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Arakawa Under the Bridge
A Spotlight Preview by AJtheFourth

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Kou Ichinomiya.

A cultured college graduate...

At what point in your life are you considered valuable? Is it when you dress in a suit, go to work at the same time every day, brew pot upon pot of coffee and generally shuffle your way through societal expectations? Is it when you are finally able to pay every single person in your life back for everything that they've given you, or helped you accomplish? Does paying someone back involve literally doing something for them, or can your success and happiness hold enough value?

...sans pants.

And Nino, the beautiful girl who saves him.

Arakawa Under the Bridge brings these questions to us in the form of Kou Ichinomiya, the heir apparent to the large and very profitable Ichinomiya Company. The answer that has been ingrained into Kou's brain by his father since he was young is that you must go it alone, all the while making sure to never be indebted to anyone. Unfortunately, due to a freak accident involving some energetic teenagers, his pants, and a rusted bridge support, Kou finds himself indebted to a girl named Nino in the largest way possible when she saves his life. Distraught when the girl claims that she doesn't need any repayment, Kou ends up agreeing to live with her, and a small community of strange people, on the banks of the Arakawa River as her 'lover.'

'Sister.' (S)he runs a weekly mass where
everyone can atone for their sins.

'Star.' Resident musician of the bridge community
who sees Kou as his rival for Nino's affection.

It's a commonly done comedy formula, with Kou (renamed 'Recruit' or 'Ric' for short) playing the straight man to Nino, who claims she's from Venus, and her community of odd characters. A community that includes a mayor who dresses in a kappa suit, a 'sister' of the church who is much more of a 'brother,' a man who will only walk on white lines, and a musician who is literally a 'star.' The most successful quality of their interactions with Kou, is that, although he comes from a community that viewers will recognize and identify with, he often comes off as the crazy one when his values and ideas are questioned.

One of the more touching moments of the series...

...brings up odd memories of Kou's father.

Only adding to this quality is that Arakawa takes most things to a ludicrous extreme, which allows the series to be literally laugh-out-loud funny. For example, Kou's father dressing as a baby and demanding that the young Kou 'pay him back' for having to take care of him. The undercurrent of societal pressures and morals running through every joke makes the series punchy and enjoyable. Since these morals are presented through characters that could care less, or don't understand where Kou is coming from, the series narrowly avoids being preachy, and the disconnect between what Kou thinks and what the people on the banks of the Arakawa River think is where much of the more hilarious comedy material comes from. This is also the source for the few rare but genuine, glimpses of friendship and romance.

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