After the Rain
Akira loved to run since her childhood. Naturally by high school she was a star on the track team, only to have her dreams crushed in an injury preventing her from running. Wondering what to do, she waited in a cafe for a storm to pass, when the restaurant owner showed her a moment of kindness to warm her heart. Since then Akira grew to have a crush on him, and decided to work at the cafe as a waitress. Unable to contain her feelings anymore, she confesses her love to him. It's not a foregone conclusion this is going to work, as she's 17 and he's 45.
Warning: I loved After the Rain so much, there's no hope of an unbiased review.
I'll start with the art I guess. In recent years I've been very happy with anime reflecting the distinct art style of the source manga, and the lanky style of character designs really appealed to me. After the Rain is absolutely gorgeous in all aspects, with vibrant colors, beautiful backdrops, very nice character designs, and yes; even appropriate application of sparkles. After the Rain is the kind of show where the backdrop is showcased to set the mood for a scene. I didn't find this to be a drag at all, and its balanced and well spread out. In fact After the Rain does a lot without any dialog at all.
I absolutely adored Akira who is the protagonist of the show. Unlike the typical emotionless anime trope, Akira isn't devoid of emotion, she's simply somewhat stoic and aloof, but does show emotion - often in the most adorable ways. It's also amusing how Kondo never quite knows how to interpret her expressions. Even as Kondo tries to turn her away, she remains persistant, causing Kondo to question his thoughts on love when she refuses to accept "I'm too old" as an answer. Akira is still in her youth, and trying to figure out love and relationships, which is a bit akward when focused on someone well past that stage. Even more so given their personalities are mismatched. Kondo is fairly wise and reserved in his approach, but little by little Akira's steadfast dedication to establishing a relationship makes his heart waver and question if being "age appropriate" matters.
Added to Akira's story is her friend from the track team. They've been running together since childhood, but after Akira's injury; drifted apart. Both want to re-connect, but absent their common obsession with running; find it difficult to relate. It's also coming out that her friend discovers Akira's interest in Kondo and of course doesn't exactly approve. There is also a male co-worker who is sure to cause drama by attempting to drive a wedge between Akira and Kondo, but how that plays out has yet to be seen.
Most interesting to me was Kondo himself. With a pretty young girl pursuing him, it seems like he'd just go all in on compensated dating, but his morals and dutiful personality as her manager keeps him distant, even if the temptation is ever present. It's especially interesting that Akira re-kindles the passion of youth in him, however this only reminds him that he's older now. I guess it's something you need to experience getting older, where you once had this sense of adventure (even if a little scary) about life and your future, then life happens and many years later you turn around wondering how in the hell you became a boring normal person. I still don't know myself. But Kondo's interest in books and writing seems to be renewed, and re-discovering that passion will certainly be a great point as it's explored.
After the Rain is a truly great romance. Good enough for my highest rating? I would have already rated it that high if it had a conclusion, or might still do so if another season is added that maintains this level of quality. Good stuff.
Kondo: Youthfulness can sometimes be rough and vicious, but the emotions you feel then will eventually become a precious treasure.
Kondo: Any place where you won't get wet from the rain will also have no sunlight.
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