written and interwoven as foils for each other. The art isn't the best, but it suits the style of the characters written. I truly don't know if this manga is for everyone, but I sure know that I was laughing out loud for minutes on end in many scenes.
I really don't want to give anything away, but just to serve as a recommendation that this manga won't disappoint as the chapters are short and the arcs are funny as they are inane in concept. It's not all humor based but the romance is tame, cute, and heartwarming with a fulfilling ending. So if you have some time, this manga will go quickly and leave you laughing and hoping for more!
[Review written for lazy people like myself who can't be bothered reading long ones]
Arakawa Under The Bridge is possibly the only gag manga I can actually stand. Instead of just seeming stupid and pointless, I actually find it funny and smart.
Each chapter is short and ends quirkly with a joke, so if you only have time for around 5 pages you'll still get enjoyment out of it.
The characters are extremly likeable, each one has a story behind them. If you are a fan of the anime you will really appreciate seeing more of their back stories like I did. Even though this is a
gag manga my throat has swelled up more than once during reading.
The art isn't as good as many other manga artists, but I think the style suits the story. The managaka is also very likeable, all her commentaries and extras amuse me.
Overall, this is an amazing manga and if you're consdering reading it; DO IT.
What do you get when you put an overly competent individual together with an alien, a kappa, a star (no pun intended), a nun, a critic, a klutz, and all sorts of mental ward escapees (eccentrics) under the bridge?
a.) You get a nonsensical /slash/ somewhat enlightening escapade.
b.) You get a manga abbreviated as AUTB to read later.
c.) You get to profit.
d.) You get nothing whatsoever.
If your answer is A; keep it up, you’re reading from right-to-left just fine.
If your answer is B; OMG! What have you been reading all this time?
If its C; you must be Hikaru Nakamura. Sign (here) please.
If its D;
not even a giggle? Keep reading below.
When Hikaru Nakamura first conceived the characters she would later on use for the series we now know as AUTB, the story was very much a mystery to everybody; the mangaka—herself—included. In a sense, even it would be an understatement to say that this series is so random it is just laughable. There’s probably no greater praise one could say about a gag manga which primary intent is to amuse its readers and evoke laughter; if only this series was just any typical, mindless fun kind of manga. And apparently so for this slice of life, gag series involving nutcases, every bit of random senselessness actually makes perfect sense.
Regarding its genre, the situational jokes may be decent, clichéd variations, at best. It may or may not make you laugh at times. But that is not to say humor isn’t the strong suit of the series, of course. Anyhow, human-connection is the central theme that bridges the gap between comicality and sincerity; the linchpin which makes this s-o-l, gag-oriented series work wonders. Take the first [i]romantic[/i] encounter between the two main characters for instance; how absurdly realistic they’re depicted, such as two strangers becoming lovers without so much as a proper introduction. It’s all too familiar it’s ridiculous. Sure, it never happens in actuality—not with the ultimate soteriophobe and his abalienated savior—but sure it does; rushing into a relationship for all the wrong, selfish reasons. Oh, the hilarity! You don’t even begin to imagine the gravity—how serious it truly was: way more than it seemed.
Speaking of romance, don’t confuse it as part of some running joke. It may seem that way at first, but considering it rooted from the obligatory act of repaying a life-worth debt, it was, in fact, implanted that way to grow (perhaps even last a lifetime). And that’s the gist of it.
In hindsight, whoever really knew or even knows what love is!? When two very desperate individual came knocking at each other’s doors, subconsciously seeking it; not knowing precisely what they were looking for, all there ever was for them to find were each other. And while I wouldn’t be so preposterous as to say they’ve already found what they’ve been looking for all along, they definitely gained something invaluable.
At any rate, before jumping to conclusions concerning the plot or lack thereof—this is the part where the protagonist casually shows up, meets the heroine, and sets everything into motion. Call it plot device, serendipity, or whatever. He became the one constant (joke that is) in this series that’s ever so full of (characters with mental) inconsistencies. Quite satirical, if not clever to say the least, that he turned into a walking contradiction the same moment the rest has remained true to those irregularities—from the get-go. With that said, the real question really shouldn’t be about whether or not AUTB have a static or progressive plot; rather whether everyone is actually who they seem to be—insane, delusional whacks—or not. Who or what, so to speak, really is crazy?
At the end of the day however, it all comes down to two storylines which have been entwined yet, time and again, still unravels. The first half being Kou Ichinomiya’s side of the story as it tells about his new found life under the bridge as the resident voice of reason—Recruit, aka Riku(ruuto) for short. Meeting all sorts of lunatics all the while being pulled-in and constantly subjected to everyone’s compulsions; his world turned upside down—realizing that there’s more to life than adhering to the norms and expectations of others, and ultimately coming to terms with his past.
The focus then shifts to the other, better half—the resident Venusian and Riku’s savior-turned-lover, Nino-san. To say Nino is a mystery is an understatement. She’s weird, she’s nuts, and she knows astronomy like the back of her hand. She has the uncanny ability to read people’s signals or any other for that matter. She can remain underwater for extended periods of time without any oxygen tanks. What is she?
To clarify, nobody is doing a terrible impersonation of "The Riddler" here. I’m posing a more than valid enough question to sum up this write up for the time being. There’s actually more to that question where it came from, but that will have to do for now, so as not to spoil much of anything for anyone.