Classic Bait ‘n’ Switch
After the Rain promises a show about a 17-year-old high school girl falling for her 45-year-old manager. Will Tachibana be able to tell Kondou how she feels? At first glance, this show seems to explore age gap relationships in a modern context. Though it may seem awkward, After the Rain is actually a sweet show about learning to follow your dreams. The main message is to never give up on your passion, and that it is never too late to make your dreams come true.
There is a lot going on narratively speaking, despite the relatively slow pacing of the show. You have Tachibana’s plot about an injury she sustained that prevents her from doing her passion: running. Then there’s Kondou’s plot about wanting to be a writer. Lastly, you have the will-they-won’t-they relationship between the two. Throughout, the supporting cast has little side-stories that are told largely in the background as well.
Before I dive into the actual story and what I thought about that, I have to put out there that director Ayumu Watanabe has rivaled famed Makoto Shinkai for most scenes with feet in them since “Garden of Feet”. Seriously, I get that a girl’s legs and feet are a visual short cut used to clue the viewer into what a character is thinking in a given situation but I found it to be super distracting.
Any way, back to the actual story. The relationship between Tachibana and Kondou is pretty obviously not going to go down any romantic avenue in the anime from the start. Kondou is often shown uncomfortable with Tachibana’s advances and the directing constantly puts visual barriers between them all the time. Outside of one specific moment, it should be obvious that the story is actually about something else.
That said, After the Rain plays its cards pretty close to the chest for awhile at least. While it is pretty clear that Tachibana is depressed about not being able to run any more and is using Kondou as a way to feel better, his character remains a lot more shrouded in mystery for some time.
Tachibana is a reminder to Kondou of his youth and he’s the kind of guy who wants to be a people pleaser. He constantly gets swept up in the moment and ends up humoring Tachibana despite his clear reservations. Eventually, others start to notice this. In particular, Ryousuke.
At first I kind of liked this character but he ends up blackmailing Tachibana into going on a date with him. The intention behind this series of events is to get Tachibana to realize Kondou’s position and feelings but it just came off as uncomfortable. Obviously, there are parallels between the date that Tachibana and Ryousuke go on and the one that Tachibana later goes on with Kondou. They literally do the same things but the roles are just in reverse. I’m not sure how the show could have handled this better, but this was my one major complaint with the show.
After this mid-point, Tachibana realizes that she doesn’t really know anything about Kondou. She then proceeds to learn about him and discovers that he writes in secret. He’s afraid that now he’s too old, and since his dream to be a writer never came true while he was young, it can never come true now. This is a trap that a lot of people in real life fall into and was very believably done. I’d go as far as to say that Kondou’s character is by far the most human and relatable aspect of the entire series and is worth watching just for his story alone.
Additionally, Tachibana’s friend, whatever-her-name-is tries to get her to come back to the track team and run again. Despite getting a lot of screen time, Tachibana’s friend is not at all memorable. I seriously couldn’t tell you much about her at all, other than she loves seeing Tachibana run. That’s it.
A bunch of dumb drama comes out of that but eventually everything works out and everybody learns a valuable lesson about not giving up on your dreams. I know I more-or-less just explained how the story goes there but the journey is what makes the show interesting. If you get into this for the romance, you may walk away feeling stilted. While knowing this bait and switch is going to occur, which I did know coming in, actually makes the experience a lot better.
Despite the narrative not always being fantastic, the one place that After the Rain really delivered was with the animation. The show looks great nearly all of the time. The atmosphere was also always captured appropriately which is critical in a series like this that some other anime that are similar to this sometimes fail to get right.
As for the show’s music, I thought it was all serviceable. The OP was catchy but the lyrics were a bit too on the nose. Is it just me or does Tachibana’s half a heart piece/raindrop (Oh look who’s clever show) look like a slice of watermelon when she holds it? Oh, that’s just me then…?
Some people are calling this one a sleeper hit from the previous 2018 Winter season, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say that. The show is good, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t the next big thing. Still, fans of the romance genre and fans of personal growth stories are going to find something to enjoy here. If you have access to Amazon Prime’s streaming service than it wouldn’t hurt to give this one a shot.
What did you think of After the Rain? Did it manage to hit it out of the park for you or maybe it feel a little flat? Let me know your thoughts on both the series and my review in the comments below. If you’d like to support the work I do here please head on over to my Ko-fi page and buy me a coffee. As always, thanks for reading and hope to see you back here at Jon Spencer Reviews again soon!