Greetings~ I’ve recently switched over to AniList to keep up with the series I’ve been reading and watching. It’s still in progress, especially my manga list because up until now I haven’t kept any track of what I’ve been reading. As I was arranging things around, I came across this series I’ve been meaning to write about. I already -kind of- knew what I wanted to say as well, so here’s another hot take of mine. Contains huge spoilers.
Today’s topic is, obvious from the title, Koi wa Ameagari no You ni (KoiAme from here on). Translated as ‘After the Rain’, KoiAme is a manga series created by Mayuzuki Jun, which ran from 2014-2018 with a total of 10 volumes. The anime adaptation came in 2018 with 12 episodes overall, handled by the famous Wit Studio. The reason I was inclined to write on this piece is, first of all, I loved it a lot! The other, and equally strong reason would be is that KoiAme is usually thought as an ‘age-gap romance’. And it’s really not that. I would argue that calling this an age-gap romance only diminishes its witty storytelling and complex emotional layers that are handled gracefully. Additionally, the characters that are presented really do act accordingly to their age; different from what I have (albeit, limitedly) observed in age-gap romances where the young person is written like a young adult in their 20’s to seemingly minimize their age gap, at least mentally. This isn’t the case for KoiAme.
This is a very romantic story, but not in the way we use the word ‘romantic’ nowadays and refer to being in love. There’s certainly a lot of being in love, however especially for the main characters, it’s not as simple as just ‘liking someone and trying to get their attention’, every emotion and intention is so sweetly entangled, all mixed up. I can’t even bring myself to call them ‘main couple’, since they never become a couple, but also what they have in between is more about what the parties see in each other and in themselves and less about the relationship itself.
I should add that anime follows the manga very closely but covers the half of it. The message KoiAme tries to deliver is more well-defined and presented in the manga, while in the adaptation it is left hanging in the air a little. I wouldn’t say this choice hinders the overall feel or conclusion of the story. Maybe I’m just dying for a second season to cover the rest and speaking it into existence, who knows….
A little bit of what goes on! Tachibana Akira is our moody, still growing, teenage girl in high school. She had always loved running, and now she’s the ace of her school’s track&field team with her childhood friend Haruka. Due to an unfortunate injury in her Achilles’ tendon, she has to put the club activities on hold. This is a big emotional stress for someone who’s not only young, but also for someone who was planning for a future university scholarship. Hopeless and in distress as usual after the regular check-up, Akira stops by the family restaurant close by to take shelter from the rain. That’s how she meets the manager for the first time, Masami Kondou, bringing her a cup of warm coffee she didn’t order. It’s the manager’s attempt at cheering her up, with a side magic trick, and it’s also the moment when Akira falls in love with him. Soon after, she’s a part-timer at the restaurant.
It goes without saying that during those years, every emotion is amplified to a point where you feel like the world has ended with the smallest nudge, ruined without a chance to recover. Or something small could excite you ‘more than it should’ and could make your whole week brighter. No matter good or bad, our feelings were just heightened. This is how Akira is presented to us; going through an injury is by no means an easy period for an athlete. However, Akira refuses to go through rehabilitation and is determined that she will quit running. Her changed attitude towards running and the team causes strain in her friendship with Haruka as well. Akira lets go of running, something so dear and central to her, to grab hold of something else: the manager.
As for the manager, Kondou has let go of something very dear to him as well; writing. He is the 45-year old ‘no-good’ manager of Garden. He was a literature major and belonged to a small circle with his friends from university. With a seemingly rash decision, he gets married to a friend from that circle while still in school. Afterwards, Kondou tries to make writing his profession because he harbors an immense love towards literature but with his son on the way, he gives up on his dream that is on the verge of becoming an obsession. However, the damage is already done; the family get separated and Kondou has very little time and motivation for writing after the long hours of work. It doesn’t help that his close friend from the circle, Chihiro, has become a well-known author. In short, Kondou is a tired, middle-aged man who has given up and in the end, adulthood is more of a combination of muted colors and less clear cut answers. He sees Akira as this vast sea of possibilites, bright and energetic, still has something to expect from tomorrow and will to push through. It’s also apparent in whenever he’s with Akira he imagines not himself as the 45-year-old manager but his teenager self.
This is the part that makes this story very romantic and sweet. I would argue that our emotions towards something or someone are never one way or as pure in motivation as we’d like. Hence, I wouldn’t say Akira’s dejectedness after the injury or his love towards Kondou is not genuine just because from an outer perspective she’s partly using this ‘newly found distraction’ as a way of not dealing with her feelings regards to her injury and future as an athlete. Her feelings are genuine and they move her! They help her in facing what she must and gently push her towards taking action. It’s bitter, but what’s good for her in the long run.
The same goes for Kondou. Throughout the story, he is careful about not overstepping boundaries between him and Akira although he himself has hard time suppressing the feelings emerged from the warmth in Akira’s eyes and her interest in Kondou. When he notices that Akira keeps pushing for more and constantly tiptoes over the line they mutually called friendship, Kondou firmly and openly iterates that they cannot be what Akira has been hoping and asks the crucial question: “Don’t you want to run again?”. With that sense of clarity, the help and encouragement he got from Akira, he is able to go back to writing. The first story he manages to finish is about a young girl seemingly based on Akira, and he names it as ”Koi wa Ameagari no you ni.”
Due to my own fascination with literature and personality, Kondou was my favorite character. This will probably come off very wrong the moment I type it out but, there’s a certain charm in his awkwardness and passivity that makes me want to reach out, pat him on the shoulder and say “Dude, same… Let me buy you a beer.”. Not that I get any joy from him being conflicted or lost, at the same time can’t help but think he is kind of cute. Okay maybe not kind of, but a lot. I enjoyed that he’s a very soft-spoken and kind person, sometimes a bit dense, but he gets a child-like glimmer in his eyes when he sees a rare edition of a book he likes. During his monologues, he often quotes from Akutagawa of Sōseki and speaks very eloquently.
Wrapping it all up, KoiAme is a story of desire and displacement, a different take on love, a common emotion, that can take contrasting forms even if it’s felt between the same two people and a bittersweet coming-of-age tale. Although I haven’t very much talked about the other characters, they all get their chance to shine from time to time, are a rather diverse crowd and bring interesting side stories and moments to the plot. If all else fails, this anime is PRETTY. And if you haven’t just met with my blog, you must know that you can count on me when it comes to pretty things! I’m sure there are interesting sides to KoiAme even if romance genre is off your radar. Here are some stills to lure you in.
P.S.: While I’m planning to check out the blogs I’m following and try to add them on AniList as friends this week, here’s my account in the mean time! I wish you all a nice rest-of-the-week and see you around!