Arashi no Ato -After the Storm- by Hidaka Shouko is a sequel of sorts to Signal, by the same author. However, this time the story is about the really interesting and seemingly obnoxious character we caught only a glimpse of before; the president of an interior design company, and friend of the previous main characters, Sakaki Masahiko.
We would always like to think that we have control over ourselves, especially when it comes to our feelings. Of course, most of the times things don’t turn out exactly the way we want them to in that area. There are also those occasions when a conviction takes form on its own, completely ignoring the conscious mind, and you can find yourself wondering if there isn’t someone else sharing your inner boat. It can be a surprising, refreshing, or even dazzling feeling, to find oneself attracted to someone you are not supposed to; it can be a really bothersome issue too…which is exactly our the case for Sakaki.
Self-centered, prudent and down-to-earth Sakaki finds his peaceful days wrecked by an inner storm when he gets completely attracted to, who he considers the forbidden, a straight man. Well, it doesn’t come as a surprise when Okada Kazuki, a dark haired stylish beauty, calls his attention in their first meeting; Okada is truly a jewel in the crowd, and Sakaki is very appreciative of a well-groomed man. Besides, just watching can’t do any harm…right. That’s true unless you have to keep meeting that person and working together for weeks. More to Sakaki’s pain, even if he tries to avoid Okada, the man has an unusual interest in him. It seems to be the sort of professional admiration that can turn into a good friendship. However, Sakaki recognizes some signs that might say otherwise and, even if there seems to be some hope, he is sure that’s just a delusion on his part. Could he be mistaken?
Arashi no Ato is a special boys’ love manga; even if the story is not uncommon, it was presented in a very different way that made it outstanding. It gives a calm feeling, soothingly pleasant maybe, that makes you love it by its simplicity. It’s a combination of interesting and veritable characters, nice art-style and, mainly, a natural flow of actions; the story draws you in while the background plot adds dept to that feeling. After all, we see both characters working, in a major interior designing project, not as a simple excuse for sex behind the scene. Far from that, this is such a well developed setting that it transformed this manga into a slice of life.
Speaking of the characters, Arashi no Ato is mostly focused on Sakaki and the sequel/extra Double Line is more about Okada. Both of them turned out to be pretty appealing men. There is much more to Sakaki’s coldness and principles than just prudence, after all, he has been in the same situation before and can’t take the excruciating pain of liking someone he can’t have anymore. Sakaki wants to get away from it as fast as he can, hoping for the storm to subdue. However, it will not be that easy.
Okada won’t take such a harsh rejection without giving a piece of his mind back. He is a bit of a free spirit, in the sense that he likes to do things as he feels them, without thinking too much. Okada isn’t what he looks like at all but, somehow, he manages to maintain sort of a distant beauty. Surprisingly, he is not simply a laid-back man and Double Line gives us a better view about his interesting traits. In the end, Sakaki’s personality is intense but prudent, Okada’s is relaxed but upfront; talk about complementing contradictions.
Hidaka Shoko’s art-style is another good point for this manga. Her characters look beautiful and the clothes are stylish, along with nice body proportions and some detailed backgrounds, everything looks great. The colored art and inserts are treats to the eye too. Now, she is not very explicit in her sex scenes, however she manages to make the few we can see pretty erotic. An interesting detail was Sakaki changing glasses along the story, adding even more allure to this sexy character.
I fell in love with this title since the moment I saw its great cover. Their expressions, their calm and composed moods, the expensive sofa from Sakaki’s store, the cigarette that makes Okada look so sexy and the clothes that are pretty much the great style along the whole manga. All of it sums to perfection. Top that with their linked hands and there you have it: stylish, sexy, beautiful and subtle but intense romance; Arashi no Ato in a nutshell.
If you feel it’s not enough with the manga, there is also a drama CD and the booklet has a small extra for the story. Morikawa Toshiyuki and Nakamura Yuuichi did a pretty nice job with the characters’ voices. More? another short story called Shopping came out in the anthology Gokujou Megane Danshi (yes! more glasses!)
Original artwork and story from Hidaka Shouko. Fan art by bouenkyou. Published in Japan by Houbunsha.