Sunday, March 18, 2018

After The Rain Episode #10 Anime Review

Any place where you won't get wet from rain is also a place without sunlight.

What They Say:
Akira Tachibana is a soft-spoken high school student who used to be a part of the track and field club but, due to an injury, she is no longer able to run as fast as she once could. Working part-time at a family restaurant as a recourse, she finds herself inexplicably falling in love with her manager, a divorced 45-year-old man with a young son.

The Review:
Content: (Please note that the content portion of the review may contain spoilers)
Before we get into the bulk of this review, I just want to thank After The Rain for including so many quips about Kondou's passion for writing. Sometimes, especially during weekly reviews for ongoing shows, it becomes easy to lost motivation or the passion for something, even if it's something you love. But in this particular instance, where a character so emphatically reiterates his love for that exact thing, it becomes virtually impossible to lose motivation. If anything, it's like you a have morale-based personal trainer breathing down your neck and inspiring you to keep going. For me, Kondou is that personal trainer- which is strange because I have never been a borderline pedophilic, divorced forty-something-year-old.

That aside, After The Rain has returned to its roots this week- almost as if it's starting from zero. And no, I'm not saying that Akira is somehow killed and has to return by dea- (*choke*) to an earlier part of her life. I'm saying that we get to see an Akira who isn't at all overwhelming and fiery but instead softspoken and admirable. Also, I apologize to anyone that does not get that reference. For those of you that do, however, you're welcome. Either way, the episode centers around an innocent trip to a secondhand book fair that Akira comes across while throwing away some old newspapers. Why did Akira's family have so many stacks of newspapers, you ask? No idea. But that is beside the point.

She invites Kondou [offscreen] to the event and, obviously, he obliges. When the two of them meet up, however, there are a few glaring difficulties. First off, everyone thinks Akira is Kondou's daughter. Considering we've all sort-of been expecting this, it isn't much of a big deal. Hell, knowing Akira, she might even be turned on by this or something. The second difficulty comes in the form of Kondou being that one friend you bring to the dealers' room at an anime convention only to have them disappear four seconds later. Luckily, this secondhand book fair is an outdoor event, so Akira is able to bypass the issue of not getting any cellular service and simply send a "?" text to the object of her affection (This is a callback to an anecdote from earlier in the episode meant to emphasize the closeness between two parties and blah blah blah). Kondou responds with an "!" text and, next thing we know, our protagonists have been reunited.

Perhaps the biggest scene in all of this, however, is a major flashback to Kondou's past that illustrates the downfall of his marriage. Of course, we've known about Kondou's affinity for novels and writing for quite some time now. What we didn't know is that he was so obsessed with this several years ago that it destroyed his marriage. It's actually rather interesting that things played out this way. Up until now, at least for me, the series did a solid job at painting Kondou as a victim and never really emphasizing why his marriage failed. So now that we know it was essentially all Kondou's fault, it kind of changes up his characterization. He's no longer an aloof, wonky old man but an old man who was incapable of sorting out his priorities and ultimately paid the price for it.

The scene after, however, takes that same picture which was so meticulously painted for us and turns it on its head when Akira pretty much tells Kondou to his face that this is why she likes him so much. And just like the picture, Kondou's perception of himself flip-flops when he realizes that his love for writing isn't one in the same with self-destruction. In fact, he feels more inspired than anything. The hopeful ending of the episode signifies that perhaps he may learn how to balance this love with his love for real life and maybe even go on to explore more facets of it with Akira...Or...maybe learning this balance could somehow rekindle the flame of his previous marriage? Oh, please god, no.

In Summary:
From a thematic standpoint, the tenth episode of After The Rain is easily one of, if not the strongest episode thus far. Our perception of Kondou changes dramatically upon the reveal of his past life and, from this point on, it is completely up to us to decipher exactly what kind of a person he is. And while this viewpoint may drastically change from person to person, the single thing that all of us can absolutely not ignore gosh darn cute Akira looked in her street clothes this week.

Episode Grade: A-
Streamed By: Prime Video

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