After the Rain: Visual Subtext and Flowers

I mostly made this post because Keiko made a damn good interpretation post of her own. She compared the characters of the anime to the ones in Rashomon by Akutagawa. Funny enough, the anime brought it up themselves and actually discussed the story in great detail. I have to step up, and use my strengths to post an analysis about the anime too.

Now, for me, an anime viewer and animation enthusiast, visual storytelling is my jam. I always believe that the most powerful tool of an anime is the ability to tell a story through its visual. After the Rain is a very elaborate anime. I do believe nothing is done by random and nothing is out of place. There is always meaning in the sequence of events that transpire in the show. For me, visual subtext is the most beautiful way of conveying a story through animation. A simple gesture, a flash of an image or any other visual cue holds a lot of weight. For example, the umbrellas suddenly fell to the floor. The umbrella belonging to Tachibana fell over Kondo’s.

The following scene, the two of them hugged. It was Kondo that hugged Tachibana BUT why did her umbrella fell over his? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Or maybe that’s some wonderful beautiful subtext at work. The umbrella closed the distance between them and Tachibana’s fell over Kondo’s. The way it looks, it implies that Kondo is pinned. As the hugging scene elaborates, trapped in a room, Kondo had no choice but to answer Tachibana’s feelings with a hug. In a sense, Tachibana made progress and it’s delivered through visual subtext.

The funny part about this anime is that the dialogue goes the other direction. Any hopeful moment is skewered by some damning dialogue. I do believe it’s on purpose, since the anime wants you to be engaged at everything happening in the show. As a sucker for visual subtext, let’s explore the messages of the flowers. Since the first mention of Tachibana’s favorite flower, I kinda immediately picked up on the subtext of the flowers and their implied language. Throughout the series, a bunch of flowers is often randomly used as a transition device. They’re not the main transition image of an anime, but they often just pop up randomly. Or do they? For a show this elaborate, are the flowers just random images? I think not.

For this post, I’ll explore the subtext of the flowers and how they affect the show. I won’t be doing this alone, since Keiko will be here to dispute my, admittedly, baseless interpretations. Since we both have differing opinions on the anime, and the anime entertaining to both of them, I figured her side should also be explored. Her texts are done in blue, because she’s edgy. Just a heads up though, I’m not sure if I caught all the flowers that appeared so far. Feel free to give your thoughts on this elaborate anime as well.

Hi guys! Err yeah so I’ll be piping in every now and then with what I think. Though TPAB has done a really good job on this!

OK, so the first flower is the pink gerbera. During a conversation about their favorite things, Tachibana replied with the pink gerbera flower. This stood out to me, because the other girl was responding with food and the other favorite things were mostly girly stuff like sandals and handbags. The flower is out of place, or that it stood out. Being her favorite flower, you can make the argument that the subtext of the flower relates to Tachibana herself. Now, Gerbera daisies mostly mean “innocence, purity, and cheerfulness”. I think that this does describe her perfectly, since these terms can also sum up as “youthfulness”, which she has plenty of. The flower does re-appear in a more telling scene though, in here:

This is where she confessed to Kondo, and his reaction made her laugh. Before this, he explained that he is an “empty middle aged boy” and this is the reason why they couldn’t be together. She responded with a laugh, and the pink gerberas appear highlighting her “innocence, purity, and cheerfulness” basically not understanding the seriousness of his words.

I agree with you here, that the gerbera did stand out. Compared to the other objects mentioned, it was the only natural one (note the others were all food or man-made objects). The meaning of the flower does resemble Tachibana’s personality this early on in the anime. She is pretty much an innocent girl who is cheerful, at least most of the time, though cheerful would not be the first work I’d use to describe her.

Oh yeah, it did appear again when she confessed. Well, it makes sense for her to laugh, because he just called himself a “boy”, something he hadn’t done before nor does he do that again. It’s telling that at that moment, Kondo was swept away by her youth as well. So, having the flowers appear here, is more a symbol of the youthful innocence than anything. Also, I agree with you, that Tachibana’s response, her laugh, did suggest she didn’t understand what he meant or the weight of it which does hint at her innocence and purity; that she’s still naïve.

The second flower to appear in the show is Hydrangeas. In episode three, Tachibana confessed to Kondo while she was walking in the rain. It was after the heartbreaking scene of seeing her clubmates run while she is confined to a chair. We discover her career ending injury, and she left the club in a hurry. She immediately went to Kondo and confessed. During Kondo’s drive, he began contemplating about what happened. This is where the Hydrangeas appear:

This flower has a wide range of meanings with vastly different ideas. It’s a symbol of vanity. It’s a symbol of “heartfelt emotions”. It’s a symbol of gratefulness and humbleness. And for some reason, it can also mean heartlessness. Given the context of the scene, Kondo contemplating on Tachibana’s confession, I think the Hydrangea was there to emphasize his position on the matter. Hydrangeas can also mean “apology and gratitude”, especially in the culture of Japan, so the flower language is basically telling us that Kondo cannot accept her love. His reason is that “he doesn’t deserve it”. Yeah, sure.

Isn’t it interesting that the scene switches to the Hydrangeas as Kondo starts quoting Rashomon? (You knew I’d mention that didn’t you?) It’s interesting that the Hydrangeas can be interpreted in so many ways that don’t necessarily work together. So you took the flower to mean “apology and gratitude” which makes a lot of sense. With the way Kondo is, this seems like something he would think. But why switch to the Hydrangeas just as Kondo starts quoting Rashomon? What have they got to do with the rain on Suzaku Avenue? I’ll just leave the question here for everyone to think about because I have no answer to this. There’s probably a reason for this and if I wasn’t in a lazy mood I’d try to give some reason but I honestly can’t think of any right now.

After this, the white lily appears. During episode five, when Tachibana visits Kondo’s apartment with his son, we got a chance to see Kondo’s state of mind. The books he read, the life he lives and the elegant library that he keeps. It’s all telling visual subtexts, but the flower appears when Tachibana expresses that she wanted to know more about Kondo. While walking in the rain, Tachibana’s declaration seems to have an impact on Kondo and the flower sets up the scene. The flower is often a symbol of “purity and innocence”, and it’s telling that Kondo actually responded to the same qualities in Tachibana’s confession. But, I’ll put my aluminum hat on and actually claim that the white lily also symbolizes “rebirth”, and it might foreshadow the slow growth of the pair’s relationship. I’m sure Keiko will dispute this.

You’re right on the money there; I’m going to dispute that last claim. 😛 White has always been a colour associated with purity and innocence so for the lily to also signify that isn’t all the surprising. Considering the request Tachibana made, it was an innocent one, albeit one that can have ulterior motives but in this case, Tachibana really just wanted to get to know that man she supposedly loves. So I agree with you on that bit. But please tell me where in the earth rebirth comes into this? I’m not sure if lilies actually signify rebirth, but I do know that they are used at funerals because they symbolize the soul of the departed being restored to its innocence. It becomes clear that Tachibana’s attraction to Kondo does have an effect on him in that he becomes nostalgic of his own youth, something that begins to surface as the anime goes on. It wouldn’t be too out there to suggest that maybe through his interactions with Tachibana, and her getting to know him better, forcing him to open up a little to her, he is able to regain a small glimpse of the experience of that lost innocence. Of course he isn’t going to get that innocence back but he can remember it through Tachibana. Well, that’s what I think anyways. But seriously, does the flower actually mean rebirth? Because that would be ironic!

The next flower to appear is the sunflower in episode six. This is the episode where we discovered that Tachibana really loved running, and she actually got her friend to love it as well. It also gives us the scene of Tachibana worsening her injury. The sunflower randomly appears while Tachibana is on her way to work. Before this, the scene features her friend looking sadly at a picture of them in her room. Given the episodes flashbacks, the sunflower could basically sum up the friendship between the two. The flower symbolizes “loyalty and strong bonds between two people, as represented by the strong and upright stem”. Subtexts basically tell us that their friendship is strong, and they’ll eventually reunite. I believe, as of episode eight, this proves to be true. I personally find this particular subtext quite beautiful, but also because the sunflower’s symbol is easy to interpret, lol.

I completely agree with you on this one. Their friendship may have been rocky at this stage in the anime but it does seem to be healing so their friendship is still going strong.

The last flower to appear, as of the eighth episode, is the crepe myrtle. This gawd damn flower took me an hour and a reverse photo search to actually find. It’s not a common flower, so I had zero idea on how to search it. Anyways, the crepe myrtle appeared during the last minutes of episode eight. Before this, Tachibana and Kondo talked about Rashomon. Kondo also claimed that Tachibana’s pimples represent her youth, and he, himself, can no longer get them. The crepe myrtle flower then appears, and we see Kondo has a pimple before the credit rolls. This flower feels like a red herring to me, but it also feels like a smart foreshadowing. The flower symbolizes “simple and uncomplicated love” as it relates to the goddess of love, Venus. The flower might be a troll though, since it is commonly tied with “marital love”. I don’t think that suits the story, but the flower is generally tied with love and prosperity. This comes after the show emphasized that there is still youth in Kondo. I can’t wait for Keiko to refute this.

Ahh this last flower is a funny one. Okay so, the flower symbolizing “simple and uncomplicated love” can work with the show because it doesn’t define the type of love the flower symbolizes. In this sense, Kondo and Tachibana can share an understanding of one another which can be seen as a simply sort of love with no romance or ugly feelings attached. Though I’m not sure whether that will ever happen.

Yes, this flower is associated with Venus but Venus is the goddess of physical love. (Ignore this next bit unless you guys want some boring connections). If I remember correctly, in Chaucer’s The Knight’s Tale, in the third section where the temples are described, Venus’ temple isn’t something that’s filled with joy and happiness. Rather the paintings included Narcissus, King Solomon and other lovers who hardly had the best ending. Plus, Adonis, the one Venus fell in love with, refused her. So yeah, the flowers association with Venus, though can be related to love, it’s a love that’s more destructive and has no happy ending than one that bares fruition. Okay I’m done with Venus now! (I feel like I went off on a tangent, sorry!)

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The “marital love” bit does seem out of place but since it is tied with Venus, it was used in bridal bouquets back in the day (note that they weren’t used in the bridal crown because Juno wasn’t going to allow Venus to step forth in his vicinity lol). So I’m going to ignore that meaning. Love and prosperity is something I can see. It’s a more hopeful outlook which doesn’t necessarily tie these two characters together. Kondo and Tachibana can both find love and prosperity; it doesn’t have to be together. But yeah, this flower, with its meaning, just feels kind of an odd one which makes it all the more interesting.

As I mentioned to Keiko, the flower language is slowly escalating. It’s getting intense as the show progresses. From innocence, to purity, to uncomplicated love, I’d like to believe that the romance is gradually progressing as well. Now, I absolutely have no proof of this, and people that read the manga might actually be laughing at me, but I trust what the visuals show me. So if you do think the love train of Tachibana and Kondo is real then #ridethetrain.

Thank you for reading! What are your thoughts on the show so far?

10 thoughts on “After the Rain: Visual Subtext and Flowers

  1. This is such an excellent post! I’m also someone who enjoys visual storytelling SO much. I just love cinematography in pretty much all spectrum of media. One of my favourite parts about this series is how revealing it is through the animation and what is being shown rather than what is being said. The symbolism is absolutely breathtaking. It really reminds of Japanese literature, which also tends to show the reader emotions through surroundings and writing style rather than narration and dialogue.

    • yeah, visual storytelling is really the best part of any medium for me, and I love directors and animators that take advantage of it to create really captivating works.
      thanks for the comment 🙂

  2. With all the apparent emphasis the show gives on flowers, you’d think that the “-bana (花, flower)” in “Tachibana (立花)” would use the kanji for flower when written — but, the author opted for an alternative writing of her surname (橘, also “Tachibana”). I found this one a bit interesting because, phonetically, her whole name would translate (more or less) as something like “flower that stands (tachibana) and a light after a rain (akira)”. Maybe the author thought it’d be too much on the nose of they did so?

    I’m with Keiko in that, I wouldn’t really call the still budding relationship between Tachibana and Kondo a “rebirth” (as, rebirth would insinuate that something was already there) though I could see a theme of rebirth in their respective lives in relation to one another; with both of them finding respite by being with each other after what they’ve been through with their respective careers.

    >“simple and uncomplicated love”
    If we take “love” here as love *for* someone and not love *between* two people (as there is a difference), then the imagery does work somewhat if we relate ‘simple and uncomplicated’ with ‘youth’ — thus possibly making the significance of the flower more a show of innocent naivete; which in turn makes the thought of “marital love” being put on display as intentional irony on the part of the director.

    • damn you and your ability to read japanese. but that name stuff is interesting. do the same for kondo now, let’s see what his name is hiding.

      and yeah, the simple and uncomplicated flower is too much of a troll. it’s really ambigious, given its placement in the episode.

      • haha, funny you mention that, because although his name wouldn’t translate into something as sound, his surname does contain the kanji for “Wisteria”. What does that mean in flower language?

        • omg, i love that flower. In jasp culture, according to google, it means devotion but it commonly births, lol.
          there’s this one though: “Celebrating the youthful vitality of a young friend or child” which is too on the nose, lol

  3. Aww, flower language is so lovely 🙂 (This post, has got me really interested in this anime now).

    I use a lot of flower language in my art, so this was really insightful. I never thought so many different flowers would have meaning. I’ve only really stuck to flowers with commonly known meanings. But now I want to do some flower research and expand my flowery knowledge. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing. 🙂 I really want make some hardcore flower art now hehe 😀

    • I adore flower language too, since you can say so much from the flowers you give someone. But tbh, I only learned it after seeing a bunch of people give flowers to each other.
      I actually laughed once when a guy proposed with a sunflower, since the flower is mostly platonic. haha

      ooh~ I love your art, so I can’t wait!!!

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