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[After The Rain]
AKA: 恋は雨上がりのように; Koi wa Ameagari no You ni
Genre: Romantic Drama
Length: Television series, 12 episodes, 23 minutes each
Distributor: Currently available streaming on Amazon Prime.
Content Rating: 14+ (Mature themes.)
Related Series: A live-action film in 2018
Also Recommended: Ristorante Paradiso; Blend-S
Notes: Based on manga by Jun Mayuzuki, published by Shogakukan (and in English by Vertical).
Rating:

After The Rain

Synopsis

Akira Tachibana is a 17-year old girl with a crush on Masami Kondo, the 45-year-old, divorced, father-of-one manager at the restaurant where she works part-time. But they each harbor secret regrets that they can perhaps help each other with.


Review

When I read the Amazon synopsis emphasizing that controversial age difference, I was prepared to haul out my little speech from the Ristorante Paradiso review about the difficulties of relationships between young women and much older men. I was also going to note that you rarely see young men paired with much older women in anime, except for the Fantasy Anime Exception: it IS allowed if the women are Immortal But Gorgeous (Spice and Wolf, Maoyu, Ah! My Goddess et al.) But the current show largely uses the age difference more as a lure, and means to a slightly different end, ultimately focusing on our two main protagonists' abandoned dreams (which includes, in Akira's case, an abandoned best friend.) Akira's pursuit of a romantic relationship with "Mr. Kondo" becomes less important as an end in itself than the fact that it opens up each of them to confide in the other, including about their regrets, and that conversation may bring them to start dealing with some things that they simply stopped rather than actually concluded.

When it comes to that painful past, Akira is by far the tougher nut to crack. A lanky girl, described as "almond-eyed" in the show, she's also described in the show as "impassive"- my own description would be "stiffly polite"- though there's one major exception: if someone touches some sensitive spot in her psyche, she'll suddenly snap at them. She's apologetic afterwards, but it seems that one can't simply avoid getting this response by staying away from sensitive topics, because anything can be a sensitive topic with her, depending purely on what's going on in her mind. For example- and I'm not SAYING that this happens, mind- if someone were to simply propose going to karaoke, she might lash out at them because she had other plans that she couldn't talk about. Those plans might involve- not saying they DO, you know- "Mr. Kondo". The general social issues associated with a teenage girl going out with a middle-aged man are all here- at least one person thinks that Akira is Kondo's daughter- and Akira is conscious enough of the general social disapproval of this sort of relationship to be blackmailed about it by another party, leading to TWO dates with nearly identical itineraries, but with a marvelous contrast in Akira's attitude (and dress!) between the two. The show's not really that much into comedy per se, but Akira's mom has a comment about all this that's priceless, and this part of the show was definitely a highlight for me.

Akira also treats her former friend, Haruka Kyan, with frosty disdain. It's apparently mostly out of her own guilt feelings- Haruka is a living reminder of what she's willfully given up when she didn't really have to. She could have returned to the activity she and Haruka both loved to participate in, but Akira seems too sunk in self-pity to make the extra effort required for her to do it again. The fact that Haruka desperately wants to be Akira's friend again made Akira's stubbornness even more annoying to me.

Kondo, by contrast, rarely seems to get angry, even when he's trying to discourage Akira's personal interest in him. He's socially inept. I won't say what his former dream was, but he runs into a former classmate, Chihiro Kujo, who's turned "pro" at it; and we've another illustration that, at least in some endeavors, commercial success may mean sacrificing quality and purity. What Kondo aspired to turns out to be something that Akira knows very little about ( though the opposite is ALSO true of course), so we'll say that, besides the age difference, there's a lack of a shared interest between Kondo and Akira, though HERE- for ONCE- she does try to be flexible and accommodating.

A character I thought received a rather surprising treatment is a boy named Yoshikawza. A classmate of Akira's, he's obsessed with her to the point of joining the restaurant's staff to be near her, but she's utterly uninterested in him. In most shows a character like this would simply be left twisting in the wind, but this show does something unusual (and which I very much approved of) with this guy.

I also have to give a Dishonorable mention to the visual depiction of a waitress named Kubo. Her mouth is so big that it threatens to go beyond the edges of her face. I'm not sure, but I think there might be a scene or two where it actually DOES this.

Oh, and the show's title? Significant events with Akira usually happen during rainstorms, and their repercussions usually follow (I HAVE to say this) After The Rain. (The whole show MUST be taking place during Japan's rainy season.)

The Recommendations for THIS show, for once, were pretty obvious.

I was pretty aggravated by Akira for a while, but maybe she does "get over herself" in the end. She's at least an interesting psychological study. Kondo turns out to be a much "deeper" character than he seems at first, and Haruka is just a sweetheart. I was glad something positive was done with the Yoshikawza character. The show's drama is pretty solid, and I found the Two Dates plotline ingenious. And I'll say no more except that the show DOES keep some of its other options open, maybe for another time. Allen Moody

Recommended Audience: There's no U.S. video release, and Amazon plays the TV-NR game with this again. The show certainly contains a mature theme (intrinsic to the relationship being pursued), and Akira has a nude dream scene (in my opinion not very graphic). Rightstuf rates the manga 14+, and that seems a plausible rating for the anime as well. So, 14+ here.



Version(s) Viewed: Streaming on Amazon Prime
Review Status: Full (12/12)
After The Rain © 2018 WIT Studio
 
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