After the Rain – Anime Review
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)
Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: After the Rain is one of the Winter season’s most beautiful and stylish series, offering excellent visuals that remain eye-catching and engaging through After the Rain’s full 12 episode run. Thankfully the series isn’t just a pretty face. Beneath the surface is a wonderfully executed tale of an awkward romance of self-discovery and healing for two individuals on very different, yet similar, walks of life.
Linny: At first glance, the synopsis may make certain people judge the show prematurely. Yes, it does feature a high school girl developing feelings for an older man but that attraction remains mainly one sided. The show treats the ‘romance’ delicately, always making it clear that while Akira has strong feelings for Mr. Kondo, he is always respectful and never takes advantage of her affections. The show features a ‘sleazy’ male character who tries to exploit Akira’s secret crush in a manner that indicates the show’s own disapproval of such actions and people. But the most important thing is that After the Rain is actually better viewed as a character story and not a romance. It’s about our two main characters discovering or rediscovering aspects about themselves and their purpose and passion in life. Both Akira and Kondo are revealed to have abandoned their passions for various reasons, both convinced in the moment that there was no other option. But as the show progresses, both come to realize that in doing so, they may have lost and abandoned more than just their dreams.
Tom: Early on, After the Rain is clearly focused on Tachibana, her affection for Kondo and the gradual realization for the audience that much of it stems from her struggle to come to terms with a major injury that forced her to stumble away from her dreams. She’s the major focus for a good half of the series, with Kondo acting as a foil to Tachibana’s affections and troubled arc. Gradually however Kondo comes into his own as the series switches gears to focus more so on his life, and his own personal struggles that in some ways mirror Tachibana’s. It’s this shift in focus that takes After the Rain from a fun, beautiful series, to a deeper more heart felt one, as it begins to more earnestly talk about failure and how it’s never too late to pick yourself up again. After the Rain becomes less about the age-gap romance between these two individuals and more so about their internal struggles.
Linny: While After The Rain features a handful of other characters, friends, family and coworkers, these characters ultimately end up as little more than comic relief or at the most leads in very minor story arcs. They mainly seem to exist to provide jokes or flesh out our main characters’ lives. Even Akira’s friend, Haruka who gets her own little arc detailing her heartache over Akira leaving the track club and also abandoning their friendship, ends up feeling primarily as a means to showcase Akira realizing that giving up track and running has resulted in her also losing out on other joys. It’s not a major flaw but it does highlight that After The Rain is truly meant to be Kondo and Akira’s story.
Tom: The crux of the story really is the character journey of learning to stand up and pursue your dreams again, even if it’s far later in life. Because of this shift in focus audiences uncomfortable with the age gap will find the series gradually becomes easier to handle, shifting that notion further and further away from the forefront of the character drama. Even the series ending keeps the idea of these two ending up together vague enough, abstract enough, and far enough in the future that most viewers shouldn’t have an issue. The ending also does the best it can to provide closure, seeing as the manga only ended recently, and would require potentially another season to finish the adaptation. What’s provided here is actually fairly successful at offering anime-only audiences a sense of closure and stands out among other adaptations that feel so much more “go read the manga” in their approach.
Linny: After the Rain is one of those shows that will be best appreciated by mature viewers with its theme of embracing or returning to one’s passions in life. Combined with its pastel hue colour palette, soothing and uplifting theme songs and the warm visual style, After The Rain brims with this feeling of calming reassurance. Despite the crush playing a big part in the synopsis, it’s barely a romance, and mainly a character journey. It’s a reassuring tale, one that will not only be a relaxing experience to watch but also an uplifting and motivating tale about embracing failures as part of the journey and not the end of your dreams.
Tom: Overall After the Rain stands out as one of the stronger Winter titles, and shouldn’t be overlooked. It offers great characters, visual storytelling, and a message that should definitely resonate with older audiences, managing to both acknowledge the likelihood of failure, but also the idea that one’s dreams and passions are worth returning to, even much later in life. The series stands out as one of Winter’s best titles and could very well be in the running for 2018’s Anime of the Year.
After the Rain is available for streaming via Amazon Video.