Of all the insane crazy comedies by Shaft that I’ve seen, Arakawa is probably the craziest. Not in terms of how insane the dialogue and visuals are, that honour goes to Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, but because the characters in Arakawa are literally insane. Or, rather, they are “insane” from an outsider’s perspective, when that outsider defines sanity by his own state of mind and the average state of mind of people in general. But are the characters in Arakawa really insane, or are they just “weird”? The show, being a crazy comedy, doesn’t concern itself with answering that question, but it is established early on that even people who seem normal on the outside, such as the main character Kou Ichinomiya, can be very “weird” on the inside when put into certain situations in certain environments.
I’d like to say that Arakawa is a show that wants people to embrace their inner weirdness and understand that that’s ok, but again, it’s a crazy comedy, so it spends most of its time trying to make the viewer laugh, not think. That said, the show sometimes, possibly accidentally, strikes on some interesting themes. Acceptance, parents’ expectations, stress, escapism. I also love the romance in the show. It’s mostly played for laughs, and the setup is something you’d expect to find in a harem LN, but over time it evolves into a relationship that you don’t see often in anime and manga. The show has some really touching scenes.
The last thing that I absolutely have to mention when it comes to this show is the cast. The main characters, Kou and Nino, are voiced by Hiroshi Kamiya and Maaya Sakamoto respectively. Normally that would be high-profile enough, but no. Kou’s father is voiced by Rikiya Koyama. Miyuki Sawashiro and Yuu Kobayashi have supporting roles, as do Tomokazu Sugita and Takehito Koyasu. Also, Ryouko Shintani and Keiji Fujiwara. Oh, and I almost forgot about Chiwa Saito, Yuuichi Nakamura and Yuuko Gotou. Also, I’m sure I forgot some people’s favourites, but this paragraph is already long enough. So yeah, I’d call that an all-star cast.