Shaft are such a hit or miss studio that predicting the upcoming quality of their upcoming anime is like playing minesweeper with your eyes shut. Sure, you’ll know when you’ve seen the thing where it went wrong but before that it’s a complete guessing game. The manga for Arakawa Under the Bridge is quick paced random humour that seemed like it should be right up their alley and the first episode, for the most part anyway, seemed to have the right ingredients. But my mantra has always been that the first episode will only enable you to pick out the crap. It’s not until the second episode does the real quality anime make themselves known. Well now that I’ve seen episode 2, I think we’ve got ourselves something that can sit alongside Bakemonogatari as a Shaft series that actually delivers.
Now most people seem to like the opening and I can see the appeal I guess. But really, you call that singing? That’s talking in a squeaky voice and breathing heavily. I preferred it when it was called Renai Circulation. Or even better, Let me be with you or Puzzle. Maybe from now on I’ll turn off the volume and listen to Round Table feat. Nino with the Arakawa visuals.
Episode 10: A New Life
While I knew Recruit would get some semblance of romantic feelings for Nino, I wasn’t expecting it this early. I was expecting a bit more of him just yelling loudly at how bizarre she is but this way actually suits the show better. Now we get him trying to come up with chat-up lines you’d use for a girl who thinks she comes from Venus. I was thinking the best topic of discussion would be what she thought of Pluto not being classed as a planet anymore but now that I think of it that would be terrible. Either she would say she doesn’t care about what the earth population class pluto as (which makes sense as a Venusian I guess) or she’d berate him for being behind the times. Because really, Pluto not being a planet is old news by now.
Episode 11: A New Life
Did we really need those looped shots of zooming into Recruits’ eyes over and over again Shaft? What is that supposed to symbolise anyway? When you zoom in on something it should be for a reason, like to set the scene or to show what one of the characters are thinking about. But the mantra for Shaft appears to be that when in doubt, zoom in on the eyes. If that doesn’t work, zoom in on the eyes over and over again.
(yeah that’s the phonetic translation of the Nino cleanliness chant. Except it’s not really hers since the Mayor taught it to her. I wonder what it’s meant to do anyway. I’ll have to try it next time I take a bath. Or maybe it only works in oil drums. Slightly off point but this is the first time we’ve seen Nina’s lovely figure outside of that tracksuit she wears)
Episode 12: Urchin
I honestly thought she was preparing to eat him there. That shaker clearly held some sort of seasoning. Hey, after all the other bizarre stuff that happens in this episode, can you blame me for thinking that. Maybe the kappa wanted to eat him or something.
But no. Instead what we got was one of the most strangely romantic anime scenes. This is up there with the Kaname X Sagara haircutting scene from Full Metal Panic: The Second Raid before it started to get all emo on us (I known many people prefer that season but I most certainly didn’t). Recruit lived his life with a silver spoon in his mouth but the best bath he gets in his life comes from an open-air oil-drum, heated on an open fire with his hair being washed using bathroom cleaner. What’s really important in life eh, Mr.Recruit?
Episode 13: Ric’s Memories
For all the bizarreness and wacky humour that the rest of this episode contains, it was this scene that gives this anime the edge over a lot of comedies. Beneath the nonsense and the gun-wielding war-veterans dressed as nuns it has a charm. A little story to tell about what’s really important. Sorry for getting corny but hey, it touched my romantic side and that doesn’t happen very often. It also helps that I listened to Let me be with you again.
Episode 14: Welcoming Party
Who hasn’t played this game before. And besides, what’s so weird about marrying a white cornish? My games involved that if you didn’t step on the lines then you would fall into the lave. What’s burning in molten rock to marrying a flightless bird, the only difference was I didn’t take my oath seriously enough. It’s just there isn’t a volcano within walking distance from my house to hurl myself into.
Which is better: Having a jacuzzi bath in your gorgeous mansion by yourself or an oil drum bath and your hair being washed by a beautiful Venusian. Hmmm…actually that’s kind of a hard choice. It depends on whether I’d be able to keep the jacuzzi and mansion afterwards, as well as whether I’d be able to keep the Venusian (I can forgo the oil drum if I must).
Oh Recruit. You keep stepping on one land mine after another. Stardude looks like a pretty tough cookie but to be honest I’d be more afraid of the two kids with bullets as heads. If they run at you head first it would be like being hit with artillery fire. Then again, being hit by a star (balls of burning gas billions of miles across) it would hurt quite a bit more. I guess Recruit can count himself lucky it was only a kick off the kappa.
Episode 15: Battle Sister
Why? Why on earth are nuns always beautiful in anime? I’ve seen a lot of nuns in my lifetime. I have yet to see a single one that could be considered even remotely beautiful. They’re always wrinkled up old ladies. Even if they’re 22 years old, within six months of hanging around the convent they become wrinkled and start wearing their glasses on little gold chains.
I knew it was coming. I’d seen the promo art. This did not stop me from laughing almost continuously for the next 5 minutes at every single scene with Sister in it. In terms of epic entries to an anime, this is still quite a distance off driving in on a Vespa, knocking out the main character, kissing him and then hitting him in the face with a guitar, but I don’t think we’ll ever see an entrance as epic as that in our lifetimes. For now I’ll give sister the honour of being slightly better than Shizuo’s entrance in Durarara.
Episode 16: Mass
If this was how simple mass was then I’d probably still be a practising catholic. Also, imagine having to do confession with this guy sitting on the other side. Even before you say anything you can hear a gun being reloaded and bullet-holes instead of that grate they have to talk through.
Episode 17: Gospel
Hey it would work on me. Maybe some members of the catholic church could do with listening to the advice from Sister. Then again with the current disastrous state of the catholic church (holocaust denying clerics and bishops blaming the Jews for child abuses? These only scratch the surface) they’d be better off taking advice from anyone else at this point, even certain Black Lagoon characters.
I think it was just before this picture that I finally managed to calm down and stop laughing at Sisters original appearence. Then this scene came up and set me off all over again. Plus look at how easy that will be to photoshop! Capped and saved for future use.
(Saint Young Men, for the uninitiated, is a manga by the same author of Arakawa Under the Bridge. It’s about Buddha and Jesus coming down to earth to chill out together. It was voted as one of the manga people in the industry most wanted to see adapted into an anime. The only ones that came before it were Yotsuba& (not going to happen, according to the mangaka) and Pluto. So if his less popular work, Arakawa, got animated then chances are high for a Saint Young Men anime, providing Arakwa does well. And it bloody well should because this anime is awesome!)