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Review: Koi wa Ameagari no you ni (Anime)

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Make way for the Problematic™ anime of the season! Hey-ho!

ALIAS: After the Rain
STUDIO: Wit Studio
ORIGINAL RUN: January 12, 2018 – March 30, 2018
EPISODES: 12
GENRES & THEMES: Comedy; Drama; Romance; Age gap; Part-time job
SOURCE: Manga to anime adaptation
17-year-old high school student Akira Tachibana is a girl who barely expresses herself. She harbors a secret crush on Masami Kondo, the 45-year-old manager of the family restaurant she works at part-time.
Source: ANN

Feel welcome to express your thoughts and disagree (politely) in the comment section (discussion is always fun!!), but no opinion bashing will be allowed! Do remember the final verdict is my own opinion, which may differ from yours!

Say what you will, but Masami Kondo is a good macaroni and you cannot change my mind. I mean, look at him.
He is adorable.

Koi wa Ameagari no You ni, more appropriately translated as Love is Like After the Rain (you know, because after the rain comes the sun? Har har har, it took me half the series to make that deduction) is the story of 17-year-old track team star Akira Tachibana, who shreds her Achilles tendon and is tragically put out of the game. Sunk in the depths of an emotional low, Akira's gloomy period of rain comes to an end when 45-year-old divorcee and family restaurant manager Masami Kondo shines sunlight on her lost soul just by existing. And she falls hard. Like, real hard. Thus with no dreams left to pursue Akira starts working part time at Kondo's family restaurant in order to get closer to senpai and sniff his shirt (oh, if only I were joking about that last part). Et voilà, we have ourselves a... rather unusual rom-com setting?
Ok, so, calm your titties people. This isn't the first series Japan produces about a teen girl falling for a 40-something year-old man (and both written by female mangakas. is this some new kink I'm missing out or???), and if we're going to point fingers and cry scandal then perhaps we should start with the endless stream of animes that ignore the laws of physics of boob shape and movement. Yes, the setting of After the Rain is odd. Yes, it's problematic and sounds like a straight trip into nope-land. But... stick around for a while, will ya?
At first glance, After the Rain appears to be a self-indulgent work put out there to fulfil the wild fantasies of old men about 17-year-old yamato nadeshiko beauties falling for them, glorified by high-budget animation (GOD is it satisfying to watch), and I won't deny that there are certain tinges in this anime that clearly have semi-erotic undertones — cue 40 thousand pretty shots of Akira lying in bed and her sparkly eyes. It is still, after all, targeted at a male audience. But it's so much more than just that.
First of all, I have to say that Akira's situation is one that speaks to me at a very intimate level. Not because I fell for my middle-aged manager as a teen, you sick perv what kind of assumptions are you making, but because I too have been an injured sportswoman stuck in post-operation depression, watching how others continue walking the path of their dreams whilst I'm stuck looking at their receding backs (God I'm so good at drama, where's my Oscar for best cinematography or something like that?). And God does it suck. I think it's a situation that anybody can relate to on some level, because we've all hit a wall at some point in our lives and buried ourselves in misery — be that becase we've lost sight of our dreams, or because things aren't going as we hoped.
And dreams are actually all that this series is about. See, Kondo is a boring man with a boring life. His marriage was a failure, and at 45-years-old he doesn't really have dreams or aspirations. Yet when Akira comes up and tells him that his boring, un-special dorkiness is making her heart flutter, it awakens something in him; memories of his lost hope of becoming a writer, that make him rethink his life and what it means to be 'old.' At its heart, After the Rain is actually a story about forgotten dreams and the regrets of giving up before the fight — of taking back youth and learning that there is no expiry date on it. And honestly, in an industry that seems obsessed with the idea that highschool is the height of life and you'll never be that happy again because everybody knows adulthood is a meaningless empty void, Kondo's journey of re-discovery was fresh rain that watered my plants. (Also, he is adorable. Have I told you that? Bless his socks.)
At first it's hard to see what Akira could possibly find so attractive about Kondo, or how they could carry the weight of the series together when they are such polar opposites — but these two made a surprisingly engaging duo of co-protagonists. Akira is an absolutely adorable teen in love going through some serious doki-dokis, and her moments of glee at seeing Kondo or finally gathering up the courage to speak to him were so pure they cleared my skin. On the other hand, Kondo's immediate awkward response to having a girl young enough to be his daughter falling hard for him is hilarious, but the series isn't afraid of also diving into dark territories and openly acknowledges how weird the situation is, and the many reasons why it cannot possibly work out.
Now, all of this is not to say the series isn't flawed. For starters, though After the Rain as a whole is indeed a light-hearted rom-com, it's questionable whether Akira is truly in love with Kondo or whether it's just situational infatuation. Kondo's random act of kindness —a coffee on the house and Lame Dad That Pretends to Be Cool™ type magic trick one rainy afternoon saves her from a pit-hole of misery, and as a whole it feels like she's latching onto the butterflies in her stomach to get through her failed dream as an athlete. And though that does not invalidate the series nor make it less entertaining (because lord did I enjoy this little ride), it puts to question whether it should truly be classified as a love story at all. Though some may be okay with this, seeing as the setting is already odd enough, those in for a hardcore drama llama forbidden romance should probably pack their bags and look elsewhere.
Additionally, there's a decisive lack of focus and the main theme takes it's sweet time to really come through. There's a strong sense that they tried to cram a lot of content into the series and skimmed over other stuff, which is no surprise considering that the manga is 10 volumes long and the anime only has 12 episodes; and though it would have only detracted even more from Akira & Kondo's story, I consider it a true tragedy that the rest of the family restaurant staff never gets properly fleshed out, seeing as I found them charming enough to start their own WORKING!!-type spin-off. There's a lot of lost potential in all the side characters that step on and off the stage, each with their own emotional baggage that gets given just enough attention for them to feel more than just paper clippings, but not enough for the audience to connect with them. Though I don't think the content is extensive enough to cover, say, a double-season 24-episode show, I definitely think it was a few episodes short.


Conclusions

Koi wa Ameagari no you ni doesn't go out with a bang, but with the pitter-patter of the rain slowly vanishing as it lifts. It has a rather muted and slightly rushed ending that may leave some viewers a bit bummed out, which is probably why despite ranking high it won't be taking the top spot on anybody's shelf. And yet I still find myself recommending it as a must watch for this season. It's more than just scandal-bait and Erotic Leg Shots For No Reason — it's a story that explores the agelessness of love, the importance of leaving behind no regrets, and of always pursuing your dreams no matter how past your prime you may think you are. And to make this cake even more wonderful, it's crowned with a beautiful soundtrack, high-budget animation, a ridiculously addictive opening with Akira and Kondo being adorable together (bless them), and an even better ending by my lord and saviour Aimer (how I haven't broken the repeat button listening to that song yet, I have no idea). All in all, though After the Rain might not be the rom-com the anime industry is used to, I'm still very glad I picked this one up. I'm definitely watching out for that live-action film coming this May, and I don't think it's going to take me long before I fall for the temptation of buying those manga volumes.

The Good

  • Introspective story that dives deep into human feelings without being depressingly heavy
  • Beautifully gorgeous animation!
  • Addictive OP and ED songs!!
  • Seinen manga adaptation that's not about fanservice!!!
  • KONDO 👏 IS 👏 THE 👏 BEST 👏 MACARONI 👏

The Bad

  • Problematic setting that may not sit well with some
  • Anticlimactic ending that may disappoint


FINAL VERDICT!

‘Tis good stuff, methinks


PS. I decided to change my Anime review format to something more essay-looking, as what I do with films, because I realised I don't want to force myself to talk about points that didn't strike me as interesting or worthy of mention ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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Posted on: 07/04/2018



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3 comments:

  1. I was still wondering if it was worth to watch or not, so i'll give it a chance. The plot reminds me a bit of the issues with characters in Death Parade, but with a less dark undertone

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Give it a chance! I promise it's not as problematic as it might first sound - at the end of the day it's more a feel-good series than anything.
      Also- I never watched Death Parade... I should get cracking on that.

      Delete
  2. I like it a lot! But its dark, so be prepared!

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