The story is centered around a cute android who initially had a happy life with her master who dearly loved her. But she was then struck by a series of misfortunes and ended up in a robot-equivalent of concentration camp. Through experiencing and witnessing the sufferings towards herself as well as the people/robots around her, she eventually gained a better appreciation of life.
Do note that this review will not go into exquisite detail about plot events or the growth and depth of the characters. Instead, my purpose here is to convey the tone and characteristics of this wonderful narrative in order to encourage you to read it.
If I had to use only a collection of individual words (rather than sentences and paragraphs) to describe this light novel they would be words like:
While Ame no Hi no Iris (aka: Iris on Rainy Days) is the first light novel that I have ever read, I must say that I am very impressed with it. Despite its relatively short length and moe main character it is a very well written story that is gripping and chock full of drama and suspense.
-- STORY --
The story's setting is in a world where robots and androids of various kinds are used by humans. Some robots are used to do hard labor, others for military combat, and others for personal use by civilians. Iris is a sentient android who lives with her creator, Wendy Von Umbrella, and serves as Wendy's maid to shop, cook, clean, etc. The two are very close and live an easygoing, peaceful life.
So at first glance, Iris on Rainy Days appears to be a cute and mellow slice of life series. But things certainly don't stay that way. Through a series of morbid twists and turns that I will not spoil here, the story, far from being some sort of naively innocent tale, develops into an intensely dramatic and ominous narrative. There are even a few scenes that can only be described as gruesome. The atmosphere of uncertainty as to how everything will be resolved will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.
-- CHARACTERS --
By far, the most prominent on characters are Iris, Lilith, and Volkov.
All three of them are sentient (Volkov to a less advanced extent). They explore the philosophical question of the meaning of their existence while trying to survive the horrific circumstances they find themselves in.
Volkov is a pure robot, rather than a human looking android with artificial skin like Iris and Lilith. Moreover, his speaking and thinking capacity are less advanced than theirs, and thus his speech is typically brief. Nevertheless, when he does speak it is spot on, concise, to the point, and sometimes even deep and profound.
Iris is kind yet can be timid and over-compliant. Through the hardships and tribulations she comes to value herself, others, and life itself. Most of the character introspection in this light novel is from her.
Lilith has some mild tsundere qualities, which might be either a plus or minus depending upon your preferences. Nevertheless, she shows herself to be an observant, resourceful, and loyal friend.
-- WRITING STYLE/VOCABULARY --
Iris on Rainy days is narrated primarily from the perspective of Iris. So as you would expect, the reader gets a lot of exposure to her inner thoughts and emotions.
The story has an easy to follow writing style that flows smoothly. It doesn't bog down the reader with hordes of perplexing words or ludicrous amounts of detail. So it is highly readable.
-- CONCLUSION --
In spite of this light novel''s cutesy cover art and short length, Iris on Rainy Days pulls a sleight of hand to take the reader on an intense roller coaster ride of suspense, drama, and the raising of existential questions along the way. Much like Madoka Magica's deceptively cute outward appearance, this story also turns the reader's expectation on its head. So give Iris on Rainy Days a try. You'll be glad that you did.
Iris on Rainy Days is, most prominently, a dark and engaging tale about loss and reclamation. Beyond the surface, Rainy Days is also lined with simplistic but meaningful symbolism. Make no mistakeーRainy Days is by no means light-hearted or faint-hearted. It does not pull its punches, and it doesn't dare suppress any of its views. Nothing is shoe-horned in to make the narrative more 'tasteful'. There is no hastily-constructed, poorly thought-out romance subplot or an extremely happy or extremely depressing ending appearing out of left field based only on the writer's whims. Everything that occurs throughout Rainy Days is purposeful; it works for everything it gets. Rainy Days does not content itself with mediocrity for even a secondーnot in its writing, not in its subject matter, and not in its execution. Rainy Days is light-hearted, meaningful, existential, depressing and downright cruel, but more than anything else, it is unrelentingly, unbudgingly truthful to the ideas and themes it wants to convey. Rainy Days is a story about the importance of connection, dealing with loss of connection, acceptance, and, finally, looking toward the future. Most importantly, this is a story about a female robot born on a rainy day, endeavouring.
Rainy Days kicks off with a light-hearted premise lacking almost entirely in despair, cruelty, and malice. All of that nasty stuff is mostly kept to the sidelines, with Iris largely being shielded from these harsh truths with the help of her caretaker. To be more precise, all of this unpleasant stuff happens only in the background, with Iris and Doctor Wendy Von Umbrella's relationship being the central focus. The tone and atmosphere are more than mildly ominous, especially with Iris's tragic fate fast-approaching, with the information we get from the prologue. It isn't long before tragedy strikes, and the narrative takes a much darker turn, enveloping the atmosphere and its titular character in existential despair. You couldn't have a narrative featuring self-aware robots without existentialism, now, could you? At its core, however, that isn't what Rainy Days is about. It isn't about the robots becoming self-awareーit's about what the robots and that theme of self-awareness represent. Everything in Rainy Days is beautifully symbolic. Taken another way, don't think of these robots as *literally* robots, because they are more than that. But that doesn't mean that Rainy Days doesn't shine without its symbolismーI thoroughly enjoyed the first read with all of it flying straight over my head.
The reason I appreciate Rainy Days so much is because of how powerful its simple symbolism is, but that isn't why I love it. Take away all the symbolism and what do you get? A highly enjoyable and gripping drama that delves deep into the psychology of its characters, treating every event with just the right amount of weight and placing great emphasis on the meaningful concluding revelations. However you want to read Iris on Rainy Days, it retains its enjoyability factor. It is peppered with several interesting and thought-provoking sub-themes throughout, adding further flavour to the novel's beautiful simplicity. The narrative itself flows beautifully from scene-to-scene with every development feeling purposeful, culminating in a satisfying, cathartic climax. Rainy Days is brilliantly pacedーit never feels like it's dragging its feet or rushing too far ahead. The writing itself is very fluid and has a certain spark to it. Light novels are commonly criticised for being poorly writtenーIris on Rainy Days does well to distance itself from this stigma. This is one of the most well-written light novels I've had the opportunity to read so far.
There isn't a whole lot I can say about the characters without spoiling the novel, so please forgive the simple, abstract definitions. Rainy Days is written from the first-person perspective of Iris, the sole protagonist of the novel. She ends up being one of the most well-written characters in the novel because of her strong characterisation and fantastic development. The way her character is explored through all of the trials and tribulations she confronts is masterful, and the revelations she comes to at pivotal moments throughout the novel are superbly written. The novel does an excellent job of fleshing out Iris's character, using every opportunity it gets to the fullest extent without obstructing the flow of the narrative.
Wendy Von Umbrella is another main character with strong characterisation, though her character ends up serving largely as development for Iris. The strength of her characterisation is gradually built up throughout the novel with details from her interactions here and there. She has a stronger personality than Iris, but she's beaten in terms of characterisation.
The next main cast member is Lilith Sunlight, who is introduced a bit later in the novel. She also serves as development for Iris like Wendy, but she is still a well-rounded character with her own solid development. Much like Wendy, she has a strong personality.
The only other character really worthy of mention is Volkov Galosh, who just barely manages to attain 'main character' status despite the lack of focus the novel devotes to him. Because of this, he isn't a particularly great character, but he does end up having some relatively strong characterisation and some decent development when the narrative does delegate some of its attention to Volkov. You can easily get behind these characters, though Volkov may be a tad irritating at first.
After a re-read, Iris on Rainy Days became my favourite ever light novel. I love how beautifully simplistic its themes and surrealism are, and I love getting to know more about these characters and watching them develop and learn more about themselves. To put it simply, Rainy Days speaks to me. It's just my kind of series, topped off with brilliant writing. It'd be easier to name what I didn't love about Iris on Rainy Days. And there was a single thing I disliked about this novelーVolkov. His character simply irritated me right from the start, though he does manage to redeem himself somewhat by the climax. That said, it isn't as if he's a hollow characterーhe's notーI simply didn't like him. He does well to pedal the novel's themes, if nothing else.
It may rain and pour and storm, but those days won't last forever. The sun is always thereーit's only obscured behind those despair-tinted rain clouds. There may be rainy days, but there will definitely be sunny days. Damp, wet and muddy, but sunny days.
But without an Umbrella, how can you shield yourself from the rain? That isn't so bad eitherーeven if you can't shield yourself from the rain, as long as you know the Sunlight is there, you can soften the blow and retain enough strength to keep yourself from eroding away completely. Even so, we are bound to rust and fall apart in the rain without any protection, becoming mere hollow shells of their former selves and being unable to see the whole picture clearly. But that's okay, because when the sun finally dawns on us, we will have the opportunity to reclaim some of what we've lost.
Iris on Rainy Days is a story about purpose, loss, adversity, and reclamation. It is simplistically surreal, incredibly gripping, darkly despair-ridden yet optimistically forward-looking, and above all, it is meaningful. The most important thing to remember is that life is made up of all kinds of days, tinted in all sorts of colours. Don't get bogged down in your rainy days and don't get caught up in your sunny daysーwhen it comes right down to it, they are only a part of a greater whole. Iris on Rainy Days does well to assure you that at least two things are certain in life: the rain will always pour, and the sun will always dawn.
Are you looking for a dark, dramatic and engrossing tale lined with an added layer of simplistic but meaningful symbolism? Do you value stories that have something meaningful to say as well as great characters? Are you a fan of a well-crafted, engaging atmosphere? Do you enjoy well-written narratives that deal with important, relatable hardships that we are all bound to face throughout our lives? By all means, I implore you to read Iris on Rainy Days. I believe this to be one of the best-written light novels of all time. I personally value this series more than Utsuro no Hako to Zero no Maria, Kamisu Reina, and Yahari Ore No Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru. There isn't a single doubt in my mind: Iris on Rainy Days has cemented itself as my favourite-ever light novel, and I sincerely hope that more people give this story a chance.read more