The premieres continue: Arakawa Under the Bridge, K-ON!!

Not quite sure what I think about Arakawa Under the Bridge.

On the one hand it’s fabulously weird and sets up what could be an interesting story. Ko, a proud, successful student, who never relies on others, is rescued from drowning by a girl, Nino, who is fishing in the river. Because the very idea of being in debt to someone gives him asthma, he swears he’ll do anything to repay her. So he has to become her lover and live under the bridge with her. Oh, she says she’s a Venusian. Then he meets another eccentric local.

Meet the Mayor.

On the other hand, the show tries awfully hard to be odd, and it doesn’t always work. Most of the episode involves Ko encountering more weirdness and reacting to it, and that gets old after a while. Now, this IS the first episode, and they have to establish the contrast between the straight-laced Ko and Nino, not to mention the Mayor and whoever else they’re waiting to spring on us, so maybe when he gets his feet back under him Ko will have facial expressions other than shock or despair.

It’s heavy on style, but it seems to be masking a small budget. There are a lot of frozen screens and repeated images. I’m not sure why it’s divided into multiple chapters. On the other hand, the dialogue is good and quick and the premise is intriguing. And it’s strange. Definitely worth a few more episodes to see how it pans out.

I wasn’t a big fan of K-ON!. Sure, it was cute and harmless, but it dragged its feet so often that I often got bored with it. However, I did watch it through to the end, so I figured I’d give K-ON!! a try. Ep1 was not bad.

Ep1 looks just like any season 1 episode, but I had forgotten some things. First, it looks good, and it’s mostly fluid. Kyoto Animation at work again. Second, the interplay between the characters is crisper than I remembered. Each comment seems to get a reaction, either verbal or physical, from each other character. These things made up for much of the dead spots in both last season and this episode. Of which there were plenty. Did they have to sing the entire school song? Also, since most of the characters are supposed to be seniors now, why are they still acting like complete scatterbrains? I suppose it wouldn’t be K-ON if they didn’t, but it gives me a bit of a disconnect.


The second half worked better than the first. The latter was all finding out what class they’d be in. Happily, Mio gets to be with them this year. I did enjoy how Sawako’s excuse for putting them together was the same as Ms. Yukari’s in Azumanga. The second half gets more manic, as the girls frantically try to recruit new members so Ui won’t be alone next year. The schemes are lame-brained and the inevitable outcomes were handled well. Besides, their best method to attract recruits is to perform. We, alas, don’t get to see much of that (but we get the school song in its entirety, damn it), and, strangely, it doesn’t work: no new recruits. Just a bunch of girls saying they really don’t mind, after all.

So in the end I was reminded that there were some good things about K-ON that I had forgotten. Maybe they can tighten up the dead spots this time around.


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