Arakawa Under the Bridge x Bridge, as the sequel to Arakawa Under the Bridge (season one), once again follows the whimsical lifestyles of the residents under the bridge through the eyes of Recruit. Recruit, after chancing upon a community with wildly different societal expectations, challenges his own sense of normality and eventually integrates into this odd world. Much of the acceptance is facilitated by his lover, Nino, who claims to be a Venusian. Season one both introduces this fun world with its players and sets up a blossoming relationship between Recruit and Nino. Bridge x Bridge (season two) further develops both the supporting cast and the romance.
Under the bridge lives a large cast of curious characters in a very rich society. Bridge x Bridge does a very thorough job in giving all the quirky people their own spotlights. Even those with few passing appearances in season one, such as Billy and Jacqueline, get considerable back story and development. Of course, the old favorites – Maria, P-ko, Chief, Hoshi, and the rest of the gang – all return with more silly antics and more substance.
Similarly, Bridge x Bridge delves further into the lead characters. Whereas season one focused mostly on Recruit’s back story, his struggles with father issues, and his growth, season two focuses more on Nino. In the second season, Nino shows more dynamic emotions than her usual one-note blanket reactions, such as happiness, anger, and fear. In addition, her eccentricities are accentuated and her mysterious past explored. The arc in which Recruit listens to Nino’s hidden tape is especially notable. Not only are we charmed by Nino’s incredibly adorable behaviors, we also realize the length Nino would go to hide her past.
Yet, although Nino became much more fascinating, neither her peculiarities nor her past is explained. Bridge x Bridge leaves the audience with more questions than answers. In fact, nothing set up in the first or the second season is resolved by the end of the season – not the romance, Nino’s past, nor the planned trip to Venus, the major plot of the last arc. Bridge x Bridge leaves much to be desired in its plot.
In that sense, this season is very similar to the first. While each comedic sketch builds a little more to the characters such that they all pop as well defined, unique personalities by the end, the anime has little space to progress the plot. It is especially difficult because the myriad of characters all have extremely diverse and complex oddities. Adding two new characters, Amazoness and the mangaka, only exacerbates this situation.
Still, we must not forget that Arakawa Under the Bridge is, at its core, a sketch comedy. And it is brilliant at being just that. Bridge x Bridge, much like season one, is hilarious. This is one of very few anime that consistently tickles me. The various exaggerated fighting sequences, wild behaviors, and faulty logic are fantastic. I also love the distorted parodies of other genre, mostly gar and shoujo. A feminine Hoshi and Recruit and muscular loli Stella and iron brothers are so awkwardly inconsistent with the ordinary. It is quite a trip.
Further, through nonsense, exaggerations, and genre parodies, the series creates a very light, funny, crazy atmosphere that blurs the line between social familiarity and abnormality, and between reality and imagination. Indeed, at times, I might even be so caught up in a sketch to temporarily believe that Nino is an alien. Trying not to make sense of this whimsical anime is incredibly fun.
- Because Arakawa Under the Bridge x Bridge is very similar in theme to the first season, it might be nice to also read my season one review, in which I discuss a little more about the potential commentaries this series provides, the visual styles, and other relevant topics: Arakawa Under the Bridge Review
- This post might also be a good further reading: Typography Under the Bridge – Wordplay in Arakawa
- The sadistic Maria is still my favorite! And I would still love to be abused.
- Yakushimaru Etsuko is so lovely.
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