Review by: Ai Kano
Publisher: NIS America
MSRP: $69.99 US
Running Time: 316 minutes
Release Date: Available Now
Everything gets even weirder under the bridge.
You know things are going to get strange when the girl you love says she’s from Venus and lives under a bridge with a man dressed in a nun’s habit, a cute little girl who would give the Incredible Hulk nightmares and an assortment of other oddballs who call Arakawa their home. Oh but love does have a tendency to blossom in the most unusual places and, as we can see from Season 2 of Arakawa Under the Bridge X Bridge, that can be a very good thing.
In the first season we met the young and successful overachiever named Ko Ichinomiya who – as fate would have it – found himself on the ledge of the Arakawa Bridge when the beautiful and strange Nino stole his heart and saved his pants. Since then he has come to live with Nino and an assortment of other strange folk under the bridge under his new name … Recruit or Rec for short. Oh life under the bridge is not normal by any means since the “village chief” happens to be a Kappa (or a guy dressed up as one) and his rival for the affections of Nino (who claims to be from the planet Venus) is a rock star with emphasis on the star.
In the opening of the second season, Rec can no longer ignore the fact that Nino keeps sleepwalking into his comfortable little pad and – in the process – subconsciously unleashing some brutal wrestling moves on him. He sees this as an opportunity to ask her to stay in his home only to have the girl misinterpret the romantic gesture and kick him out of his own place. This arrangement doesn’t last very long, however, but Nino leaves behind a tape player and a number of old cassettes. Curiosity gets the better of Rec and listens to the tapes that seem to point to the fact that Nino might actually be a princess from Venus.
Meanwhile, Rec’s father continues to be perplexed by his son’s new life under a bridge and has Nino investigated by the beautiful Shimazaki and the always suffering Takai. It’s hard to watch over a guy who has become comfortable participating in the insanity created by the bridge dwellers. On top of that, Nino catches Rec listening to her tapes and goes on a strange lockdown mode that has her climb up a telephone pole and not want to come down. Luckily for Rec he does manage to talk Nino down and tries to make amends by offering her a tape filled with his own embarrassing moments.
Season 2 also puts some of the characters that were introduced late in the first season take center stage here such as The Last Samurai (who lives his life like a true samurai), Billy (who looks like a gangster with the head of a cockatoo) and his beautiful lady love named Jacqueline (who claims to be queen of the bees). They take part in P-ko’s movie that she convinced Rec to film about a certain redheaded French girl named Piceaux who is in love with a certain kappa.
We also meet two new characters such as Kuwabara Potechi who happens to be a comic book artist who becomes obsessed with Nino to the point that he tries to capture her likeness every chance he gets even if it means diving into the river where Nino spends some of her time. Then there’s the Amazon, a huge blonde babe who falls head over sandaled feet for Rec to the point that she sends her trio of Tengu (basically three guys wearing masks) to help her win the young man’s heart.
While Rec becomes more comfortable living his life with his new friends and Nino, the girl he has come to see as his girlfriend tells him that she must go back home to Venus. Nino doesn’t really want to leave everyone and – above all – Recruit, but she needs to go. The good news is that Rec is willing to follow her anywhere … and so do most of the others who actually believe they will take a rocket ship to Venus.
The first season was filled with a number of crazy moments but this season just doubles the craziness while injecting the light touches of romance that makes the series so charming. Yes, Sister is still very much in love with Maria but the relationship between Whitey and Shimazaki is even more intriguing. Meanwhile, P-ko throws a lavish tea party and The Last Samurai tries to top it with a “traditional” tea ceremony that has Rec and Hoshi competing against each another.
Oh yeah, Sister even hold his own crazy boot camp to stay fit that has the twins look like hulking bodybuilders. At one point one of the twins, Tetsuo has a battle with a muscular Stella over leadership in an impressive battle of two mighty Hulk-like combatants. Everyone even competes against each another when the Chief announces a “King’s Game” with the top prize being the winner telling everyone what to do for a day.
So you can imagine the craziness this second season throws at us and – you know what? – it actually makes for a delightfully enjoyable season. You top that off with some truly mesmerizing animation that still looks amazing on Blu-ray and you have yourself a series that’s really a guaranteed good time.
Simply put: this second season that makes up Arakawa Under the Bridge X Bridge continues to be a ridiculously insane and utterly hilarious anime series that will not fail to make a fan out of you from unusual beginning to bizarre end. Still just as delightfully colorful and offbeat as the first season, Season 2 simply ups the ante in the most hilarious and entertaining way. Even if you’re not a fan of oddball anime comedies, this is the series that you will really come to love, trust me.
BLU-RAY/DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
While recognizing that the mysteriously beautiful and oddball girl named Nino is way out there, Rec’s feelings for her grow even stronger. Meanwhile, the even stranger residents living under the bridge hold tea parties, get health check-ups and even make their own feature film. As we learn more about them, we are also introduced to new eccentric characters as well such as the Amazon and a comic book author obsessed with Nino.
VIDEO QUALITY: A+
Arakawa is easily one of the most visually impressive anime series out there and, yes, one filled with an original-looking cast of characters as well. It’s certainly a series that HAS to be seen on Blu-ray to appreciate the gorgeous and very colorful animation. Also, the live-action footage is simply just awesome.
AUDIO QUALITY: A
There’s no English dub cast here but you will definitely not complain thanks to the brilliant voice acting that makes each character come to life in the most colorful way possible. Maaya Sakamoto (as Nino) and Hiroshi Kamiya (as Rec) outdo themselves in this second season and the rest of the cast is simply stellar. Add the lovely original score and the cute opening and closing theme songs (one funny opening sung by Takai) and you will want to turn up the volume while watching this one.
There are certainly a number of extras in the Premium Edition set that are worth sinking your teeth into such as the audio commentary track for the first four episodes of this second season that includes most of the cast and the manga author, Hikaru Nakamura, that is worth listening to while watching the episodes. The discs also include the original TV spots, NIS America trailers and the End Card gallery with amazing art from such recognizable talents such as Oh Great! (of Air Gear fame) and Arina Tanemura (of The Gentleman’s Alliance Cross fame).
Also included is the 32-page hardcover book containing the wonderful artwork, interviews and other assorted character profiles that make the book a great collectible for fans.
Season 2 of Arakawa Under the Bridge X Bridge doesn’t just raise the bar on the zaniness that made the first season so refreshingly and hilariously insane but it also makes for a season that is just way too enjoyable that you will not want to stop watching until the last episode. Yes, a series this crazy that’s actually good is a rare thing so if you’re not already a fan you certainly will be after this second season.
Review copy provided by NIS America