Blu-Ray Review: After The Rain – The Complete Collection

Emotions run high and dry in After the Rain, so let’s take a look at what we thought of MVM Entertainment’s UK Blu-ray release of the series.

Synopsis:

Akira Tachibana’s life has taken a wrong turn. Sidelined from her high school track team by an injury, she’s found herself increasingly distanced from her friends and unsure of what to do next with her life. That’s not her biggest worry though.

The real problem is that she’s found someone that she’s interested in, someone who makes her feel like she’s never felt before… even though she knows that, by society’s standards, it’s completely wrong. Because the person at the centre of the emotional storm overwhelming her is nearly three times her age and the manager of the restaurant where she’s just begun to work.

So, what now? Does this runner take the next step and tell him how she feels? Or will she stumble, turn, and flee from the one thing she truly wants.

Our View:

Adapted from the manga by Jun Mayuzuki, which translates to Love Is Like After the Rain from the Japanese text, this anime adaption, After the Rain, follows the story of Akira Tachibana and her unlikely relationship with Masami Kondo. On the surface it is a simple story of unrequited love, but as you fall further down the rabbit hole you realise it is a little more complicated than that, and for good reason. Once again MVM Entertainment release a love-story in anime form, and yet again it offers a completely different take on the norm that makes for a compelling story, even if nothing really happens.

The story within After the Rain is slightly jumbled and it takes a handful of episodes for you to understand how these characters came to be where they are today; but the focal point of the story is that 17-year-old high school student Akira Tachibana is in love with her boss, Masami Kondo, at the Café Garden. The problem? He is a divorced 45-year-old-man with a young child and doesn’t have romantic affinity for Akria.

Unrequited love is always an interesting talking point, but when it involves an older-man then it becomes a bit questionable. Fortunately After the Rain is not creepy, inappropriate or even uncomfortable, it is simply a story on Akira showcasing her affection for Masami without overstepping any boundaries. Interestingly this ‘romance story’ is only a small portion of the overall story, as there are deeper meanings behind everything occurring on screen.

So how did this unlikely situation came to be? Well Akira Tachibana used to be on the track and field team at school, but after suffering from an extensive ankle injury she quit the team. Feeling alone and isolated with no-one to talk to Akira took refuge from the rain at a local Café to which Masami served her a coffee as a way to cheer her up.

Since that fateful day Akira has wanted to get closer to Masami and so she took a part-time job at the café. Fast forward several weeks and both Akira and Masami go on about their daily lives, with Akira focusing on school work and her job at the café while Masami absorbs himself in his managerial role at the café.

Naturally Masami is unaware of Akira’s affection, but through kind gestures from Masami to Akira, such as driving her to the hospital after her ankle causes her pain or helping with her school work, Akira confesses her affection to him. This begins a chain of events that see Masami try to prove he is a boring old man with Akira attempting to learn more about him.

This interesting challenge leads to various dates, meet-ups and situations that – in the real world at least – would potentially be deemed inappropriate, but here it is rather cute and charming. While Masami doesn’t have an initial feelings for Akira he soon starts to develop feelings of protection for her and begins to remember what it is like to be in love.

The ongoing relationship between Akira and Masami is naturally the continuous driving factor of the series and bizarrely it never seems to falter. You would expect that episodes after Akira’s confession would cause the progression of the series to stutter and end on a stalemate, but surprisingly that is not the case here and instead propels the story into new and interesting scenarios.

For instance Akira learning of Masami’s love for the books, and that he once aspired to become a novelist, opens up a storyline which focuses on Masami attempting to rekindle his passion for writing and the friends he made at college when partaking in that activity.

The same revelation can also be said for Masami, as shortly after learning of Akira’s injury and her involvement with the track team viewers are welcomed with a story that sees Akira overcoming her avoidance of members from the track team and, in turn, her best friend. Since her injury Akira has been avoiding them and this unique set piece, which takes place across multiple episodes, explores that relationship with her past friends and sees her restore those friendships. Naturally this is all unbeknownst to Masami, but its that further contact of each characters upbringings that make them unique and stand on their own merits.

The overall story, and these side-stories, are a driving factor in keeping the contents of the series fresh and while nothing of major importance happens in some episodes it still feels like progress has been made for the relevant characters involved. Interestingly bizarre, but refreshingly different at the same time.

Speaking of which Studio WIT’s animation is a combination of exceptional and simplistic, with dry day scenes offering simplicity while rain covered days reminding me of scenes from big budget animated feature films. The art style choice of the characters also reminded me of Sailor Moon designs, with long and tall characters that offer a more refined and mature stature compared to the usual designs. Initially these designs felt off putting, especially in the trailer, but as with the story it felt right at work and works beautifully throughout.

Extras:

Once again MVM Entertainment are using disc masters authored by Sentai Filmworks in North America, as such all of the supplementary content included in the US Blu-Ray release is here in this UK Edition. It is the norm, so no surprises here. In this case viewers will find both clean opening and closing animation sequences, a selection of Japanese promotional trailers for the series before its TV debut as well as trailers for other Sentai Filmwork releases.

As far as supplementary content goes its nothing extravagant, but it is more than what we are usually treated. Fans of the Japanese promotional material will be glad to see the respective content included, while those who enjoy the opening and ending songs (of which both are great), will find them in textless form.

Naturally as this release uses discs masters authored by Sentai Filmworks the relevant trailers for that anime distributor are included, with highlights being Maid-Sama and Real Girl. Surprisingly three out of the four trailers are being released in the UK, which is a nice touch considering that most release tend to have trailers for products we do not get in the UK.

Specs:

Media:  BD 50, BD 25
Region: B
Running Time: 3:47:03 (Disc 1), 1:16:21 (Disc 2)
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: DTS-HD 2.0 (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (Yellow)
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps

Overall:

At its core After the Rain is a unrequited love story between two unlikely people, with one being a 17-year-old high school student and the other a 45-year-old divorced manager at a restaurant, but underneath it we a story that sees two very different characters overcoming obstacles of life. Whether it be becoming a novelist, or returning to a sports club, there are varying elements that help progress the story along and refine the characters on screen rather than just relying on the tried and tested method of an awkward relationship.

That’s not to say that an awkward relationship styled situations do not appear, as they do, but in After the Rain they are treated more as an afterthought or as a break from the norm with a jokey twist to them. After the Rain is a not so serious series, but delivers important messages such as never to give up and that love can come in all different forms.

From a narrative progression this is played out slowly and surely across numerous episodes, but from an artistic impression then it is does through the process of light and dark scenes or character shrouded in bubbling auras. It’s these little touches that give characters that added bit of flair, especially for Akira who always looks relatively stern – something which Masami often points out.

From a release perspective then After the Rain provides consistent quality from a visual and subtitle perspective, with English subtitles presented cleanly and readable throughout. Scenes from multiple dialogue will, as per Sentai Filmwork standards, split into different colours and sizes to make it more easier to read – which is an absolute blessing when most of the scenes are bright.

This series does feature an English dub but yet again, as with most Sentai Filmwork dubs, it doesn’t convey the expressions or emotions you would hop to receive. Performances in the English Dub at times feel rather robotic and unnatural, with the audio volume considerably lower than the Japanese audio track, but at the same time the cast used does offer some similarities with how the Japanese cast sound, so it’s not overly bad – just not as good as how the Japanese track feels.

After the Rain was a pleasant surprise and became another unexpected enjoyment to watch. Based solely on the shows synopsis and its character design I expected to find myself bored and inattentive to the stories being played, but instead I found myself looking forward to what happens next.

The interesting aspect of After the Rain is that the episodes can be watched seamlessly as a binge-watching-show and offers a more cinematic vibe than a TV series. After the Rain is unnexpectedly entertaining with an interesting variation of a love story portrayed with an untraditional art style, but one that is definitely worthy of your time; even if you do not like romance type stories.

Score: review-stars-4

After the Rain – The Complete Collection is now available on Blu-Ray in the UK via MVM Entertainment. After the Rain is also available to watch on Amazon Instant Video for Amazon Prime members.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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