Ah. I really love this show. I love the humour, the wittiness of the dialogue, and how even when you know to expect something unexpected, it still surprises you. Above all, I love how all these things are icing on a cake of much deeper issues asking more serious questions. Kou’s opening monologue is a brilliant illustration of this; there are no jokes, it’s not funny, and you don’t meet anyone new. It just makes you think. Aside from the opening monologue, however, every glimpse of seriousness we see is juxtaposed with something quirky and really quite funny. The harmony between the serious and the funny is beautiful because one doesn’t make you forget about the other; if anything, they support each other.
Kou manages to settle in somewhat after making his accommodations at the Vacation House more to the standard of living he’s used to. I have to admit: It’s a nice place – much better looking than mine (plus I think he’s got more space). But despite that, he can’t get over the fact that he’s living underneath a bridge. So apparently it doesn’t matter how many beds and baths your palace has: if it’s under a bridge, it’s not good enough. Part of his major issue is that he’s worried about what his father will think if he ever found out that his son was living under a bridge – and in debt to someone else, no less.
When first introduced, Kou’s father was almost laughable. Okay, not ‘almost’: he was laughable. But his “fondness” for baby stuff aside, I’m starting to realize what a fearsome man he actually is, basing solely on the way he’s raised his son. I don’t know about anyone else, but I thought Kou’s memory of having his hair washed by his father, and then having to return the gesture so as to not be indebted was pretty tragic. I know it’s not uncommon for parents to be emotionally detached – especially fathers to sons – in order to instill a “toughness” and “self-independence” in their children, (they want their boys to grow up to be men one day, after all), but Kou’s case seems a little extreme. Focusing only on Kou and the way his father treated him as a child and the family mantra which he lived under, it’s no wonder he doesn’t understand nor really know how to accept love and affection – without having to repay it.
And that’s where Nino comes in. Nino feeds him because he’s her lover, and because she wants to feed him. Nino washes Kou’s hair because she wants to, and later even goes to thank him for allowing her to do so. In nearly every act and with every word, Nino challenges the rules and norms that Kou was raised in. Everytime he meets someone new, Kou immediately judges them based on how they look and how he perceives them to be (ie. weirdos), and time and time again, he’s forced to realize he’s wrong for thinking this way. He has no reason to set himself above others nor to prejudge them.
But aside from changing the way he sees others, Kou is challenged to change the way he sees himself. If who you are isn’t what you have (education, money, a successful company to inherit), then… what?
I guess along with a new home, a new name, and a new identity, a new religion wasn’t far behind. Who wouldn’t like a five second mass led by a gun-wielding “sister” though, haha. Thus far I’ve enjoyed every single new character introduced to the cast of Arakawa. I realize now that they’re not so much bizarre as unique with just a little bit of eccentricity. And while there are a lot of them (some we haven’t officially met yet), it doesn’t seem cluttered. Like when meeting all the people in Angel Beats, it felt cluttered – maybe because they were all crammed into one room but it did feel cluttered somehow. Also, for the first time, Kou faces hostility Under the Bridge after identifying himself as Nino’s lover. Can’t wait to see what the guy with the star head and those two other guys have to bring to the table. (Kou should probably sleep with one eye open.)
And did anyone notice that the height of one of the gray-headed guys keeps changing? One minute they’re the same height and the next one’s taller than the other. I’m confused.