Arakawa 8, K-ON!! 9

Arakawa Under the Bridge 8 brings us outsiders. Takahi and Simazaki, secretaries of Recruit’s father who spotted him under the bridge last episode. So we finally get a contrast between the normal and odd! It starts like that, but things happen.

First there’s Recruit’s scramble to convince them that he’s planning to generate electricity from the river, and introduces Sister, Shiro and Maria as HIS secretaries. It doesn’t go very well, though it’s interesting to see Shiro’s obsequious tendencies impress Takahi. The perfect salary man. Then the weirder characters show up, Nino is exposed as Recruit’s lover, and a now it’s Takahi’s turn to turn weird. He’s been dedicated to Recruit, or Kou in this case, and can’t get over the betrayal.

All this is entertaining, the guileless bridge-dwellers screwing up Recruit’s plan by being themselves, and the sense that anyone coming down there is going to show off their inner weirdness in time (though Shimazaki remains straight and reports to Recruit’s father. Oh-oh). The show falters after that, not by much. Takahi wants to break up the lovers. Hoshi’s certainly all for that, and we get another discussion of what the term lovers actually means here. Takahi’s certainly right: Recruit is emotionally still an adolescent. But Recruit and Nino are comfortable in their current relationship. So comfortable that Nino sees no problem in kissing Recruit right there. Why not? Takahi, beaten, goes home, his love for Recruit stronger than ever. He may have worked out well as a bridge-dweller. As for Recruit …

Days after his first kiss.

K-ON!! 9 isn’t on the same level of some of the other episodes we’ve had recently. After setting up its story it drags until the big moments come up. However, it’s great if you like to see Yui act cute.

It’s finals time, and unmotivated Yui decides to get serious this time. What brings this up I don’t know, but the episode does indeed show her working hard. Everyone is amazed, which is the only thing one can do to a storyline involving studying: show the reactions. Studying in itself isn’t very dramatic. Then they complicate matters. The nice old lady down the street who’s always bringing Yui and Ui food mentions a talent contest, and no way Yui can turn her down, even if it is the day after finals. She’ll do both!

Now, this still won’t do much for the story. Yui doing her usual dithering isn’t much more dramatic than Yui studying. Fortunately, Azusa, who has no finals, volunteers to help her out with everything. Now at least Yui will have someone to bounce her weirdness off of. However, it still manages to drag. Nothing is really wrong, all the scenes are amiable enough, but I still kept checking my watch and waiting for the test and the contest to happen.

Pre-show jitters.

And they, er, happen. Unless it’s Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu, exams aren’t very dramatic, either. Their act at the talent show is silly and they get a “thanks for showing up” prize, but the old lady is so delighted to watch them Yui doesn’t mind too much. It’s rather sweet to see Yui bask in the lady’s praise.

While not the best episode, it does show us a Yui who can work hard when she cares to, and glad to make this old lady who’s always looked after her so happy.

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