“When the ebbing tide retreats along the rocky shoreline
it leaves a trail of tidal pools in a short-lived galaxy,
each microcosmic planet a complete society.
A simple kind mirror to reflect upon our own.
All the busy little creatures chasing out their destinies.
Living in their pools, they soon forget about the sea...”
Neil Peart, Natural Science
The story is simple. Each episode consists of a number of small chapters, which are either stand-alone or part of a short multi-chapter story. Each chapter serves as a vehicle for exploring the social order under the bridge. There is no important narrative arc with build up, climax, and resolution, and I will not rate it as if there ought to be; each chapter of Arakawa is more koan than fragment of an epic poem.
This viewing was on a 55" OLED screen in 1080p BD.
The animation is abstract, yet artistic. I do not typically enjoy abstract art, but SHAFT manages to tie it together with beauitifully realistic backgrounds and scenery. The action is fluid and easily followed, even during surreal moments. The opening and ending videos flow nicely with the music and lyrics.
This viewing was with Japanese audio.
The voice acting was average to good.
The soundtrack was good, with a variety of styles. The opening theme is directly related to the series and was a nice way to start each episode. The second opening, which only plays for one episode, is directly about, and sung by the voice actress of, one of the characters. I do not know if the ending theme was created specifically for the series, but the lyrics and sound are fitting. Hoshi's singing was not good, nor were his songs pleasant. (But this is explained in-universe.)
The characters are each small puzzles. There is little character growth outside of Kou, himself, but each character develops a distinct personality as the chapters progress. Some characters have chapters dedicated to their reasons for being as they are, but most characters are not explained even if there are enough small hints along the way to make some reasonable guesses.
The real "character" is the community under the bridge. Each character is an outcast from society for different reasons, but they have found a home in the social bonds they have created with their neighbors. This is the focus of the anime, and is conveyed through a series of loosely interconnected events that flesh out the society under the bridge.
Strongly recommended for people who enjoy absurdity, philosophy and politics in their comedy.
Not recommended if you are looking for a romantic comedy. Though the tastes of romance, when present, are sweet.