Arakawa under the Bridge – episode 01

April 5, 2010

A respectable businessman finds himself in a compromising position.

This is the first in a series of posts about Arakawa under the Bridge, a comedy/romance title for the Spring 2010 season. The basic premise is that a self made salaryman (Kou) falls into a relationship with a strange girl (Nino) and ends up living under a bridge on the Arakawa river. The show has a couple of great seiyu in the lead roles:

  • Kou – voiced by Hiroshi Kamiya (e.g. Izaya from Durarara!!, and Nozomu, that is Sensei, from Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei).
  • Nino – voiced by Maaya Sakamoto (singer of many great anime themes including, Hemisphere, the OP for RahXephon, for which she also voiced the role of Reika Mishima. She has worked with Yoko Kanno on many, many projects, and voiced Haruhi Fujioka in Ouran High School Host Club).

Shaft’s animation is not the most beautiful I’ve seen this season, but its intensity, such as the variety of styles, lends itself well to a comedy title. Also, since it was directed by Shinbo, expect writing to appear in all sorts of places.

This show has a lot of close-ups of eyeballs in it. That’s kind of weird, huh?

Character Comedy: the odd couple

One of the main sources of comedy used in the first half of this episode is the fire and ice nature of the principle characters. Kou is a respectable business man, who will inherit the family business one day, Nino lives under a bridge, and claims to be an alien … no, a space alien.

But they are also temperamentally very different. Whereas Nino is laconic, often remarking, simply, “Is that so?” Kuo runs his mouth a mile a minute. Where Nino seems detached, almost emotionless, Kou is perpetually strapped onto an emotional roller-coaster. His family motto is never owe anybody anything; since Nino fished him out of the Arakawa River, Kou is taking it pretty badly.

It takes a good voice actor to pull this off, and Hiroshi Kamiya is up to the task. Occasionally a role like this comes off gratingly obnoxious, but the performance really helps us laugh at Kou’s antics, while feeling a measure of empathy, as he struggles against his fate, only to find himself ever deeper enmeshed. Nino’s deadpan responses also give us a glimpse into something you want to see in a situation like this: although Kou is outwardly successful, and well-adapted to society, Nino brings an emotional stability (despite the peculiarities obvious on the surface) that Kou evidently needs.

The only other character we meet this episode is the Mayor (voiced by Keiji Fujiwara — Ladd Russo from Baccano!), an interaction that gives Kuo an opportunity to prove it isn’t only Nino that he has a hard time relating to. This episode includes neither the OP nor the ED, so it seems quite packed, and by the end of the episode Kou and Nino are an official couple.

I thought this first episode was very funny. That view is not universally held. I guess one man’s meat is another man’s poison after all.

7 Responses to “Arakawa under the Bridge – episode 01”

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  2. Taka Says:

    I thought the episode was decent enough. I’m getting tired of Hiroshi Kamiya voicing the similar sounding (sometimes acting) characters. Zetsubou sensei, Araragi, and now Ichinomiya. I’d really like to hear other voice actors.

    Psgels has long had a bad relationship with Shinbo. He always gives it a try but it never fits his taste. Arudoc hates practically everything 😛 but that’s the reason to read his blog to see him bash everything.

    • Joojoobees Says:

      “but that’s the reason to read his blog to see him bash everything.”

      LOL. I know what you mean, I look up shows I really dislike just to see them shredded sometimes.

      “I’m getting tired of Hiroshi Kamiya voicing the similar sounding (sometimes acting) characters.”

      I rather liked Zetsubou sensei, as a character, and think Kou is a little different, though I didn’t get into it above. I thought Bakemonagatari had a number of problems, so I’m not sure how much changing seiyus would have helped.

      With respect to Kou vs. Zetsubou sensei: there are times when Kamiya does his despair shtick, but I think the character actually is more complex. He has moments of euphoria that Zetsubou sensei never showed, for example in the very beginning when he realizes that the boys who stole his pants owe him, instead of the other way around. It is difficult to know, at this point, if Kou’s circumstances will give Kamiya an opportunity to explore this other side. The first episode might be a fluke, because Kou is having to accept the burden of his debt to Nino. On the other hand he might just continue to freak out at the crazy people all around him. I don’t mind some of the latter, but I’m hoping for some character maturation. We’ll see how it goes, I guess.

      • Taka Says:

        I just know Kamiya is more versatile vocally than this. What he is doing with Izaya in DRR! is awesome and Natsume yuujin-cho is way differen’t. I felt more that it was shaft’s fault for repeatedly casting him rather than his own failings as a VA. For some reason they are inclined to continue casting him in somewhat vocally similar roles.

        I can think of at least 1 seiyuu who does the motor mouth schtick at least as well as Kamiya: Tomokazu Seki. I’m sure their are others out there Hiro Shimono, Hoshiro Soichi, and Daisuke Sakaguchi (guy never gets lead roles). Fukuyama Jun woulda NAILED IT.

  3. Fabrice Says:

    That was damn strange episode, love you SHAFT.

    but i hope they will stop with their fix­ca­tion with the dam eyes.

  4. Joshiro Says:

    I always love anime made by SHAFT but in terms of animation, PA Works really did a great job on Angel Beats

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