Wednesday, April 4, 2018

After The Rain Episode #12 Anime Review (Series Finale)

Let's see the wind together again.

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)
After three long months of semi-illegal sexual tension and potentially the worst weather forecast of all time, After The Rain has finally come to a close. And despite the series getting off to a commanding start, recent weeks have lead it down a relatively strange path as it has struggled to remember what it sought out to do in the first place. With the relationship between both of our protagonists left on the backburner, the series finale had a huge task in pulling it back to plain sight. The end result, however...Kind of worked? Maybe? I'm not really sure. But we'll get to that in a second.

The series finale starts like any other episode of After The Rain- Akira rolls out of bed and acts slightly somber but also hopeful and lovestruck for a few minutes. Kondou, following the happenings of last week and the week prior, has apparently become obsessed with writing again and has allowed that to absorb his sleep schedule entirely. So not even two minutes into the episode, we've already got another one of those well placed, Shinkai-esque contrasting shots of our characters just starting their respective days. The mood is set perfectly- the only issue is how that translates throughout the rest of the ending.

You see, the hole this series dug itself into also means resolving an objectively unnecessary subplot or two. For the most part, Chihiro's was handled last week- but Haruka still needs to make at least an appearance or two before her's is wrapped up. Fortunately, we only have to look at her for a minute or two this time, not giving her even the slightest opportunity to ruin everything again. At the end of the day, Akira sends a text her way about being friends or something and everything is wrapped up. Hooray.

Now, back to the real issue, how is the relationship between Kondou and Akira going to end? Here is the short answer: It isn't.

If you're looking for a longer explanation, well there's not really all that much to say. Basically, Kondou and Akira have learned over the last few weeks (Or months?) in their time that they have much bigger issues than pent up sexual frustration and butterflies in their stomachs. That being said, they decide to simply sideline their romantic feelings about one another in favor of focusing on themselves. It was essentially a mutual break up between two people that never even started dating. And even though this ending seemed like a sort of excuse (Or even an apology for straying off course), it's more of a copout than anything else. The entire premise of this series was a forbidden and taboo, blossoming relationship between an older man and a young girl. If the end result only slightly acknowledges the foundation that gave birth to it in the first place, was there really a point to anything at all?

The main conflict in the series was literally resolved with a "Guess we'll just have to wait and see" when, in all likeliness, none of us ever will. A second season for a show like this is even more seldom than a show this niche in the first place. After The Rain took the safe way out in resolving its major issue by just resolving one or two smaller ones and saying, "That seems good enough" then waltzes off as if nothing had ever happened.

If it seems like I'm mad, well, I am. Because the fact of the matter is that everything about this series was above-average until its final few episodes. It's like I was baited and switched into watching any other slice of life school drama when I came for something unique and unlike anything I'd ever seen before. There are so many things that this series does right. To think that it would throw them all away because it's afraid to stand up for itself contradicts the exact themes the characters recite in their final moments together.

In Summary:
After The Rain is not bad. In fact, most of it is inherently great. There are a few scenes that are brimming with emotional intensity and, for the most part, it tells a story that you rarely see in this particular medium. Unfortunately, the series does lose its way near the ending and elects to focus on the smaller aspects that, earlier on, seemed more akin to filler than anything else. However, if you're able to look past the narrative's shortcomings, the artwork and soundtrack are phenomenal through and through. And even though the series did not live up to the expectations I had for it, I would still go ahead and recommend it to...well, anyone that is interested in weird, forbidden romances.

Episode Grade: C+
Series Grade: B-
Streamed By: Prime Video

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