No matter how much Akiyuki Shinbo shows might feel like Akiyuki Shinbo shows you cannot mask the quirky trademark humor of Hikaru Nakamura in Arakawa Under the Bridge. I did notice after a while my enjoyment of segments really depended on which characters were in them. Scenes with Nino, Hoshi, Sister, Stella are usually excellent where as Maria and P-ko usually fall flat. Everyone else is hit and miss. I did notice in reflection Nino does not show up nearly as much as you think she would especially in the second half of the anime. I know some people found Kou annoying but I thought it was an excellent straight man to the rest of the cast. Episodes 10,11, and 12 have a story that has a decent conclusion with Kou having to confront his father over the development of the land under the bridge. There is a big confrontation with nothing really changed. But that is usually how you best deal with an ongoing comedy series like Arakawa. Also after episode 13 they announced a second season so they had to maintain the status quo. Overall I enjoyed every episode and always looked forward to watching the latest episode. Arakawa Under the Bridge is not as spectacular as Saint Young Men from what I have seen but always made me feel good after watching an episode. I hope the 2nd season can continue that feeling.
I had mixed feelings going into Arakawa Under the Bridge, while I thoroughly enjoy the humor of Hikaru Nakamura (also the manga-ka of Saint Young Men), Shinbo makes me wary. However, I found myself laughing heartily for most episodes and feeling an overall satisfaction with the show. The wacky premise of a colony of misfits living in a community under a bridge combined with the neurotic Kou joining their circle almost makes you feel at ease in the bizarre. Eventhough much of the humor relies on unexpectedness, the series has the ability to keep taking bigger leaps which allows for fresh moments to appear despite knowing characters’ schtick. Though some of the humor begins to fall flat at moments that rely too heavily on Kou being surprised. The first half is better than the second mostly because some of the resued jokes start to lose their luster and the later half deigns to tell us a semi-serious story which isn’t very compelling. The attempt to insert a plot to cap off the show was valiant but could have been better served by just bringing Kou and Nino closer together without all the rest. In fact, many episodes have just a moment of poignant brilliance (“We want to know who you are not what you have.”) which struck a better balance. The strange humor of Arakawa is certainly worth checking out even if it does ebb and flow at the end.