You wouldn’t know it from the title, but Orange doesn’t actually involve, or revolve around Oranges. Disappointing, I know. Orange is actually about romantic interests, depression, and of course most importantly, time travel. Well that’s a bit fallacious, as it’s very low-key, albeit central to the story told in Orange.
When I first started watching Orange I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into, other than the fact it was yet another high school based anime. Little did I know I was about to watch something so relatedness, and quite frankly beautiful. Sure it may come across as “cheesy” sometimes, but I can be a sucker for that kind of thing at times. So what is Orange all about then?Orange centers around Naho, an introverted girl who gets a letter from her future self for the sake of undoing past regrets.
Basically this is a story about changing the past, and the effects of doing so. You can expect high school things to happen. As well as teenage things. Friendship is also a thing. The art and animation are fine by me, although there is a noticeable drop in quality towards the middle. The sound track works, with both the OP and ED having an encouraging, with a hint of sad feel to them that works great for the show. All in all, Orange delivers in emotional build up, with a great cast of characters, you should totally go watch it.
Wait, that’s it? No, that’s not it. There’s too much to talk about in Orange, and you can’t really without spoiling things. So here we go again, this time with no restrictions. Spoilers aplenty below.
Orange doesn’t revolve solely around Naho. I mean, it revolves a lot around her but you could say that Orange is about Kakeru, and you wouldn’t be wrong. Actually, It’s not wrong at all. Orange is about saving Kakeru, this much is made plain and simple 1/3rd of the way in. Sure, there’s a love-triangle going on but that takes the back seat to the more important matter of suicidal depression.
Before I continue, I feel the need to touch upon Takako, Azusa, and Hagita because if I don’t do it now, I won’t at all. These three characters while not bad, are only here to support our main trio, and sometimes serve as mild comic relief (looking at you Hagita). They’re there, they exist, they do there jobs fine. Maybe I’m being unfair, but I’m moving on anyway.
Naho, and Kakeru. I have one word to say about them: Relatable. So relatable that as I watched Orange I couldn’t help but appreciate how well done the two of them were written.
Naho is a very quiet, timid girl. She’s a bit of an introvert, and while she has her group of friends, she still seems the type to keep to herself. Specially what with the Diary and all. These are all things I can relate to, and they definitely had a hand in pulling me into Orange. I have to say though, her timidness was definitely on a higher level than I ever was, it was easy for me to see where she’s coming from. From a third-party perspective, it’s easy to say to get frustrated at her, and think she’s stupid. But it really isn’t that she’s dumb, or that she’s clueless, she just has a hard time actually getting the words out.
For example, at the end of episode 4, Naho ends up wondering if her future self knows who Kakeru is interested in. As a third-party viewer, this was hilarious to me. I burst out laughing, I’m sure others did to, while others still might have face palmed. Here’s the thing though, when you’re the person with feelings for someone, and you’re as timid as Naho is. You can bet that you’re the last person that comes to mind when wondering who your crush is interested in. Admittedly, for me it was always a self-esteem thing, but I never got the impression that Naho has low self-esteem. And of course near the end, on the New Year’s episode where they all hang out, she know’s she and Kakeru get into a “fight,” but as it turns out she’s unable to avoid it not hardly being able to apologize after the fact. This last example though I blame primarily on Future Naho. Speaking of which…
Future Naho, if you’re going to send letters to the past for the sake of “erasing regrets” you’d better say what happens after and how EXACTLY the regret happened in the first place. While I get that maybe you want to be vague for the sake of letting things proceed in a more natural course, you were sometimes to vague about it. Naho, quite often managed to stay on the same path, just a bit differently. So “good job” with that.
Kakeru on the other hand, is depressed and suicidal. Well, that’s rather dark. Depression is pretty bad even when you don’t have a “good” reason for it. Kakeru’s depression? Devastating. Once again, his feelings are on a whole higher level than what I had. His situation is pretty horrible, and understandably he blames himself for it. It’s actually amazing, that he’s able to put on a smiling face, and pretend he’s fine at school. He’s bottling in all those mixed emotions, and as anyone will tell you, that is not healthy. He’s like a time bomb, waiting for one last tick, and when that tickcomes it’s a big one.
The Kakeru that did kill himself, was one that had very little support. He never made it known to his friends what he was going through, and when he did to his old friends, they passed it off as a joke. His old friends being the kind that get together for a good time, but are quick to run away from other people’s problems. While yes, this is unfair as we don’t even see them for a minute, but that’s also why I feel free to be unfair. They’re unimportant characters, with only one purpose. As it’s said, good friends are the ones that stick with you through thick and thin, bad ones are only there for the good.
Sadly, “future” Kakeru ended his life, and depression took yet another victim. But that doesn’t have to be the case again. This time around the group knows that, at the very least Kakeru dies, and that it was most likely by suicide. This time Kakeru who so desperately needs help, receives it. Words, of encouragement, shows of support, and simply talking about those bottled up feelings. It may all seem like small things at the time, but it all adds up and can really make a difference. The first half of episode 12 highlighting “future” Kakeru’s life leading up to his death, really hit home and struck a chord with me. When the music hit as he read his mother’s unsent text message, tears definitely welled up in my eyes. Beautifully done.
Finally we have Suwa. Who? Right I haven’t mentioned him yet. Basically he’s Batman, or a Saint, whichever one is better. Suwa very early in the series, realizes that Kakeru is interested in Naho, and then soon after realizes that the feeling between them is mutual. This is shown by Naho and Kakeru’s early interactions, with fast cuts to an observing Suwa with a dissatisfied, or worrying face. This ties in to the later reveal that he was aware of it in the future timeline. So how does this knowledge make him a hero saint? Well it doesn’t, it just means he’s observant.
In the future timeline, with the knowledge that Naho and Kakeru are interested in each other, he does nothing, and eventually ends up taking advantage of the fact that Naho and Kakeru had a “fight” to confess his feelings to her. This eventually leads to them getting married, and having a child together. After that fight, Kakeru had begun to distance himself from Naho, and possibly the others as his mentality continued to go down a dangerous path. This eventually lead to his suicide.
I’m not saying it’s Suwa’s fault he killed himself. Not at all. Nobody noticed Kakeru’s depression and suicidal tendencies as he hid them, and never sought help. In the future timeline, Suwa was being just like anyone else. A selfish opportunist. Wow, harsh. I thought I was calling him a saint? That’s just it though, it’s not like he meant to “steal” her away from Kakeru. He was comforting a dear friend the best he could, and it ended up working out for him. Like, it really worked out for him. Later he would learn how Kakeru died, feel regret over if as the rest of the group, and eventually come to write a letter to his past self which brings us back to the present timeline.
Suwa, armed with knowledge from the future transcends from a mere human to a saint, or Batman, whichever one is better. He undoubtedly puts together that to save Kakeru, he shouldn’t get together with Naho. He hesitantly supports the two, and takes his own feelings out of consideration. He does this knowing full well that, in the future he has a very real, virtually guaranteed life with Naho. He sacrifices his own happiness, for the sake of a friend’s life. After all, if you received a letter claiming to be from the future, that stated a good friend of yours died, and that you could change that, would you not try to save your friend doing everything that you can? Suwa sure as hell did. He didn’t try to compromise, by confessing at another time, while trying to keep Kakeru involved with Naho as they had been. He saw one path for himself, and he thrust himself upon it without looking back. No wonder this show is called Orange, Suwa has Orange hair, and he’s the hero. I sure wish I had a Suwa in my life back then.
In closing I’d like to address a few miscellaneous things.
First off, Time Travel. While I was hoping for some sort of explanation as to how the letters got back to the past, I REALLY wish we didn’t get one. Like wow, if that’s the best you can do then don’t bother please. I mean ok, sure. Maybe they all took a vacation near the Bermuda Triangle and threw their letters into the ocean like a message-in-a-bottle. Maybe they only had one person go with all the letters stuffed in a bottle. Who knows? They probaly wrote their addresses in English. I mean they teach English as a required course there, so why wouldn’t they know how to write their address in english? It’s a global language. Ok, so now their letters in a bottle travel back in time, stuck in a bottle in the Atlantic Ocean. Someone finds it, and actually sends the letters, and those letters arrive at the perfect time? That’s way to many assumptions and coincidences wrapped up in a bottle for me to forgive it. The explanation of how the letters got back to the past is Orange’s biggest sin, but fortunately it’s hardly important, and can be largely ignored. Removing the explanation would take away nothing from the story told to us.
Next up is the Morality, of changing the past. Well, that’s a loaded topic. We’ll start off with Suwa here. Suwa by not confessing to Naho, ends up giving up his future with her. This could mean he lives the rest of his life unhappily, or maybe not. Point is him not being with Naho, means their child will not come to existence. Would you consider this a trade of life? In episode 5 we’re given the multiple timelines theory, in which this show clearly operates on. With that fact in mind, I would not consider this a trade of life. Kakeru survives, Suwas child continues to live, no one died for the other. Even so, it’s not like Suwa and Naho can’t be a thing past the end of Orange, the future past that point is a complete mystery, as it very well should be.
Continuing with morality, the changes they made while relatively small, can become vast differences in the far future. Yes, I’m pulling the Butterfly Effect into the equation here. In the relay, it was originally the Blue team that won. Due to the letters, the Red team took the win in the altered timeline. Who knows, maybe the guy in the Blue Team takes the loss REALLY hard, and eventually it drives him into being a horrible dictator that’s responsible for the deaths of millions. I find that scenario unlikely, but who knows? I mean that could happen on the future timeline, too. We don’t know which one will be the better timeline. At the end of the day, it’s about saving a friend’s life.
Which for the future timeline, the group will never know if their scheme actually worked or not.
Finally, while that Last Episode was great, thanks to being extended and not a rushed not job the final outcome was delivered to us fantastically. Throughout the series, I was positive that at the end Kakeru would be saved, which he was, but Orange actually managed to make me doubt myself at the final moments before the reveal. Talk about playing with one’s emotions. The reconciliation between the group and Kakeru, with that fantastic track playing in the background was beautiful. Admittedly it takes a step back when they reveal to Kakeru that received letters from the future, but it manages to stay on the emotional high that was delivered directly before. I don’t care for the fact that they told him about the letters, specially since Kakeru doesn’t question it at all, but I guess it’s how they gave us a closure for the groups future selves. We could’ve done without it, but it doesn’t hurt the series… too much.
All in all, Orange was an adventure well worth taking. It could have done without the explanation, or the future bits for that matter. Well, the future bits besides Future Kakeru’s memories. But besides those two things, I have little to no qualms about it, as it delivers an emotional journey, with a great cast of characters. Orange delivers nothing short of a beautiful story. Here’s to Kakeru, may he forever smile in that alternate world.
You know, it doesn’t help when the name of the character whom I most relate to is spelled with the same kanji. At least it’s not the same pronunciation.