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Arakawa Under the Bridge

BASED ON 13 OF 13 EPS WATCHED
29 MAR
2012

This review covers both seasons of the show. I’m too bored to write two different ones about something that is practically the same.

Many tend to group all SHAFT comedies at the same shelf, and I am no exception. Having the same production company, the same director, the same main voice actor, the same protagonist archetype, the same artsy animation, and the same wacky type of comedy tends to do that, especially if you are a comparison freak like I am. So yeah, I call this the Sayonara Zetsubo of 2010. The similarities are simply too many.

ART SECTION: 7/10
Analysis: General Artwork 2/2, Character Figures 1/2, Backgrounds 1/2, Animation 1/2, Visual Effects 2/2


If you take into account what I wrote in my previous SHAFT comedy reviews (that’s right you suckers, go read those too) you will pretty much see there is little to talk about visuals, other than being artistic, full of fast panel switches, weird use of colors and shapes, throwing in real photographs and bizarre imagery from a myriad symbolisms and allusions to social and mental status of each situation. It is a fine way to help the viewer visualize how awkward and troubled the minds of the characters are, and to spice up the jokes. They even try to change the formula as the episodes move on, from slightly changing the gimmicks to even adding more info about one’s inner self. Still, each SHAFT comedy has its specific trademark gimmick; where Sayonara Zetsubo had the “I’m in despair” clip, Arakawa has the “blinking eye” clip. Lots of zooming to eyes that blink and sweat drops thrown around. Nice stuff to attract the eye (sic) but it got tiresome early on. Still, I must say that the flying fish or the other bizarre stuff that are shown in this comedy are not as extreme or as memorable as the ones in Sayonara Zetsubo’s walls of texts or Bakemonogatari’s dark cardboard sceneries. It feels more mainstream and for a 2010 production even average and low-budgeted.

SOUND SECTION: 7/10
Analysis: Voice Acting 2/3, Music Themes 2/4, Sound Effects 3/3


Something similar can be said about the music. The music score is not nearly as interesting as in the previous two comedies and the dialogues are to the most part not as complicating or smart. From a point on they even feel tedious and tiresome. They have enough text to laugh or get to know the characters but still of NOT those heights. Plus, most of the talking ends up being lukewarm jokes so it loses points even from that. But at least the sound effects are used in their usual smart way to elevate the jokes and thus you get something interesting to pay attension to.

STORY SECTION: 3/10
Analysis: Premise 2/2, Pacing 0/2, Complexity 1/2, Plausibility 0/2, Conclusion 0/2


The story … yeah, typical SHAFT. They bait us with a spicy premise, this case being the romantic relationship between an orthological rich pragmatist and an absent-minded poor girl who claims to be an alien. And some episodes later, throws all of that away for random gags and stand alone weirdness around a bunch of nut-jobs who live under a bridge. I must say it sure packs more plot that the previous comedies as from time to time has some plot development, like the father of the protagonist trying to ruin his new life or the alien origin being looked upon a bit. All that are still greatly overlooked for comedy. And of course, there is no ending to it.

CHARACTER SECTION: 5/10
Analysis: Presence 2/2, Personality 2/2, Backdrop 1/2, Development 0/2, Catharsis 0/2


The characters are the usual “unusual” bunch of misfits SHAFT is so famous of making all the time. Most of the humor is based on their total lack of common sense that helps the jokes to work better and the characters to be memorable. As usual, their appeal is mostly based on quirks and bizarre personality and not character development but again, for a SHAFT comedy the cast is colorized and developed more and beyond just the few episodes they appear in. So yeah, I must say that they are funny, memorable and given more attention than usual, making them better as overall. As usual, SHAFT baits you with lots of cute girls and then throws in some creepy males to even it out. It worked for me and it’s too bad nothing substantial occurred to them that changed them in overall.

VALUE & ENJOYMENT SECTIONS: 4/10
Analysis: Historical Value 1/3, Rewatchability 1/3, Memorability 2/4

Now as far as Enjoyment and Replay Value goes, I’m afraid the news are bad. The type of humor it implements starts to wear off rather fast and the succession of gags slows down more and more to the point you lose interest until the next joke comes up or you are even given the time to figure out the joke before it even occurs. My laughing meter was dropping with each episode, to the point it was bellow average in the last episodes of the second season. To be more precise, the scores I give to Enjoyment if this is considered a 26 episode comedy are 10 in episodes 1-3, 8 in 4-6, 6 in 7-20, and 4 in 61-26. It is a rather subjective thing how much others will like or dislike the humor but for me the jokes were getting old too fast and their quality dropped significantly, plus the storyless plot was getting to my nerves after awhile.

VERDICT: 5/10
In all, this year’s Sayonara Zetsubo packed a bit more story and character development but at the same time had less interesting animation, music, and successful humor.

Damn you SHAFT; you refuse to outdo yourself!

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User Review Scores

  • Story 3/10
  • Animation 7/10
  • Sound 7/10
  • Characters 5/10
  • Overall 5/10

comments

Asmageddon avatar Asmageddon
Jan 11, 2013

Same as with Level E, this is exactly my type of humor, and likewise, I loved this series.

That said, I once again need to agree with you, the humor gets weary after a while, and Arakawa is indeed mostly just a typical SHAFT show. Still, I liked it a lot.

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