HomeAnimeArakawa Under the Bridge - Hanabee Edition Review

Arakawa Under the Bridge – Hanabee Edition Review


Arakawa Under the Bridge - Hanabee Edition Review 1Title: Arakawa Under the Bridge
Published by: Hanabee (Australia / New Zealand) NIS America (North America)
Based on: The manga series under the same name released by Hikaru Nakamura
Genre: Comedy and Romance
Audio: Japanese Dub
Subtitles: English
Aspect Ratio – DVD: 16:9
Runtime: 314 minutes
Cost: $44.99
Classification: This series has been rated PG for Mild Themes, Animated Violence, Sexual References and Coarse Language
Special Thanks: Special thanks goes to Hanabee for providing me with a sample of this title.

Just how far will you go to pay off a debt? For one, Ko Ichinomiya, born and raised to never be in debt to anyone uploads this ideal very seriously. So when a girl named Nino, a self-proclaimed Venusian, inexplicably rescues him he is left with the greatest debt of all.

Agreeing to become her boyfriend and moving in with her as repayment gets more complicated when your girlfriend’s home is literally under a bridge and you’ve just met the eccentric neighbors. Featuring a centuries old kappa, a crossdressing nun, a rock star with an actual star for a head to mention a few, all of whom make the Venusian Nino seem normal… Ko just might be in over his head. Welcome to life in Arakawa Under the Bridge!

As with Toradora!, I have reviewed Awakawa Under the Bridge in the past not expecting any anime publisher in Australia to pick up the license to it. Earlier this year when Hanabee Entertainment opened their doors, the series was one of the first few titles on their release slate and made available for sale from retailers last week. In the past I have reviewed the North American ‘Premium Edition’ release which included the show on Blu-ray format and came with a set of different extras from Hanabee’s release – so for the sake of accuracy I am re-reviewing the series for the ANZ region. My North American readers can read my original review 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 in 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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The stage is set on the banks of the Arakawa River. A self-proclaimed “winner at life,” Ko Ichinomiya (aka Rec) finds his fate suddenly entangled with a self-proclaimed “Venusian citizen,” the beautiful and oddly homeless Nino. The love story between these two youngsters is often humorous, sometimes bittersweet, and always on the edge of insanity. This surreal comedy depicts the exciting lives of these two and all the other maniacal residents of Arakawa under the bridge.

The series title is evidently a parody of the character ‘The Troll who lives Under the Bridge’ from the story ‘The Three Billy Goats Gruff’ where the troll traps the three goats in an attempt to eat them. The storyline of this tale however is slightly more literal, as it follows a community of people who live under a bridge and manage to make protagonist Ichinomiya, Ko (Hereforth known as Recruit) a member of their society. It follows Recruit who is rescued by the beautiful (Alien??) girl Nino, and as she saved his life, is morally obliged to make her wish come true… this wish is to be loved.

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This is a tale of romance between Recruit and Nino, however you will find that the storyline deviates from this plotline almost constantly leaving the storyline to develop all the residents of the Bridge somewhat equally. The first thing you will notice, which is becoming increasingly rare in animes is that Recruit is not a meaningless male protagonist. Instead, over being nothing but a moving target for a girls punch, the storyline involves more character development towards him then any other character. You will also notice that the number of characters are significantly high. This does end up being a slight downfall of this series, as there are more characters then episodes which I feel didn’t leave the characters enough time to develop their personalities to the fullest extent (However there is a second season).

For those who have watched other SHAFT series such as Negima!? or Pani Poni Dash, this will not be unfamiliar territory for you as this is the style they do well with the strangeness reaching all new highs whilst maintaining a more light-hearted nature then most anime series. If anything, the characters make this story what it is, and they are indeed a very diversified bunch even for a series of this genre and style.

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The cast of characters features a female protagonist who believes she is an alien from Venus (Aka. Venusian), a Village Chief who is a humanoid Kappa, a rock star with a very similar shaped head, a male priest who sports the nun attire, a loli who has aspirations of dominating the world, a sadistic female farmer and a pair of twins who wear buckets on their heads are just some of the characters that flow in and out of the storyline and leave you wondering if they are human and if their stories are all part of some delusion or are purposeful.

Having a cast this large does cause some issues to the storyline in my opinion, however they are slowly introduced as the episodes progress and whilst each may not have much of a focus every episode, it is hard to deny that they are one of the most hillarious mismatched group of characters seen in an anime and that each have their own quirk or joke source which provides them with enough content to work with whilst remaining enjoyable. Going back to the romance storyline…. it is not a major focus of the story but a means of progressing it with no form of resolution in this series.

Overall, I enjoyed every episode of this series, and as I was watching it whilst doing an intensive week at university, I think it was one of the things that helped me relax. The characters were indeed charming, and it is hard to believe they were able to get such an assorted jumble of characters to work so well together. There were a few messages in this series surrounding loyalty and acceptance, however it is better to not think about them and enjoy this unique experience.

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Considering that this is a title by SHAFT and more specifically, with Akiyuki Shinbo as director, I would have to say that this is perhaps one of the more realistically designed series they have released – but that isn’t saying much. Series such as this have always been about presenting the most effective design for the comedy then the most effective comedy for the design. The environments wouldn’t win any awards in my book, but they do the series well with vivid colours that give off a realistic appeal to them. Considering that most of the characters have differing personalities, they have been designed to suit them. I enjoyed the characters designs except for P-ko’s, which I thought differed too much, and whilst looking cute, her appearance was too heavy on the eyes in terms of colour choice. The choice to design the Chief as a humanoid over more towards an actual Kappa was the winning design for me.

Hanabee chose to only release this series on DVD instead of DVD and Blu-ray as it was in North America. I feel that this is one series that really benefited from a blu-ray release aesthetic-wise, however the quality of this DVD edition was solid and brought across similar bright and vivid visuals as there was in the North American DVD release.

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Opening Sequence #1
Venus to Jesus by Etsuko Yakushimaru

As this series mostly takes place alongside a riverbank, this is an appropriate form of animation to use in this sequence, but i am not entirely sold on it. The song Venus to Jesus was one that I didn’t mind listening to, however it wasn’t as good as…..

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Opening Sequence #2
Title Nante Jibun de Kangaenasai na

…. Opening Sequence #2 which was without a doubt the more enjoyable of the two. This opening was only shown in Episode 5 due to the arrival of Maria in the previous episode. I think this sequence is appealing in the same way that the opening for Bokusatsu Tenshi Dokuro-chan was…. it had an upbeat tune to the song whilst having a sadistic style in the animation, this time with a mannequin version of Sister being the victim.

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Ending Sequence
Sakasama Bridge by Suneohair

This ending sequence is above average in comparison to others, however the choice of song wasn’t that I would consider an enjoyable listen to, perhaps due to me contrasting it to the two opening sequences. The animation however was well designed, despite starting off bland.

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The music within the series features an average variety of songs, however lacks that diversity that I would have liked. That being said, it was the style of music I was expecting (More simplistic and less over the top) and went well with the scenarios they were used in. In terms of voice acting, I still have not got much of a comparison list for Japanese dubs as I do English, but I think all the voice actors/actresses were appropriate for their role, with Hiroshi Kamiya (Durarara!!, Moon Phase) doing a great job at voicing Recruit.

Hanabee Entertainment retained many of the same on-disc goodies as the original Arakawa Under the Bridge  release. Included in this release were six sets of Blu-ray & DVD Advertisements coming in at around 15-seconds each (Volumes 1-5 and then one encompassing all five Japanese volumes), four promo spots (2x 15 Second and 2x 30 seconds), an End Card Gallery for each of the episodes and finally four trailers for upcoming/current Hanabee releases – Dream Eater Merry, Toradora!, Bodacious Space Pirates and ef ~ a tale of memories. Reviews for all four of these titles are either currently available on The Otaku’s Study or otherwise will be available in the new year. Unfortunately they chose not to include the audio commentary which was quite interesting to listen to. We are also once again left without clean opening and ending sequences, which is a shame as all of them were as interesting to watch as they arewere to listen to.

Packaging is standard for their releases and includes an inner cover which might serve well as a reversible cover. Hanabee have not included an artbox with this release nor have they announced any intentions to do so with Arakawa Under the Bridge x Bridge due for release in February but this could potentially change over the coming months. Overall, while Hanabee might not have included all the goodies from the North American release, it is currently the only “Standard Edition” on the market and taking this into account it still contains pretty good extras within it and in my opinion not a deal breaker.

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I generally enjoy storylines that have some structure to them, but at the same time there are times where I prefer a good ol’ comedic series. Arakawa Under the Bridge is a perfect example of a “Good ol’ comedic series” and is one I could highly recommend to anyone who wants a few good laughs with some solid character development intertwined into the mix. Overall it was an enjoyable watch and while Hanabee might not have been able to match NIS America in the Extras factor – in every other aspect it is the same enjoyable series and one I am glad the company has chosen to release in Australia / New Zealand!

Final Score
Storyline/Character Development: A- (Locked in from Previous Review)
Design: B+ (Locked in from Previous Review)
OP/ED Sequences: B+ (Locked in from Previous Review)
Music/Voice Acting: B (Locked in from Previous Review)
Packaging/Extras: B
Personal Opinion: A (Locked in from Previous Review)
Overall Score: A-

Founder of The Otaku's Study. I have been exploring this labyrinth of fandom these last fifteen years, and still nowhere close to the exit yet. Probably searching for a long time to come.

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