Review/discussion about: Koi wa Ameagari no You ni
“It’s always calmest before the storm.”
This phrase is known and used for those situations when the good times must surely predate (or even predict) an encroaching ugliness. It’s succinct in usage, and it’s easy to understand. But it’s also rather pessimistic. A doom-and-gloom approach to what life brings on the horizon.
Because that which follows a storm can have a balanced sense of optimism. The warmth of sunshine. The colorful image of a rainbow. The smell of fresh nature. So, those ugly times may arrive without remorse, but goodness can prevail. If nothing else, Koi wa Ameagari no You ni adheres to this stance, promising a phenomenal anime containing a similar happiness.
From the outside, Koi wa Ameagari no You ni seems unapproachable when considering its strange premise. Indeed, how can a story about a middle-aged restaurant owner and a bound-for-college former track prodigy go anywhere but into the trash heap? The anime responds to this necessary question by shattering any preconceived expectations, rising above the raised eyebrows with a heartwarming tale in need of telling.
The biggest misconception about this anime must be remedied first and foremost: It is not a romance show. At least in the pure or traditional sense. Only one party (Akira) ever views it as such, and the other party (Mr. Kondou) never reciprocates. In other words, it would be a disservice to describe this anime as straight-up romance in genre.
That’s vital to remedy now because what the anime is about is infinitely more relevant and definitively more worthwhile. For, at its core, Koi wa Ameagari no You ni is about a state of mind, a state of being that many people potentially face in their own lives the world over: rediscovery.
This immense theme exists throughout the entirety of the series, and the anime explores the idea with class at each opportunity. How conflicts push people into a dark place. What forces someone down that unknown road afterwards. Why it matters for those who are lost. Rediscovery isn’t just a thing on the wayside. Here, in this show, it stands as a chance for Akira and Mr. Kondou to get back those friendships, to remember where they started, and to position themselves for a brighter future ahead.
To further highlight rediscovery, the anime forms a swell character drama. More specifically, it has a deft hand for structuring its individual episodes extremely well using contrasting setups, flow of tone, and noteworthy parallels. The date, apartment, and friend episodes (respectively) exemplify this argument without worry.
And sprinkled in-between these episodes are those pivotal moments which prove the efficacy of rediscovery for those who truly require it. It may be as small as talking about an excerpt from a book, or it may be as large as a sincere hug during a raging typhoon. Whatever the case may be, Koi wa Ameagari no You ni believes in its central theme, and these moments demonstrate this belief as well as they possibly can.
Unfortunately, as the anime nears its end, it commits to a few losing decisions. Some of the pacing starts to feel off as it rushes along. Certain subplots go unanswered. And, perhaps most egregious of all, that “romance” angle seems almost ditched despite being so influential during the first three-quarters of its run.
Nevertheless, what Koi wa Ameagari no You ni presents needs no questioning, for it has already answered back with resolute gumption.
ART & ANIMATION
From here on out, Koi wa Ameagari no You ni falters no more, and its confident stride begins with its impressive artistic direction.
The character designs emerge first as prominent additions. Akira has an elegance and a prettiness to her looks that define her as a delicate girl trapped in loneliness. Mr. Kondou in turn dons a handsome appearance, his slicked-back hair and rugged features chisel out his gentleman persona. Their numerous outfit changes (e.g., work clothes, casual attire) further polish their designs.
The shoujo style likewise goes a long way towards improving its visual integrity. Not only because the closeups, the lighting, and the coloring infuse a dainty mood to the anime but also because the slightly unmodern choices (such as in eye shape) induce another layer of maturity due to the “vintage” presentation.
But the best artistry-related trait of all – and arguably the best trait across the whole show – comes from the expertise and the care placed in the visual storytelling. Beautiful and powerful, Koi wa Ameagari no You ni takes full advantage of the medium when it incorporates techniques on composition, framing, and general nuanced details for a masterful display of cinematography. It lets the visuals “speak for themselves” per se, and, as a result, the anime has now become one of the best examples in recent memory for showcasing the power behind visual storytelling.
On top of the solid actual animation, the realistic setting, and the overall consistency during the season, the anime reaches that fabled juggernaut level where only the elite few reside.
Akira and Mr. Kondou are the stars of Koi wa Ameagari no You ni. Not just because they take up the helm of this anime but also because their separate yet connected journeys twinkle and shine with a brightness that can neither be ignored nor forgotten.
The story mostly follows Akira’s point-of-view, so her perspective kicks everything off. Akira finds solace in Mr. Kondou, the guy who just-so-happened to be there at the right moment at the right time when she needed an ounce of happiness the most. So, she latches onto the troubling notion that she can somehow be with him and be comforted by him, hoping to bury her problems in the process.
Others are quick to point out her folly. A fellow male employee highlights the creepiness in that age gap. Her best friend hates to see that she has turned her back both on their own friendship as well as the running sport where she originally found success. Even Mr. Kondou himself bluntly lets her know that she knows nothing about him and therefore cannot possibly realize him fully.
Meanwhile, Mr. Kondou deals with his own personal troubles. He carries an adult demeanor, offering nice advice to those who will listen and a kind shoulder to everyone around him. Yet, being a single father and working at a not-so-glamorous job halfway into his life presumably indicate that he is also in a rut of his own.
The anime unveils clues and hints as to the backstory of this rut: unfinished manuscripts in his side office, an enthusiasm for books, a university-club buddy who visits to catch up. Yes, Mr. Kondou is a writer who could-have-been way back in the day, and he sadly seems to have given up on that part of him.
With Akira and Mr. Kondou expertly characterized and primed, Koi wa Ameagari no You ni proceeds to expound on the dichotomies and the parallels which form their relationship and fuel their individual arcs. Hearkening back to that major theme on rediscovery, their interactions, their words, their hopes, their missteps, and their successes rekindle the passions that have always driven them: Akira for running and Mr. Kondou for writing.
But it goes beyond mere hobbies. Rather, their worldviews morph away from onset negativity and towards a positive outlook. Akira now values the time she has while she has it; Mr. Kondou cherishes the youth that got him to where he is at this very moment. They couldn’t have done it without each other, proving that their bond was a special existence.
Koi wa Ameagari no You ni constantly introduces these strong writing chops from start to finish. So much so that, even if a tangible outcome for their rediscovery is not shown, the audience can be rest assured that they will eventually get to where they wish to be in life, no matter the obstacles, rain or shine.
MUSIC & SOUND
Going back to the production values of Koi wa Ameagari no You ni, it’s extremely difficult to outlast the artistry employed throughout the season. However, the music and the sound try. In fact, they get very darn close.
A couple of fantastic voice-acting performances ensure that the distance between these halves lessens. Sayumi Watabe as Akira, in her first ever major role, channels her newbie, naïve status into the impressionable lady to give her an authentic representation. However, Hiroaki Hirata as Mr. Kondou steals the show here thanks to his occasional poetic, internal monologues delivered with both smoothness and wisdom.
The original soundtrack further captivates as it supports the anime with docile tunes and gentle guidance. Ambient effects wash over the atmosphere as aquatic serenity, acoustic guitar regularly rings in a nostalgic air perfect for the themes therein, and soft piano keys reward the listener with heartfelt arrangements that strike a spiritual chord. And, in particular, the stunning reimagining of the ending track played during the climax of the series in episode seven turns that scene from magnificent to instantly memorable.
Moving on, water droplets and other aquatic sounds complement the raining motif and correlate to the opening track and the ending track.
“Nostalgic Rainfall”, the OP of Koi wa Ameagari no You ni, captures the joy and the uplifting feelings associated with falling in love in a delightful-sounding song. Charged and dainty compositions, crisp lead and background vocals (replete with “la, la, la” inclusions), fanciful and bountiful pacing. This ensemble of playfulness and fun simply works.
The crown jewel, though, of its audio direction goes to that ED mentioned slightly earlier. Titled “Ref:rain”, this track is (and this is not written lightly) far and away one of the best of all-time to grace the medium. The first half drips melancholy as the piano keys plod along in methodical fashion, letting the feelings build. Come the halfway mark, the song explodes in a crescendo of emotion and beauty thanks to the immaculate vocals, the striking instrumentation, and the embracing atmosphere. It’s a powerhouse of a song that will be on repeat for years and years.
With every notable part of the music and sound executing at a grand quality, it’s safe to say that the production values across the board are firmly in the top-tier camp.
What an extraordinary anime.
The more fundamental elements make it so. Mr. Kondou is a likable older man whose outward fatherly goofiness masks his inward fragility. Similarly, Akira is a likable young woman whose sympathetic difficulties illicit a desire to see her return to normal. Seeing them grow as people, become better as individuals over the course of the season was simply a welcoming sight to see.
The anime itself was also hilarious and emotional and impressive. Watching it unfold had me giving it the honors of being one of the only anime where I (pretty much) wrote weekly comments at length about its singular episodes, interpreting and analyzing its visuals and its writing to a higher degree. The fact that I then put together an extra essay involving it (compiling some of those comments) should likewise speak to my adoration for this project.
Yet, in my eyes, its greatest achievement is championing a common cliché: “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
It’s as true as ever here. The challenging premise is understandably odd and no doubt off-putting, making it easy to dismiss the show from the get-go. But it never involves any weirdness and refuses to glorify bizarre possibilities. Instead, it rewards the audience with a mature, thoughtful narrative about the hardships and the emotions behind rediscovery. A lesson that nearly anybody can (and rightfully should) appreciate.
I value its ability to handle a tough setup while simultaneously creating a remarkable anime in the process. If for nothing else, it deserves unabashed praise for this trait alone. I have given that today, and I hope that it continues to receive more praise from others down the line forevermore.
Koi wa Ameagari no You ni runs to the top and writes down a wonderful story. A powerful artistic vision, a couple of nuanced leading characters, and clear royalty in its audio-related offerings give it the winning prize. All wrapped within a strong thematic presence, insightful thoughts on life, and a skilled handling of an almost impossible subject. “It’s always calmest before the storm” – and apparently after the rain, too.
Story: Good, a meaningful theme on rediscovery, structured writing, and important storybeats create a touching drama, even if the homestretch leaves a bit to be desired
Art & Animation: Great, awesome designs, a purposeful shoujo style, and one of the best examples for showcasing the power behind visual storytelling place the artistic direction on that coveted elite level
Characters: Great, in sharing a unique relationship, Akira and Mr. Kondou learn and grow thanks to one another, individually rekindling their respective passions and morphing their worldviews towards positivity on their intertwined journeys
Music & Sound: Great, a delightful OP, a captivating OST, and stellar VA performances each kneel before the amazing jewel of an ED
Enjoyment: Great, a distinct maturity upholds the platitude, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”
Final Score: 9/10
Thanks for taking the time to read my review.
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