Arakawa Under the Bridge is an anime series based on a comedic manga, written by Hikaru Nakamura, which has been going strong since late 2004. The show stars twenty-two year old Kou Ichinomiya who is the heir to the successful Ichinomiya Corporation. Kou attributes his success in life to following a philosophy of never being indebted to anyone. Just the thought of owing someone a favour is enough to trigger an asthmatic panic attack. I suffer from a similar affliction, every month, when I realise how much I owe on my credit card bill. Expensive anime DVDs and a low paying job are not a good combination.
Kou’s life is turned upside down, one day, when a group of kids takes off with his pants. You’d think with expensive mobiles being all the rage in Japan that thieves would rob something better than a guy’s trousers, but whatever. During an attempt to retrieve his slacks Kou falls off a bridge, into the icy depths below, and almost drowns. Thankfully a blonde bombshell named Nino saves him from a watery grave, although doing so puts Kou in the unenviable position of owing her his life. To square things off with his saviour Kou agrees to her demands of moving in with her and becoming her lover.
Escaping death and scoring a girlfriend may sound like a sweet deal, but as you may suspect there is a catch. Nino’s place of residence is a cardboard box located under a bridge… oh and she also thinks that she comes from Venus. As it transpires she’s not the only weirdo who lives under the bridge. There’s no trolls to be found (they all moved away to torment the internet) but there is a nut job who dresses up as a kappa, a guitarist with wears a star shaped mask, a chap who will only walk on white lines and a nun who in actuality is a gun totting scarred man. When it comes to homeless people Japan has other nations beat. That colourful assortment of characters sure beats the smelly winos, who push trolleys, that we get over here.
As you may expect, adjusting to his new life, as an under bridge dweller, is a bit of a culture shock for the wealthy Kou who has had a pampered upbringing. Slowly but surely he does however integrate into the community of oddballs and begins to develop genuine romantic feelings for Nino. He even ditches a promising career to become a riverside teacher, although his attempts to instil common sense into his students rarely bears fruit. By the end of the season he’s so settled into his new routine that he is willing to confront his father’s company, which is trying to boot his chums out of the area so they can redevelop the land.
My rating for Arakawa Under the Bridge is three stars out of five. I didn’t dislike the show, but it’s not something I would describe as a must buy. When it comes to anime I generally prefer shows that have a bit more story. What we get here however are episodes composed of a few short skits. The gags provide consistent light chortles, although I seldom burst out into a gut-busting laugh. On the plus side the wacky humour never goes so over the top that it becomes annoying, as can be the case with other shows. If zany animes are your thing it’s worth checking out and I would recommend it over something like the similarly weird Cromartie High School.