Arakawa Under the Bridge x Bridge continues the growing love story between Rec (short for Recruit) and Nino. Rec, whose real name is Ichinomiya Ko, comes from a well-off family that lives by one major code - "Never owe anyone, anything." The family motto is put to the test when Nino rescues Rec from drowning in the river near the bridge she lives under.
The second volume follows the same general pacing and plot structure set up in the first volume. While Rec and Nino's relationship is a focus, for the most part, it is something that develops in the background of each episode (though a few do place a heavy emphasis on the relationship, such as one where the two finally express their feelings for one another).
Instead, Arakawa Under the Bridge x Bridge focuses on the day-to-day life of the bridge's little community of misfits. There's Hoshi, a washed-up rock star who wears a star-shaped mask, and Sister, an armed-the-to-teeth brickhouse of a man who chooses to dress as a nun every day. Other characters include Maria, a sharp-tongued woman with the ability to easily reduce Sister to tears, and Amazon, who has decided one part of the river is actually the Amazon. The Chief, a self-appointed leader who is convinced he's a mythological Japanese turtle god -- and he has the homemade costume to prove it -- leads the group.
Each of the show's characters is just as off-center as the show's plotlines. Episodes are marked by their complete randomness. There's a plotline for sure, but it is sometimes incredibly thin and only gives the barest of direction as to where the episode will go next. While I'm usually a stickler for solid storytelling, Arakawa Under the Bridge x Bridge has an odd way of keeping episodes weird, but not so weird you completely lose your place.
The execution, however, isn't flawless. For one, characters aren't always true to their personalities. Plots quirks and random moments will sometimes completely override whatever trait a character has previously displayed. Sometimes the slight change works for the better; though not consistent with the character, it still ends up being close enough to still work. Other times, characters can't pull off the direction change, most of the time to the detriment of the entire episode.
Arakawa Under the Bridge x Bridge also has a hard time closing the deal on storylines. The volume ends on a satisfying note, but leaves several loose threads. This may have something to do with the Arakawa Under the Bridge manga, however, so I can't knock the series too much.
NIS continues its tradition of offering great pack-ins with Arakawa Under the Bridge x Bridge. The Premium Edition ships with another full-color, 30-page art book stuffed with various artistic interpretations of the show's cast. I especially liked the photos of a live-action Hoshi. You also get episode notes that add a little bit of flavor to each, as well as interviews with the cast and creators.
Certain episodes also include commentary tracks.
As with other recent NIS entries, Arakawa Under the Bridge x Bridge ships with both Blu-ray and DVD versions. Although the DVD version doesn't look all that bad, if you have the means, you definitely want to watch the Blu-ray version. Arakawa Under the Bridge x Bridge isn't exactly a visual stunner, but fans will want to watch the best possible version.
Though not as strong as the first volume, Arakawa Under the Bridge x Bridge is still a fun anime for viewers who don't mind a bit of random in their romance.