After the Rain
恋は雨上がりのように (Koi wa Ameagari no You ni)
Seinen – Drama, romance, slice-of-life
5 Omnibuses (complete)
Seventeen-year-old high school student Akira works at a family restaurant run by a 45-year-old man. He doesn’t understand his much younger employees, especially the quiet, sharp-eyed Akira. But this middle-aged man in a rut is about to get the shock of his life when Akira confesses to him!
You shouldn’t wait until the next rainy day to read After the Rain.
Age gap romances tend to be a love-em-or-hate-em genre. While age of consent varies from country to country (and can even vary within a country), a lot of times, these types of stories come across as predatory. Obviously, there’s no legal issue between, say, a 30-year-old and a 40-year-old — and this is hardly uncommon — but skew ages down a bit, and that 10 year difference starts to be more significant.
Well, After the Rain‘s leads have a 28-year difference between them — almost an entire generation. That alone may make some readers uncomfortable, especially since there’s a boss-employee power differential at their restaurant (named Garden). In addition, Akira is still a minor and in high school. Masami — better known as “Boss” or by his family name of “Kondo” — is divorced and has a son. Two people in very different places in life.
Now, I’m not going to spoil the ending. But I will say that, while Vertical, Inc., doesn’t give this an age rating, Right Stuf recommends this for ages 14+. Some things may raise an eyebrow in regards to levels of appropriateness. Overall, though, this is pretty tame without a lot of discomfort or illegality.
That’s because while romance provides the setup, much of After the Rain is about the characters’ relationships with their passions rather than each other. Akira was a track superstar, but an injury led her to quit. Kondo used to write stories, but life pushed him in a different direction. Akira repeatedly makes attempts to get closer to Kondo (helping with his son, trying to get his contact information, etc.), but their awkward friendship causes both of them to look back on what they’ve left behind — and where they want to go. Are they really done with running/writing, or are they just running away in fear? Of course, both because she’s the protagonist and the fact it’s not something you can just do anytime like writing, Akira and track are given the bigger focus. Plenty of people, especially her close friend Haruka, wonder if she’ll ever return to track.
But one of the most ingenious portions of After the Rain is how it teases readers. Author Mayuzuki knows that you know possible explanations for Akira’s crush. She knows that you are already predicting the ending. So she throws readers some red meat to their theories and wants, but then she takes them away or brings in some sort of counter. I wouldn’t say the series is full of twists and turns, but it’s like playing a bluffing game with a close friend. You know them so well, but they also know you so well — is it one of those I know that you know that I know 3D chess situations, or is it really as simple as it appears? Even if it’s just something that is revealed two panels later, Mayuzuki got me a couple of times.
Akira may be the central character, but the manga switches regularly between her point-of-view and Kondo’s. The manga even highlights their differences by tackling their perspectives in different ways. Akira, who is not especially talkative, tends to have her chapters be more visual, showing her watching Kondo or eavesdropping when hearing people talk about the latest love charm fad. Kondo, however, has him monologuing and, since he still has a buried creative side, imagines what it would have been like if he had met Akira back in high school. Having their own styles adds a lot of literary beauty to After the Rain.
Plus, you can’t help but want to follow these characters. Akira can be a bit of a cool, standoffish beauty, but she is more expressive and outgoing than she appears to be at first glance. Kondo is stuck in a seemingly dead-end job in customer service, and while he’s a bit of an idiot, I’m sure a lot of older readers can relate to feeling unfilled or old, especially when surrounded by much younger peers. I’m sure readers fell into one of three categories regarding any romantic relationship (get together, get together in the future, stay friends), but more importantly, you want them to be happy, and the mystery of what will make them happy in the end will keep you reading.
Unfortunately, what After the Rain isn’t so good at is everyone else in the manga. Every story has different “levels” of characters out of the leads and antagonists: characters you see all the time and could be considered main, characters that pop in and out all the time, ones that are occasionally featured, etc.
Here, though, there are two issues. One, the side characters float between levels. Since Kondo and Akira both work at the same place, they are shown more often than others. However, I would say Haruka is the most significant even though Akira tries to support coworker’s Yui’s romance. That’s not a problem until combined with the second issue: it feels like a lot of subplots involving them are abandoned by the end. I mean, you can infer what happened, but compared to the satisfactory way Akira and Kondo are handled, the others just didn’t get nearly that same level of love and attention. Case in point: one of the Garden staff realizes Akira is crushing on Kondo and tries to force a date. Then later we learn about his romantic situation, and then revisited later in a more comical moment, and then… that’s about it. He makes a few comments here and there, but for someone introduced in the first omnibus and would seem to be a big presence in the manga, he quickly fades. Just disappointing.
As for the art, as I alluded to earlier, the presentation helps make this a standout. First of all, color pages are always wonderful in a manga, and Vertical, Inc.’s release includes a nice amount for a non-deluxe release. They also made sure to include the Japanese cover art (front and back) for the volume that wasn’t used for their 2-in-1 omnibus. As I alluded to earlier, the manga’s layout is also very good. Mayuzuki sometimes has a quick series of pictures in quick succession, like a film strip. We get busy pages and slow pages, and oftentimes little-to-no dialogue. Rain is often a literary/cinematic device, so of course it plays a huge role in a manga called After the Rain. I will also add it’s interesting to have so many sharp-eyed characters in a story, especially as leads. The series has some cheerful idiots (most notably two coworkers), but this is one series that doesn’t run on a lot of high energy and action. The manga has a very soft feeling, which is again attributed to the rain theme.
No honorifics are used. “Tenchou” is translated as “Boss” while a more literal translation would be “Manager”. A few Japanese terms are kept and footnotes are used for things like konpeito. Japanese text is generally erased, like on the characters’ name badges.
After the Rain is a delight. Since it’s an omnibus, I usually would spread reading this over two days, but it just flows so well without seeming too long or too short that I wouldn’t put it down.
Amazon has the anime adaptation available to stream.
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