By Jun Mayuzuki. Released in Japan as “Koi wa Ameagari no You ni” in two separate volumes by Shogakukan, serialized in the magazine Big Comic Spirits. Released in North America by Vertical Comics. Translated by Jocelyne Allen.
The third omnibus of this series shows off a few of the characters beginning to realize that Akira’s love for Kondo is not just some easily swayed crush, and that they may need to take it seriously. This includes the smarmy chef who’s been hitting on her, who it turns out is a lot less smarmy when he’s around his sister. They run into our lead “couple” and Kondo’s kid and go on a sort of double date from hell, featuring the dorkiest sweatshirt ever, a lot of phallic plants with no symbolism intended at all no sirree, and Tamako, the sister, who is a LOT in a series that’s driven by introverts most of the time. It also has an odd moment where Kase tells Akira that she is the sort to “bend towards the light”, like plants, implying a depth that she hadn’t seen before but which we don’t really get deeper into because, well, sister.
That said, the most interesting part of this book is that Akira’s tortured feelings about Kondo take a back seat to Akira’s tortured feelings about track. I had assumed, and the text implied up until now, that Akira’s injury was very much the “career ending” sort of injury. But no, with physical therapy, she could easily regain her powerful running ways. She just ISN’T. And this is annoying not just Haruka but also a lot of her fans, including one very angry underclassman who I’m pretty sure we’ll see again. Akira loves working at the restaurant so she can be around Kondo, but is that really all a girl like her wants to do? And how can she run after her perpetually forgetful boss with a bum leg? Akira’s issues are not just related to love, there’s more going on here.
As usual with this series, there are a number of gorgeous scenes with people simply staring at each other, and I admit that as much as I like the story of After the Rain, I wonder sometimes how it would read without any dialogue at all. I’m not sure it could tell everything in silence, but I think the majority of it could be implied. And honestly, when you finish the book and then go back to look at your favorite facial expressions, that’s a good book. We’re over halfway through the series now, and I’m still not entirely sure where it’s going, but it’s become clear that the story is not just about Akira and Kondo but about Akira maturing… or not maturing, as there are several points in this book where, as with previous volumes, she throws a bit of a tantrum when reality gets in her way.
I had fallen behind on this series, so the 4th volume is out very soon. It will be interesting to see where it goes. We saw Haruka meeting Kondo towards the end of the book, and I wonder how close the ‘love story’ and ‘track injury’ subplots are going to come. In any case, keep reading this very pretty series.