Arakawa under the Bridge 11: ties that fail to bind

June 16, 2010

Arakawa under the Bridge episode 11 features the various relationships, familial, business, political, and lover, that constitute Ric’s ties to the world. In the meantime the Village seems headed towards certain destruction, despite Ric’s every effort to save it.

Will Ric lose his new community?

With Ric’s father attempting to destroy the village, Ric decides to save it somehow. Ric is willing to throw away everything he has, even the friendships he has made with the dwellers under the bridge, but Nino declares that Ric is part of the community that she wants saved. Ric decides, instead, to return to his company long enough to come up with the means to fight his father’s business, the Ichinomiya group.

Nino uses visual aids to remind her of Ric's face.

In his absence, Nino literally forgets what he looks like. She tries to feed another man, and even hugs the wrong person when he returns. Let’s assume, for the purposes of this post, that this show is meant to be taken as social commentary. Ric’s relationship to Nino gives him meaning and motivation. Without his tie to his lover he might have just cut all ties with the community. And yet Nino hardly knows him. She cannot recognize him, or recall his features, or distinguish him from other people.

Whitey proves very effective at disrupting the workforce.

Politics, the nature of Ric’s relationship to the community is demonstrated when he returns with a plan for his own company to develop the riverbank. Although he is acting to save the community, his plan is criticized by everyone for failing to provide a performance stage, psychic barrier, etc. To the community Ric is nothing but a means to secure selfish needs.

Unfortunately all the work on the plan seems to have gone to waste; Ric gets a call from a contractor (representing his relationships in the business world) who is frightened by the competition offered by the Ichinomiya group. The contractor refuses to work on the project. Again, the message about business relationships is clear, they aren’t interested in sticking their necks out for you.

If relationships with lovers, with one’s community, and with business partners are all shown to be shallow, there must be some relationship that has a deep and enduring meaning. Ric’s family is represented by his Father. His father is always watching him (no, not watching out for him, he has a secret camera installed in Ric’s office). When everything else seemed to have failed, Ric turns to his father. Ric decides to call his father, for seemingly the first time in his life, because he was sternly warned only to call if he could justify using his father’s time. Ric conquers his fear, only to find his father hadn’t given him his real number. The sad message of Arakawa under the Bridge is that all relationships in our society, lover, community, business, and family have failed the modern man.

"Hell is other people." -- J. P. Sartre

Of course Arakawa under the Bridge could just be a funny little show. P-ko might not be an allegorical representation of the proletariat, and Sister might not really be an allegorical representation of religion. But do you really believe that?

I didn't even notice the scar the first time.

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