After the Rain, Vol. 2

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.

As you might imagine given the title of the series is After the Rain, it rains an awful lot in this manga. This not only creates an appropriate atmosphere, but allows both of its protagonists to come down with bad colds. This causes both Akira and Kondo to lose control of their emotions a bit, allowing suppressed feelings to boil over – nothing going beyond hugging, mind you. No one is quite ready for this relationship to advance that far yet. (Well, Akira may want it to – her fantasies when she’s in bed with a cold verge close to a masturbatory scene.) Plus both Akira and Kondo have things in their life they need to work out first. Akira is still trying to untie herself from her previous track team life, despite her friend Haruka insisting they can still be friends. And Kondo has a hidden side – he writes. But doesn’t want anyone to find out about it.

It’s no coincidence that both of these plotlines resemble each other – our leads are very much alike despite the age difference. Akira is determined to move on from her injury, but feels like the only way she can do that is by completely cutting out that part of her life. This naturally upsets Haruka, who is reduced to tears hearing Akira essentially deny everything they had. As for Kondo, seeing Akira recommend a book by his college friend Chihiro brings up old memories, and causes him to reunite with said friend and discuss their old literature club, which also apparently had his ex-wife in it. The reunion allows him to give advice to Akira on her fight, which is, essentially, “even if you do never speak again, this will not change the precious moments you once had with each other”. Which is good, if non-confrontational, advice – I’m sort of rooting for Haruka here.

We also meet Akira’s father in this volume (complete with a great “stop telling people I’m dead!” joke), which is good, because it shows us that her dad really isn’t much like Kondo at all. (So he’s not a replacement father figure, which I was fearing.) She’s also a lot more outgoing with her dad, sort of like the flashbacks of her and Haruka that we see before the accident. Like most high school kids, she’s ready to grow up and be taken seriously as an adult, and is frustrated by people who still want to treat her as a kid – not realizing that the reason they’re doing it so much is they know they don’t have much time left to pamper her. She’s almost an adult, but you want to stop time just so that you can still have her need you in the same way. It amounted to my favorite chapter in the book.

This story continues to be a sweet, slow burn, and my misgivings about the May-December romance have faded a bit. More to the point, I just like the writing of the characters. Even if the romance doesn’t happen, I want to see what happens next in their life anyway.

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