Ah, Arakawa. As much as I loved last week’s epi, I lost count of how many times I literally LOL-ed during this one. Two words: comedy goldrush. Or, in a few more words, presenting: ‘Arakawa – The Dorama’ and ‘Arakawa – The House of Horror (/Halloween) Special’. Combined Rating: Too Freaking Funny.
Part one: P-Ko somehow convinces the bridge village to participate in a film that’s pretty much a thinly disguised version of her very own romantic fantasy, directed by Ric and starring herself and the Mayor, plus anyone else who can make her look good. Rating: Shoujotastic.
Part two: Ric spots some kind of creepy festival taking place on the riverbank one evening, during which he takes up the challenge to navigate a haunted house unscathed, while various ghouls in various layers of make-up and costume try to scare the crap out of him. Outcome: Junior still has issues with daddy.
Did I mention that this epi was funny?! I did? Well, yes, I sort of rather subtly hinted so in the intro, didn’t I… Seriously, though, this has to be the funniest epi of the season so far, and certainly one of the funniest out of both seasons combined. For me, mainly ‘cos of the first half, and within that ‘cos of the DAT SCRIPT and DAT CASTING and THOSE OUTFITS. Not to mention so many other visual jokes and references to other shows, and the fact that it also gets points for making P-Ko grow on me (well, she wasn’t shrieking so much or falling over in this epi, just awesomely playing out her romantic desires with such reckless abandon – ‘cos, let’s face it, who wouldn’t take the chance to star in their own shoujo with the kappa of their dreams?!). Part two also delivered on the LOL front, and it was nice to see some of the other villagers who weren’t in the first part present during the haunted house shenanigans. Predictably, after the emotional development of last week, it was a much lighter affair this week, but there was a nice continuity, I thought, in the picking-up of P-Ko’s story, and seeing the return of Takai weaved in so seamlessly amongst all the villagers’ interactions.
In many ways, like with the Ric x Nino developments last week, seeing the Ric x Everyone Else developments this week was like a throwback to earlier epis, where Ric fastidiously points out (if mainly to himself) the freakiness around him, but then wholeheartedly takes part in the freakiness in order to prove that he is better than everyone else. And thus the biggest freak, in a way. And don’t we love him for it. Highlights in this respect included observing Ric don his Director’s visor and shades and later how enthusiastically he directed the scene where schoolgirl-Nino makes her lovely entrance (I agree Ric, you can never enough wind-in-the-hair shots where Nino is concerned).
And the fabulously fast-paced scenes and shots just kept on coming as the various cast members were introduced. Did it matter that hardly any of them were appropriately dressed or had even read let alone remembered the script? Hell no! As long as we got shot after shot of awesomely incongruous images that included: a faintly suggested High School setting; a marvellously melodramatic, love-obsessed and blushy shoujo lead; a white glove throwing, too-cool-and-beautiful-to-remember-her-lines rival; a conveyor belt of bishie-haired love interests; two impressively protective, bodyguard-like bessie mates; a katana-swinging, action-packed climax; and a beautifully tear-jerky resolution that yanks out our sympathy for the tragic heroine and reaffirms our sudden belief in the power of manly friendship. (AKA Bromance. Seriously, the Shinsengumi had nothing on these boys.) And we got to see Sister wearing a schoolgirl outfit, complete with mini-skirt and hair clips, and (briefly) cosplaying as an elf, alongside a red-haired hobbit and a giant dwarf. What more could you want?! Takai showing his, er, affection for his self-appointed but oblivious adopted son via a nifty bit of editing? Done!
The second half of the epi also bounced along nicely, I felt, with the Ric x Hoshi war reigniting once more to propel Ric into the Haunted House in order to prove that he’s man enough not to scream ‘Mummy!’ at the first sight of anything remotely scary. I particularly liked the look of the one-eyed brats, the creepy ghost loli (and her subsequent power-up into Stellatron), and the apparently suicidal Shiro randomly revealed by that noose. As well as the ‘D-D-D-Daddy!’ scene at the end, which was surely the creepiest image yet. And a possible foreshadowing of the return of the Evil Daddy? I kinda hope not; not that he wasn’t hilarious in that penultimate epi last season, but I’d rather see more Ric x Nino development, rather than Ric x Evil Daddy development. However, I doubt that he will be satisfied with completely leaving his son alone, especially with Takai around to eagerly take his place.
In short, not as emotional as last week, but the humour, pacing and presentation were all top-notch this week and surely reminded us why we love this show so much. And yay to more parodying and referencing of popular dorama and anime genres!! And to more wind-in-a-mini-skirted-Nino’s-hair scenes!!!