Arakawa Under the Bridge ReviewElizabeth Williams
"Never be indebted to anyone."
Ko Ichinomiya has grown up having these words engraved into his brain. From the moment he was a young child, he learned to take care of himself and refuse help from anyone else.
We meet our hero standing on the edge of a bridge, sans trousers. Some punk kids stole his pants and hung them high on the bridge. A mysterious young woman sees him and offers to help him get the pants. Of course, Ko can't be indebted to anyone, so he refuses help. He ends up falling in the river. The young woman rescues him, and Ko is overwhelmed with guilt. His entire existence is thanks to this girl. He tells her that he will do anything for her, for after all, he refuses to owe her anything. She asks him to experience love with her, and so begins Ko's adventure under the bridge.
He soon learns that the young woman, Nino, is just one person living under the bridge. There is a whole community of people who live together here. There's a village chief (a rather interesting man wearing a kappa costume), a church (run by an ex soldier stuffed into a nun's habit), a vegetable farm, and a livestock farm. Every person in the community has their own role in their "village" and they all work together. Nino is an excellent swimmer and she provides the townspeople with fish. Hoshi, an ex-celebrity, plays music during gatherings. The Tetsujin twins, Tetsuo and Tetsuro, run a bathhouse (which is basically an old oil drum with a fire underneath it).
Ko is given a new name by the chief. He now goes by Recruit, or Rec for short. Rec gets tired of being teased for mooching off of the villagers, so he decides to open a school. The children are a little less than eager to learn from him, but he soon learns that in order to make them interested, he has to think the same way that they do.
Arakawa Under the Bridge shows a slice of life for the villagers. However, a normal day in the village is never a dull one. Something as simple as a fire drill is turned into a grand event when the village chief decides to use a "special Kappa technique" on the fire. The villagers work together through happy times and stressful times. Slowly, Recruit learns to relax a bit. He needs Nino's convincing that people in the village help each other because they want to. Such a concept is new to Recruit, and it's kind of depressing when you think of it in that way.
Episodes will often begin with a flashback from Recruit's life when he was younger. In one episode, Ko recalls writing a paper for class on what he wanted to be when he grew up. Ko wrote how he wanted to be just like his father. After hearing the paper read aloud, his father forces Ko to rewrite the paper, saying that his goals are too vague and can never be reached. Ko's moments with his father provide a bit of seriousness to the series, which contrasts nicely with the quirky goofiness of a lot of the episodes.
I would recommend Arakawa Under the Bridge to anyone who is looking for something a little different. Sure, it has a man wearing a star shaped mask, and there's a man who believes if he doesn't walk on a white line his wife will turn into a chicken. But the show also asks some serious questions, such as "What is love?" and "What does it mean to belong?" Arakawa Under the Bridge will make you laugh and feel depressed at the same time. It's definitely worth watching at least once.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.
I started playing games from a young age, but really got into it when Santa left a SNES in the fireplace. My other hobbies include reading, writing, gardening, and playing with my two cats.
About the Author: Elizabeth Williams
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