After the Rain, Episode 8: If You Were the Servant, What Would You Do?

Retreating from the unpalatable romantic scenes that occurred in the last episode, After the Rain this week returns to the sometimes discomforting, sometimes humorous dance between Tachibana and Kondo, the latter of which continues to emphasize a point he made after giving her an amorous hug in episode 7: the two are just friends.

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Friendship takes center stage in episode seven, beginning with Tachibana advising Nishida in moving towards friendship with her crush, Yoshizawa (wut), convincing her friend and co-worker that friendship can be a leaping off point for romance. Meanwhile, Kyan is trying to navigate her own friendship with Tachibana, which has turned awkward since the the latter left the track team due to injury. Kyan is left to wonder about the state of their relationship, while Tachibana looks inside herself to determine whether she has the courage to move past her injury and reclaim that friendship in spite of the mental obstacle.

And indeed it’s courage, not friendship, that’s thematically most important in this episode. It comes forward when Kondo helps Tachibana with her discussion question homework for Rashomon. Most of us in the west are probably familiar with Kurosawa’s film by that name, but the director didn’t use the writing’s plot for his masterpiece. In the short story, a recently unemployed servant comes across a woman cutting the hair off corpses. Out of a sense of righteous indignation, he intends to kill her, until the woman tells him that she uses the hair to make wigs, which she sells as a means for survival. The servant has a change of heart, and not only about how he treats the woman. Previously having decided that he would rather starve than become a thief, he decides that survival, even by such means, can be just.

Tachibana asks Kondo what he would have done if he had been the servant. Would he have become a thief? His response is not surprising:

I don’t think I would have become a thief…When you get to this age, you get into a habit of living timidly. I want to avoid causing trouble as much as I can. If I were the servant, I think I would be under the tower until it stopped raining. I might not be able to move from there, even after it stopped raining.

The servant’s predicament fits Kondo’s situation well as they both consider the courage it takes to change course. I very much relate to Kondo, not just because of my life situation (though I’m closer to his age than I would care to admit), but also because of his personality. Kondo is afraid of moving forward because of fear and pain from the past, and also because he doesn’t want to hurt others. That sounds very much like the reasons I used to shy away from life—I didn’t want to bother others and I had an excessive fear of failure.

I still trend that way sometimes, but I’m mostly past it. The old me would agree with Kondo: I would have chosen to just wait it out if I was the servant, and to maybe even die as I waited, so greatly was I paralyzed with fear. Kondo’s story arc has thus far been focused on this paralysis, and I imagine he will move past it (the pimple at the end of the episode was yet another touch connecting him to his youth, to a time when he wasn’t scared), though I hope when he finds his courage, it isn’t entirely predicated on a relationship with Tachibana, not because of distaste (after all, we know the series is going that way), but because I hope there’s something more significant there than a relationship that might be fleeting.

What about you? Are you similar to Kondo, too? Or do you attack life fearlessly? If you were the servant, what would you do? Would you find the courage to change and live or stay in a shelter, waiting for the rain to end?

After the Rain is available for streaming on Amazon Prime.

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