Seems like they haven’t been evicted yet. Heck, who would dare to?! Arakawa Under The Bridge x Bridge didn’t feel like a sequel but rather a direct continuation from the first season. It’s like as though the show took a season’s worth of break before resuming the series. You could say that all the wacky mayhem continues directly from where it all left off at the end of the first season.

A basic recap of what this series is all about. We have Kou, the son of the famous Ichinomiya Company who finds himself becoming the boyfriend of one of the Arakawa residents, Nino. Just because he has never been in debt before and wishes not to be in one. So yes, as weird as Nino and all the other residents of the riverbank goes, common sense is literally non-existent so you can say Riku (Kou’s new nickname as a resident here) is having a hard time adjusting or talking sense into these bunch of misfits. Along the way, he learns and grows closer to Nino.

Episode 1
Nino wakes up from a strange dream. Too bad her sleepwalking means Riku bears the brunt of her actions. Yeah, at his place. Riku wishes to help with her sleepwalking problem by suggesting that she sleeps here. She agrees since they are lovers. But he didn’t expect what she meant was they should swap places. Yeah, she lives in his room while he gets to sleep in hers. Riku moves into Nino’s place for the first time and the first annoyance he encounters is Hoshi’s annoying love song just outside the curtains. Riku just ignores him while Hoshi finds out too late that it’s not the girl he loves who is listening. Of course there are other residents who are surprised to see Riku in Nino’s place like Piko and Chief. Some lame excuse they give just to excuse themselves. That night, Riku becomes paranoia that Nino may be settling comfortably in his place so he panics to make her own place more comfy so she can return. Pulling out the drawers of the bed, he finds fine quality fabric. Then Nino appears. He thinks he’s a goner for peeping. Thankfully, she’s just sleepwalking as she collapses onto the bed. Riku pulls a blanket over her when she starts kicking his stomach. Then she locks him in the drawer and for a guy like him, sleeping underneath there can be one hell of an uncomfortable experience.

The gang are playing baseball when the ball flies out of range. Guess who has the honour of picking it up? Yeah, Riku has to trek all the way to who knows where just to find the ball with a celebrity’s signature that probably doesn’t exist. He encounters a large sized woman, Amazoness. Wait a minute. He didn’t end up in Brazil, didn’t he? Uh… That signboard indicates he is still in Saitama. This part will be continued later as the scene turns into Arakawa Marathon Championship. While the guys are running, the girls will be waiting at the other end. Shiro seems fast and leading by a mile and heading for an easy victory till he ran out of white lines and had to u-turn to replenish. So it’s Riku and Hoshi with the usual insulting and mocking as they race neck to neck to the finish line. Just as Riku thinks he is going to cross the finish line (because Hoshi is already in some Budoukan delusion), Shiro suddenly zooms pass and pips Riku for the win! And you thought he already dropped out. Billy and Jacqueline must be the smartest runners in the marathon. Not only did they enjoy a romantic moment together, they had Sister do the running for them because they’re sitting right on top of his heavy backpack load while admiring the sunset as Sister pants it out. Even if they don’t win the race, I’m sure they are winners in other areas. Lastly, we see Nino’s dream of seeing her young self being blasted into space with her parents and other Venusian aliens. Huh?

Episode 2
Continuing from Riku’s encounter with Amazoness, he is bloody sure he didn’t wander into the Amazon forest because Amazoness has 3 tengu underlings. More like guys in tengu masks. Amazoness thinks he is trying to search for their treasure but of course we know he couldn’t be bothered with their nonsense and wants to go home. Probably it’s part of their conspiracy or their dumbness when they show him the treasure which turns out to be Master Softee ice cream (a Saitama novelty) in a golden refrigerator. Hey, you can get those around here! They are going to torture him by… Asking for his driver’s licence? Seeing that it is legal, they let him off. WTF?! Riku gets pisses off with the whole thing so he blows his top by eating the Master Softee! Amazoness shoots a blowpipe at him. Thinking he is going to die, it dawned to him that the blowpipe was a Cheetos snack! He abruptly wakes up to find his Arakawa pals around him. They don’t believe him meeting Amazoness and think they were too harsh on him making go look for the ball. As for Amazoness and her tengus, they really do exist as they talk about Riku eating the fake Master Softee and the real one is somewhere else.

It’s a nice morning for Riku but it’s ruined when he sees a SF Nerd cosplay guy lying unconscious on top of the bridge’s pillar. He brings him to Sister and when he regains consciousness, he mentions how he was put up there by a bunch of naughty kids. Do we see a trend here? However he claims he climbed up there on his free will. Riku starts to fear when he starts displaying his weird behaviour. Yeah, his suit is supposed to protect him from being charred by the sun? Oh no. Chief and Hoshi come in after hearing they have a visitor. Seems birds of the same feathers flock together. Yeah, they can really click. Oh, the idiots! This crackpot claims he is the captain of the Earth Defence Force and will protect this world from aliens. Riku decides to chase him out by playing along, claiming that he is an alien. That’s when he starts to narrate how he saw Nino the other night and her incredible leap. It gets ridiculous how Venusians are trying to alter the life force on Earth and that Nino’s snot is the real alien controlling her body. Riku scares him with thoughts that she could destroy the planet on a whim so he better leave. He is in a dilemma but Hoshi, Chief and Sister decide to stick by his side and fight! So when Nino appears for real, she gives the weirdo her typical greeting of stuffing fresh seafood in his mouth till he chokes! Because of that, he gets scared and runs away. And thus, the danger of another resident added to the riverbank was averted. Phew! This place doesn’t need anymore weirdoes.

Episode 3
Riku and Nino swap back their original rooms. Riku is doing spring cleaning because his room stinks with fish smell. Ugh! Then he discovers a radio cassette left behind by Nino and becomes curious to hear what’s on it. He is in a moral dilemma whether to do so or not but in the end, curiosity kills the cat. After hearing the first few nonsensical lines, it’s getting to the interesting part. The tape is addressing the Queen of Venus when suddenly Nino comes in. She goes into shock so he tries to apologize but she puts on a defensive mode and confiscates the box of cassettes. Oh no. He is in real trouble indeed. Nino becomes some sort of a wild animal that she isolates herself on the telephone pole. Attempts to get her down fail like Sister’s cookies (she used telepathy to summon the crows to pick it up from his hands!). Riku is desperate so much so he would even try Maria‘s methods of reading cue cards. They are all just nonsense and of course it’s part of her ploy to get some sadistic kick. Finally Riku apologizes again and assures her he will accept Nino for whoever she is. This time Nino drops the box. However she seems angrier than before and as Chief advises him to think hard because it will weigh heavier on his heart rather on his body. After everyone leaves, Nino comes down as Riku is going to play the tapes. When he does so, they hear Hoshi’s singing of “Himo, himo, himo, himo” (gigolo). Urm… Looks like he recorded over it… Though Riku remains apologetic, Piko gives him her piece of mind of what he has done. The girls organize a pyjamas party to cheer her up. They talk about their ideal kind of guy (some going overboard with the fantasy) when Riku comes in again. He wants Nino to listen to his secrets since he has listened to hers. How come they all sound like boastful achievements? Piko kicks him out but Riku is still adamant to have Nino hear him out. He’s saying his inside will burst each time he sees her making that face. But Riku feels that no matter what he says, his words didn’t get through her heart. He suddenly hugs her and his sincere apology finally got through her. The real tape seems to be with Chief as he mentions it is still too early for him to hear.

Episode 4
Piko decides to make a film to make something out of Riku and Nino’s relationship. Partly it’s for her unrequited love for Chief too. Riku becomes the director and after hearing the ridiculous triangle plot and casting, it’s no wonder Billy withdrew. Shooting begins with lots of the usual antics like Nino forgetting her lines and the film turning into a CG-spam fantasy flick without even reaching the editing stage. Then a scene whereby it involves Last Samurai and Chief’s final showdown over Piko, it turns out to be a duel to see who is the better one to play some swordsman. Piko becomes a tragic heroine because she got slashed in between the swords. Oh, how awful! When the film is finished, it turns out to be heavily edited because every scene only has pictures of Riku! Yeah, that Takai old bugger hasn’t give up on his ‘son’ yet. So gay! The Arakawa guys are doing a haunted house for the festival. Riku is challenged by Hoshi to enter it. Of course each of the scare tactics weren’t effective on Riku and it isn’t that he got scared. For example, it was Shiro trying to hang himself rather than a floating tofu. And Piko in a cat outfit seems more cute than scary. Plus, she has a sunny disposition so how can Riku be scared out of his wits? Hoshi and Nino team up to scare Riku so much so he will scream his mother’s name. They put a pair of sunglasses over his eyes to make the room darker (but Nino messed up and put a pair of normal specs instead) and when Riku sees himself in the mirror, he screamed out his father’s name instead because he saw a splitting image of his dad! Woah! That’s got to be scary!

Episode 5
Guess who is back? Yeah, it’s that SF Nerd! Weirdoes keep coming back, eh? Chief is willing to give him a chance to stay and if he’s still here in a month, he’ll give him a name. He takes out his doujin and shows it to Chief. Yeah, since he is the star of it, he suddenly accepts him and calls him Master! Oh no. Another new resident! He has also drawn the others and it seems Riku’s one is like a loser. He failed lots of job interviews? Riku is determined to find his true identity and gets him to sign him an autograph. Potato Chip Kuwabara? That’s his manga pen name? Riku does research and this guy really does exist. He goes to see Sister but sees Potato drawing his manga. Worse, Nino is his assistant and helping him out. Then Potato’s editor found him (Riku did his civic duty of calling him) and wants him to return. His emotional plea of not wanting him to run away to disappoint his fans has Chief saying that he already has a name so he can’t live here. The editor assures that he gets to draw anything he wants. With that Potato returns and draws some sci-fi manga using the Arakawa residents battling the evil Venusian Nino. Though Chief is taken in by his work, the rest of the normal world citizens think he’s so washed up. It’s amazing how this crap got through the publishing. While talking on anniversaries, Nino mentions today Jacqueline has an important meeting with Billy. Today is also the day that Billy risked his life to rescue Jacqueline from slavery of her bee hives. Doesn’t it feel like a clash between species? They all go to spy on Jacqueline waiting and it seems she is becoming anxious with Billy’s no-show. Yeah, she thinks every cockatoo she sees is Billy! Suddenly a Sparrow-head guy jumps in. He is panicking that Billy is going to get killed. He tells of Billy’s popularity in some national mobster thingy and was respected till he touched the boss’ woman. So the reason he returned was to because he promised her he would. Then they realize Jacqueline is the boss’ woman. She straps on her kimono and settle things once and for all. She plans on ending her life with her stinger when Billy comes back. The lovers reunite. But Sparrow thinks it’s sad because they have got his wings clipped. But Billy doesn’t need to fly away anymore there’s only one person he loves. Aww… How manly and romantic.

Episode 6
Shimazaki is under pressure from Kou’s dad to find out more about Nino but she couldn’t find any more info on her. Then a mysterious figure (Chief?) suddenly appears from behind her and warns her of sticking her nose in any further or she’ll be killed. While Riku is conducting his business meeting with Takai and Shimazaki, Nino makes a ruckus by thrashing the meeting table and putting her shoe on Riku’s head. Then he learns her parents got in touch with her and wants him to come to her room for a private chat. Shimazaki takes this opportunity to tail them and find out more but gets into weird but embarrassing traps set by Maria. Then she meets Shiro and starts falling for him. Yeah, looks like she got distracted from her mission. Meanwhile at Riku and Nino, she wants to give her heart but doesn’t know what to do. She reveals that she has to leave this riverbank and even knew this before he became her lover. She’s going home to Venus. Sure, it’s not some place on Earth? The part Nino couldn’t understand was even though she knew they have to part, she didn’t want to leave him. She didn’t want to leave everyone in the riverbank. So she pleads to Riku if he could come with her to Venus. Once they leave, they may never come back here. Riku agrees to follow her and starts fantasizing the kind of parents she have. However Hoshi has overheard their conversation and in his desperation puts on Nino’s finger a flowery engagement ring to claim her. Then some of the other residents also overheard her leaving to Venus and wonder if they can tag along. Riku spots Potato doing his manga sketch on Nino. Seems like he’s doing a stalker’s diary because he drew every move of Nino’s.

Episode 7
Chief and Shiro are drinking together and it turns out into an argument of who is older. Anyway the Arakawa residents are undergoing physical examinations courtesy of Takai and Shimazaki’s equipment. Diet freak Piko is close to a zombie, Stella‘s incredible height transformation, and Chief’s inner fan coolants are part of the antics you’ll see. Shimazaki blushes when it’s Shiro’s turn. She is having trouble speaking her mind but eventually her message is deciphered wrongly because the irregular heartbeat wasn’t interpreted as a love message but a serious medical condition by Shiro. Hoshi and Sister decide to become sick after seeing Nino gently caring for Riku. He feels he is faring better of his family’s hereditary disease as he doesn’t choke as often when stressed. When Riku finds out Hoshi is attempting to make himself sickly to get Nino’s attention, the competition of who will become more ill takes place. But Nino mentions that if they’re sick, they can’t break through the atmosphere and go to Venus. So the next test is to evaluate how well they will fare in space together. For the best simulation and training for cooperation, they will be locked up in Sister’s underground room for a week. The girls will do theirs first but Jacqueline drops out seeing she can’t stand a moment without Billy. The rest of the girls are doing well interacting and keeping themselves company but by the 6th day, Maria couldn’t take it anymore because she hasn’t been mocking anyone since. Yeah, it’s like her withdrawal symptom. She insults Piko so much that she got paralyzed. Then everyone got so crazy and dash out of the room, leaving Nino as the only one left. Now it’s the guys’ turn. Riku realizes that this Chief is fake but Jacqueline in a kappa suit! The real Chief is outside and isn’t going to sweat himself out. Seeing that this is all-boys only, Billy takes Jacqueline out together. With Sister totally focused deep in his thoughts and Shiro fixing his machine, Riku needs to think of something to keep the sanity with Hoshi and Samurai. He spots Piko’s diary during the girls’ stint and starts reading it. Seven days later, the girls pay a visit and to their surprise none of them has come out and they hear them happily chatting away. But to their horror, the trio have gone crazy in their own delusion world so I think it’s best to call the doctor. Looks like no one is fit to be an astronaut.

Episode 8
While Riku conducts his open air classroom, he is shock to see Amazoness attending his class. Since Riku was the ‘winner’ of the last Master Softee he ate, Amazoness takes a liking for him but Riku says he already has a girlfriend. Oh, the heartbreak. But she’s not giving up yet as she has her tengus hypnotizing Riku to be on her side. Piko tries to have Riku back to teaching but they ended up argument over Amazoness’ scant clothing. Piko later relates this to Nino about the difference in Riku’s eyes. Nino didn’t think of anything wrong till Riku actually rejected her fish lunch over Amazoness’ bento. Later with Piko’s help, Nino is able to get Riku to go on a date this afternoon. However the tengus overheard this and have Riku go ‘rescue’ Amazoness for some shoplifting crime. Nino patiently waits at her home and when Riku finally shows up, he is holding Amazoness in a wedding dress in his arms! Oh gosh! They’re married because Riku wants to protect her! Plus, he wants Nino to break up with him! He is ready to endure her slap but she punches him in the gut. Didn’t see that coming, eh? Nino couldn’t care less about if they’re married so she and Amazoness have a battle to see who cares more about Riku. Well, it isn’t a fight to the death as thought. Yeah, just drawing circles how big their love for Riku is. WTF?! Hoshi learns that the tengus are behind Riku’s hypnotizing and they want to draft his help seeing that he too would benefit from it. But he rejects their offer. Meanwhile Amazoness is losing out to Nino since the former isn’t as healthy and athletic as the latter. Well, Amazoness mentions if she plays the sick girl, Riku could have protected her but as Nino states, she wants to protect Riku because of his asthma. She extends her hand to help Amazoness up. Riku is having weird dreams. Though he is with Amazoness, he feels lonely and wants to be in the company of Nino and co. Amazoness clones herself to deal with his loneliness but what Riku needs is not a legion of Amazoness but 1 Nino. That’s when he snaps and wakes up from the spell. Riku is going to apologize to Amazoness but before he could finish his sentence, she admits defeat and goes away. Now he apologizes to Nino but she mentions about getting married. What? Now? Here? Well, it’s not what Riku is hoping for since to Nino, wedding means drinking milk while sitting. Nyuu = milk. Chair = seki. Nyuuseki = wedding (actually more like register in the family name). Makes sense, right?

Episode 9
Riku receives a courier but it is attention to Shiro and is from his wife. Important documents? Has she finally had it and wants a divorce? Riku goes to bring the package to Shiro but he seems to be coaching Shimazaki positions for some championship with the machine. After Riku snaps Shimazaki out of her true purpose here, she asks Shiro what is her to him. He says that he wants to walk by her side so she blushes and goes off to practice somewhere. Riku chides Shiro for being a terrible human being but says he is aiming for the doubles championship this time rather than the singles. He finally gives him his wife’s package and it turns out to be a letter supporting his cause and an entry form for the championship. Damn, his wife is too understanding! Later Piko and the rest are having a lovely English tea party but it seems Samurai can’t stand this foreign party and wants to conduct his own traditional tea party. He has the guys come along. Except for Sister, who has to be Maria’s personal servant. Riku and Hoshi attend Samurai and Chief’s traditional tea ceremony and witness all the odd process like Samurai using his topknot as the tea brush and Chief using his kappa shell as a cup. I guess being amateurs, they have no say, right? So they have a go of whatever this wabi thingy is and got so infatuated with it that it looks like they turn into psychos. The girls decide to pay them a visit but see Riku and Hoshi breaking down over the harsh training of the wabi. So tradition is something to drive out newcomers?

Episode 10
For the trip to Venus, everyone is required to diet. Or else, how can you break through the atmosphere, right? First we have Piko’s strawberry diet, a dream diet for every girl. Nino and Stella join her. Jacqueline’s massage therapy has Riku and Chief singing up while Hoshi, the Metal Brothers and Samurai undergo Sister’s Boot Camp. What does this mean? Sister shoots and you run! Well, it’s a great way for them to work out. Even with them shivering is enough to burn lots of calories. Shiro is the only one not going so he will gladly help wherever he can. The results are in. Piko’s group didn’t do well since they gained weight as Piko becomes a crazy person going to great lengths and even eating the strawberry’s leafy top. Yeah, they’re even thinking of cutting of their own hair or soul just to lose weight! Jacqueline’s group has the guys showing off their feminine side while Sister’s group has everyone tanned and ripping in biceps. Shiro then brings some konnyaku as a farewell gift but it seems the insides are filled with fatty foods. Yeah, he doesn’t want to be lonely. Get his drift? With that, all that hard work has reduced the muscular guys back to their usual bodies. Yeah, it’s such a pain to maintain that figure. However Tetsuo is the only one who is maintaining his muscles. He becomes obnoxious and arrogant flexing his power and authority. He doesn’t even listen to Tetsuro anymore. He even got so stuck up that he even challenges Stella to see who is boss. They fight as Tetsuo throws his punches around but Stella is swift and agile as she is in her child body. Then when Stella transforms into a giant, Tetsuo also does the same and now we have a huge battle in gigantic proportions. Tetsuro is adamant to stop his brother so he starts doing push ups. Can doing that in a short time make him muscular? All you need to do is believe in the muscle! And what do you know? Tetsuro is suddenly ripping of muscles! Unbelievable! Stella shrinks to her normal self when Sister says he can see her panties. Now the brothers face-off but Tetsuo taunts Tetsuro’s soft muscles. However Tetsuro says that they need to treat their muscles kindly and not subject them to abuse. After doing lots of muscle flexing show, they both clash as Tetsuo wants his muscles to give him more power. But it seems Tetsuo’s muscles are being absorbed into Tetsuo. It’s like they’re defecting to him! I don’t understand that crap of this Holy Muscle Revolution but Tetsuo is now the skinny boy he is. Though Tetsuro’s body remained muscular for the time being.

Episode 11
It’s the summer festival and the girls are in their yukata. Amazoness is in a hideous one too but she isn’t giving up on Riku yet. She misinterprets that he likes tough girls and is going to snatch him away before Nino’s eyes. For example, biting her finger till it bleeds for the goldfish scooping. Thing is, they’re goldfish not piranhas! Nino does better: She tries to eat the goldfish raw! Then Amazoness and her tengus try to do some cannibalism dance but notices Riku is all over Nino and not looking at her. She feels defeated and shed tears that she’s so lame. However Hoshi says that he thinks she’d be lame if she gives up now. He is disappointed that he thought he has finally met a good woman other than Nino. Amazoness’ love for Hoshi is sealed when he says she looks cute while so enthusiastic about loving that moron. He’s going to show her how it’s done. By pulling Riku’s belt? The next day, the tengus congratulate Hoshi for being the second guy to be accepted by Master Softee. While Riku is having lunch with Nino, Hoshi comes by to cause his usual ruckus. Amazoness is also there with a bento so Hoshi takes it to mock Riku but to everyone’s surprise, there is Hoshi’s picture in it. Amazoness pretends to smash everything. Her words are so contradicting that it is as though she is showing her love for Riku by destroying images of Hoshi. Nino asks her if she likes Hoshi, why she is pretending to like Riku. She becomes a tsundere and starts crying. She can’t tell Hoshi her feelings because she fears he will hate her if he finds out since he likes her enthusiasm for Riku. Nino washes away her tears by putting her face in the water! Almost drowned her! The girls make up and Riku has this jealous feeling that Hoshi may be better than him. Later, Riku, Hoshi, Sister and Samurai spot a sign pointing to the beach but are puzzled since there is no sea at Saitama. However they start believing in it when they see Nino in a bikini surfing pass by. I guess it was enough motivation for them to start running 3 hours to the beach house. Upon arrival, Riku, Hoshi and Samurai start playing and acting all girly but when Sister tries to play along, they felt weird so much so Sister just stayed in the water. Then they heard the voice of a girl drowning. They rush as Hoshi is the only one who reached her (the others fell into some hole trap). Looks like she is Amazoness. It is part of her ploy (conspiracy with Nino too) to have Hoshi rescue her as she confesses her true feelings for him. He apologizes for never realizing it. Amazoness even made Master Softee sticks as a good luck charm vest for him. The rest who are watching are taken in by his manliness. As for the girls, they are enjoying their beach outing down at the riverbed. You don’t need the sand to call it a beach, huh?

Episode 12
All the Arakawa residents will be participating in a King Game. That’s just a nice name for a bloody battle royale. Riku doesn’t want to participate till he hears that the winner will have a wish that everyone must obey. Yeah, how nice if everyone else would treat him nicely and politely. After everyone writes down their wish/decree, the preliminaries begin. Those who are untrained fighters are not seeded and take part in this tournament whereby the last one standing wins (you mustn’t fall off into the water or go out of bounds of the ring). They are Riku, Hoshi, Billy, Jacqueline, Hoshi, Piko and the Metal Brothers. Riku and Hoshi agree to team up to eliminate everyone till they’re the only ones left. The Metal Brothers are in sync. Till they became selfish and started fighting each other that they will get the share of the pudding and cause each other to fall off. Hoshi and Riku plan to take out Shiro but they don’t want to be seen as the bad guy. Billy goes up to Shiro and knocks him out! He rips his own white feathers and puts Shiro on it so technically he isn’t stepping out of his white line. Piko is contemplating to push Jacqueline over while she is distracted. She manages to do so but Billy rescues her though it means both of them are out of the ring. Piko falls into depression that she pulled off a cowardly tactic. Hoshi and Riku have no heart to finish her off. She starts breaking down over her unrequited love so they both try to comfort her. It seems to be working so in her happiness, she pushes them off the ring. Oh well. Didn’t see Piko winning the preliminaries, eh? Now she has qualified for the finals, she suddenly wished she had never after seeing all the bloodthirsty killers.

For the finals, in addition to the out-of-bounds rule, each have a balloon on their head and if it is popped, they’re also out. Plus, each of them can have a weapon! Oh Piko, you’re screwed. Quick, bring a garden hoe! Sister and Stella team up and it seems their formation is undefeatable. With Stella in her hulk form and Sister on her shoulders, this perfect combination means Stella’s balloon is shielded by Sister’s skirt and Sister’s balloon is too high up to reach. Nino in sleepwalking mode goes into attack mode. Though she manages to dodge Sister’s bullets and even distracts Sister with her fake bubble (her snot, that is), Sister knows Nino too well as she throws cookies into the river so Nino instinctively dives for it and goes out. Maria plays dirty by saying Stella’s panties are revealing so she shrinks to her little size and her balloon is popped due to Sister’s weight. Boo hoo! Maria and Sister fiercely clash while Samurai faces off with Chief. In the end, Samurai loses and now it’s Piko’s turn. However she is in a dilemma whether to take away the dream of the man she loves so that he could love her. Eventually she decides that his happiness is more important and drops her hoe. Chief is too dense to see that as a confession but instead as some legendary technique awakening. As they both charge to each other, they knock out each other’s balloon while Piko manages to blurt out she loves him. And so the finalists will be Maria and Sister. Riku is troubled if Maria actually wins but is even worried that although Sister has dodged all of Maria’s physical attacks, he hasn’t dodged any emotional ones! Oh dear…

Episode 13
Maria seems to hold the advantage because Sister is taking lots of blood transfusion due to the emotional attack he received. Yeah, he got his blood from Riku! He’s so dead, man. By the way, Riku volunteered to give his blood because he needs Sister to win. Who knows what will happen if Maria wins.  The no-holds-barred final resumes with Maria deflecting Sister’s missiles with her knives and playing psychological mind games to paralyze him. She’s sure a sneaky woman because I’m sure she knows she’s no match when it comes down to a physical match. But Maria experiences her first end of sarcasm when she cuts off Sister’s veil. His veil is so heavy that it dented the ground. His answer why he is wearing weights in his veil during battle is for handicap purpose. Oh ho. Have we ever seen Maria this mad before? Then when they clash knives, it’s as though time stopped. But as Chief mentions, they’re fighting so freaking fast that to the normal eyes, it seems that they’re just standing there! Everybody is so taken in by their willpower and start cheering for both of them and that it doesn’t matter who wins. It ends when Maria whispers insults in Sister’s ear, sending that guy falling like a rock. And thus, we have not just Maria, but Queen Maria. Oh God. God doesn’t exist… As everyone bows before her, she has Riku read her absolute decree: To make clothes for her sheep she shaved recently. Erm… That doesn’t seem that bad? The girls are happy to join in but why are Riku, Hoshi and Samurai shivering so scared? Yeah, they think she must have some ulterior motive and it can’t be this easy. However Maria says that she is not the kind of demon they imagined and that she joined in the game because it was fun and doesn’t have any ill intentions. Plus, she’s happier here than before. Just as the guys calm down and are going to join the girls, Maria has a different task for them. She wants them to be her sheepdog and rein in the sheep. Yeah, put on the collar and grovel on the ground too. Now this is the Maria we know. I guess the guys have no choice but to degrade themselves to a dog level since Sister is leading them and even a sheepdog is looking down on them! How insulting and embarrassing. Maria has a final task for Sister and that is to count sheep. Riku notices that they all have nice human names so Maria says she named them after her lovers. Oh, Sister. This is one emotional scar that is going to be forever permanent. By the way, there aren’t any named after Sister. At the end of the day, everyone has their written decree flow down the river with a final salute. Riku sees Nino watching her decree stuck so he goes to let it loose and is more confident since the last time he untangled her grass boat (in the previous season). Her wish is to always be with everyone so he extends his hand and just do that.

Arakawa Under The Sanity Level…
Eh? What happened to the trip to Venus? Is it delayed? Is Nino still planning on going there? Or did she cancel her trip seeing that she wants to be with everyone? After all that teasing that she might actually leave for the Evening Star planet even if it is probably some place on Earth, I really thought it was going to happen and was prepared for it. Plus, the gang even went on isolation training and dieting to achieve that so it seems pretty serious that they’re going, right? But that’s not important seeing that the most important thing is to cherish the times that she has with everyone. And that moment is now. This season has been a fun and enjoyable wacky ride and is one of the few animes that a sequel is worthy as its predecessor. I enjoyed all the random jokes and funny moments even though there are some which I do not understand. I mean, what more do you expect to see when you have a bunch of weird people living underneath the bridge. Don’t you feel that they are more alive and happy in this way as compared to their whatever previous lives they had? It’s like they’re living in a world of their own. Heck, they should just call for independence from Japan.

This season tries to explore further the relationship between Riku and Nino and there were some moments that really brought them closer to understanding each other. I won’t go so far as to say that they really do comprehend each other perfectly but they have made some progress. For Riku, he has made lots of big steps. As compared to the last season, Riku doesn’t seem to have his asthma attack when he is in dire straits anymore. Plus, we don’t even see him concern about this debt repayment thingy so much so it will never cross our mind if we don’t sit down and think about how the hell he ended up here. Lastly, living with weird citizens has made him ‘one of them’. Sure, he still has his common sense but notice how he is so much like the Arakawa people now? He can be a full-fledged citizen by now. Nino is still the mysterious and strange lady as we know but at times we too see a side of her that we don’t normally see. And at certain points her actions do indicate that she really does love Riku.

Another nice thing about this sequel is that the minor characters that lack screen time back in the first season have their fair share of it here. It’s wonderful to see Samurai mixing with the rest in some of the antics rather than just the final episode in the previous season. Amazoness too has a decent amount of screen time though it would’ve been even better if she starts living close by with the rest of the gang and also took part in that crazy King Game. I would love to see what she would do. Of all the characters, the coolest one has to go to Billy. This yakuza cockatoo-head sure knows how to say the right words to steal the heart of Jacqueline. Even if they don’t seem like your typical sugar coated words, the way he uses his own style of tough love fascinates you each time. I should learn some pick-up lines from this guy! No wonder Jacqueline is head over heels over this him. Of course with this much characters over the series, there are some I felt didn’t make much impact such as Stella, the Metal Brothers and Maria. Stella wasn’t as assertive like she was when she first appeared back in the first season and in this season she seemed pretty much docile though at times she really does turn it on but it doesn’t feel anything ‘threatening’. The Metal Brothers and Maria didn’t make much presence in the earlier episodes and only towards the end so I thought they weren’t going to have much prominence. I wonder what it would be like if Potato actually did become part of them. Can’t imagine the mayhem. Riku’s dad is close to missing in this season and only made a very short cameo. I thought he would be playing the antagonist again like he did the last time but I guess he decided to let his son do what he pleases. Besides, there are more important stuffs like managing his empire.

For the love and romance part, I would say that everyone’s love is unrequited with the exception of Billy and Jacqueline. Riku and Nino? Well, I wouldn’t go so far to say that their relationship of being lovers are just for show and though they don’t seem to be doing what normal lovers are doing, I figure it would be better for them to take it a step at a time and at their own pace. So to me, there isn’t any chemistry brewing in this department. For the rest, it’s just too bad. Hoshi can try how many times he wants to get Nino but I can bet she will never betray Riku. Amazoness realized that she’s no match for Nino but now with Hoshi in her eyes, can she pull it off? Speaking of which, did Hoshi really fall for her or was he just putting up some fabulous show? Haven’t heard from her ever since that beach incident. Piko can continue her fantasies on Chief because that kappa is just too dense to realize it all. When will Sister realize that Maria is just using him to get her mocking kicks? And is Shimazaki really going to go for Shiro? I would love to know how far Shimazaki would take her love for him even if it’s drawing white lines on the ground. But this is another case where we won’t get to know any further. Ah, that’s love. Usually one-sided affair. Don’t even mention that Takai guy. This old bugger’s love for Riku is so annoying that it resembles more like gay rather than an adopted son. He must be so glad that he didn’t leave for Venus, eh? At least not yet.

There are some parts which weren’t made clear. For instance the part about the mysterious shady character who warned Shimazaki into prying further into Nino’s case. So is he really Chief or somebody else? What about Nino’s personal tapes? What important recordings does it have? At the start in most episodes (with the exception of the last one whereby it appears at the end), there seems to be some kind of abstract narration either by Riku or Nino. It feels like they’re narrating like of a novel. Sometimes it has something to do with a particular theme in that episode or it could be just a reflection of the journey Riku has taken or will be facing. The opening theme for this season is Cosmos Vs Alien by Etsuko Yakushimaru. In short, it’s a very weird song (just like in the first season). Picture this: A bored and tired girl trying to rap. I don’t think she sounded like she was singing for most of the part and it was like she was saying her lines too fast, hence like rapping. I prefer the pop rock ending theme of Akai Coat by Suneohair. His laid-back voice and guitar strumming made this song enjoyable. Of course there’s a special opening theme in episode 10 called Kou-sama Go! Summer! ~Iya, Yuku No Wa Kinsei Dakara~ by Cho (who is the voice of Takai) sounds like a desperate song by that Takai guy not wanting his beloved Kou/Riku-sama to leave. Learn to let go, dude.

In the previous season, the next episode preview is a live-action clip of somebody dressed in a kappa suit doing random stuff around the riverbed. Here, not only we have the kappa, we also have somebody wearing a star-shaped mask as Hoshi. I wish they could have put in more characters as well but I guess it’s funny enough to sometimes see them duking out in a gun battle, playing baseball, having a campfire dinner and to even something silly like Hoshi jumping from a bridge so that Chief can make a wish upon a shooting star. WTF?! At the end of the show just before the next episode preview, we have the usual Arakawa One Shot Performance like the Metal Brothers telling a riddle (which I don’t understand), Nino’s lame impression of her lover (which isn’t anything close), Billy using his shooting skill to the judges show his victim (Riku in this case) a frightening face and Sister-Stella bazooka-firing pun (WTF?!). However towards the end of the series, this section is replaced with Arakawa Open Air Classroom whereby some of the characters get to go up to the blackboard and teach a thing or two. For instance, Nino making a worldly make-up on Amazoness’ face, Shiro teaching the complicated and finer points of drawing white lines and Jacqueline teaching her class to put all their love into their kneading skills (it turns out everyone made some cool accessories for a clay version of Billy). Interesting but do these lessons serve any purpose other than to make us viewers laugh?

The way this sequel ends indicates that there isn’t going to be a continuation. At least for the time being. There are no announcements of another season in the works. It would have been nice to advance some of the plots and also see more antics from the weirdoes under the bridge. For a guy who had a promising future and to cast it all by living with a bunch of peculiar people, you have to be really weird to do that. Weirdness is definitely one of the main themes of this series but that is rather relative and subjective. What you deem to be weird is normal in the eyes of the weird group. They aren’t any much different from us because generally we’re all just the same. So by being weird, it makes us unique too, right? Which means, being an otaku and fawning over 2D girls would be considered something unique? Well no, that would just be plain weird.

What kind of living things dwell under the bridge? Trolls? Okay. Homeless people and beggars? Okay too. But what about weird people? As in, weird people with weird appearances and personalities. Why would they live there? Heck, I don’t even know why but I’m sure you’ll all agree with me that all the residents in Arakawa Under The Bridge are a bunch of wacko beings. Having said all that, I’m sure you might have guessed that this is going to be one big funny comedy that will tickle your bone. If you get the weird jokes here, that is.

Our main protagonist is 21 year old university student Kou Ichinomiya. Son of the famous Ichinomiya Company, a world class organization and just the mention of this company would either send you in awe or shivers down your spine. Thanks to the strict teachings of the Ichinomiya family, Kou has never been indebted to anyone. Anyone. That means no help from others and thus eliminate the need of returning favours. The family is so proud of this tradition that they even have a tie with the words “Never be in debt to others” sewn on it and handed down through their generations. And Kou sure has learned it the hard way since young from his dad, Seki that even if he is being helped by others, he must return the favour quickly and of the same value. Imagine young Kou trying to take care of dad who is acting like a baby just because he spent those years raising him as an infant. Wow or just plain scary.

Episode 1
Till of course that mishap at Arakawa Bridge dramatically changed his life. How? A bunch of naughty kids somehow managed to steal his pants and hang it high upon the bridge. Don’t ask me how that even happened. He tries to climb and retrieve it, dangerously flinging with public nudity violation laws. A nearby girl named Nino, who is fishing, offers to help but he turns her down seeing that this will cause him to be indebted. Kou manages to get his pants but the pillar starts to fall (because it was under construction). The iron pillar is pulling him down and causing him to drown. Thinking this will be his end, Nino dives in to save him. He’s alive but he’s indebted. Of course he tries to return the favour immediately by offering her a house but she turns him down. Why? Let’s just say she’s from Venus. Hey, that’s what she said! Kou would soon learn that logic of his world doesn’t apply here. Since it’s pretty hard to get Nino to spill what she wants, Kou experiences asthma (it runs in the family too if they encounter such situations). Well, she does have a request he can repay: She wants him to be her boyfriend. Say what? Being the man of his word, he has to agree to it. I’d like to see how money can’t buy me love. Nino takes Kou to his home: Atop one of the bridge’s supporting beams! Expect the unexpected, pal. Then she takes him to see the chief of the place. Chief as his name is one thing, but a kappa?! Furthermore a guy in a kappa suit?! There’s the zipper, you know? But Chief thinks he’s a real kappa! Is he? Not that Kou would believe. Everyone here is a psycho! As part of the rule to live here, new residents must be given a name by Chief and he decides Kou should be called… Recruit! Or Riku for short. Well, it’s better than Naite Toreta, right? Later Riku tries to borrow warmer futon from Nino (she had a hard time remembering her lover’s face even if it’s just a day later!). He enters her home and finds a super nice and warm luxury bed! So Riku decides to head back to his home and retrieve some stuff. Just when he thought Nino was a normal girl, he is shocked to see her going to sleep in her bed’s drawer!

Episode 2
Riku comes back with furniture for his new home. Nino comes in to give him eat some fish she caught. Why? Because they’re lovers. Do you need any other reason than that? He tries to strike up a conversation but finds it too weird. Even her answers. Later he is in a dilemma about seeing Nino bathing in a metal drum. His mind starts going crazy about seeing her naked even though they’re lovers but decides to use this chance to teach her common sense. However she was wearing a towel so no need for all that. Then it’s Riku’s turn as Nino helps him wash his hair (she’s having fun making it spiky). Later all the residents of Arakawa gather to hold a welcoming party for Riku. He meets other weird residents including Shiro (a guy who can only walk on white lines or else his wife will turn into a chicken!), Hoshi (a musician with a mask of a star) and a pair of Metal Brothers (can’t take of their helmets or else the military will detect their special ability). Riku introduces his real name and his qualifications but the residents want to know who he really is and not what he has. That Sunday everyone attends the Mass at the bridge’s church. After learning that each resident holds a particular job here, Riku meets Sister. Not exactly a nun. But a huge battle-scarred guy with military thinking! You’d forgive Riku for thinking this trigger happy cross-dresser would be from the underworld. The Mass last less than 5 seconds and I don’t know what was going on. Anybody did anything bad raise their hands? Riku doubts Sister’s identity when he points the gun at his head. He is going to test his love for Nino. But to our relief, the gun shoots out a rose instead. He wishes for him to make Nino happy. So you’ll think he’ll be alright? Like hell he will be!

Episode 3
Seems Hoshi has a crush on Nino so he’s not happy that Riku is her lover. So Hoshi summons Riku to the confession room inside the church and even has Sister with them to prove that Riku is a liar. Hoshi’s interrogation seems to backfire because as Sister as a natural lie detector mentions, Riku is telling the truth. All this is causing Hoshi to be even more paranoid. Because Hoshi continues to attack Riku, Riku gets the determination to prove that he is Nino’s true lover and will take her out on a perfect date! Riku plans his date to the last detail (even reading shoujo mangas!) before starting off with a cool arrival in a sports car and a bouquet of flowers in hand. Well, Nino doesn’t seem impressed. Even after spouting out their romantic plans for their evening, Nino thinks he came up with such a wonderful play! Riku isn’t accustomed to losing so he tries to persuade uninterested Nino. Her reply? She thinks he has a sequel for his picture drama thought up already! Riku tries to think from her point of view and let her pick the place they should go. Okay, Venus is out of the question. Anywhere as long as it is within the atmosphere. Nino points out the river’s estuary because she wonders the grass boat she made earlier on will reach the ocean. Before they start their journey, Riku wants Nino to put on a dress. At first he thought she would mess up but surprisingly she wore it perfectly and looked stunning!

Episode 4
The duo continue their walk to the estuary as Riku tries to explain what a date means. This includes trying to keep their distances so much so it felt like a mix between hide-and-seek and tag. I don’t understand that ritual at the end to celebrate the completion of their distance. After that they try princess embrace but it looked so lame. As they’re talking, Nino spots her grass boat stuck in the middle. Riku tries to go free it but slips. Luckily Nino pulls him back out. Because of that little splash, the boat made its way to the ocean so Riku tells Nino to stay together on Earth. On another Mass, Riku seems to be more familiar with all those secret moves now. WTF?! Suddenly a little blonde loli comes hugging Sister. She is Stella from an orphanage Sister once ran in Great Britain and has come to see him. Sister needs to make a call to Britain about this so he wants somebody to look after Stella for the time being. Everyone was quick enough to have something to do or run away so obviously Riku is stuck with this undesirable task. Riku tries to play nice but Stella wants to brawl with him. He soon learns that she really wants a fist fight and experiences first hand pain from her flashy but powerful techniques! This loli can kick ass! Nino thinks Riku lost on purpose! To make things worse, Stella is no angelic little girl because she has a sinister side and has Riku become her underling! Yeah, even the Metal Brothers became her underlings. Later Riku accompanies Sister to get dairy products from the farm for Stella’s welcoming party. Wait a minute. There’s a farm under the bridge? Riku meets Maria and she’s no nice lady either. A verbal sadist… Don’t be deceived by her smile! Not even Sister can stand up to her! Each time she makes a counter joke-cum-insult that Sister can’t return, Sister’s scar will gush out blood as sign of defeat.

Episode 5
Maria continues her insult towards Sister and she’s enjoying it. So much so Sister had to throw a grenade so that he could hide inside that hole! Riku alone goes to get some vegetables from the farm run by a dangerously clumsy girl, Piko. Apparently her traps for invaders never work and she always falls for her own trap. Riku mentions he doesn’t like green peppers so Piko becomes so emotional that she accidentally slaps Nino instead of Riku! She’s real clumsy alright. Riku notices she plants lots of cucumbers and realizes that Piko has a crush on Chief. Later as everyone gathers for Stella’s welcoming party (she’ll be staying here onwards) but Chief decides not to rename her since Sister gave her that name, much to Riku’s dismay. Then Riku is hesitant to eat some monster fish Nino caught. He learns it is her job to catch fish. Maria proceeds to attack Riku by calling him a gigolo and such, making him to put on that crazy expression. He learns even the other residents have roles like Hoshi in charge of music events and the Metal Brothers responsible for heating the baths. Hoshi decides to rub salt to Riku’s wounds by singing him a gigolo song and challenging him to come to his concert that Nino always attends. He gets so cocky so Riku too can play that game because he is a first class violinist and pianist. He challenges Hoshi to a musical duel to see who has more charm in Nino’s eyes.

Episode 6
The battle begins. I don’t know about Hoshi’s tuneless song but everyone’s cheering him on. Then it’s Riku’s turn and his violin skills are of high quality. Hoshi is stunned so it is Riku’s victory. He gives him a choice, either give up his musical job or Nino. But he tells just to give up Nino because he can’t even be a gigolo. Hoshi breaks down and sings a gigolo song. Later Riku teaches the Metal Brothers how to swim using Styrofoam boxes since Nino’s methods are ineffective (who can hold their breath that long). Nino notices Riku good at teaching. Later Riku sees the Metal Brothers warming up a metal drum bath for Chief, who has caught a cold even taking a warm bath. I’m not sure about the effectiveness of the kappa juice medicine he gave. Riku decides to become a teacher and use this chance to invoke some common sense on these weirdoes. When a passer-by wonders why people leave under the bridge, Riku just let it be. So it goes to show that he too has been ‘consumed’ by the common sense of these weirdoes.

Episode 7
Riku begins his teaching job with the Metal Brothers as his students and Nino sitting in. It’s going to be tough since they lack lots of common sense. Then Hoshi comes by and tries to cause trouble. He asks if Riku’s class and his concert are held at the same time, which would Nino choose. She answered without hesitation: Riku’s class. Total defeat! Taking Nino’s advice that people won’t learn things if they’re not interested in, Riku makes his lessons more interesting by demonstrating a model rocket made out of a plastic bottle. Seems to be going well till Stella comes in, acts like a gangster and starts causing nuisance. She’s demanding 100 trillion yen as protection money? Thinking that she may be lonely because his classes ‘stole’ the Metal Brothers away from her, he tries to get her involve with his lessons by having the gang write their wishes on a piece of paper and launching it on the rocket. Stella takes this opportunity to show off her writing skills, impressing the Metal Brothers. So is Stella going to be a good girl for real? Well, if Sister says so. Next, Riku bears the brunt of Piko’s clumsiness. She has to complete the harvest before winter because she won’t be around then. She plans to get a driver’s licence but Riku is definitely against it. Then Chief comes by and they talk about change of pace once in a while. This has him putting on his old hairstyle. Just by turning the plate over his head, his wig can become long?! Anyway Piko is so in love with him more than ever. However Piko starts to worry because since she thinks Maria and Nino has never seen this hairstyle before, they might fall in love with him! Sure, if you ask her what she sees in Chief that makes her fall in love with him, it’s not his looks but rather his natural way of living. So don’t judge a book by its cover.

Episode 8
Flashback reveals how Kou aspired to be like his great dad but later he told him off that he could never be like him and shouldn’t set an obscure goal. Back at the bridge, Kou’s company secretary, Terumasa Takai and his assistant Shimazaki pay him a visit and are shocked to see him living under the bridge. Riku has no choice but to lie that he’s using some business plan to generate electricity using the river’s currents. He even has Sister, Maria and Shiro to dress and play the part of his employees but do you think it will work out? Maria becomes a sadist wanting Riku to beg for helping out while Sister is just pointing his gun at suspicious people. However Shiro seems to be a natural because he was once an employee before. It gets worse when the others show up. Hoshi trying to hit on Shimazaki and Nino proclaiming she is Riku’s lover. This sends Takai into shock. Takai stays at Riku’s place for the time being. The funny part is when Hoshi tries to bring Nino to show her that Riku may be a gigolo homo and gets the shock of his life when he sees Riku and Takai holding each other’s head, their mouths wide agape open and their face close to each other! Actually they’re just checking for cavities! Oh, the shock for Hoshi. Hoshi can sense that Takai too wants to break Riku up with Nino so they both plot to do so. They believe they haven’t kissed so Nino shocks them all by kissing Riku! Takai remembers how he was so dedicated serving Kou 10 years ago that his wife divorced him. Kou cheered him up that he is free and from now on he is living for himself. Thus Takai gives his blessings to them and wishes for Nino to stay by Riku’s side. As for Hoshi, he’s so heartbroken that he has become a starfish. Sister too is happy for Nino because thanks to him, he’s able to see her smile (after all that stalking surveillance on Riku, that is). Riku is so happy that he thinks he’s a blue bird and tries to fly but falls into the river. Meanwhile Shimazaki returns and reports to Seki about Kou. Seki isn’t going to let Kou soil the family’s name. And as for Takai, he saw images of that old geezer doing his sick bonding with pictures of Kou so it’s understandable he doesn’t want records of this anymore.

Episode 9
Hoshi is still heartbroken so Stella decides to show off her cooking skills and forces Hoshi and Riku to come along with her. When Hoshi starts spouting about Stella’s unrequited love (Sister likes Maria), Stella starts to transform into a large muscular hulk! Oh sh*t!!! Both guys become so scared that Hoshi had to eat whatever Stella cooked. Isn’t that the top part of his star head? Cannibalism! Maria then gathers her underlings to go up against Maria. Riku tries to warn Maria but the sadistic latter assures Riku will protect her. Say what? Oh now Riku has to fight off that hulk. I guess talking is out so Riku pleads for Maria’s help. The face off begins and Sister can’t interfere or else he’ll be killed. Stella is going to unleash her special move but it seems quick Maria has a knife to her neck already. Flashback reveals how Sister and Maria met during a war. Before Sister could reveal more, he was given a ‘warning’. In the end Stella lost and cries like a little girl. Maria comforts her and they are on good terms. But to Riku that means trouble because the deadliest female tag team was born. Later Riku sees a young musician entering Hoshi’s home trailer. He couldn’t believe that guy was Hoshi. Hoshi starts telling his past to uninterested Riku. Something about he was a poor lyricist and depended on someone else. That time he had a mask of a crescent moon and came to the riverbed to sing his trash lyrics. Nino was listening then and unlike the Moon he deemed himself to borrow the light from the star to shine, she believed he was singing his own songs and shining like a first magnitude star. So I guess that caused him to change his appearance and crush on Nino but the rest of the story like meeting Elvis Presley and John Lennon are pretty much bullshit.

Episode 10
Riku wakes up one morning to find that everyone is doing a mock fire drill. Isn’t that a real fire? For realism, I guess. Riku is appalled at Chief’s solutions in handling the fire. It doesn’t help that everyone believes in the kappa wholeheartedly. Each time Chief finally uses his common sense to seemingly extinguish the flames, it turns out to be another lame attempt. Meanwhile Seki is going to teach his son a lesson so he sends someone to survey the land. Riku starts panicking upon learning this and goes to inform Chief and Sister. No, it’s not a nuclear fallout as Sister assumed but Ichinomiya Company has bought over the land. Sister and Chief seem to be pretty cool unlike nervy Riku. Then an official went up to Riku’s home and gives him an evacuation notice since construction will begin in the near future. Riku tries to warn everyone but as everyone gathers at the Mass, Sister notes there is 1 who doesn’t attend. An official knocks on Maria’s farm house door. He gets taken in by her beauty but she starts teasing him a government pig. When the official returns to Riku, he’s like a broken cry-baby! I don’t want to know what the S-Queen did but he’s emotionally disturbed and profusely apologizing. Chief thinks of moving to some other water source but Nino puts her foot down and disagrees because she’s tired of being chased out and being separated again and wants to stay here.

Episode 11
Riku must be having lots of his mind. But Hoshi’s usual mocking got him fired up to save everyone and not be weak in the eyes of Nino. He calls Takai (the sound of his handphone sent him into delight) and a meeting with his Goes Company staff. Riku has since left the bridge for 3 days as more surveyors start to gather. One of them looked so much like Riku that some of the gang mistook him for Riku and subject him to their usual abuse. Nino is worried that she may forget how Riku looks like. Meanwhile Kou and Takai are happy that their plan will be a success but Seki with reports from Shimazaki thinks otherwise. What the heck is that scene Takai wanting Kou to call him his papa?! Too gay if you ask me. Riku returns (the gang got the wrong person they’re glad to see back at first – Takai) and informs the gang about his plan to redevelop the place. But they are unhappy and each express their own wish what should be included. Suddenly Riku gets a call from a construction company he has engaged to redevelop the area. Seems they are pulling out. They are afraid of going up against Ichinomiya Company. Even if they are successful, the long term implications will be far worse. Yeah, who’d go up against a fearsome giant? They think Riku doesn’t fear his dad because he is his son but Riku thinks otherwise. He fears daddy more than anyone else. He remembers Seki gave him his handphone number. A privilege since only a handful people have access to him. But Seki cautions if Kou is qualified and worthy to take away his precious time. Because of that, Riku has never called his dad and has phobia dialling his number. When he manages to connect, somehow he dialled the wrong number.

Episode 12
While some of the gang reprimand Riku for that blunder, Nino stands up for him because she believes everyone has something they fear. Hoshi starts to get cocky so Maria sets her sadism in motion. Saying that people’s wish will come true upon wishing a shooting star, this means Hoshi has to jump off the bridge so that Nino could make her wish come true! Now Riku is laughing and teasing but he doesn’t have the last laugh because Maria takes off Hoshi’s star mask and puts it on Riku. Since it fits, wouldn’t it be better with 2 wishing stars? Oh sh*t!!! Hoshi and Riku start arguing and playing mind games with each other so Maria kicks them off. It’s a long scary way down! Not once, but several times! Hey, they’re many shooting stars, start making your many wishes! Oh Maria… Poor Riku and Hoshi… As Nino makes her wish for everyone to stay together, Seki gets a call that his reconstruction project has been suspended. He is not happy and no matter how he ‘blackmails’, the person on the other line isn’t swayed. Though their funds will be cut, the person responsible will now fund them. Doesn’t he feels and sounds like Chief?

Seki is displeased with the developments and decides to ditch all meetings and go confront his son himself at the river. So it’s like deja vu because those same bunch of naughty kids manage to steal Seki’s pants and hang it up on the bridge. Like son, like father. How could he even have let it happen, it’s a wonder. Nino was fishing and her rod caught his pants. Seki refuses to accept it for he is still steadfast in remaining debt-free. Hey, even his underwear has those trademark no-debt lines sewn to it! Seki realizes who Nino is as he hears her speak about the similar situation she first encountered with his son. Meanwhile Riku’s torment continues because Maria wants him to show gratitude to the rope that tied him from the bridge! Seki is watching his son and realizes he is unaware that they have been saved. Seki leaves and gives his pants to Nino when his handphone starts ringing. He doesn’t even want to answer it since the pants belong to her. As Seki walks away, he looks at his locket and wonders if his son can shoulder this burden and if so, to show it to him. Nino takes out the handphone and it took her a while to answer it while rushing to find Riku. Seems Riku has gathered his courage to make his first call to Seki. Not realizing Nino is at the other end, he pleads that he wants to stay with Nino forever. Then he realizes Nino was standing behind him. She replies the same wish. Later Riku gets a call about the project’s suspension as Seki gets picked up by a policeman. Even if he’s in the lockup, Seki isn’t cowed (the policeman is, by the way) and still exuding his usual confident self. Later he is bailed out by Shimazaki.

Episode 13
If you noticed some of the other Arakawa residents who haven’t made their real presence felt to viewers yet, this episode introduces them. First up is Last Samurai. It all started with one of Nino’s usual bad hair days after waking up. Then everyone decides to go to the barber which happens to be Samurai. Not good for Riku to get involved with another weirdo. Faster than the eye, Samurai gives redoes everyone’s hair before Riku could finish his sentence. Then with Sister as the customer, Samurai starts striking him with his sword while Sister just evades. Is he here for a haircut or what? Next is a bee named Jacqueline totally in love with a yakuza parrot-head, Billy. Though Billy seems cold and rejecting her confession, but it is just a reversal as it is his kind of tough love. In the next part, Stella and the Metal Brothers wish to go to the amusement park but they can’t leave the river. Riku decides to make an amusement park on the riverbed itself (I’m sure Riku saw it coming if he leaves the designing to that Takai guy, it will all be his expression of love for Kou). However Riku has never been to one so 3 days passed. Luckily the others knew about his plans and constructed one already. Really? Don’t hold your hopes too high. As Riku takes the kids, they first encounter a horrible and ugly squirrel mascot (Chief in disguise) so Riku gives permission to beat him up. Next they ride Maria’s merry-go-round but the sadist actually put real horses in it. Then the 3D theatre where they watch some Star Wars spoof but it turned out too real because Sister’s bullets nearly hit them. Finally the roller coaster ride. What ride? It’s that torture device, iron maiden! At the end of the day, Riku remembers his dad did bring him to an amusement park though it was on a mall’s rooftop but he felt happy. Riku wishes to make happy memories with everyone as they go see the parade. The girls are stunning in their wedding dresses but the guys spoil it all in those horrible and ugly mascot outfits! Cover your eyes! Don’t have to remember this! A mysterious final scene shows an Amazon lady happy her secret treasure is safe.

If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them!
If that ending felt like a cliff-hanger, then consider it as the end of the first main course because a second season came out in October 2010 and I bet there will be more crazy stuff from the residents living under the Arakawa Bridge. The term weird here depends on from which perspective you are looking from. If you are part of the general society at large then those who do not fit or act beyond what is deemed to be the norm would be considered weird. Thus in Riku/Kou’s case, we have seen him changed from someone who just follows his family’s tradition blindly into someone who is more open and willing to accept (why not? After spending a long time with these weirdoes, anyone is bound to change and become like one of them). You could say his meeting with Nino changed everything and gave him freedom. It wasn’t so much about trying hard not to be in debt to anyone anymore but rather someone who is trying to find his own place. And I can say he does fit perfectly fine with the rest of the gang here. Obviously anyone would panic upon seeing the odd nature of the residents but once you get to know them, they’re pretty much the nice people they are. Okay, maybe not. I should know a few whom I should stay away from…

I’m not sure if Nino understands the meaning of having a lover because she still displays her own blurness when it comes to that. But even if her feelings for Riku doesn’t reach the over-romantic type, at least she cares for him and the rest of the others. Both Riku and Nino are each other’s pillar of strength. He gets by the river with her and she gets by learning some common sense from him. Hmm… Maybe I should take back what I said for that one. However I don’t think Riku could’ve managed to carry on if not for Hoshi. These 2 are like eternal rivals. Riku is the kind of person who hates to lose so I guess with a little nudging-cum-teasing-cum-mocking from that star-head, Riku finds new determination to beat that loser at his own game. The other characters are likeable too, simple because they are… Weird in their own way. Who wouldn’t get frightened at the sight of Sister pointing his gun at you or little Stella turning into a behemoth when she is in fight mode. To me, I think Maria may be the real boss of the river since you know, nobody actually really could stand up to her. Sister could never beat her, Stella got tamed by her which means her underlings like the Metal Brothers and Hoshi would naturally be under her command too, right? As the saying goes, birds of the same feathers flock together. Even if it seems that weird people gather around and live at Arakawa Bridge, the important thing is that they are together and happy about it. It’s a place they call home.

I was hoping Seki’s appearance as an antagonist was a way to teach his son something. Maybe about the cruel world, nobody owes you a favour in life, it’s a dog-eat-dog-world out there or maybe his version of tough love. Because he actually adheres to his principles strictly and does not break them, in a way he is respectable and it is no wonder that many people fear or look up to him in the corporate world. He is where he is today because he deserves it. But imagine if your son, your successor is going to sully your name and throw away everything in your empire you have built with your bare hands and from scratch by hanging around a bunch of weirdoes doing stuff that so called ordinary people can’t comprehend, well, it’s understandable he’d want to put him to a test to see if he’s got what it takes to go all the way in what he believes. And though every first step is the hardest, there will be many steps for Kou/Riku ahead of him. As for that Takai guy. He’s just so gay. That’s all I have to say about him. If he loves Kou so much, I wonder why he just didn’t move down the river with him.

This series being animated by SHAFT, you can see their trademark visuals such as close up on Kou/Riku’s eyes when he experiences certain emotions and the different camera angles shown. At the end of each episode just after the ending credits, there’ll be an Arakawa One Shot Performance, whereby a character will try to perform something to entertain the judges (I guess the roles vary among the characters as they take turns to be judges or the contestant). I’m not sure if they’re trying to do something funny or something that will impress the judges but to me they seem lame but in a funny way. Usually most of them flop so the judges don’t really give them a good score. Is this what people here do for entertainment? Another thing is the next episode preview. It isn’t so much about what they have to say, but rather the live-action scene whereby we see a person actually dressed in a kappa suit doing various stuff by the river bed! For instance, walking the dog, smoking, eating noodles, wrestling a sumo fighter or even striking down a samurai! Hey, where can I get one of those kappa suits? And of course, the end card with different illustrations by different illustrators at the end of it all. Some really do look funny. One more thing to note is the background music in the series. How should I put it. They have this peculiar feel to it and in some ways felt odd when played during certain scenes. They may range from casual blues to light funk to jovial pickings.

The whole theme of the series may be weird. Weird is the subject of everything, from the characters down to the plot. But who are we to judge others weird and consider ourselves normal based on our stereotypic and prejudicial views? So if you don’t find the jokes and comedy about this show funny, most likely you’re a weird person yourself. And if you do (like me), you’re a weird person too. Thus everybody is a weird person in their own ways. Next time you see bridges, don’t quickly assume that there are weird people living underneath it. Even a large house housing many residents can have lots of weird people. Think Mahoraba, Maison Ikkoku or even Hidamari Sketch. Come to think of it, I’m thinking why they use a bridge is perhaps a subtle theme for everyone to build bridges to connect and not walls to divide. So should all of us start living under the bridge or at least make bridge-like structures as our homes? That would be funny. No, weird in fact.