After the Rain / 恋は雨上がりのように / Koi wa Ameagari no You ni (2018)
Director: Akira Nagai
Writer: Jun Mayuzuki (manga), Riko Sakaguchi
Cast: Nana Komatsu, Yo Oizumi
On a flight back home, I was surprised to see Japanese films available and this one was at the top of the list since it was in alphabetical order. I had never heard of the movie but recognized the two main actors so decided to watch it.
The story centers around a 17 year old high school girl, Akira (Nana Komatsu), who has a crush on her 45 year old manager, Kondo (Yo Oizumi), of the restaurant where she works. But what initially looks like a cringey wish fulfillment setup is actually more about two individuals who have both lost their passions and how they end up helping each other rediscover them. The original source material is a manga and an anime adaptation already exists. I ended up watching the anime later which made for an interesting comparison.
Normally my reviews are spoiler free but this one will have some mild spoilers since I’ll be comparing it to the anime.
I thought the cinematography of the movie was quite nice and it set the tone of the movie well with melancholic rain scenes and bright, happy skies. I thought all the actors were well cast although I’d say the actress who plays Akira’s childhood friend, looked a bit old to be a high schooler but otherwise she did well in her role. Funnily enough she’s only two years older than the actress who plays Akira and both actresses are named Nana. I also liked the actress cast as Nishida, a fellow employee at the restaurant. She and another character actually appear in a set of short episodes in their own little story line that is concurrent with the events of the film. I think these episodes were released on the internet.
Moments of humor are sprinkled through out the movie that prove to be effective in what is somewhat of a downbeat slice of life story. Some of the funniest moments are the same as those in the anime although sometimes they are staged a bit differently, which is good. The movie doesn’t try to visually copy scenes exactly but exudes the same mood.
We learn early on that Akira was an avid sprinter and used to be the star of her track team but then tore her achilles tendon. She hasn’t started running again even though she was passionate about it before. Kondo isn’t particularly respected by some of his employees who feel he is pathetic for his frequent apologizing to customers. However, he once had a passion for writing in his university days, which he gave up and is now a divorced older man with a son and no passion or direction. He is initially oblivious to her interest in him until she confesses to him multiple times. His interactions with Akira remind him of his youthful passion and he begins to write again. He tries to encourage her to go back to running instead of pursuing him.
I think the film captures the same themes and feelings of the anime quite well. In fact, the film does well in trimming unnecessary side characters and events. It shortens or cuts certain events, moving some conversations to different locations for brevity but in logical ways. All the major events are in the film. I’d say without strictly going back and doing a scene for scene comparison, the film mostly follows the anime. But in the latter half a few of those seemingly small tweaks or changes are more significant and give a bit of a different interpretation to certain key events even if the overall plot remains largely unchanged. I found these changes interesting.
Some scenes seem to occur in a more coincidental manner. There’s a scene where Akira’s childhood friend talks to Kondo in a chance meeting at a running shoe store, which I don’t recall ever happening in the anime. Akira’s running rival also has scenes in the live action film while I believe she is only mentioned by name in the anime and never actually shown. Or at least she never interacts directly with Akira in the anime like she does in the live action. These additions aren’t super significant but they’re welcome and I think help emphasize the theme of perusing one’s passion.
Kondo is also a bit more active in encouraging Akira to get back to running again, asking her to help train his son to run faster. In the anime, the son asks Akira. The character of Kaze has less screen time but is also less of a jerk. Although she doesn’t appear much, I think Akira’s mother has a slightly bigger role in the live action movie than the anime. There is a scene that shows that Akira’s mom understands her by not doing something that Akira asks her to do. I don’t recall Akira’s mother at all in the anime other than asking Akira why she saw the same movie twice.
The anime is more fantastical and dreamy with visual effects used to enhance the emotional scenes like the one in Kondo’s apartment with Akira. The live action version has more or less the same dialogue but one pivotal event happens differently. There is also one moment that doesn’t occur in the live action where Akira smiles with tears in her eyes which I think is a very beautiful and touching moment in the anime. There is also an extra line by Kondo in the live action version that makes his intentions clear-cut, or at least more so than the anime. Although maybe not as dramatic, I think the live action version is a legitimate alternate version that works in its more grounded approach. Although some might feel it’s too plain compared to the anime.
The ending happens in a different location and also by coincidence. It uses dialogue that’s in one the later episodes of the anime (but not the last episode). As a result its impact in the live action film is different from the anime. Visually the anime ending is more beautiful with its effects and feels more emotional. Again like with the apartment scene, the live action ending looks and feels mundane when compared to the anime. But I like that the film version left Akira a bit more ahead in her running goals than the anime. The future of their friendship/relationship still remains a bit vague and not fully resolved.
Of course, the anime has more detail especially with the side characters given that it’s 12 episodes. But I think the live action film did well in condensing and streamlining the main story without sacrificing too much character development of its leads. I’d argue some parts of the anime episodes felt a bit like filler anyway. I think anyone who really liked the live action film would like the anime series. I think some of the differences in the live action version merit a watch from those who saw the anime first.