Friday, March 23, 2018

After The Rain Episode #11 Anime Review

If I hadn't touched you, would I still be smiling?

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)
I'm going to seize this opportunity in saying that this week's episode of After The Rain is the 'calm before the storm'. Get it? Rain? Storm?...I'll see myself out. Anyway, for being the penultimate episode of a series literally built upon the growth and development of both adolescent and mature emotion, the eleventh installment of the series is actually rather uneventful, in a sense. Mind you, I'm not saying that it's boring or anything like that. In fact, it's quite the opposite. The subtlety of this week's episode is actually more concerning than anything when you really get down to it.

Despite centering the entire series around the relationship of Akira and Kondou, the last several weeks have driven us away from that- giving each character ample time to focus on other aspects of their lives. For Kondou, the repeated meetups with Chihiro have clearly shaken up his dormant passion for writing. Akira, on the other hand, is literally being forced to own up to her past and figure out just what the hell she wants to do with her life. I'm getting serious Tsukigakirei vibes from Haruka, by the way. Not in the sense that she's after Kondou, but the fact that she is a best-friend archetype whose sole purpose is to grow conflict for the leading female. What I'm getting at, however, is more of question that an apparent and inherent theme. The last few episodes of After the rain have me asking, "Was the point of all of this, for both protagonist, just an excuse to hide from their pre-existing issues?"

Now, of course, you can't attribute the entire series to either a yes or a no answer based off of a generic question like that. There is clearly some level of companionship between Akira and Kondou- that much is almost indisputable. But why, in the series' final moments, has that become more of an afterthought than anything else? Considering the type of show this is, a second season seems rather unlikely- so the entire romantic aspect of After The Rain now has a total of twenty minutes remaining to breathe its last breath and bring peace to the slightly-illegal pairing of an older man and a younger girl.

If it seems like I haven't done much summarizing of the episode, it's probably because I haven't. In fact, this is essentially a tame rehash of the episode where Akira and Haruka go to the festival. There is not one piece of episode eleven that we haven't seen before- but that's exactly what makes me so suspicious of everything. I can't imagine this being a directorial misstep considering literally everything else we've seen, so what is it? Will there be any amount of closure for our blossoming couple? Or will the last three months end their melancholic field trip with a lesson as simple as, "Don't lose sight of what matters to you?" And even though I'm a sucker for vague, generic and slightly-depressing themes, I'm really hoping that this series ends with the former of those two. I can't imagine it leaving a lasting impression on me if the focus slips away when it matters most.

In Summary: 
As mentioned earlier, this episode can be seen as a sort of 'calm before the storm'. There is only one week left to lay rest to not only the relationship of Kondou and Akira, but their respective relationships with the other people who matter to them. Haruka continues to ruin everything by being an obsessive best-friend that can't handle the fact that Akira might want to move on while Kondou, on the other hand, needs to lean on an old friend to realize his own dreams. Regardless, with the clock running out, After The Rain is going to need to put in some overtime next week if it wants to end on as high of a note as it started.

Episode Grade: B-
Streamed By: Prime Video

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