Arakawa Under the Bridge: Episode 2

It’s actually been forever since I actually recapped anything and I thought this show would be as good as any. I have a few other recaps in the works so honestly, I guess we’ll just see what sticks.

Kappa pinky points behind him and he turns to see a life size playground…erm, village.

Everyone welcomes him and he points out the illegality of the construction. Nino informs him that he must report to this very spot at 8 am the next morning and races away, leaving him alone.

A girl bumbles up to Sister and jumps into his arms welcoming him home and Riku immediately recognizes her as the ring leader who stripped him on the bridge. Sister wonders if they know one another and Stella affirms not, to which Riku calls her out for lying.  With that, she swings toward him, introduces herself as Stella, then pulls him aside, lowers her voice and tells him what happened between them was only a game between she and the kids– “Pretend this is our first meeting. Understand?”

Kappa announces daily exercises or rather, their “happy dance” to ensure happy days for the present and the future. Everyone gathers and mimics him, all but Riku that is, who stands stiffly watching. Exercising next to him is a star-faced guy who tells him to stop staring and participate. “From what I know, all things can be separated into two groups: things that are meaningful (or matter) and things that are not. ” He admits that’s what gave him the idea for their exercise song. Riku sarcastically answers  “That’s deep”  and Star Face takes that as them being kindred spirits and declares they are now best buddies with their own personal secret sign. It’s a symbol that at that very moment, their thoughts were in synch.

Right as Riku disputes a need for a secret sign a girl comes up and asks them both to stick out their tongues– to cut them out, for they are wasting oxygen. Riku gives his “what the?” face and shrugs her off but Star Face just looks away until she leaves.

Riku wonders what’s her deal but Star Face simply answers, “She’s a super sadist.” He had an almost encounter with her that was pretty scary, when Riku sympathizes, Star Face throws up their sign– “Pretty convenient, right?”

Riku sets up his home (a super tent) and begins his research on the village and its inhabitants. He prints out a profile on each of them (thirteen in all) for individual study.

Nino stops by to get him for dinner and though he’d prefer take-out, he notices they’ve planned a welcome party for him. Nino wonders why he’s placed his tent for far away. “It’s called a sense of distance.” Nino recognizes this language from the article she read and interprets the meaning as being far but feeling near and vice versa. “I don’t understand it, but to lovers, a sense of distance must be very important.”

Riku grumbles at her simplicity–“Love isn’t confined to sense of distance” and begins to stomp away, but Nino grabs his hand, “Is it like this?” He’s jarred by her closeness but deflects and notes that her hands are cold. She reveals it’s because Venusians have low body temperatures.

Everyone is at the party and gathers to watch a magic trick. Kappa gets in a box and P-ko asks for full audience attention. She counts backwards from three and a man pops out of the box. Everyone is amazed, standing ovation all around, even P-ko hugs the man commenting the trick gets sexier each time. However, Riku isn’t very impressed and gets up to leave, “All he did was take off his costume.”

Next up is Last Samurai’s stand up. Then Sister who throws a grenade and blows up things as his talent. Lastly, Kappa believes the newcomer should end the night, “Let your lover see how  unpredictable you can be.”  Star Face is surprised and angered by this “lover” news and demands an explanation, “For when I’m angry I can connect the oceans!” But again, Riku isn’t impressed because well… “The oceans are already connected.”

But Star Face won’t be detoured and balks for someone to clarify. Nino turns to him and explains, she and Riku are together. They also held hands for the first time just before the party. Star Face is devastated and turns away, singing about the tears forming in his eyes. Sister is the first to step up and console him, ” Hoshi, if you want to fall, I will help you.” However, Star Face slams his guitar in Sister’s stomach and runs away, declaring he is no longer, Hoshi.

Kappa yells after him, that he will always be the first Hoshi in the village and sighs that he will probably he a little depressed for awhile. Just then, Maria (the sadist) offers to exterminate him but Kappa declines.

A few days later, Riku opens his briefcase stuffed with cash, grabs a wad and offers to cover the welcome party expenses. Kappa declines; the amount is too large and furthermore he doesn’t need money. Riku insists, claiming it’s interest but Kappa deducing it’s is backhanded way clearing debts. Riku wonders how he knew and Kappa admits that kappas can see everything. And either way, the village is self-sustaining.

Riku follows Kappa from one area to the next where the villagers produce their own food and supplies. P-ko grows vegetables, Maria rears cows (and acts out her dominatrix skills on her ranch hand Sister), Last Samurai is a barber and Shiro is their alcohol supplier.

Stella and the boys collect firewood for heated showers and other hot water needs, while Jacqueline is a chiropractor.

Mafia Billy (Mr. Chicken Head) is the only mystery for no one knows how he does it, but he supplies them with rice whenever needed–no money required.

Kappa explains that everyone Under the Bridge works hard to live happily and everyone has job and a purpose. When asked about Hoshi’s contribution, Kappa remarks that Hoshi brings song, for a world without music, is very messy and reveals the background music currently playing is Hoshi’s creation. He used to be a famous musician. Hoshi steps out humbly and says he’s not as he used to be but offers Riku is 3rd Album.

Riku notes that Kappa hasn’t mentioned how he plays into all of this. Kappa appears behind him from inside the church– “I pray for everyone’s happiness here.”

Reactions, Ramblings and Remarks

This episode was just as wacky as the first but less tongue in cheek in my opinion. It really was your basic introduction to all the characters and their place Under the Bridge. The episode was so off the wall, though that I believe if you weren’t invested in the story or have the gumption to see it through, it’s possible to have checked out midway. The pacing was less zippy which made the episode much more taxing to get through.

There were initially, so many, random events that it’s hard to collect them all into one. And though that is abrasive, I believe it’s purposeful. As the audience, we are traveling with Riku through this world, eyebrows furrowed, unable to compute everything in the order it occurs. Riku is bombarded by new people in what feels like a twilight zone. I’m not familiar at all with manga but in the episode, no one is outright introduced by name except Stella. Everyone else is referred to by position, practice or personal quirk first and named later. I found this hard for recapping purposes but see how this could also be intentional and a clever representation of life — at least in this world.

Already in episode two I can see myself loving Hoshi as the moody musician. It’s also very clear that he and Riku are alike, at least in a general sense. Hoshi immediately senses that connection and befriends him, only to find out they may be more alike than he would desire (liking the same girl). But now that we know everyone and their purpose in keeping this little “suburb” running, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before hijinks ensue. And I have to say… I’m ready to see what all can occur under this bridge.

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