Look at the pretty sky after the rain
English: After the Rain
Season: Winter 2018
Length: 12 ep. x 24 min.
Studio: Wit Studio
I can’t deny; age gap in romance still somewhat bugs me. It’s not that I wish them the worst, but rather, I don’t instinctively back the couple like I would if they were around the same age. Partly because of that, I made a conscious decision
to force myself to watch After the Rain.
[Warning: Spoilers Ahead]
After the Rain is a gentle love story of a joushikousei, Tachibana Akira, and a middle-aged divorcee, Kondou Masami, that ended up being more than just a loved story. We learn that Tachibana is working in the family restaurant that Kondou manages, and are subsequently introduced to some of her classmates from school and coworkers at the restaurant, about half of whom don’t really matter in the story development and end up serving as comic fodder or just gossipers. Like Yoshizawa Takashi, the unfortunate character type who has a one-sided crush on Tachibana. He joined the same restaurant to be closer to Tachibana,
and then himself becomes the subject of affection from coworker Nishida Yui,
and that’s pretty much the end of relationship between Yoshizawa and Tachibana. Makes me wonder what was the point of the Yoshizawa person aside from being the comic relief character.
Not much happens between Tachibana and Kondou in the first few episodes, though we do get a bit of character backstory for Tachibana. Tachibana used to be the star runner on the track team, but she broke her ankle (or torn her ACL, I forget the exact injury) during rainy practice one day and had to regularly visit the podiatrist for checkups as a result. She then stopped coming to track practice and grew distant from her friend on the track team, Kiyan Haruka.
One day after a checkup, she drops by the family restaurant, where Kondou gives her a cup of coffee on the house because she looked sad. Kondou’s gesture touched her, and Tachibana started to develop an affection for Kondou.
Personally the most poignant scene of the show
Tachibana eventually learns that Kondou has a kid but is now divorced, which doesn’t deter her one bit.
She starts to put in more shifts at work and help out around the restaurant, even babysitting Kondou’s kid when he comes after school. On one occasion, she runs after a customer to return his lost phone and hurt her foot again. Kondou, being the nice guy that he is, feels bad about letting her run after the customer and visits her, leading Tachibana to confess her feelings.
Kondou, as expected, is dismissive of the idea that someone as young as Tachibana can like someone as “old and hopeless” as him,
but Tachibana persists and extracts a promise of a date from Kondou.
But another restaurant coworker, Kase Ryousuke, learns of her crush on Kondou and blackmails her into going on a date with him between her date with Kondou.
That’s the definition of an asshole right there
Sadly, this is where I felt the story lost its footing a bit. For a show that’s so down-to-earth and centered on the relationship between Tachibana and Kondou, injecting an element of NTR, even if briefly, felt unnatural. Furthermore, Tachibana very much disliked her date with Kase, but she in turn took Kondou to the EXACT SAME places Kase took her to on their date earlier, including watching the EXACT SAME movie. In fact, Tachibana’s behavior on the two dates are practically reversed. Whereas Kase “dragged” her to go to all the places, Tachibana in turn “dragged” Kondou to go to all the same places. It’s the single most mind-boggling development of the entire story. Thankfully, the anime didn’t dwell much on Kase or the dates, and Kase, like Yoshizawa, becomes irrelevant in the story soon afterwards.
In the next part of the story, we learn that Kondou loves to read “literature”, i.e. the classics. One day Tachibana meets with Kondou at a library, and Kondou borrows a book written by his old friend, Kujou Chihiro. This led him to meet that friend again, and we learn that they actually wrote doujinshi (no, not the dirty kind) together back in college.
Meeting his old friend rekindled his dreams from his younger days, and Kondou begins to write stories again.
Meanwhile, Tachibana’s friend from track team, Kiyan, is angry/sad/frustrated that Tachibana left her and the track team after the foot injury and tries to get her to come back.
Kiyan confronts Tachibana directly about this, several times.
Tachibana left track because she was afraid that she might injure herself again, even though her injury has been completely healed according to her doctor. Kiyan tells her of a fellow competitor who had the injury as Tachibana but is now attempting to break Tachibana’s records, and Kondou’s son, Yuuto, also reminded her to not give up so easily.
Like Kondou, Tachibana decides to return to track and chase her dreams (pun intended) at the end. And so while their relationship did not end in matrimony, it was nevertheless a happy(ish) ending.
This is the one aspect of the show I commend highly. The character designs aren’t the best, but the backgrounds sure are. The detail of scenes are so high that it blew my socks off. Hats off to Wit Studio for another beautifully animated show.
The qualities of these backgrounds can easily pass for visual novel assets. That’s how wickedly detailed these illustrations are.
While it started out as an unconventional love story, After the Rain ended as a story of self-rediscovery. It’s not the greatest of romances, and fans of shipping will probably be disappointed, but that’s ultimately not the point of After the Rain. It is instead a story of two people who encourage each other and reconnect with their own dreams. After the Rain is well worth a watch despite some shortcomings with respect to its use of characters.