The last episode of Arakawa Under the Bridge ended with about the closest this series can come to a cliff-hanger, with Kou seemingly recognised by a couple of individuals from outside of the world under the bridge... an undesirable state of affairs for our protagonist, for obvious reasons.
The two people in question turn out to be Kou's secretary and his assistant, which of course makes life even more awkward for him, and brings this particular situation comedy to an episode that is a staple of the sitcom diet - The inevitable instalment where Kou tries to get everyone around him to act like they're part of another business that he's set up.
Of course, convincing anyone that the inhabitants under the bridge are business men and women was never going to be easy, particularly when they try using your secretary's balding pate as a mirror, pulling a gun on him, or chasing dragonflies when you're supposed to be a secretary yourself. Luckily for Kou, his secretary Takai's real interest isn't in him as a successful businessman, but as a surrogate son of sorts, and so as the "truth" about Kou and Nino's relationship is unveiled and becomes clear (culminating in a first for Kou), so Takai is actually happy rather than disappointment despite any lies he's been told. The same cannot be said of his assistant Shimazaki however, who looks set to provide the evidence that will cause a whole lot of pain and heartache between Kou and his actual father.
Putting to one side for a moment that this is another laugh out loud funny episode of Arakawa Under the Bridge (and my God is it funny in places), this episode also manages to be all kinds of wonderful in myriad other ways. For starters, it's fascinating to watch Kou throughout this episode, from the opening pre-credits scene which flashes back to a rare moment of rebellion from a young Kou towards his father, through to the rest of this episode where his original creed of not relying on anyone but himself goes entirely out of the window - Witness how he spends the entire instalment relying on others to help him out, do him favours, serve him breakfast, and indeed notice how he calls out for help as he gets swept away by the tide late in the episode. This is a very different Kou from the one we met in episode one, that's for sure.
This episode also proves to be a rather sweet tale on the importance of having others around you who you can trust and confide in - Kou's determination to go it alone clearly struck sadness into Takai's heart, which is finally assuaged by seeing him fitting in amongst a group of people, no matter how oddball, while even the distant, loner that was the young Kou had no idea how his mere presence brightening the life of a lonely man who had lost his wife and was looking for someone to recognise him; a precious piece of validation that he'd only previously found through his work.
It isn't very often that you find a series that you can mark out as both intensely funny and packed to the rafters with well-realised social commentary - That Arakawa Under the Bridge manages both and appears to do so in a sharper and sharper fashion by the week is worthy of the highest praise indeed if you ask me. You know what? I think this episode might just have sealed this show's place as my favourite series of the spring season.