I wasn’t all too sure how to start this post, so how about I start with this:
I love Arakawa Under the Bridge x Bridge.
This episode really took me by surprise – and I’m not exactly sure why. It wasn’t the first time Arakawa progressed in an actual storyline or managed to be serious and funny at the same time. And it wasn’t like they revealed any more information about Nino, her past, her parents, or how she came to live Under the Bridge. I think it might be because the World of Arakawa sits perfectly on the very thin line between reality and fantasy. Perfectly.
Let’s start with the Mayor. We were reminded this episode that the Mayor is certainly more than what meets the eye. Not only does he hold an intriguing amount of political power (as seen in the previous season when he foils Ichinomiya Papa’s plans to buy and redevelop the land Under the Bridge) but he’s also Nino’s guardian, set in place to stop anyone from looking into “who” she is. The Mayor also seems to be in contact with Nino’s parents – or at least indirectly as he’s been the middle man, passing those tapes from Nino’s parents to Nino herself. But for the most part, the Mayor is a man wearing a kappa suit. His kappa suit masks his normality.
As for Nino, she’s also one foot over the line of reality into fantasy, believing (whether or not whole-heartedly I don’t know) she’s Venusian. Now I know in the first season we’d sort of figured that Nino knew – in her heart – that she wasn’t actually Venusian, but now with the revelation that she’s leaving the riverbank to return to Venus, I’m not so sure. But I think that’s because Nino might not see Venus as the rest of the world sees Venus…
If we assume that Nino has been living Under the Bridge for a very long time (like since she was a little girl), then she may have grown up sheltered by her parents (through their tapes) and the Mayor. Perhaps she believes she’s Venusian like how I believe I’m Chinese-Canadian. Maybe what she knows as “the rocket to Venus” is actually Air Canada, and the last time she travelled was when she was very, very young, and at that time, her parents told her that she was on a spaceship leaving Venus for Japan.
But I’m just speculating here.
Recruit is obviously the grounding character of the cast – at least for the most part. He’s the one we can relate to most and he’s the one who upholds the “norms of society” in comparison to the norms of the Under the Bridge society. It was funny to see his envisioning of life on Venus with Nino’s parents. Why he associates Venusians with Cephalopods, I’m not sure but it kind of brings light to the opening animation with all the sea life swimming around… in space. I’ve decided that, despite all his faults and fails, Recruit is a good boyfriend. He’s made so many sacrifices for Nino thus far and he continues to pursue a happy life with Nino no matter what she throws his way. Even after Nino started to ask everyone to come to Venus with her, Recruit had the maturity to get over himself because he understood that Nino’s world doesn’t comprise of him alone; it includes everyone Under the Bridge.
Ah: So we did see the Captain again. And while he didn’t take up too much time, he did reveal something about Nino that’s very, very interesting:
Now I know we can’t necessarily take the Captain at face value, but why did he draw Nino casually standing at the bottom of the river surrounded by admiring fish? And for how long can she hold her breath if the Captain needed more than one oxygen tank to observe her actions under water? (He mentions that one hour of air isn’t enough.) It might be an exaggeration or a very liberal interpretation of Nino’s interaction with the fish of the river, but it would explain how she’s such a fantastic fisher-woman; she doesn’t even have to chase after the fish!
And among all the seriousness in true Arakawa form, I laughed plenty during Shimazaki’s encounter with Shiro-san. It’s a good thing Recruit let them keep those suits (and would it kill Sister to wear his a little more often?) and that Shiro-san wore it at such an opportune time, haha. I think the only thing funnier than that was how Nino kept punching people as a physical expression of her happiness that everyone was going to accompany her to Venus.
I can’t help but wonder if Under the Bridge all began with a very young Nino and her guardian who dressed up as a kappa to make things more entertaining (and to hide his true identity; like Batman). …And what if Sister and Maria were brought into the community to help protect Nino from outsiders – especially if they knew Nino’s true identity. But it makes you wonder if Nino really is the daughter of some wealthy, well-known power couple, why they chose a Bridge to house their daughter. Sure it’s inconspicuous, but at the same time, isn’t it a little cruel?