Comedy is a tough aspect to grade, since it is largely subjective in nature. Just because I find Kramer and Jerry arguing about the trajectory of someones spit on Seinfeld hilarious, doesn't mean others will. Likewise, just because someone else finds a guy walking into a woman's bath by incident and getting knocked into the stratosphere for it amusing, certainly doesn't mean I do.
But, and I think most other people will agree, some of the best comedy is stuff that actually has an underlying message to it. When humor can actively facilitate an overall message that the work in question has, then it all works on multiple fronts. And, well, this is something that Arakawa Under The Bridge does well.
Arakawa starts with the protagonist, Ichinomiya Kou, standing on a bridge completely pants-less. It is here when he meets a rather strange girl known as Nino and it is also here where we learn of his fear of owing anything, and I mean ANYTHING, to anyone what so ever. It is readily apparent from the on set that Kou has some rather deep sitting issues with his father, almost a sort of phobia if you will.
Now, don't get me wrong. Arakawa is most definitely a comedy first and foremost, but themes such as running away from problems, parental issues, and so on are lightly, and rather effectively, touched upon during the course of the series. But, it certainly never becomes heavy handed in this matter at all.
Visually, Arakawa is a treat with very well done character design, particularly Nino and the other female characters, and just overall interesting visual touches here and there. Shaft has the usual visual touch, but not quite as heavily as Sayanora Sensei, EF, or their other works.
Sound wise, the musics generally pretty good. But, the voice work in particular is striking with some very big names in the series particularly Sugita Tomokazu (Haruhi, Gintama), Fujiwara Keiji (Baccano, FMA), and many more.
The characters are very likable, with pretty much every one of them having some sort of..personality quirk. Whether you have the cross dressing "Sister", The Kappa costume wearing Village Chief, The rockstar wanna be Star shaped mask wearing Hoshi, the insult throwing Maria, and so on..it's almost guaranteed that you'll find something to amuse you in some form.
Which brings me to my biggest issue with the series, the characters don't change and we just don't learn anything at all about the vast majority of them. Not that Kou doesn't try to learn, it's just that the other characters either avoid his questions or outright lie to him. It's arguable, of course, whether or not this is an actual fault or not...it's just the way these people live their lives and it effectively ties into the central plot point. But, it still hurt my enjoyment a little bit.
At it's heart Arakawa Under The Bridge is a sort of coming of age story in which Kou tries to come out from under his fathers shadow and live his own life under the bridge. Some of the comedy is random in nature, but most of it seems to hit on the underlying message. It isn't deep stuff, but this series did very effectively what it intended to.
Well done character designs, good background art, and very consistent animation. The Shaft "style" isn't quite as glaringly obvious as most of the shows from the company, except for the OP, ED, and a few other instances.
It has to be said that Nino is probably one of the most obviously beautiful female characters I've seen. The other female characters are well designed as well.
Solid music, with well know voice actors doing the same great work they always do. Not much to complain about here. Though, there also isn't anything particularly amazing in this compartment, either.
The characters are likable, memorable, funny, and just overall well done. Unfortunately, they go out of their way not to talk about themselves and Kou is pretty much the only character to go through some form of change. Still, nothing to complain about.
Consistently funny unlike most comedy series I've seen and the characters are very likable. I enjoyed the message this series brought to the table as well. An easy series to marathon.
Memorable, funny, and many other things. Arakawa is a great comedy series up there with stuff such as FMP: Fumofu, Minami-ke, and a few others. Definitely recommended for those looking for a good time.