It took a bit of doing, but Recruit finally convinced Nino to go on a date with him come the end of the last episode, even if it's little more than a stroll to the mouth of the river. Still, progress is progress, and as episode four of Arakawa Under the Bridge begins so we get to catch up on the result of this date.
As this date progresses however, you have to wonder who is the more certifiable out of the pair, as Ric comes up with some decidedly skewed ideas of how a relationship should progress (thanks to reading too much romantic manga by the look of it), culminating in his absolutely hilarious attempt to carry Nino like a princess, which is probably the funniest thing I've seen in quite a while. Still, humour aside we also get some more serious moments here, as we see Nino yet again using the "I'm a Venusian" line to deflect questions about her past, while Ric's attempt to free Nino's grass boat so that it can continue on its way genuinely touches both her and, to a lesser extent, the viewer.
With this date over, we're introduced to a couple of new characters. Firstly there's Stella, an English orphan and friend of Sister who speaks perfect Japanese (because we all learn Japanese from an early age over here, you know), but also has an impressive sideline in multi-hit combos when it comes to bare-knuckle fighting. Yes, quite the charming girl indeed... Then there's Maria, the owner of the river's very own farm (as if that isn't surreal enough), and a beautiful woman with the voice of Selty and the conversational gambits of Hitagi Senjougahara. You didn't think we were going to be introduced to any normal characters in this series, did you?
While previous episodes of this series have been amusing and edged with some interesting concepts and underlying thoughts that clearly ran through its DNA, this is the first instalment of Arakawa Under the Bridge that consistently made me laugh out loud, throwing in plenty of hilarious moments and making full use of its surreal setting where anything goes. I also can't help but notice that Recruit really seems to be blossoming into quite the nice guy amidst the riverside's inhabitants - While he's still as clueless as the rest of them, his edge of superiority has largely dissolved already; something which I thought would take a whole lot longer throughout this series. Hell, he even seems to be starting to win Nino over, which is no mean feat - Just learn how to carry a girl like a princess properly, for heaven's sake!