After the Rain and Taboo Relationships

From a distant glance, After the Rain looks to be an anime about yet another creepy, taboo relationship.  Surprisingly, the subject matter is handled in a tasteful manner.  After the Rain stars Akira Tachibana, a 17-year-old track star who is recovering from a devastating foot injury, begins working at a family restaurant.  The reason she took this job was because she developed a crush on the manger due to his gentle, kind nature.  Masami Kondo is the 45-year-old manager of a family restaurant who seems clumsy and pathetic from a distance.  Tachibana gravitates to his gentle nature and develops a crush as a result.  The two are very awkward around each other.  Tachibana often has an unfriendly expression and is hard to read.  Kondo is initially oblivious to Akira’s advances.  When Tachibana confesses, he is unsure how to act around her.  This is where the story begins.

These two characters are in very different places in life.  Tachibana is still very young and trying to find her place in life.  Kondo is divorced and failed to become a successful author.  Despite the attention he gets from Tachibana, he is conflicted about how to feel about it.  He obviously cares about her, but he knows it would be wrong to taker her up on her romantic advances.  The two of them spend more time with each other and learn more and more about the other.  Tachibana has desires to act romantically with Kondo but never acts on them.  There was plenty of opportunities for Kondo to take advantage of Tachibana’s feelings.  Kondo is a genuinely nice guy and never does so, even if he wonders about it.  All he wants is for her to be happy.  He knows that she is lost after no longer having track to fall back on.

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Dreams are a major theme of After the Rain.  Kondo failed to reach his and become a successful author.  Akira and her friend Haruka had promised to get to the top in track and field.  Both of their dreams were in jeopardy at this point.  Tachibana’s depression over not being able to run anymore led to her infatuation with Kondo.  Kondo is aware of this, which is why he refuses her advances and only wishes to be friends.  He uses his life experiences to coax Tachibana into pursuing track again.  Eventually, she slowly begins to gain interest in track again.  Working at the restaurant and her relationship with Kondo strained her relationship with Haruka, culminating in a fight between the two.  Kondo is supportive of Tachibana, even if she gets mad at him for his response.  He knows all too well what its like to drift apart from a close friend.

Through his relationship with Tachibana, he regains a youthful desire to pursue his dream again.  He begins to write seriously again, with the hopes of getting published once more.  Previous pursuits of his dreams led to him getting a divorce and becoming a restaurant manager.  Tachibana helped him remember what drove him in the first place.  He reconnects with his old college friend, who became a successful writer.  Its never to late to realize your dreams, no matter how old you get, no matter how many times you fail.

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After the Rain could have easily gone down the typical, creepy path you normally see in anime (Though there was the whole NTR blackmail episode that was never addressed again.  The fuck was that about?).  Taboo relationships such as these are rarely handled tastefully but After the Rain pulled it off.  The 17-year-old Tachibana was going through a depression about not running anymore.  Her infatuation with Kondo sprung up after he was kind to her.  Kondo could have easily taken advantage of her confused feelings but didn’t.  They establish a friendship outside of work.  Through their relationship, they discover new things about each other and themselves.  While Tachibana makes her romantic intentions clear, Kondo turns them down without being hurtful towards her.  What could have easily gone down a creepy path, quickly becomes heartfelt series about unusual relationships.

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