Arakawa Under the Bridge Episodes 9 and 10: The masks are off! And on! And…melting?!

Star’s de-masking proving he really is rotten inside.

Having stepped into some very big shoes, I’ll now try and take my first episodic blogging steps in them without tripping and falling flat on my arse. (You have been warned.) That is, having received the blessing of our favourite currently deployed, downloadless and beerless sailor, I am taking over from where Crusader left off at epi 4… but of course I can’t be bothered to blog all those epis since then. So here’s my rage against Star – er, that is I mean the following: 1) Episode 9 Sum-ups, Thoughts and Pics and 2) Episode 10 Sum-ups, Thoughts and Pics

1) Episode 9 Sum-up, Thoughts and Pics:

Sum-up: We start with a lovely image of Riku Sensei teaching the little cherubs, followed by an even lovelier image of a rotting Star. The latter evidently blames the sight of Riku and Nino’s first kissu from the previous epi for his condition, rather than the filthy fags he’s constantly lighting up. Stella admirably offers to make minced fish outta him for Sister, thus Riku discovers that our little blonde cherub with a lethal pile-driver has a crush on the nun with a gun. Cue an addition to Star’s ever increasing list of defects: bad timing. Stella is not amused with Star’s observation of Sister’s worship of Maria, swiftly transforming into Mega-Stella and promptly testing out a new fighting technique on the unsuspecting Riku, before they all make their separate ways at varying speeds to the farm for a show down between Pinky and the Blonde.

Riku’s attempt to warn Maria of impeding death by Stellatron backfires when Pinky flirts with/ manipulates Riku into taking her place, at the expense of severe blood loss from a watching Sister, who is accompanied by our fair Nino-san. However, Pinky has clearly been holding out on us, as we see when she gets her scissors on and Stellatron is swiftly presented with a blade necklace, while the sheep get a close shave along the way. Sister then fills in the gobsmacked others on his and Pinky’s first meeting which was on opposing sides of a battlefield, the result that time being an even closer shave for Sister who promptly falls in fascination at first sight.

Final section of the epi focuses on Star’s backstory, after Riku spies him returning from the shops with a mag and more fags and accuses him of eating the guy he saw entering Star’s trailer. Star then forces Riku to listen to his fantasy of being a former Rock star whose producer (the real brains behind the operation) lead him to the top of the Oricon charts. Unconvinced, Riku asks/ tests him about the shows he must’ve gone on at the height of his dubious fame, while Star adds that his party piece while on said telly shows was obliging the talk show hosts with live phone calls to ‘John’ and ‘Elvis’.

Thoughts: Well firstly, why the hell didn’t they swap the length of the Sister/ Maria back-story with that of Star, or at least make them almost equal length? Actually saying that, at least we got to see some cute pics of a short-haired Nino. Which also serves as another teaser that adds fuel to the fire of the Nino mystery (e.g. question no. 10,000: how long has she been living under that bloody bridge anyway, let alone why?) Clearly Pinky has some impressive skills of her own to rival if not best what we’ve seen from Sister and his little blonde protégé. Bet you’ll never look at a milkmaid in the same way again. Especially when she’s going all Slasher-from-Drrr!! on your arse.

However, clearly I’m glad for the Star-ammo. His Dr Schmeudian pontificating about masks/ make-up was even more mental than the Oedipus and Electra complexes combined. Whereas women wear make-up cos it makes them feel and look more lively/ pretty, or because they wanna attract romantic attention, or cos they just like wearing it cos it’s fun dammit, Star is clearly just being, in Riku’s words, ‘…a little girl!’ (which is clearly also a contender for the line of the epi). I recommend that he ditches the psychobabble and completes the Seppuku that Blondie was gonnna do before she and Pinkie kissed-and-made-up.

Finally, and on a completely different note, I also enjoyed the visual jokes and tricks in this epi. Nothing spectacular, but the use of the chibi forms were cool, as were the blue-corner/ red corner moments between Star and Riku, as were Maria’s Slasher-eyes, as was the computer generated squidgy parasite-star, as were a hundred other little things that, to use Mystlord’s categories (see his June 10th editorial on anime as an art), make this a ‘creative’ as well as a commercial anime that certainly never takes itself too seriously, nor does it try too hard (unlike a certain peach flavoured epi of Maid-sama that was 20 mins of my life that I will never get back. Nuff said).


Star timing. Another reason to loathe and detest this pathetic creature, even before he became this pathetic.

Yup, that kinda growth spurt is never a good sign…

I know I should hate Maria’s manipulative arse as well as her all-destroying tongue, but she’s just too awesome.


Perhaps I saw this one coming…

…but not this – BWUAHAHAHA! I love the randomness!

Ohhh, that’s how those two met.

(In the titular words of the last Facebook group I joined:) ‘There should be a “nobody cares” button’.

Mask is clearly affecting the flow of oxygen to your head. Keep it on.

Riku’s on fire today!

Including your hair and wardrobe. Looks like bad Eurovision. And that’s saying something.

Don't call her babe. Btw is there any hairstyle/ thing in which she doesn’t look cute?!

–Boomboom! OK, this one made me giggle. Nino FT(Arakawa gag contest)W!

Your command is our wish.

2) Episode 10 Sum-up, Thoughts and Pics:

Sum-up: Riku delivers this week’s opening monologue in a wrinkled, tie-less, mud-splattered shirt. Clearly something’s up-coming. Soon, the bridge village are in the middle of an early morning fire drill. Sister style. In other words, he starts a real fire and hands out hugs, drink and cookies (portion size clearly dependent on how green your skin is). Cue blind bewilderment/ fury/ panic from our favourite pampered prince while the others take the opportunity to stage their annual water bucket relay race. What larks! While all this larking about is going on, Riku notices that the Mayor is not quite pulling his manly weight and gives him hell, before realising he is in danger of melting (as well as Star, but who gives a crap about him), and that Sister is unusually attentive to the Kappa, mentioning that he owes him a great deal and that he loves him the best outta the bridge village. Hmm.

Meanwhile, Ichinomiya Sr is not pleased with the sneaky pics he had taken of Jr having unearned fun and soon develops a dastardly plot to begin development on the land under the bridge and thus drive the freaks out. (Booo!!! evil daddy, you were more fun when you were just being a baby.) Riku notices strange men with hard hats and clipboards poking their noses around the riverbank and discovers the development plans, then promptly goes to church in order to convince Sister and the Mayor to quit playing chess and start worrying. Their reactions are not quite what Riku had in mind, with Sister simply glad it ain’t the threat of nukes, and the Kappa planning to bury pickled cucumbers as effective deterrents. Hmmm. However, Riku is briefly calmed by the Mayor’s apparently empty but reassuring words of comfort.

The next morning, Riku (while skipping Mass in order to surf Google), is the first to receive a visit from the clipboard-laden one-man-squatter-removal-slash-warning-scout. Given a copy of the proposed development/ construction schedule, Riku decides to go to church today after all where he commences panic-mongering amongst the rest of the congregation. Meanwhile Mr Scout turns up, having received short shrift from Pinky (if you thought she was vicious usually, don’t wake her up first thing in the morning, *shudders with fear/ delight at Maria’s sadism*), before reading them their rights to ridicule his pathetic, piggy, paper-shuffling, bureaucratic arse. Clearly Pinky helped him with his homework. The scout shuffles off, and the villagers finally despair/ panic. Except Nino. She’s just too awesome. In other words, she refuses to be driven out…’again’…cue cliff-hanger-moment-breaking credits.

Thoughts: Well, we were certainly teased with more back stories this episode, from Sister and the Mayor as well as that sliver about Nino, but this was lost amid the panic about the imminent party-pooping by the evil daddy. Clearly, they’re using land development to aid plot development, which is fine. Though speaking of peripheral parental figues, it was nice to witness the Mayor’s paternal shoulder pat and words of comfort to the naïve Riku, who was clearly touched by the gesture, not really understanding that it was because the Mayor was touched by his concern for his fellow freaks. Aw, bless. And of course Sister’s mother hen routine provided a nice, zany counterpart to these moments.

Other things that struck me about this episode were not many, it seemed more of a plot development thingy as opposed to the more meaty (or rather starfishy) character development thingy that was the dominant flavour of the previous two epis. This epi is clearly the first half (or third, or whatever) of an ultimate showdown between father and son, as we gather from the speed of daddy’s approaching car, so we’ll have to wait and see how Riku reacts to his scary daddy…

…Let’s hope Maria encounters him first…

…But then Riku would lose man points for letting her do that. And in front of his lover to boot. (*Sigh*)

So, how do you think the final showdown, or indeed the fast approching final moments of the series, should end? Seeing as how the series started with Riku x Nino, clearly the ending isn’t going to be as neat, and neither would we expect nor (I suspect) really want it to be.

Or maybe Riku will pull a Kyouya-senpai on us and we will find out that he was doing his own independent thing on his laptop the whole time. Either that or maybe he was manning his own blog, with which he will not only take over his daddy, but the world. Clearly, we shall have to wait and see…


Riku wrinkled, tie-less and covered in mud? Sad times ahoy methinks…

You’re telling a deadly, combat trained kidnapper, arsonist, freakin nun with a gun what he can/ can’t do? Good luck.

Of course! I wish my old school sports days were as much fun.

The Mayor being a man and wetting himself.

Dude you did not just say that - remind me who’s the one with the penchant for baby bibs??

Such an innocent question, with such a fantasy-shattering answer.

Some of the Mayor's reassuring words… wait.

You should be bloody afraid.

Their looks say it all.

NINO SAYS NO! Let’s see if anyone will listen to her…

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  1. backnee
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

    nino’s forehead looked way too big in the last pic. WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING SHAFT?!?!

    • Posted June 13, 2010 at 8:21 am | Permalink

      Eek for a minute I thought ‘what the hell are you doing Hana’ and I had to check that I hadn’t disproportionately resized the image (thankfully I hadn’t). However, judging from the little that I’ve seen of the manga, I think the animators have generally done a good job of prettying up the character designs (e.g. the image of Nino when she asks Riku ‘fall in love with me?’ looked so much better in the show). Guess they must’ve just slipped up with that last pic. Either that or Venusians have larger frontal lobes.

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