Arakawa Under the Bridge x Bridge – 03
What an amazing episode. An entirely Nino centric episode, Arakawa continues to surprise me with these extremely touching episodes – I nearly teared up at the end! The episode was also much more linear and cohesive than is the norm for Arakawa, making the emotional impact that much stronger. How can you not love this show!?
I really can’t blame Ric for listening to Nino’s tapes; she’s so mysterious that all he wants is some insight into her world – I’d listen to them too if I was in the same situation. Nino’s reaction was fittingly oddball; rather than snap or attack Ric, she curls in on herself and retreats up a telephone pole – hissing like an angry cat. Nino doesn’t seem to be able to articulate why she’s so upset, and all attempts to coax her down from her perch fail. Ric at this stage is pretty distraught – he’s pretty hopeless with people in the first place and since Nino’s thought processes are utterly incomprehensible he’s even more out to see than normal. Ric’s blurting out that he’ll accept Nino no matter what, only seems to get her angrier with a pissed off expression that seems utterly out of character for her as she flings the box of tapes at Ric and flat-out challenges him to listen to them.
You have to wonder what’s on those tapes that would trigger this kind of change in Nino. The snippets that Ric got to listen too were pretty mundane things about looking after yourself (even if they were supposed to be from a Venusian and the box itself is a nod to the Voyager plaque) and aside from it being a bit weird, there didn’t seem to be anything particularly disturbing about the tapes. Unfortunately Hoshi got to the tapes first and despite Ric gearing himself up to accept Nino for all that she is, both were treated to another rendition of the himo himo~ song – Hoshi can be such a dick. Nino’s utterly shell-shocked expression really said it all about how she was feeling at that stage – she clearly treasures these tapes and to have them erased must be crushing.
The next part of the episode covered how the girls all gathered round Nino to comfort her and fend off Ric’s clumsy attempts to reconcile. P-ko was the star of this section, she’s such the classic best-friend who delights in slagging off the boyfriend when he’s in the bad books. Getting the girls together for a bitching/comfort food session can be wonderfully cathartic, but Nino seems withdrawn and uninterested throughout the impromptu pajama party.
Ric once again demonstrates his lack of people skills as he attempts to win Nino’s forgiveness / cheer her up. Ric’s heart is in the right place, but when is most embarrassing secrets are just a collection of moments when the scion of the Ichinomiya empire was less than 100% perfect, its hard not to laugh at how clueless he is. Ric’s never had to work so hard to get a woman’s attention before, Nino is on a level entirely of her own where Ric’s common sense never really works; all he knows is that it’s heartbreaking to see Nino looking so lost and upset. Ric’s emotions always run close to the surface and his distress at being unable to see Nino’s smile actually causes him physical pain – it was really touching to see just how much he cares for this spacey girl.
It was the final scene with Ric realising that Nino isn’t really getting how strongly he feels for her that really brought out the waterworks though, as it spurred one of the rare moments where Ric is the one reaching out to Nino. Nino is usually the one to instigate contact in the relationship, Ric usually over thinks things and ends up dancing about the issue too much to actually do anything; so the fact its him that breaks down and instigates the embrace makes it all the more touching. Ric’s entire world has been changed by Nino and it breaks his heart that she doesn’t get that she’s the most important person in his current world.
Nino admission that she was upset that Ric listened to her tapes, because she was frightened that he would leave her if he learned the secret they contain. Now I don’t for one second think that Nino’s tapes contain anything dark and terrible, rather I think their secret is likely to be more mundane; like she just has some weird family drama she’s running from. Nino wants her status quo – the little insular world that’s been created under the Arakawa bridge where she can pretend to be from Venus and choose how much of her heart she can show people. Like it or not Ric has upset that world little by little in the time he’s been living under the bridge; I don’t think anyone else would have triggered Nino’s little meltdown quite like this, as it stemmed completely from fear of losing someone important to her. This little moment between the two is a huge turning point in Nino & Ric’s relationship, as they both are forced to recognise how much they care for each other – I loved it to bits, and it will be interesting to see where they go from here.
So overall this was one of the very best episodes of Arakawa even if it wasn’t heavy on the comedy or randomness. It’s really amazing how a gag show can pull such emotional episodes as this while maintaining its wonderful sense of humour. Very much looking forward to next week, especially since it seems the Mayor and Sister have Nino’s real tape – have to admit I’m curious about the contents (although pretty sure we’ll be back to randomness next week!)