After the Rain – Mid Season 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)
Mid Season (6 Episodes) Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Despite what one could call an unusual and slightly controversial premise (a teenage girl romantically infatuated with a much older man), After the Rain remains modest and realistic. It continues to avoid feeling like cheap old man fantasy and there have been zero improper interactions between our teenaged protagonist, Tachibana and her middle aged crush, Kondo. The show makes it abundantly clear that the romantic attraction is one sided and Mr. Kondo’s behaviour towards Tachibana never cross the line. Also, After the Rain makes it a point to show how and why Tachibana develops her infatuation, so you have an understanding for how a 17 year old could randomly fall for an oblivious 45 year old divorcee. And while some might argue that the reason isn’t the most convincing, considering that Tachibana is still a teenager and how easily one can develop crushes at that age, it actually adds a touch of realism and conviction to the tale.
Tom: After the Rain does indeed handle its more taboo subject matter well, keeping both leads relatable. This is largely in part due to how well Tachibana’s affection for Kondo, and her mental state, are showcased rather than explained. We never get Tachibana’s inner thoughts like a voice over dictating exactly what she’s thinking. Instead the series works hard to define her character through her actions and visuals. It’s a risky move, seeing as Tachibana’s attraction to a much older man could rub audiences the wrong way. Thankfully Tachibana’s realization is so perfectly executed, so neutral, never pushing against or for the romance, that it feels more honest and acceptable. Tachibana’s infatuation does cross a line or two at times, venturing into less acceptable territory, but the series’ neutral stance keeps these moments from feeling like they’re supposed to be altogether acceptable.
Linny: After the Rain’s entertainment value is further lifted by its side characters, most of them coworkers at the restaurant and/or classmates of Tachibana. All of the coworkers we’ve seen regularly so far have been given enough of a personality to make them feel defined or memorable…from the strict but kind cook to the older waitress with a more pragmatic and almost negative attitude towards life. Early on, the show introduced us to Takashi Yoshizawa who is Tachibana’s classmate and nursing a crush for her, going so far as to join her place of work in order to try and get closer to her. He’s actually a rather lovable character with his attempts to woo Tachibana always comedic and may have viewers rooting for him to find true love, whether it be with Tachibana or someone else. While After the Rain deserves so much praise, we cannot ignore that its premise is one likely to be highly uncomfortable for viewers. But what gives me hope is how the show treats this taboo romance with dignity. One example is an episode where an older male coworker, Kase Ryousuke coerces Tachibana into going on a date with him after discovering her secret crush and threatens to expose her. It’s made obvious that this is not okay, that Ryousuke is NOT a good guy. He’s shown to be almost predatory as he voices his disinterest in tutoring a high school kid unless it’s a cute girl. This episode makes it clear that it does not condone his actions, further strengthening my belief and hope that it will treat the main ‘romance’ with respect and care.
Tom: Turning back to our other main character, Mr. Kondo, the target of Tachibana’s affection, you’ll find he’s a much more YMMV character. Kondo is a classic portrayal of an older man, down on his luck, and more even mannered. He’s meek, to a fault, an altogether nice guy who never assumes or asserts. This near anti-masculine portrayal could frustrate viewers, particularly as Kondo is altogether oblivious or in outright denial of Tachibana’s continued advances. He often lets Tachibana walk all over him. In some ways the character has to be this way, otherwise After the Rain would be a darker drama, and far less light-hearted and laid back. That said, while Kondo’s meek nature can be endearing, likable, and understandable, it may frustrate viewers, particularly those who see Tachibana’s affection for Kondo as outright wrong, the age gap too wide and vile. Kondo’s inability to shut it down is likely to piss off anyone who finds this awkward romance uncomfortable. Then again, if this May-December tale upsets you so, you likely shouldn’t be digging six episodes into a series that’s even-natured on this topic anyway.
Linny: Romance isn’t the only theme explored in After the Rain. As Tom mentioned, it does a beautiful job of visually conveying Tachibana’s inner feelings such as her frustration about being unable to pursue a sport she truly loves and how her injury has caused her to distance herself physically and emotionally from her friends.Episode 6 heavily focuses on the efforts of her runner friend, Haruka Kyan and Haruka’s effort to reconnect with Tachibana and make it clear that their friendship isn’t just about running. There’s also a tinge of potential latent attraction but it’s left open to interpretation whether it’s a depiction of Haruka’s melancholy over the fear of losing a childhood friend or if it speaks of something deeper than friendship.
Tom: Overall I think After the Rain handles its taboo subject matter with surprising maturity, neutrality, and respect for the audience. If you’re someone who is outright against such a May-December romance, this still isn’t for you. The show never actively condemns the idea of Kondo and Tachibana making a go of it, nor does it push for it. The series is an exploration of the situation, its characters, and the struggles in their lives that have led them to where they are. After the Rain is a perfect little romance/drama for anyone seeking something outside the norm, tackling a difficult subject with near perfect finesse. It’s without a doubt in the running for the best Winter has to offer.
Linny: If you were intrigued by the premise of After the Rain but were concerned that it would just be shallow, sleazy fantasy fodder, the great news is it is not that at all. It’s a mature and respectful look on what could happen when a 17 year old girl develops feelings for a much older, passive and oblivious man who has no interest in exploiting her attraction to him but also treats her with respect. If an unconventional romance (completely one sided for now) told with dignity and class sounds like your cup of tea, then do dive right into the world of After the Rain.
After the Rain is available for streaming via Amazon Video.