April Anime Challenge – Arakawa Under the Bridge

Our anime challenge for April is the comedy anime Arakawa Under the Bridge. It is based on the manga written by Hikaru Nakamura, which first ran in the seinen manga magazine Young GanGan starting December 3, 2004. The anime ran in two seasons, the first 13-episode season, Arakawa Under the Bridge ran from April 2010 to June 2010 and the second, named Arakawa Under the Bridge x Bridge ran from October 2010 to December 2010.

The anime, set in Arakawa, Tokyo tells the tale of Kou Ichinomiya, a self-accomplished man. He is a man which lives by his father’s rule that his father imprinted on him since childhood:’Never be indebted to another person.’ Then an even happen which conflicts with that rule. You see, he falls into the Arakawa River and he almost drowns. Luckily a girl named Nino rescues him and in return he owes her his life. Because of his father’s in-bedded rule he cannot accept and he asks her a way for him to pay that debt. After relentlessly trying to get her to name a payment for his debt, she tells him to love her, and so Kou’s bizarre life starts of living under a bridge. To top that, he discovers that Arakawa is a world of weirdos!! It seems that this month we are in for a hilarious challenge!

Week 1 - 01 - 07 April

Episodes to Watch: 1 to 3

In the anime, Kou Ichinomiya finds that Arakawa is a place filled with weirdos, especially under the bridge. Japanese society call this “denpasan”.

Denpa (or Denpa-kei, denpa-san) is a Japanese word for people who are dissociated, disconnected from society or the people around them. They entertain wild fantasies, illusions and strange strong beliefs. Their actions and speech may seem very bizarre or incoherent to outside observers. Denpa, literally translated as ‘electromagnetic waves’, and the original belief was that a dempa is someone who believes they are receiving voices, thoughts or instructions directly to their minds through electromagnetic radiation.

This Denpa mentality of the community under the bridge drives Kou to get psychologically self-induced asthma attacks, since he keeps getting indebted to people and his upbringing urges him to clear those debts. This challenge we will explore Denpa culture further and also see if Kou can clear his debts to this bizarre group of eccentrics. Our challenge this week is episode 1 to 3. Have a super sugoi week and have fun watching Arakawa Under the Bridge.

Week 2 - 08 - 14 April

Episodes to Watch: 4 to 6

Konnichiwa Minna! It is week one of the Arakawa Under The Bridge challenge. In Episode 1 we met Kou Ichinomiya who always upheld his family’s code of never being indebted to anyone, in fact, he upheld it with strong conviction. As we meet him, we see pranksters getting hold of his pants and hanging it from a pillar. As our hero climbs up to retrieve his pants he meets Nino who happens to be fishing on the bridge. While climbing, he tells her about his father’s rule of never being indebted. Suddenly the pillar starts collapsing and he, the pillar and the pants fall to the debts of the river below…

Nino saved our hero, and he asks her if he can pay her back, as he wants to uphold his family’s code, but she says there is no need. He suffers from a psychosomatic asthma attack induced by being indebted to her. Nino caves in and decide that for him to repay his debt he must fall in love with her. As part of his new obligation of loving Nino, he has to live with her under the bridge.

In the episode, we also meet the village chief of the citizens living under the bridge, a very eccentric man dressed in a Kappa suit, who believes he is a Kappa. As part of Kou’s initiation in becoming part of the ‘bridge community,’ he is given a new name, ‘Recruit’ by the village chief. There is much more to discover about Nino like her weird sleeping habits and her ‘alien origin’, but we will leave that as a surprise to those of you who have not started the challenge yet. This week’s crazy (I mean challenge) is episodes 4 to 6. Have a super sugoi week and enjoy the challenge!

Week 3 - 15 - 21 April

Episodes to Watch: 7 to 9

Konnichiwa Minna! For our third week of the challenge we will focus on the budding romance between Kou and Nino. After the torturous ‘confession’ session with Sister and Hoshi, Kou decided to take Nino out on a date. He plans an elaborate date that would swoon most women off their feet but Nino doesn’t want to leave the river area so she suggests instead that they go to the river-mouth to see if her grass boats reached the ocean.

In episode 4 the functioning dysfunctional lovers go on their date. There are different antics happening on the date such as them ‘experimenting what the distance should be between them’, which is hilarious, after which Kou tries to ‘hold Nino like a princess’, which looks very very painful. Kou also tries to find out more about her past but Nino stays a mystery to him (and us!).

The most romantic part of the date is when they notice one of Nino’s grass boats stuck in some river debris and Kou gallantly tries to free the boat, but ends up falling in the river. Somehow the boat gets free and ends up floating down the river. Kou and Nino shares a romantic moment watching it drifts toward the river-mouth. There is so much more to see but it is up to you to find out what happened during last week’s episodes. No more spoilers this week! This week’s episodes are 7 to 9. Have a super sugoi week and enjoy the challenge!

Week 4 - 22 - 28 April

Episodes to Watch: 10 to 13

We have been challenging Arakawa Under The Bridge for the past couple of weeks and it’s time to reflect on what we have experienced. We have seen violence, romance and the absurd wrapped in crazy and this anime does a splendid job of reminding us that it is okay to watch something senseless just for the sake of laughing until our stomachs hurt. That is the magic of anime, some anime goes deep such as Red Data Girl that dealt with issues like change and acceptance or Hakuouki Reimeiroku, that revealed to us the hard life of samurai in the eras past.

Arakawa Under The Bridge, on the other hand, is senseless, pure maniacal fun, dished up in delicious portions that makes you want to bite into it more. The voice cast brings life to each character, like Sister, for example, whose voice actor did a spectacular job of reeling you in and investing you in his character. The animation was beautiful, some scenes were quite breathtaking such as the one where Kou and Nino watch the grass boat sail off in the sunset.

After praising the anime so much you must ask if there was something negative that one can talk about. Well, there is this one pet peeve that many might agree on: The anime continues after the credits, each episode. It was the part of the supernatural anime series Bleach that sometimes just did not sit right with some of its fans. If you don’t pay attention you may miss it because not all of us watch the credits every time we binge watch an anime, right? It is just as unpleasant when watching Arakawa Under The Bridge. Is it really necessary to try to squeeze a last drop of laughs from the viewer after the credits? To some, it may not matter, to some it just is not that funny.