Arakawa Under the Bridge


babyeinstein12's avatar By on Dec 10, 2010


Arakawa under the Bridge may look like an anime for potheads (what with the kappa costume, star mask, and nun with a gun, among other things), but truthfully it’s just a thirteen-episode-long plate of sashimi: it takes a little getting used to, but ends up being absolutely delicious. Especially for me, having just watched the sour Serial Experiments Lain, this land of perpetual sunshine under the bridge was a joy to behold.

The anime follows business prodigy Kou Ichinomiya as he attempts to live with an eccentric community under the Arakawa Bridge. As far as story goes, that’s pretty much it; it’s a narrative progression that the viewer reacts to rather than follows. Episodes range from decent to nearly brilliant, but one’s enjoyment for the show will not wane if he remembers this cardinal rule of episodic anime: Watch, don’t wait. Here is a train ride through a park, but look elsewhere if you’re waiting to take off on a jet plane.

And under the bridge lies a very weird park indeed. This embankment of overgrown grass, with Tokyo skyscrapers floating in the backdrop as if on a different plane of existence, becomes the universe. People walk among the grass in their various costumes and with their ignorance and ridiculous quirks, living totally in the present. Kou, choked by the expectations of society, lands into this enclave untainted by time and ambition, and weird things happen. Indeed, the humor of this show is what fresh raw fish would be to an incubated Coloradoan: It flails around and goes crazy, and we aren't quite sure whether to burst into laughter or gape in WTF-ery. Watching Kou trying to deal with these people becomes a deliciously mindboggling affair; we surface from an episode and the world is suddenly a stranger place.

But amidst Kou's numerous face-palms and exasperated tantrums, he begins to change. His driven, independent, withered heart begins to realize that there are things in this world that are meant to be shared. Here lies the beautiful continuity that gives the anime its shape. Each episode is broken into few-minute segments, but one still feels a sense of overall direction as Kou starts coming to terms with not only the community but with what the community represents. Hidden among the moments of hilarity and bemusement are moments of bejeweled self-reflection. One line could leave you giggling like a madman and then the show takes something out of its sleeve that silences you instantly with its truth. Alternately, a line could make your heart ache and then someone pulls out a zinger that has you double-taking in delighted disbelief. No scene is wasted. It is a bipolarity that the anime has managed to synthesize into a palatable whole.

Unfortunately Arakawa under the Bridge does not succeed as well with Kou and Nino's romantic subplot. It makes obvious attempts to romanticize their relationship, and while the attempts are not tasteless in and of themselves, they fail to form the same kind of continuity that the show achieves with Kou’s personal development. In the end, one finds Kou and Nino’s bond charming but not arresting.


The visuals are safe, appealing, and pleasantly variegated: There are some shots that could work as prints and others with a slight avant-garde tinge. The main reason the animation does so well is its ability to give the impression that it’s sleeker than it is. Still frames are used frequently, yet they shuffle past so quickly, not allowing anything to become sluggish. The show also employs the technique of perspective to its advantage, where an open sky looks like it could swallow you up and an angry girl-giant in a cute dress could barely be moving and you could still feel her palpitating presence.


The soundtrack reveals a similar kind of bipolarity that accompanies the narrative, as buoyant jazz intermingles with tender symphonic sweeps. It’s astonishing how quickly and seamlessly the music is able to shift moods and establish atmospheres.

In addition, Hiroshi Kamiya and Maaya Sakamoto deliver impeccable performances for their respective leads, Kou and Nino. As Kamiya infuses a choleric, boyish energy into Kou’s voice, Sakamoto tempers it with her gentle drawl in Nino’s. I had been previously acquainted with Sakamoto as Akashi in the radiant Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei, and comparing the roles gives me a newfound respect for the actress. I had recognized her timbre from Yojouhan, yet she supplies Nino with an altogether different personality. The seiyuu for the rest of the cast deserves praise as well for their spirited if not creative performances, with Maria’s venomous purrs and Stella’s comical monster-roars being particularly effective.


The characters will certainly pull raw laughs out of you, but no matter how much each of them shines individually, they cannot bind themselves into a cohesive cast. Arakawa under the Bridge aims for the viewer to fall in love with the residents of Arakawa Bridge as a conception, in order for camaraderie to bloom when trouble comes (in the form of Kou’s father). However, for all the characters' eccentricities, they have been planted too far apart from each other to form a convincing garden. White-san and Piko do hold interesting personalities, but their impact could have increased dramatically if they had been allowed to collide with the rest of the cast. Maria and Sister’s destructive relationship carries a ton of potential but never explodes. Kou and Nino lack chemistry. I have rarely come across characters with so many possibilities, but perhaps the possibilities were too great that the cast cracked slightly under their pressure.

On another hand, the anime constructs an interesting progression with Kou’s father, an intimidating, reptilian magnate with ideals directly opposite those under the bridge. As he exerts his power at the bridge community’s expense, his convoluted relationship with his son is brought to light. His parting words in the second-to-last episode remain one of the most perplexing statements in the anime, an indication of a part of him he doesn’t let even himself see.


Raw fish? Yes. Omega-3's, protein, and other nutrients? Definitely. Arakawa under the Bridge is an anime that might taste a bit strange to the uninitiated viewer, but it is flavorful and healthy to boot. Come partake in this memorable meal.

8/10 story
7/10 animation
8/10 sound
6.75/10 characters
8/10 overall
mitch0o's avatar By on Jun 28, 2012

Arakawa under the bridge is a great anime filled with comedy, love and a bit of philosophic thought (but not so much...)


The story start with a young man name Kou Ichinomiya who have been taught to never rely on anyone for anything. When he fall into the Arakawa River and is saved by Nino, a girl who live there, he got the biggest debt of all: he owned her his life. He decide to become her lover and he start living under the bridge where he met the other inhabitant: the mayor who think he is a kappa, hoshi, a rock star wearing a star mask (yeah... weird...whatever...), Whitey, a man who let wife and kids because he become obssesed with walking on white lines, Sister, a bulky veteran crossdressing into a nun and many others.

The comedy in this anime is great, the jokes are a bit repetitive but falls into place. The overall story don't really evolve a lot, it's more of a "slice-of-life" feeling of what is happening under the bridge than a complete story. But there is at the end some things happening. A really liked it, every episode really maked me smile, and the starting part where the characters talk about the meaning of life were beautiful and yet didn't looked out of place in an anime that revolve around comedic situations.


The overall animation were good. Nino characters feels a bit strange at first, because it look like she is less in finition than other characters, but it add to the feeling of her being some kind of outsider to human race. The animation was smouth, with a lot of comedic effects (blank shocked characters, nasty aura, etc.) There was an artistic overall feeling with this anime.

The animation for the opening was great. I really loved it, it feels so poetic.


The opening sound is good, a really liked it and I sometimes found myself humming this tune while doing someting else (like washing the dishes....) The ending song is good, but forgettable. The music during the anime was greatly place. I particulary loved the music they used in the pilosophic phase, it gives a melancolic aura to it. Sound effect for the jokes were okay I guess and Hoshi's song were... let's forget them...


Like most of these kind of comedic animes, the characters takes a really important place. All of them were original, interesting and funny. Some of them were more amusing than other. The two central  characters, Kou and Nino makes a great couple. The kappa mayor, sister, hoshi and all the other takes great place and we rapidly found ourself caring for them, even the few sadistic ones that inhabit the rivers bank.

I would have liked to have more of the background of the characters, we don't even know where they all comes from and the serie don't really add any devellopement in theirs personalities, except for Kou. But since the anime is about more comidy purpose than telling their stories, this feels alright.


Arakawa under the bridge is a great anime, something enjoyable during summer, to watch it in the sun with a lemonde feels like the normal thing to do. It makes smile and life seems brighter after watching it.

8/10 story
8/10 animation
7/10 sound
9/10 characters
8/10 overall
Halex's avatar By on Aug 21, 2013

This anime is a waste of time! Don't watch

Nothing ever happens, at the begining of the story you can feel some promise on the story but it just starts to go weird and monotonous. At the very best this is not my type of anime. I see that a lot of people seems to like this anime, but I have no clue what they see in it?

1/10 story
?/10 animation
?/10 sound
?/10 characters
1/10 overall
EroGod's avatar By on Jun 28, 2012

I kind of want to watch the second season. But I'm also worried, because if it leaves as much unexplained as the first season, the viewer is in for a serious slap to the face. The comedy aspect is enjoyable for the first 5 episodes. But after a while you're gonna ask yourself, "WTF?!". I had hoped for more backstories for the characters. I get it, they're weird, but without explaining why they are the way they are it's just kind of annoying. This is a Shaft production. So I'm familiar with the style of their shows. Out of all their work I've seen this, Bakemonogatari and Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei.

From reading another review it brought to light how they'll repeat a shot, such as in Zetsubou it goes back to him saying "I'm in despair.", in this it is a frequent close up of Kou's eye to show how he's freaked out by one thing or another. It works at first, but it gets a little old after a while. But that's just their style. Maybe if I watch more of their shows I'll get used to it. But I'd say for someone who hasn't seen any of the Shaft production company's work to be prepared for it! Their shows are a bit weirder than usual. The character designs are by far not the best you'll ever see. It's not plot-heavy and I'd say it's almost slapstick.

The more anime you watch the more things you become aware of will be acquainted with. I used to read bad reviews and think of them as overly cynical, but because there is so much anime out there it's hard to be original anymore. And nobody wants to keep watching the same thing over again. This show is original, but lacking in other areas.

4/10 story
6.5/10 animation
5/10 sound
6/10 characters
6/10 overall
seefoo13's avatar By on May 8, 2011

Beautiful anime with deep lessons within most episodes. Some are mostly for comedic value however still very entertaining. If you like gintama and random humor you will like this. mostly a dialogue driven anime. I found the animation to be absolutely beautiful. The colors were out of this world and refreshing. To be honest it has been hard to watch other anime's after watching this one. The instant happy mood it bestows is almost impossible to top.


This will appeal to people who can relate to having love or those who know the flipside of the ideal love and would like to see what it is. I would say its the perfect love in the most realistic sense. what love is supoused to be while still retaining its down to earth-ness


i'll get straight to the point


awesome story

hilarious characters

meaningful plot

chill animation

chill music


Go For It!!!

9/10 story
10/10 animation
9/10 sound
10/10 characters
9.5/10 overall