Friday, September 27, 2019

After the Rain volume 5 delivers the right ending to the series (Manga Review)

Teenage girl with an umbrella over her shoulder smiling
After the Rain vol. 5 - 9.5/10

I've been waiting for this final volume of After the Rain (Vertical Comics) since I read the first volume. That's a strange thing to say, but my feelings about the entire series were going to be based on how the outcome of this final volume made me reflect on all the prior ones. I am extremely happy to say that Mayuzuki-sensei pulled it off and After the Rain volume 5 is both the beautiful, satisfying, and "correct" ending to the series.

Akira Tachibana was a highschool track star until she injured her ankle and refused physical therapy. She took a job as a waitress at a local restaurant and promptly fell in love with her balding middle-aged boss. Her middle-aged boss was a failed writer who gave up, got divorced, and isn't going much of anywhere. This had all the makings of a really gross story: 17-year-old beauty somehow is attracted to a 40-ish middling man and somehow this man ends up with a girl way out of his league and which comes just shy of being statutory in her near-childness.


But the other possibility was equally there from the beginning: sad, lonely, and lost girl meets sad, lonely, and lost older man and somehow they each end up getting back on track and not together with each other. The question would be which way would this story go from that beautiful, haunting first volume? Would it go with fan-service and give the young beauty to the random old guy to please the male readers? Or would it dare to do something more poignant and more complex? The rest of this review contains SPOILERS but you can see the rating I gave volume 5 above, so that should give you a clue as to how it concluded.

Warning, SPOILERS the rest of the way. In volume 5, we pick up with the boss, Kondo, having started writing again. We also see Akira spending more and more time with her former best-friend and track mate Haruka. Haruka takes her to watch a marathon and keeps putting the bug in Akira's ears. Akira also goes back to her doctor for her regular check up. But this time, she takes the information on physical therapy.

All this leads up to the pivotal episode between Akira and Kondo. Akira shows up at his house unannounced in a snowstorm to give him the birthday scarf she knit for him. They talk about his writing for the first time, eat together, and go together to pray at the temple for new years. As they are leaving, she suggests going back to his place. Finally, all the subtext comes to the surface. Or at least, we think it will. But instead, Kondo asks the most beautifully worded question: "You're not going to run anymore?"

The double meaning is perfect. It could mean "you aren't going to run track anymore? You'll really give it up?" but it could just as easily mean: "you aren't going to run from your feelings for me anymore? we're going to do this?" Throughout the series we never really know if Kondo harbors any feelings for Akira, but he knows that at 17, she's on a delicate precipice. And rather than exploit that, he gently pushes her. And the breakthrough finally comes.

Even though I've given so much away, I won't tell you the absolute resolution, but it is worthy of the honesty and delicacy of this series. I couldn't be happier with the writing and integrity to character that this final volume shows. As always, the art is stunning and perfect for the wistful nature of this story. And, it never even comes close to the worrisome nature of the initial premise.

SPOILERS OVER.

If you haven't started this series, please do so. If you haven't kept up reading or gotten volume 5 yet, then what are you waiting for?! It's one of the best seinen series I've ever read, and I'm not generally a fan of seinen either. It's frankly one of the best manga series of any genre that I've read. This volume gets a nearly perfect 9.5/10 and now I can finally go back and watch the anime I've been waiting to watch until the series was finished. Congrats to all involved with this series, particularly Mayuzuki-sensei.

🚺

Please legitimately purchase or borrow manga and anime. Never read scanlations or watch fansubs. Those rob the creators of the income they need to survive and reduce the chance of manga and anime being legitimately released in English.

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2 comments:

  1. I am glad to see that you found the ending of Koi wa Ameagari no Youni to be beautiful, glorious and satisfying. However, I feel obligated to bring up to you the tragic, sad & infuriating Post Script pertaining to the end of this Manga/Anime series. When this series ended it's original serialization and publication in Spring of last year (2018), there was a contingent of it's readership that was very much expecting the end of the series to be Akira and Kondo ending up together; that they were attracted to the series because of the immoral age-gap romance & that they were reading the series thinking with their genitals. To put it lightly yet bluntly, this readership contingent was not pleased with the ending of the series & were so incensed by "their fetish not being satisfied" that they harassed Jun Mayuzuki on her personal online blog & personal Twitter account, to the point that she had to shut down her blog and Twitter account & leave the Internet entirely. This was within days after the magazine release of the final manga chapter and the end of the Anime TV series. It was very sad & maddening to see Jun Mayuzuki be a victim of Internet Misogyny and to be driven away from the Internet due to a loud vocal minority of this manga's readership base who were unappreciative of series not taking the simple way out.

    Thank you again for this review. You have a great day.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for highlighting this important and tragic example of misogyny and male sexualization of minors. I am so very thankful that the story DIDN'T get the two of them together. It would have been wrong on so many levels and would also have short-changed the story emotionally and literarily.

      My heart goes out to Mayuzuki-sensei for the harassment she received. It is a stunning example of the evils that still lurk in our society and that we must be vigilant to defend against and while protecting the people and voices that the internet's darker members would seek to silence.

      I hope she finds peace and happiness because her beautifully written and drawn series has meant to much to me. I also hope that those who harassed her are open to growing as people and finding a place of loving kindness and empathy towards all people so that they don't engage in that hateful behavior in the future.

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