After the Rain: Turning Problematic Into Genius

Let’s be honest: anime can be a bit creepy at times. There are some shows out there that glorify topics that really shouldn’t be put on a pedestal. Incest is a frequent occurrence, sexual assault is often portrayed as comedy, and age gaps are completely ignored. The list of anime out there that are just too uncomfortable to watch is extensive.

Upon first glance, you might think After the Rain is the same way. It’s a show about a high school girl falling in love with her much older manager at her part-time job. You couldn’t be blamed for hearing alarm bells in your head. That premise just screams ‘danger’.

Thankfully, this show does something truly incredible. It takes that absurd premise, brings it down to earth, and tackles it in a serious and realistic manner.

And you should absolutely watch it.

This is one of my all-time favorite anime posters

After the Rain stars Akira Tachibana, a high school student who takes up a job at a restaurant after an injury took her out of the track team. She finds herself falling in love with Masami Kondo, the manager, a divorcé struggling to raise his son and keep his job. Both characters have lost track of their dreams, her to be a runner and him to be a writer. But through their growing relationship, they may just rediscover the spark they lost.

Okay, let’s get this out of the way: no. This show does not frame a romance between a 17 year old and a 45 year old as a good thing. By no means. In fact, it goes out of its way to show that such a relationship would not, under any circumstances, work out for either party. For god’s sake, everyone thinks that she’s his daughter and even his son 12 year old acknowledges that she’s old enough to be his sister.

That may get you wondering as to why that romance is even here, though. Well, it’s simple. A sad and vulnerable teenage girl was shown simple kindness by a good man, which in turn developed into feelings that she shouldn’t have. It’s a simple, illogical storm of emotions caused by the ever tempestuous mind of a teenager.

A girl who is in love and a man who knows she shouldn’t be

“Okay, but there are scenes where he imagines himself with her!” Yes, there are. But in those scenes, he always ages himself down. He doesn’t imagine it because he wants to be with her. Rather, he imagines it because he yearns to have that spark of youth that he’s long since lost. Through her, he remembers a time when he was full of energy and willing to pursue his wants, like she does in pursuing him.

Akira and Masami are two opposite ends of a spectrum. On one, we have a young and energetic person who follows emotions over logic. On the other, we have an old and tired person who lives life logically, regardless of whether it makes him happy or not. Together, they each push the other to grow. He pushes her to overcome the feelings of love that she shouldn’t have for him. She pushes him to remember his dreams and pursue them yet again.

This is the central dynamic of the show and it’s absolutely genius. Because of it, this show has stuck in my mind, even all these years later.

Unfortunately, then there’s the rest of the show.

I legitimately forgot that half of these characters even existed.

None of the other characters have even close to as much depth as the central two. Most of them boil down to one or two traits or just simple gags. It’s very rare that any of them add anything substantial to the plot beyond filling time or manufacturing conflict between the primary two. The only real exception to this is Masami’s son, who adds to the conflict in meaningful and interesting ways just by existing.

So, the side narratives aren’t all that strong. Thankfully, the central narrative is more than powerful enough to hold your attention throughout. And as a nice little bit of flavor: it looks incredible!

God bless those boys over at Wit Studio!

The lighting is the stand-out feature of this particular show. It pops in a way that few other shows can manage! It brings out so much color and life in each shot that makes it such a treat on the eyes! Which makes it even more interesting in its darker scenes, where there are fewer light sources and colors to make your eyeballs happy.

Of course, the animation is amazing. These guys put a lot of effort into capturing little details in every motion, making them all as smooth as can be. Plus, the character designs animate super well, looking good in and out of motion.

And the music! God damn, dude, this soundtrack is beautiful! So many arrangements here that are just straight up beautiful to listen to! They’re all simple, but they fit the show perfectly!

Oh yeah, and the OP and ED are amazing. Again: it’s Wit. What did you expect?

I don’t blame anyone for having slept on After the Rain. On paper, that premise is one of the reddest flags you could possibly hoist. But don’t be fooled. This show handles it with elegance and grace, delivering one of the most engaging and powerful narratives I’ve ever had the pleasure to experience. If you have an Amazon Prime membership, this one is definitely worth a watch.

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