Alternative title(s): Koi wa Amaagari no You ni, Love is Like after the Rain
Manga Adaptation by Wit Studio
Anime Strike Amazon Prime Video
Tachibana is forced to quit track after an injury and gets a job at a family restaurant. She falls in love with her manager, a 45 year old single father.
Marlin’s verdict: Muddied Waters
This show walks on thin ice. On its face value, I don’t object with the conceit of the premise, the idea of teenage girls getting crushes on mature men is as realistic as they come. However, as the central focal point of a story, it becomes problematic. There are basically only two paths this show can go on: Either it becomes a tale about how overcoming crushes in your youth can help you grow in confidence as your own person growing into adulthood, or it indulges in the premise and the romance becomes two sided. This second option is obviously unacceptable, and yet you can’t help but imagine that’s what this show is pointing you towards. His reminiscing about being a young man as he imagines that spiky haired loser as her boyfriend is the biggest red flag we get.
This first episode by itself is beautifully made. As this season’s second flagship in the noitaminA block behind the powerhouse of March Comes In Like A Lion, I am highly impressed with how much polish they put into it. My biggest problem is that, at the moment, the characters seem pretty flat. Tachibana is the millionth stoic quiet girl to pass by the romance genre, and there’s really nothing more to her personality than “in love with a 45 year old divorcee”. There is something to be fleshed out in her relationship with her old track club, but considering how unflappable she stays throughout the episode I just don’t see how that’s going to change how her character interacts with the world. The manager, for his part, is a pretty convincing dad. He makes the appropriate dad jokes, he’s got no style, but he comes off as too oblivious. I don’t care what goes through your head, you can’t find someone sniffing your shirt without getting some unfortunate implications. Especially since she is his responsibility as a boss, he can’t let that kind of behavior go unnoticed. I’ll give this show a second episode just to see how far it develops the story, but I can’t imagine me holding onto this one for very long.
Jel’s verdict: Stormy
My experience watching this was the quite the roller coaster ride. I went in with super low expectations because of the creepy sounding premise. As the episode progressed, my hopes got built up. The bulk of the episode, told from Tachibana’s perspective, was quite good. The great writing, directing, and animation creates a feeling of quiet, haunting loneliness that helps you understand her feelings. Kondou himself is goofy and likable and seemingly innocent. You can kind of see how she ends with a crush on him.
Even so, I couldn’t shake the elephant in the room: the fact that this essentially a love story between a teenage girl and a man three times her age. I know it’s a common thing for girls to have crushes on older guys and if that’s all this was then I think it actually could be good. But the scene toward the end where Kondou imagines his younger self with Tachibana raised some flags for me. Sure, I get it, a pretty girl gives you some attention and it puts some ideas in your head. And to his credit, he did do the correct thing by shutting the window and walking away. But I have to ask, why would they have put that scene in there at all if they weren’t implying this is more than a one-sided school girl crush? I mean, did you SEE them push that giant cartoon heart together in the OP?
While I get the impression After the Rain will try to keep things as innocent and above board as possible, I also think at some point Tachibana’s feelings are going to be reciprocated and I just don’t know if I can (or should) get past that. Even at best it seems they’ve set up quite a minefield for themselves to navigate and I don’t know if they’ll make it out unscathed. Maybe I’ve just gotten too cynical from years of reviewing bad cartoons for perverts and I’m being overly cautious. I guess we’ll have to see where they go from here.
Artemis’ verdict: Now With 98% Less Ick
I was mentally preparing myself for the worst when bam, one of the best premieres of the season comes along and makes me think there’s hope for the mainstream anime industry yet. Should we still be leery of a series about a (potential) romance between a 17-year old high school girl and her 45-year old family restaurant manager? Yes, absolutely. Should we give the series a chance anyway? Yes, absolutely.
First off, I do feel the need to point out for anyone who hasn’t watched this yet that as of now, there’s still no actual romance to speak of. Tachibana is harboring a fairly intense crush on the man (and guys, I hate to break it to you but it’s pretty normal for a lot of teenage girls to develop crushes for much older men), but so far, he not only treats her like he does any other employee, but also seems to be completely oblivious to her feelings, mistaking her intensity for anger or irritability. The single instance where the manager is shown to be even considering the two of them together is when he sees a boy waiting for Tachibana outside the restaurant and wonders if that’s her boyfriend – and tellingly, he briefly imagines himself briefly in the same position, but as a teenage boy himself rather than as a 45-year old. Whatever happens between him and Tachibana moving forward, I’m happy and relieved to find that the manager is neither some skeevy guy with a fetish for high school girls, nor someone who gets off on power or control.
Even this aspect of the series aside though, there was a lot I liked about this first episode. The artwork is vivid and stylish. The exposition is more or less zero. The characters are genuinely likeable. The dialogue between them is good and the lack of dialogue even better – I’ve always had a deep respect for anime that can not only pull of the whole ‘show, don’t tell’ thing with aplomb, but also let the silence itself just be, without the need to hastily fill it in with either random chatter or background music. Put succinctly, After the Rain has a lot of impact going in, and I’m not about to drop this title without a very good reason for doing so.