Typography is a fascinating aspect of art that has significant impact on the viewer experience. There is a science to every detail: font choice, typesetting, context design… etc. It is all around us. With the ubiquity of visual advertisements and web designs today, typography has found its way into almost all media. Of course, that includes anime.
A while ago, I wrote a review for Arakawa Under the Bridge (season 1) . I noted in the piece the resemblance Arakawa’s gorgeous visual has to print media. Indeed, the colors and the style almost seem like a deliberate throwback. Besides those, there is yet another element to the comparison – typography.
Arakawa uses typography brilliantly. Much like today’s print advertisements, the anime does not just deliver text. Rather, it uses the characters to communicate an abstract level of concepts to the viewers. The words can emphasize ideas, confuse readers, or set the tone. Typography adds that extra punch to the scenes.
The opening  provides a great example microtypography. The comical font, the close kerning, and the vibrant colors evoke a busy whimsical feeling to the viewers. The title readies us for the quick paced, nonsensical humor that will soon follow.
Here, the macrotypography creates an uptight atmosphere. Through the orderly alignment and the simple unwavering repeats, the scene further emphasizes the strict mindset of Recruit.
Because of the nature of text, typography inherently occupies considerable mental space. Arakawa manipulates this into its comedy. Arakawa integrates a fair amount of exposition to its jokes. At times, the set up for the punch line takes occupies most of the arc. During long dialogues and monologues, typography fills the dead visual space left by the lack of action.
Furthermore, Arakawa uses plenty of wordplay , a motif which goes really well with typography. Through various clever rhetoric and puns in between punch lines, the anime forces viewers to continually engage its visuals. This further makes Arakawa a demanding, fast comedy.
The typography also just makes this series a delight to watch. I really enjoy the refreshing and fun visual designs, especially when it works beautifully with the story and the humor.
- My other posts on Arakawa Under the Bridge:
Arakawa Under the Bridge Review
The Homeless in Arakawa Under the Bridge
- OMG! I love Etsuko Yakushimaru. Bridge x Bridge brings yet another lovely opening!
Cosmos vs. Alien by Etusko Yakushimaru
- Fathomlessblue gives some great examples of wordplay in the comments. Others have also highlighted SHAFT’s works.