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Arakawa Under the Bridge x Bridge – Hanabee Edition Review

by SamFebruary 6, 2013

AUTB

Title: Arakawa Under the Bridge x Bridge
Alternate Title: Arakawa Under the Bridge 2
Published by: Hanabee (Australia) | Nippon Ichi Software America (North America)
Based on: The original anime release Arakawa Under the Bridge
Genre: Comedy and Romance
Audio: Japanese Dub
Subtitles: English
Runtime: 314 Minutes (13 x 24ish Minute Episodes)
Cost: $44.99 on DVD
Special Thanks: Hanabee Entertainment for kindly providing me with a sample of this release

The antics for the residents at Arakawa Under the Bridge continue in this hilarious sequel! Just as Kou is settling on to the banks of Arakawa with his eccentric neighbours, he learns that he has barely scratched the surface! As now not only does he have to deal with his usual assortment of strange friends, but he’s also got an Amazonian woman with her tribe of demonic “female” followers breathing down his neck, and a comic nerd who is the self-claimed head of the Earth Defense Force as well.

But that is the very least of Kou’s worries, as Nino’s claim to being an alien may not be as absurd as previously thought. Ko is now faced with the very real possibility of either moving across the stars, quite literally, or losing her forever. New secrets and friends arise as Arakawa Under the Bridge truly becomes a place for the odd and eccentric to gather!


As I have done in the past with Hanabee Entertainment’s releases of both Toradora! and Arakawa Under the Bridge, I have already reviewed Arakawa Under the Bridge x Bridge on The Otaku’s Study. However, given that there are some differences between the releases by Nippon Ichi Software America in North America and this Australian edition – I have decided to re-review the series for the sake of accuracy. If you are from North America and looking that their premium edition release for the series – click HERE.

Most of the rewriting will come with additions to / omissions from the Hanabee release and will not greatly deviate from the content of the original review (Which also means there are some differences from my current review layout). This also means that most of the scores will remain the same thus retaining the originally strong overall score of A- for the first season. Without further ado lets start the review!

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When you were younger, you might have heard the tale of “The Three Billy Goats”, a Norwegian fairy tail that involves a troll living under a bridge who tries to eat, and then tricked by a group of sheep leading to his untimely death. This tale has often become associated with creatures living under bridges, but Arakawa Under the Bridge sets to change this greatly. Based on the manga series by Hikaru Nakamura and developed by the studio SHAFT (Well known for their eccentric comedies), this show focuses on a whole community of odd and unique people who live under a bridge. The first season turned out to be a real hoot, receiving an A- grade from me… so how does the second season compare?

The most important thing I can stress to you in this review, is that despite this anime not really having much of an overall plot or purchase, it is run by character development (and has a lot of characters) so I strongly advise you do not jump a season and begin with x Bridge. If you do, there is a strong chance you will end up completely lost and many of the jokes would be incomprehensible or not as enjoyable as they might have otherwise been. This tale follows the male protagonist Kou Ichinomiya or Recruit, who through a family tradition of never being indebted to anyone, is morally obliged to make the wish of a supposed alien girl Nino come true… this wish being to be loved. With a considerably large character cast, they have shown they can deliver ample character development to every one of them while bringing a good level of comedy to give you a consistent stream of chuckles while not detracting from any other department.

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For those of you who have watched the first season and enjoyed it, I can simply describe this season as more of what you enjoyed only improved upon. The first season was interesting and funny at the same time as Recruit who was brought up as a normal albeit stuffy human being before joining the “Family” found himself questioning reality and reacting to almost anything odd around him – from the Village Chief who is also supposedly a Kappa, a superstar with a star for a head and the communities farmer who is as sadistic as they come. This time around they have integrated him into the community, so while he does react, he is more open to just going with the flow, offering a newer and in my opinion better perspective on him. The other characters haven’t changed so much, but no longer have to rely on their appearances or interactions with Recruit  to get laughs, but instead use the situations at hand to gauge both comedy and development.

One potential area of concern for some with the first season was that they rapidly introduced characters, and while they each received enough character development and most appeared throughout the episodes, they as individuals didn’t have much to contribute to the story. This season only saw the inclusion of four new characters, all at the same time – an Amazoness and her three henchmen in Tengu masks. While their contribution to the series added some freshness to it, I didn’t warm up to them as I did the previous characters so they were a rather so-so addition. Other than that however, I thought they worked with the existing characters very well. However, even with fewer characters added to the mix, this series was more about delivering comedy and character development than actual plot, so even after this season was complete there was nothing much in the ways of storyline-related purpose or sufficient conclusion to the series.

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Unlike most series, one episode does not equal one episode but instead are split up into a number of mini-chapters, similar to what was done in the previous season. While season one covered Chapters 001 – 108, this season comes equipped with a further 92 chapters taking the current grand total to 200. This allows them to separate individual elements to the episodes and lets them cover a lot more without giving the impression of being poorly planned. While some of the plot elements do leave you feeling like you had heard the same quirk before, they do offer a nice selection of different ideas and concepts that they put into the episodes and most of them work. While all the different characters make for a unique and mostly well thought out story, the romance element is also unique and sets itself apart from other series. Unlike many series where there is a pervert guy who tries to grope or take pantyshot pictures of his “girlfriend….s”, this series pulls the relationship between Nino and Recruit interesting due to both characters naivety and different personalities to pull of awkward and perhaps even what one would consider “cute” scenarios.

Overall, if you were one who enjoyed the first season but were not so sure about the second, you have very little to worry about as there is a good chance you would enjoy this season just as much if not more. If you are new to the series, it CAN be watched stand-alone but I strongly advise you to check out the first season which is still available from Hanabee. But overall, SHAFT has delivered what I have come to expect from many of their comedy anime series – randomness, lots of characters and a number of clever ideas.

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Many of the same comments I made in my previous review relating to design would carry over into this one. The characters are indeed one of the more interesting design concepts, given that while many of the characters wear the same outfit for a majority of the time – they are all uniquely different from one another that complements their individual eccentric personalities, who they are and quite often who they can turn out to be when the right buttons are pushed and are overall visually pleasing. The series colour palette is exactly what I would have expected from a SHAFT studio production, a bright, vivid and colourful world filled with sufficient details for characters and environment designs.

Hanabee once again chose to release the series on DVD only instead of DVD and Blu-ray as it was in North America. My thoughts still stand that this was a series that would have really benefitted from a blu-ray release aesthetic wise. The quality of the DVD visuals however worked well enough however.

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This release comes equipped with a grand total of two opening sequences and one ending sequence. The main opening sequence is COSMOS vs ALIEN by Etsuko Yakushimaru and proved to be an enjoyable song when coupled with one of the most creatively designed opening sequences I have seen in a long time. The second opening sequence which is shown only in episode 10 is Kou-sama Go! Summer!! ~Iya, Yuku no wa Kinsei Dakara~ by Cho…. and I am pretty sure more than a few people would watch it with their faces in this expression: “O_O”. The only ending sequence is Akai Coat by Suneohair and proved to be an enjoyable and interesting watch.

I do not really have any amendments to make in terms to either the audio or voice acting from my original review. The music soundtrack offers a decent variety of songs however lacks that little bit of diversity I would have liked. But, they did choose to go for more simplistic and less over the top that complemented the content delivered well. Voice acting retained the same cast as before and they did an equally enjoyable job of it… nothing more to really say about it. Of course, once again and like all their other anime titles – it is Japanese dub only.

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While this season does not come with any premium edition content such as the colour artbook made available in North America, Hanabee still puts together a nice set of extra goodies. These goodies include:

  • Four Promo spots for the series which are not translated (2x 15 seconds and 2x 30 seconds)
  • 15 second advertisment for the AUB39 Soundtrack
  • Featurette Gallery (Timed)
  • Ending Card Gallery (Which you progress through at your own pace)
  • A trailer for Bodacious Space Pirates

Overall, while it is unfortunate they have not been able to include textless opening and closing sequences for the season, it was a simple but enjoyable set of extras for a Japanese dub only release. The menu design is also similar to that of Hanabee’s release of Arakawa Under the Bridge and is very well designed in my opinion. The DVD also features reversible cover artwork, the front pictured at the top of this article featuring Kou and Nino and the back cover featuring Village Chief and P-ko.

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Arakawa Under the Bridge x Bridge brings everything that made the first season good and provides more of it. It is an enjoyable series and one I could quite happily recommend checking out if you are into more comical anime titles. While it is unfortunate to see that Hanabee only decided to do a DVD release of this title, I think they did a solid job of it and hope to see more releases like this from them in the future.

Final Score
Storyline / Character Development: A-
Design: A-
Music/Voice Acting: B
Personal Preference: B+
Extra Content: B
Overall Score: A-

Sam
Your average, perhaps slightly geeky 23 year old University student who spends his days studying but his nights watching, reviewing and reporting on video games, anime and manga. Has been writing for The Otaku's Study ever since it opened in 2006 as Sam's Anime Study.
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