What Would it Take for You to Approve of After the Rain’s Romance?

One of the most controversial (and best) shows this season has been After the Rain, a seinen series examining a blossoming May-December romance between 17-year-old high school student, Akira Tachibana, and 45-year-old Masami Kondou, the manager of the restaurant at which she works. The question for a lot of viewers was similar to those for Citrus—would the series be exploitative and smutty (like Noitamina shows tend to be) or would it approach the topic sensitively (also as Noitamina shows tend to do)?

I approached episode one with skepticism, but was almost immediately surprised by the maturity and thoughtfulness of the show. The animation has been beautiful, of course, but one thing that really struck me was how little fanservice there was, as if the series wanted to say, “See, Akira isn’t just a piece of meat—there’s a real story here.” After the Rain has subtly and carefully moved forward to allow its audience time to accept the possibility of romance, and to convince us to have a change of heart (for while some are willing to give it a shot, certainly a huge chunk of the audience is not accepting of the relationship).

It’s done a good job of that—that is, until episode seven.

The latest episode was strange and out of character from the rest of the series, particularly in the scene where Akira comes to visit Kondou at his apartment. While things didn’t move forward as they might in the real world (I kept thinking that in this situation, with two people attracted to one another, they might actually make love), the two of them took big leaps in strange directions. Akira whined and sulked and, maybe, manipulated Kondou. In turn, after consoling her with words, he gives her a romantic, long-lasting hug, accompanied by his thoughts which are at once poetic, compassionate, and carnal. The intimacy in the scene is palpable. And it’s icky.

Warning: This post will delve into territory uncommon for this blog, and I absolutely know that some readers will find the screencaps offensive.

To be fair, you’d be bummed to if your crush—a normally kind man—treated you like trash.

It seems the Internet is with me. I posted a collection of screencaps from the episode on Tumblr, as I usually do, and the response has been very strong and different from before, transitioning from “I love this show!” to “This is gross.”

I’m not sure how the manga approached this situation (or the romance at all, though just as with some classic piece of literature, somehow manga makes forbidden romance feel more acceptable), but it’s clear here that the animators desired to push the romance forward. No more sitting on the sidelines for them, not with just five or six episodes remaining. And eating their cake, too, they had Kondou remark that the hug was one of “friendship,” trying to move back toward that successful (if dangerous) balance that had existed all previously.

It doesn’t work—the relationship has moved too far into new territory.

 

Kondou’s inner monologue is accompanied by his intimate hug (and the falling of their umbrellas together)

Regardless of where the show goes, though, I wonder what it would take for me to accept Akira and Kondou as a couple. What if their thoughts toward each other were better explained or developed, for instance? Right now, the motivation we’re given for Akira liking him is that he’s stability and kindness for her when the world has thrown her the opposite in the form of her injury. There’s also a sexual attraction there, which was explored more in this episode than in others (as the show treads into heavier fanservice territory—I’m not showing caps for that—which also made the episode uncomfortable). Kondou only sees her as a reminder of his youth and a chance for acceptance. Yeah…I’m gonna need more than that.

Then why you touchin’ it?

And I want to examine this question in their particular situation. I could add a year or two to Akira, take a few off of Kondou, and remove them from their manager-employee relationship and be alright with it (or at least less judgmental), but that’s not the situation. Would those fundamental changes, though, have to happen for me to approve?

I want to know your thoughts, though. What would it take to make Akira and Kondou’s romance okay for you? Or are you already fine with it as is? Let us know in the comments below!

After the Rain can be streamed on Amazon Prime.

TWWK

Husband. Dad. Occasionally Korean. Enjoys Star Wars, ASOIAF, and Meg Ryan movies. Tweets before proofreading. Ghibli. Oregairuuuuu. Jesus is King.

15 thoughts on “What Would it Take for You to Approve of After the Rain’s Romance?

  1. I’m not watching the show, but essentially I have no issue with a gap in age, but I have an issue with an adult having a relationship with a teenager regardless of circumstances. Even if the teenager initiates it, the adult needs to be the adult and keep a sensible distance until the teen is also an adult and then they can do whatever they both as adults choose to do.

    1. That’s a good point, especially considering the imbalance of power in the relationship between an older man and a teen. What about this, then: A) Does it make a difference that the girl is 17 and not 18 (ex. What if she’s 17 and 364 days old?) and B) Does it matter what culture we’re in (ex. What if a 17-year-old is considered an adult in Japan)?

  2. Hmm, like Karandi, I also am not watching this. But it’s always difficult as people usually have an opinion when there is a huge age difference between a couple. I do have to agree with Karandi’s point of view though. I also am not very biased when there is a huge age gap between two people that are in love. I think love pretty much never depends on age, but more how much of a connections there is between the two people. But, that said…an adult with a teenager is something where I have to draw a line as well.

    1. Does it matter to you that she’s perhaps months away from being considered an adult? Or what if the man was younger, say 30? Would that sway your opinion or would it stay the same?

  3. I keep waffling back and forth on whether I want to watch this show. I love a sensitive exploration of a taboo topic, but fanservice of any kind makes me wary. Maybe I’ll wait until after it’s finished airing so I can get a general (hopefully spoiler-free) feel for how it turns out.

    As for your question – that is tough. Part of the problem is that our era has an inadequate vocabulary for talking about sexual ethics. I’d certainly want to get rid of the employee/boss dynamic of the relationship, since relationships with unequal power dynamics make it too easy for the stronger party to manipulate the weaker, which muddies up the whole question of consent. But I can’t help feeling that there must be more to it than JUST consent, as important as consent is. Is such a relationship wise, for instance? Is it likely to be healthy or edifying to either party? Is it built entirely upon sexual attraction, or are these people mature and self-disciplined enough to work at pursuing a genuinely good life together?

    I’m almost convinced that these questions can only be answered on a case-by-case basis, and that hard and fast rules aren’t going to work. I definitely wouldn’t approve of a relationship between a legal adult and a one-week-away-from-her-birthday teenager since I do believe that people ought to respect the rule of law in these matters, but that question is ultimately less important than questions of individual motivation, maturity, and moral character – if that makes any sense.

    1. Thanks for the thoughtful answer, Alexander! Those are very similar to the thoughts stirring around me head, but you put it to paper better than I could. There are definitely many questions that arise from such a relationship, and as is often the case, it’s best that we examine the people and relationship at hand rather than live too closely to hard and fast rules (except where required or always true).

  4. My problem isn’t so much about her being a teen as just the natural emotional maturity difference between even an 18 and a 45 year old. I’m not even 30 yet and at 26 I already feel a bit of an emotional gap from when I was just on the brink of adulthood and I’m not sure I’d date someone 18-20 years old.

    1. That’s certainly something to consider—while everyone matures at different rates, that gap you mention is undeniable, even from 18 to 21 or 22 to 29. How much more so from 17 to 45?

      1. Well, the old rule of thumb was half your age plus 7.

        So an 18 year-old should date no one younger than 16.

        A 30 year old should date no one younger than 22, and a 40 year-old should date no one younger than 27.

  5. I think the problem is that their relationship doesn’t have a good foundation. Even though it is a lot more than sexual attraction.

    I mean, I can accept a May December relationship, but I would think that woman being significantly younger ought to be a negative to an older man, not a positive. He might decide to go forward with the relationship because age differences are a negative that will fade with time and he places greater value on other more important issues (like finding a good step mother for his child, or being attracted to someone with virtues like kindness and courage). But pursuing the relationship because you want to recapture your youth?

    A realistic motive, and better than just a sexual one, but still not healthy.

    1. You have an excellent point—and I think that’s why, at least in what we see in the anime, he resists the relationship, or rather doesn’t really even consider it for most of the run. He gets feelings from it, but doesn’t see it as realistic or fulfilling, which is used to help strengthen his characterization and make him seem more thoughtful and less lecherous.

  6. Hello. I believe I can provide some good insight on this matter, since I happen to have actually EXPERIENCED it.

    I grew up watching anime back in the 80s and I never actually dropped this hobby. I still watch anime on a regular basis even though I’m now 39 years old.

    It was in 2010 when I met her. I was 31 and STILL a virgin. Not by choice either… I’m a good-looking guy and I actually look WAY younger than I am (10 years younger or even more), but I’ve always been terribly socially awkward… That was the reason behind my virginity I guess.

    She was 16 and a virgin as well. In my country, the Age of Consent is 15. So, nothing illegal took place. We met on Facebook. In a Group for Lonely Hearts. We had common interests and a similar personality. She had self-confidence issues just like me, even though she was VERY beautiful. She didn’t seem to mind the age gap. Probably because I looked much younger and we shared interests. We talked for 3 months until we finally decided to meet in person. And when we finally did, it was love at first sight.

    I truly believe that in our case, it was purity, innocence and good intention that brought us together. Perhaps a damaged self-confidence as well. Just…try to imagine the awkwardness of 2 virgins separated by 15 years trying to approach each other… 😛 Yet, we did. We reached for each other and in the process we healed ourselves. And we loved each other SO much, that we formed a loving relationship and stayed together for 5 and a half YEARS.

    I called her “my little fairy”. She called me her “sun”. We watched anime together, we cuddled, we travelled, we shared experiences. We essentially GREW UP together. I saw her reaching adulthood. I saw her getting admitted with TOP grades on a National level, to our country’s second best University on Physics and being awarded a scholarship. She told me that I was her power and inspiration for achieving it. And I was proud of her.

    We envisioned and planned our common future. We would migrate together to the UK. Live and work there. We discussed details and we shared dreams and ambitions. Unfortunately, that common future never came to pass.

    In 2015 her priorities changed. And after 5 and a half years of being together, she decided that she was not ready to live the rest of her life with me. Not ready for such a huge commitment… So, she left. She migrated. But without me.

    I suppose someone else would be bitter or even hateful. But I can’t. 3 years have passed since she left me and I still remember her as the best thing that ever happened to me. Because for 5 and a half years, she made me happy. She gave ME her best years. And I regret nothing.

    I’m guessing that she moved on. I didn’t. I never met a woman since. And I don’t really feel a desire to. How can anything compare to her? How can anything compare to what I’ve already experienced? My memories of her are enough to keep me happy for the rest of my life. I hope that my little fairy is happy. Wherever she may be.

    It was back in June, this year, when I discovered “After the Rain” totally by chance. I decided to watch it since the subject matter intrigued me and reminded me of her. A relationship with a girl who was 15 years younger than me. As the episodes rolled, I felt that I watching parts of my own life before me. By the time the anime finished, I was crying like never before…

    So, what does it take to accept After the Rain’s romance? It takes LIVING IT for yourself…

    That’s me with her back in 2013: https://scontent-sof1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t31.0-8/976767_10201141850699189_1254464545_o.jpg?_nc_cat=103&_nc_ht=scontent-sof1-1.xx&oh=fd2d3c19548fb639b07005c7462191b4&oe=5CD65900

    And that’s me today. I cosplayed as Mr. Kondo at an Anime Party just 3 days ago. That girl next to me is just another attendee. We don’t know each other at all, but we simply decided to make this crossover photoshoot since both “After the Rain” and “Attack on Titan” are produced by the same studio. She’s 20 years old. I’m 19 years older than her. But I don’t think it shows. https://scontent-sof1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/48994224_10217736977206980_7637793836294471680_o.jpg?_nc_cat=106&_nc_ht=scontent-sof1-1.xx&oh=b9ae5cd2e902e73c91aff7eac658dbce&oe=5C93A894

    1. Thank you for sharing your story…it certainly provides an interesting perspective coming from one who had a romance with similarities to that of the series. And I hope you’ll continue to move forward—I believe that there’s beauty and hope ahead for you and not just in the past.

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