Arakawa Under the Bridge is yet another creation by the clearly jaded Shaft anime production team. But lets leave aside the rushed and overworked Shaft team for a second and praise a fantastic piece of witty scripting and dialogue that manages to deliver the crushingly cutting statements intertwined with general craziness. Because Arakawa Under the Bridge hit my expectations as the fantastic piece of comedy that I figured it could be simply from reading the first chapter of the manga. And yes, this works better in anime form.
The best part about Arakawa’s humour is these little digs is jabs in here and there. Hidden behind the ridiculous exterior is a brain that uses over the top character traits to toss in these gem lines. I know it’s cheap to compare this to Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei but it has that obvious similarity beyond just the Shaft appeal. While SZS is all about shoving these social commentary lines in your face directly, Arakawa is a lot more subtle about it. That’s not to say SZS is worse off for doing that. I have my problems with SZS but this is simply a comparison in humour approach. Where SZS fell down is in its horrible repetitiveness as it totally failed to expand beyond its admittedly glorious premise. Arakawa could quite easily fall into the same, although at least Arakawa has plot, or at least the illusion of one.
Ah, I love lines like this. Casual racism is something I absolutely love. People get so uptight about anything borderline racist that I love it whenever something draws attention to the inherent racism that people have without realising it. Anyone who’s watched Time of Eve will know that fantastic episode 4 where the two kids find themselves in stitches at the faulty robot trying to act like a human only to get their dismissive attitude shoved in their face. Most of the time racism is depicted as something only ebul backward people are so to treat it as a normal reaction or everyday statement you realise how dismissive you were yourself. It’s an amazingly smart thing to do, especially when you combine it with the delicious irony that the main character is just as much of a weirdo as anyone else living under this bridge.
And here you get to the bones of what makes Arakawa such a great comedy. The show is basically about a guy who thinks these group of people living under a bridge are a bunch of absolute nutters but it’s only in his conversations with them, both through his own gloriously hypocritical statements and the occasional cutting remark from Nino do you realise that he is as much of a weirdo as the rest of them, without the main character realising it himself. It’s smart, it’s witty, it’s a bit hit-or-miss at times but there’s never a quick-fire comedy that isn’t.
Now Shaft. Honestly, there was no better studio around to adapt this, there is absolutely no denying that. With Vampire Bund it just stunk of helpless confusion and total lack of knowledge how to handle the show. Arakawa is right up there road and in no way do I think this could’ve been done better by anyone else. And there’s some great touches to the episode, most notably the fantastic way they’ve portrayed the place this entire show will be set. It’s got a fantastic atmosphere, as if it’s a world of its own. It’s very similar to the way they shot Bakemonogatari. In that, the endless backgrounds of repeated desks and signs gave this great impression that this was a world just for Arararagi. In Arakawa they’ve set the scene with the orange-palette as though they’ve set up a beautiful romantic hideaway for the main two.
The problem I have with Shaft though is they’re jaded. It’s the same animation techniques they used for every other series mashed together in Arakawa. The poor guy needs to replenish his mana. This is too much work for the directorial team and at least this season he’s only got one anime in production with none coming up next season as far as I’m aware. At least, not yet. And good for them. Shaft are a quality studio if they gave each series the attention it bloody deserves. As good as Arakawa was, I can’t help shake the feeling that if they weren’t on the back on having done 2 series last season, they’d have pulled a better job on this series.
So success for the first episode of Arakawa which gives the current season a score of 2 and 3/4 out of 6 (Angel Beat and Arakawa are one score a piece. Hetalia World Series is only a quarter length and I’m only half sure if I’ll watch the next episode of B Gata). Which is pretty good for the season so far, especially since no anime thus far has dropped considerably below my expectations. Admittedly there’s no surprise hits either but hey, there’s still plenty to come…if anyone actually subbed them anyway. Please, we only need one of you subbing K-ON. Someone please sub Giant Killing!