If you watch anime or consume anything from movies to video games, you’d have realised romances portrayed in them aren’t very realistic. They pander to our fantasies and private daydreams. A handsome man, woman, or creature, with a perfect personality and supermodel looks attracted to a plain, faced, absolutely boring nobody who could disappear the next day and not turn up on the missing section of a newspaper until a month later. Wish fulfillment is thy name. Everyone is but a slave to its whims.
Hilariously, I am an avid consumer of such entertainment. Romance visual novels are my bread and butter. Harem anime is a guilty pleasure I occasionally indulge in even if the show is the epitome of trash (the dark days or Oreimo loom at the back of my mind) and I only have to thank the 2000s for the slew of generic harem/ecchi anime for making me into this twisted being.
Before someone sets me on fire, know that I have since spread my wings and dipped my fingers into the metaphorical pies of different genres. I’ve learned to like better shows. But romance in games and anime continue to interest me. Harems aside, my favourite kind of romance anime is the type centered on the budding relationship between two people. The spark of attraction growing into an untameable blaze that consumes either party until they are unable think about anything else.
To me, it doesn’t matter the gender, status, blood relations, or age gap between the lovers. Not everything in this this statement is applicable to reality for obvious reasons (Incest is a pretty touchy subject in anime as it is) but if the story question is enjoyable and entertaining, then sign me the hell up. The premise of After the Rain fits neatly into this interest of mine so I sat down and marathoned the entire series.
The story follows Akira Tachibana, a high school track star recovering from a severe foot injury, as she works part time in a family diner run by the object of her affections – a middle aged man named Masami Kondou. She falls for him after he offers her a coffee on a depressing, rainy day and does a simple magic trick to brighten her mood. The nature of the show is episodic, showing the lengths Akira goes through to convey her feelings to the understandably doubtful man.
It’s hard to recommend this show to others. The moment the words ‘school girl falls for middle aged man’ leaves my mouth, the listener tends to cringe and wave their hands in the universal ‘No way in hell’ sign. I find it a shame because that’s not all this show is about! Think about it this way, we are watching the romance unfold from two different perspectives. One from the naïve girl with no experience in love, Akira, and another from Kondou, a divorced man in a midlife crisis who is struggling to find meaning in his life.
The episodes range from light hearted humour due to the pair’s miscommunication, to bone deep weariness Kondou openly displays when Akira pries into his past. The set up for the twelve episodes mostly follow a rote formula. Akira often going out of her way to engage the man, trying to learn more about him, getting Kondou to open up bit by bit. Sort of like prying open a clamshell. Kondou would find himself wrestling with his feelings for her – familial at first, but eventually evolving into something he doesn’t want to acknowledge – before being cruelly reminded of his age and expiry date.
After the Rain doesn’t always have the perfect balance of comedy and melancholy, however. I feel like it dwells too much on the comedic aspects at the start, and then focuses on the more mature aspects towards the end. I would have liked it better if the episodes were a mix of the two, instead of favouring one extreme. Still, even though there were times I found myself dozing, I still ended up invested in the overall story and romance. Twelve episodes was the perfect sweet spot for this anime, especially considering it’s adapted from a manga.
I didn’t particularly care for the side characters, honestly. They were mostly there for comedic relief or drama, though it must be said some of them played important roles in Akira and Kondou’s lives. I was more invested in the budding friendship and relationship between the titular characters, dedicating time to the side characters only annoyed me.
The meat of the development and screen time went to Akira and Kondou. The anime starts with Akira, then switches to Kondou, and so forth. I enjoyed both perspectives, but loved Kondou’s parts more. Some people might identify better with Akira, but there were aspects of Kondou that reminded me of myself, or people like myself.
Kondou perfectly embodies the weariness and yearning of days gone by. The inevitability of aging and being forgotten, not yet accomplishing their goals and dreams. His portions were depressing, though Akira has her share of those moments too.
One thing I liked about the dynamic between Akira and Kondou, is that it is believable. Discounting that this is a romance anime, it’s hard not to see why Akira falls so hard for the man. The life she always knew has suddenly been taken away from her, and in this trying time where no one seems to understand her, Kondou is a nonjudgmental soul who offers comfort for nothing in return. His nature is to help those in need, people see him weak and stupid because of that, but it’s precisely why she likes him.
I feel After the Rain can be categorized as a comfort anime. It might not be very realistic, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it. I did go out of my way to read the manga afterwards, but I ended up wishing I didn’t. My advice to anyone who wanted a satisfying ending for this anime, just enjoy the twelve episodes and mark it as complete. Trust me, you’d probably feel better.
Love After the Rain