Episode six of After the Rain was one of the best of the series thus far. In an episode where nothing much seems to happen, where people are mostly just walking around during the middle of summer, there’s a cacophony of emotions swirling that start bringing the past into focus as it collides with the present.
So many little things to talk about this in this episode! The first half is surprising with its focus on a supporting character, Haruka, Akira’s former teammate. It’s revealed that the two were friends in middle school (and even earlier) and remained that way despite going to separate schools at one point, though Akira’s absence from the track team now threatens their friendship.
Akira remains focused on the present, with a funny aside as she tries to get a charm to help encourage a relationship with Kondo.
However, Haruka feels a weight on her brought on by the loss of intimacy with Akira, who remains kind of detached as she always has (though it should be noted that Akira does hide from the track team at one point). It’s Haruka, then, that really needs to work through her emotions and get to a point where she feels comfortable around Akira again, and where she can believe that the two can remain friends, despite their distance.
Perhaps Haruka is thinking about friendship because it’s summer, the season of nostalgia. You can practically hear the cicadas snapping in the air, the sound that evokes adolescence and memories. But for Akira, she again remains in the present—she isn’t thinking about her childhood friendship with Haruka, but sweat. I love how the series, for all the glowing scenes of Akira, also shows her in a less flattering light.
Akira’s focus has been on the present and future. Now armed with the knowledge that Kondo likes pure literature, she tries to join him in his love for it when they run into each other at the library.
Akira tries to get Kondo to direct her toward his favorite books, but he tells her some good advice, that she should find a book she’s drawn to, less she check out one that she doesn’t like, which might sour her (someone who’s not a reader) on reading. In fact, Kondo says that books call to us, setting up an interesting scene in which Akira imagines the “sea of books,” as the manager describes it, as a literal sea.
The episode closes on a more interesting note, however, as Kondo realizes that perhaps a book has called to him: one that reminds him of “Chihiro” (Perhaps his ex-wife?). Akira notices something off about Kondo, though maybe she’s finding meaning in her book as well, about running and photography, which begs the question: are the two growing further apart through the small, mostly indirect actions of this episode, when they haven’t even managed to grow all that closely together?
I’m eager to see the answer to that in the next episode, particularly as it relates to Kondo, who’s thoughts and background seem to be me much more complex than Akira’s.
After the Rain can be streamed on Amazon.