For anyone who considers staying in Vancouver, I must tell you that it is a very depressing city. It just rains and rains, and when there’s no rain the clouds still loom over you, threatening to make it rain. In this environment, I’ve always entertained myself by interpreting weather changes as fluctuations in a relationship. Vancouver doesn’t have the fast and furious break-up thunderstorm – what’s always going on is a torturously self-abusive, deteriorating relationship in which neither party has the courage to just break it off. An anime that uses rain to illustrate the struggles of loving someone? I’m in.
Forbidden love: At this point, I’m not entirely sure what direction the anime would take this in. While romantic love between a high school girl and her 45-year-old boss is clearly depicted as taboo, the cute Honeyworks OP features Akira and Kondou (The manager) in many typical romantic scenarios (though not without a certain distance), and *SPOILERS: Akira’s feelings towards her manager are shown to be reciprocated to a certain extent in the end of this episode. Both of them are pleasant people and I kind of wish it could work out, but at the same time, I think that would be an ending very difficult for any anime to pull off. I’m predicting a Kuzu no Honkai –styled rejection.
Justifiable: a crucial thing about anime featuring taboo relationships is its ability to make characters’ motives understandable. Akira’s love originates from the time she sits alone in the cafe and is treated to free coffee by Kondou (not yet her manager). In my opinion, this is the most on-point scene in the episode. Even without a running internal monologue, we’re immediately able to see things through Akira’s eyes – how the manager surprises her with free coffee and produces the cream using a magic trick. We see that it was a plain act of kindness that got her and perhaps, judge the validity of the romantic feelings she develop from this event, but given everything, I would say that the way she behaves becomes quite understandable.
Taboos are painful to watch: Akira is an eccentric girl with not a whole lot of sense when it comes to what is and isn’t socially acceptable. Her having feelings for her manager and actually thinking that she has a chance exemplifies this. And…she does so many cringy things. Alternating between glaring and blushing at her manager, asking him for his “ID,” sniffing his shirt… There was so much build-up to the shirt-sniffing that you just know that Kondou is going to walk in while she’s doing it. My mind while I was watching this: no, don’t do it…no, please…no, no, no…DAMMIT Akira! This isn’t much of a criticism for the show – in fact, I think the show handles Akira’s awkwardness quite well. It’s just that becoming invested in this sort of anime is going to bring you…much suffering.
Peculiar: Through her disinterest in socializing and the shots that frame her as an outsider from high school life, Akira can easily be distinguished from the rest of her peers. She has quite a masculine name too, which I find interesting. She shies away from others and generally presents herself as a passive character, but is impressively goal-oriented when it comes to love. She kind of reminds me of a cat in terms of personality and body movements. Kondou is your typical awkward dad who also happens to be a bit of a klutz, but the fact that he’s Akira’s love interest as well as the manager – someone in a position of power (even though restaurant managers apologizing a lot seem to fit my image of them) – makes him quite an interesting figure. From the lack of others shown in the OP, I’m guessing that those two are going to be the only real characters in the anime, and so far I’m fine with that.
Sharp and slender: talking about the character designs. The facial features are sharp and the body shapes long and slender. I like how this can easily give the characters’ movements a sense of elegance or enhance the awkwardness of these movements based on context (compare how Akira moves with how Yoshizawa moves). However, I can’t say I like how the heads are attached to long and skinny necks or that I like the style in which the faces are drawn. I’m not too picky with art style though, so I can go with that.
Not too subtle: perhaps I’m only saying this because the last anime I wrote a first impression of was Violet Evergarden, but I wish some of the scenes were handled with more tact. Akira drops a plate dramatically when she hears that her manager has a kid and drops it again when she hears that he’s already divorced, and the only reason her feelings remain hidden (even with all that aggressive blushing and glaring) is thanks to Kondou and the others’ insensitivity. I appreciate how Akira’s awkwardness is constantly exemplified; I just hope she doesn’t drop any more plates from now on…
Hidden hot guy: I’m a little in love with the cook, Mr. Kase (I have a thing for insignificant side characters that I myself am perplexed about).
Rain symbolism: I’m interested in how the anime focuses on what happens “after the rain.” From what I can see, the rain is only about to begin, with Akira’s persistent feelings for Mr. Kondou. Akira being able to predict the rain because of the pain she senses in her foot due to the moisture suggests past wounds being critical to the story. It’ll be interesting watching how the anime balances between the inevitable opening of new wounds and the healing of old ones.
Great music choices: I fell in love with both the OP and ED in one episode (actually, I loved the ED since watching the PV). The OP is written by Honeyworks, a.k.a. producer of the cutest love songs ever. Honeyworks probably has a hand-drawn MV of the OP with their own matching story/interpretation of it. My inner shoujo was fueled by Honeyworks songs back in high school… Haven’t managed to find it online yet – if anyone did, please tell me. I loved the ED, “Ref:rain” by Aimer, even more. To me, it feels like seishun in all its bitterness and glory.
So would I keep watching it? I certainly enjoyed it, but if I am only to choose two to watch for the season, Koi wa Ameagari no You ni probably wouldn’t be one of them. It’s not because this anime isn’t great, but just that I’m not the type of audience that enjoys watching people go through painful trials in a romantic drama. Judgment, misunderstanding, second-guessing…all that ugly stuff I can’t really stand. In order for me to want to continue such a show, there needs to be something else that just hooks me in completely. I definitely appreciate that the anime came out in this gloomy season of rain though, and would consider watching more of it if I keep seeing awesome reviews (which I’m already starting to see). Hmm, or unless I decide to watch it for Kase-san in the background.
Current preference order:
watch <—————————-> drop
<Violet Evergarden — Sora yori mo Tooi Basho — Koi wa Ameagari no You ni — Kokkoku — Poputepipikku>
Thanks for reading!