There’s nothing quite like a perfectly epic romantic ballad. Back in middle school, I remember my sister would write out her favorite sentimental lyrics everywhere she could. Sheets of paper, covers of notebooks, even on her shoes. I realized very quickly that there was just something relaxing about scribing out those dreamy words, and I soon picked up the same practice. To this day I still find old spiralbound notebooks with their covers filled top to bottom with our favorite lyrics of the time!
I’m not sure if it’s a Japanese practice to scrawl out lyrics everywhere, but they definitely appreciate a good lovey-dovey ditty, because today’s Tuesday Tunes feature is raking in the sales for CD singles this past week!
Before we get into today’s song, we need to establish where it came from. Koi wa Ameagari no You ni or After the Rain is an anime adapted from the manga of the same name. It follows Tachibana Akira, a seventeen-year-old track and field star who, due to a tragic injury, is no longer able to run like she could. One rainy day, she finds herself waiting out the storm in a cafe when the forty-five-year-old owner, Kondo Masami, offers his own brand of sweet and silly service, prompting Akira’s immediate interest and subsequent growing crush on him.
Of course, what makes Koi wa Ameagari no You ni particularly intriguing is the massive age gap between the protagonist and her love interest–twenty-eight-years, to be exact. While Akira is a junior in high school, Kondo is a divorcee with a son who runs a successful cafe.
Koi‘s author is aware of the attached taboo’s to this love story and works to firmly humanize both Akira and Kondo’s characters in such a way that, as a viewer, you become more and more comfortable with the age gap. But really, a twenty-eight year age gap?
In the end, while this series has a lot to offer–great animation, being one–I have my qualms about the story and its characters. Akira has everything she’s passionate about ripped from her. She, after a severe ankle injury, is going through multiple surgeries and doctor’s visits, and her primary means of coping with stress, running, has been taken away. She is in a deep depression. Cue Kondo, who she runs into at his cafe that’s near her doctor’s clinic, who offers a little kindness, and she latches on.
As much as her affections are portrayed as genuine, Akira is really just a confused kid. There are attempts at establishing her character as mature for her age, which is then contrasted with Kondo’s silly, childlike humility, but that isn’t necessarily a bridge between two very different amounts of life experience. As we watch Akira’s fangirl-like love for Kondo, even involving things like smelling his shirt, all I can think is, “Yep, she’s a teenage girl.”
Akira’s total disregard for any sort of caution, conjoined with her very teen-like outbursts and obsession, very clearly establish her as a child. She is not a woman in love, she a little girl infatuated with an older man in an attempt to confront her feelings on a circumstance that she feels out of control on. She doesn’t want to address the possibility that she may never really run again, so she sets her mind and heart on something, or someone, new, and Kondo just-so-happened to pop in exactly when she needed that distraction.
I’m only four episodes into the anime so I have no idea where this story goes, but while I may not entirely agree on the characterizations present in the series, I definitely appreciate the music. Including in that is the ending theme, “Ref:rain”, a play on the repeating plot use of rainy days within the word “refrain”, an appropriate term for such a taboo tale.
You can read the English translation of the lyrics here, but the song basically flows from Akira’s point-of-view as she grapples with her feelings for Kondo. It’s a truly sad and romantic song, beautifully sung by Japanese artist Aimer, reflecting much of what you feel as you watch Koe wa Ameagari no You ni, including this hopeless feeling of, “Girl, it’s never going to work out.”
If I had been a little more mature, what could I have said?
This is a Japanese YouTube user 桿子 Drumstick’s drum cover of the song, and it’s awesome. The only full versions of “Ref:rain” that can be found on YouTube are either covers or drum covers, and this guy does a great drum cover while also not taking away from the original tune.
Enjoy, read the lyrics, tear up a little to the images. Dang it, I love sad music.