As per what has become pretty much the default layout for Arakawa Under the Bridge x2, last week's semi-serious (okay, so it wasn't really serious at all) and more character-focused affair gives way to outright comedy for episode seven - otherwise known as "the best bit" of the show around here.
The inspiration for this instalment comes at the very start of the episode, with Whitey and the Mayor having a chat which invariably turns to health, and before you know it the two of them are arguing over who is the healthiest of them both. Thanks to Ric's contacts, he manages to get hold of a bunch of medical testing equipment, and so it's time for all of the under-bridge residents to get a health check. While this brings us some rather expected fare courtesy of P.ko's overbearing worries about her weight, it also offers its fair share of hilarity, not least Stella's rather, err... "unique" BMI reading, as well as the secret of how the Mayor keeps cool in that kappa suit. Come the end of this part of the episode, chaos reigns as Ric and Star in particular decide that being sickly really isn't that bad if it means you have Nino fawning over you, only to realise that anyone suffering with any kind of illness is going to be left at home when the shuttle to Venus leaves.
Speaking of this trip to Venus, it's decided at this point that further testing is required to figure out who is suitable to make the journey with Nino, which leads to the second half of the episode seeing first all of the girls and then the boys locked in a basement for a week with nothing but one another's company to test their ability to coexist and cooperate. You'd probably expect the female side of the cast to breeze through this test, and that they do... for six days anyway, before Maria's need to tease people and Stella's need to beat seven shades of crap out of them become too over-bearing. Mission failed. This seemingly leaves the men of the bridge an impossible task, not least when it turns out that the Mayor has let someone take his place, but amazingly they all make it through the entire week physically, if not mentally, intact.
I think it's pretty much par for the course these days to mention just how funny Arakawa Under the Bridge can be when it's on form, and so it proves again here - while it doesn't fill this episode with wall-to-wall laughter, it has more than enough laugh out loud moments of absurdity, visual comedy and snappy one-liners to be hugely entertaining; the kind of thing that plasters a smile onto your face at the end of a long, hard day in the office. It's almost hard to remember the days when this show was looking set to be a bit of a failure when the original series started airing - my, how it's grown and matured into an almost clinical comedy effort when it wants to be.