After the Rain – Anime Preview
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Synopsis: Akira Tachibana(17) used to be the ace of a track club, but gave up running due to her injury. Masami Kondo(45) is a manager at a family restaurant called Garden, where Akira works. This story is set in a seaside town, and depicts a girl who stopped at a cross-point in her youth, and a man who reached a turning point of life. Everybody wants that moment where they get fraught with great emotions. (Official Amazon Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: After the Rain’s synopsis is most likely going to have some, if not most people worried that it’s going to be some sleazy fantasy fulfillment story about an older man getting to enjoy the affection and attention of a high school girl. Thankfully, the first episode seems to make it clear that that isn’t the case as it treats its characters and subjects with dignity, and manages to completely avoid coming off like sleazy, slapped together, fantasy fodder. The episode does a superb job of doling out exposition through small scenes and imagery rather than having a character or narrator just hurl out a long string of sentences explaining everything verbally.
Tom: After the Rain avoids one of the biggest issues plaguing this season: forced exposition. There’s none of it here. The series works hard to introduce everything that matters without voice over, forced dialogue, or anything of the kind. We naturally flow through just another day in Akira Tachibana’s life, and manage to glean all the necessary details out of it without ever feeling lost or confused. It’s incredible. It also helps that the series does all this while wallowing in an absolutely wonderful, laid-back atmosphere, coupled with solid pacing and plenty of heartwarming moments that help to showcase who Tachibana is, who Masami Kondo is, and why she’s so smitten with him. It’s art is vibrant and beautiful, with only my most minor of quibbles being that Akira Tachibana’s character design is a tad too elongated and thin for my tastes, but it’s the most minor of quibbles.
Linny: My major quip, besides the elongated art for Akira, is that the episode feels a bit contrived in places. Namely when some of Kondo’s waitresses harp on and mock Kondo, the manager, behind his back for being such an apologist. It’s clearly done to make Kondo seem all the more saintly and likeable as the show then continues to give a clear example of him apologizing for something that the cook clearly burnt and ruined. It thus ends up feeling unnecessary and forced.
Tom: While the show maybe harks too much on Masami Kondo’s good guy nature, it still largely succeeds at making him this lovable, good natured, endearing older man. You can really see why Akira is so infatuated with him.
Linny: I’m sure many older readers and anime viewers can recall having really shallow or one sided crushes in their teen years, maybe even on someone much older. For those people, After the Rain will immediately grab your attention with how well it portrays Akira’s affection for Kondo, avoiding any sleazy content and focusing on all the more pure parts of young, unrequited love. There is a scene towards the end of the show which has me thinking that the show might be hinting at some mutual feelings from Kondo’s side and in all honesty, if that does happen, it could ruin things for many people as a romance between a 40 year old divorced man with a son and a 17 year old high school girl isn’t something easily accepted. However, if After the Rain chooses to remain pure and sweet, it’s sure to be one of the best shows of this season thanks to its refined storytelling and beautiful art.
Tom: Overall I have very few complaints with After the Rain’s opener. It’s a solid romance. The show keeps things mostly innocent, and more so in romantic territory than to sexualize Akira’s affections for Kondo. This could’ve gone in all the wrong ways, but succeeds so successfully thanks to its tight story-telling and excellent characterization. This might have taken my top spot as most intriguing series this season.
After the Rain is available for streaming via Amazon Video.