Love in Hell

Love in Hell is a timeless story of love, regret, and BDSM.

Rintaro Senkawa, a 27-year old NEET, accidentally dies after a night of excessive drinking. He wakes up buck naked in Hell, and is greeted by a petite devil girl named Koyori. She wears a leather bralette with matching short-shorts, and totes a huge spiked bat. Rintaro is her first assignment, and she is to guide him through this new world and experience. Being a rookie, many things are new for her as well.


In Hell, the predicaments that Rintaro encounters center on trying to learn how to navigate the economy there. This is necessary to earn money and virtue for entry into Heaven. There are amusing real-life parallels to how people pursue good deeds to atone for their wrongs, providing an accessibility and means to care about what happens to the lead characters. Naturally, being an ecchi, there’s also plenty of fanservice. There are the obligatory boob and butt shots, and bits of nudity here and there, but Love in Hell isn’t wholly dependent on appealing to our lower brains.

The drama isn’t laid on too thick, or prolonged more than necessary. Aside from some brief scenes with child abuse, the tone is mostly lighthearted. If I had to nitpick something, which is truly a nitpick because it barely qualifies as important, is that the romance may have evolved (or devolved) a bit quickly, but not quite to the point of feeling artificial. Besides, there may have been a reason for this pacing, which I won’t divulge here because it may be a spoiler.

Love in Hell marks a strong debut for artist and writer Suzumaru Reiji. It distinguishes itself from the standard work of this type with a rounded narrative, likable characters, and consistently sharp artwork with some impressively detailed backgrounds, and comically violent vignettes. At only 18 chapters/3 volumes, this is the kind of manga that you can easily pick up, chill and laugh with, and re-read when you need something to lighten your mood. I ended up buying the 488-page omnibus release from Seven Seas Entertainment. Sadly, I don’t see this manga mentioned much. It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for a fun and quick read.

Koi wa Ameagari no You ni

Adapted from the seinen manga by Jun Mayuzuki, After the Rain (Koi wa Ameagari no You ni) is a tender-hearted romance about a bold high school sophomore, Akira Tachibana, who develops strong feelings for the charming middle-aged manager, Masami Kondou, at the restaurant where she works.

A story that should’ve induced endless cringe was somehow realized into an uplifting slice of life. It certainly helps that Kondou, colorfully performed by the resonant Hiroaki Hirata, isn’t the one doing the pursuing. When Tachibana’s feelings for him become evident, he reacts responsibly. He’s fully aware of the ramifications of dating a teenager at his age, and is understandably resistant to the idea.

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Tachibana, voiced with a quiet sharpness by Sayumi Watabe, is surprisingly insistent when it comes to what she wants, though guarded enough to not share everything about herself. Her apparent coldness frustrates Haruka Kyan, an old track partner who longs to rekindle the close camaraderie that they once had. Tachibana, who was—and still is—an exceptional runner, opts out of competition due to an injury, and seems quite content with spending the bulk of her social time pursuing Kondou. She distances herself from Kyan, perhaps because they’ve grown apart, or because Kyan brings back memories that she wants to forget.

Initially, I didn’t quite understand why Tachibana would be attracted to someone as old as Kondou. It wasn’t until around the fifth episode, when we get a glimpse of Kondou’s personal life, that it started to make sense to me. Outside of work, Kondou lives a modest life as a bibliophile and single father. He’s a caring parent to his young son, Yuuto, and maintains a comfortable home when the two of them are together. Tachibana likely sensed this kindness from her time with him, and thus sought him as a refuge after losing motivation for most everything else.

Director Ayumu Watanabe, who also helmed the anime classic Space Brothers, brings an understated sophistication to the performances and atmosphere. After the Rain doesn’t fear placidity. Scenes often break from the commotion to dwell with the surroundings, which are typically dressed with a relaxing ambience and rain covered petals.

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The biggest negative for me was Ryousuke Kase, a character who appears in the fourth episode. In total contrast with Kondou, Kase has a lustful and self-serving interest in teenage girls. With near supernatural ability, he finds a way to interject himself into Tachibana’s life, and even gain leverage over her. Thankfully, the adapters realized that this character was about to break everything with contrived drama, and they quickly pushed him to the side; we don’t see much of him thereafter.

There was a moderate amount of what some academics have snidely deemed as “male gaze”, where the imagery is seemingly framed from a straight-male perspective. In the case of this anime, the camera occasionally gives the viewer an alluring close-up of Tachibana’s modelesque demeanor. Seeing as this is a seinen targeted to teen and adult males—or anyone who appreciates a nice story—some light fanservice should be expected. Personally, I felt that these visuals aptly supplemented the sexual undertones of the material.

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Animated with dazzling finesse by Wit Studio, After the Rain is a portrait of two people, initially separated by a generation, who are drawn together by intersecting circumstances. The overall emphasis, for better or worse, is more on the everyday character situations than on the romance. Ultimately, the story is an exploration of the efforts that we take to reconcile the loss of the things that we cherish—whether it’s an old friend, or the dreams that we strive for. If you’re looking for something sweet and innocuous with a dash of poetry, you may find satisfaction with After the Rain.