I already knew that the three words wtf were going to be included as I laid my eyes on Arakawa under the bridge at it was going to be testing my liking for trippy shows once again. By now just about everyone should be familiar with Shaft’s formula of sticking Kamiya as the quirky main character with another even more eccentric character, combined with those clever you-better-be-a-damn-fast-reader dialogues and also with witty comebacks ranging from different levels. Hopefully good enough to not make you close your video player.
One of the things I immediately noticed were the beautiful backgrounds this time around, which Bakemonogatari seemed to be lacked. I’m glad that to see that they’ve put extra work in the background aspect seeing that the show will take place outdoors most of the time. It’s guaranteed that we’ll be treated to some spectacular sighting in addition to past-pace dialogues viewers are already well used to. Under the bridge is what one would expect of Shinbou/Shaft work. You can take this simple yet true remark as either something positive or negative.
having his name taken away has left Kou in despair
Already common in these shows the main character is quirky to the point he should definitely have something checked out up there. And I don’t mean his sight. Every now and then the looming overly dramatic ZETSUBOU SHITA effect is almost brought back whenever Kamiya’s voice reaches the highest pitch to express massive exasperation after being left in despair. Although Kamiya is a great VA it’s really hard to not associate him with his despair teacher character. For what we can see, Shaft has no intention of changing this trend anytime soon.
The story is original despite the very much evident Shaft touch in it. The main character’s weirdness and his obsession with following this ‘code’ to ‘not rely on anyone’ will play a great part in the comedy aspect of the show. But it wouldn’t be feel complete without the rest of the characters who are without a doubt even weirder than the main protagonist. Nino, strange blonde girl, who Kou finds coolly chilling at the bridge provides large amount of entertainment with her uninterested and much detached from reality demeanor. This time around Maaya Sakamoto with the return of her sexy deep voice (Shiki!) claims to be an alien from the planet Venus and she is just your average not really kudere hobo. Last, there’s a freaky kappa cosplayer (Fujiwara Keiji) just chilling at the very same river. It just so happens that this even crazier guy is the boss around this place. It’s note worthy that he fails at giving names and at reality but not at general randomness. Arakawa under the bridge presents us some bizarre characters and promises to get even more oddballs as the show goes on. I think they’ve partially already succeeded in that and covered up the remaining weirdness for the Spring. Those interested in that type of thing we’ll see plenty here.
I think I know this eye more than I do my own
As is cleared, Shaft is back and so are what makes it that way – the good and the bad. You know, one of these days I’m going to virtually poke Shaft in the eye just for the heck of it. Shaft’s trademark (some maybe call it fetish) to incorporate their cyclops eye (as I’m officially dubbing them that way as of now) in their work is also back for those who can’t get enough of it. In addition to these glaring techniques, the unusual (and redundant) use of the splash screens to separate chapters was in my opinion, without a doubt, overused even if it served to separate sections of the story. Those who aren’t familiar with the original manga like myself won’t see any difference if Shaft just goes ahead and remove them altogether. They don’t actually do much for the show. Those types of effects are clearly better suited and better handled for works such as Hidamari Sketch. For those who grow tired of these effects altogether and wish to stick to Arakawa under the bridge, better bear with it.
The formula continues with the dialogues which Shinbo’s works are known for. These shows featuring these ‘My turn, your turn. Ha. See what I just did there’ are clearly dominant in Under the Bridge too. Hopefully, it’ll be witty and actually funny and won’t be as verbose as others forcing some viewers to unnecessarily rewind more than once. I, for one, not expecting Arakawa under the bridge to reach Bakemonogatari’s level on the whole battle of wits, but it might as well try while is at it. Keeping it clever and more importantly weird and wacky is what Shaft does best. Whenever they manage to pull it off successfully they’ll be looking to another big hit for the season and not another DinTV lackluster.
Thoughts: The show has potential, however, it could surely step up the comedy a couple of notches. It won’t hurt to stick around and how this turns out. Shinbou’s detractors will still think otherwise and those who enjoy his work will still do. If you enjoy Shaft’s already well known wacky formula you’ll probably enjoy Arakawa under the bridge even if it reminds of previous Shaft shows. Who might not enjoy it? Those who already had enough of Shaft’s familiar formula and possibly actual hobos.