Review of Orange

orange

What would you do if Bermuda had an undersea post box that allowed senders to mail letters back to their past selves? I for one would warn the younger Otaku Judge not to waste forty quid on Duke Nukem Forever! Naho Takamiya, the protagonist of Orange, is however much less selfish. Using the powers of reverse chronological postage, she dispatches a message to a decade ago hoping that it will undo her life’s biggest regret. The plan is that her high school self will read the note and use its contents, which details future events, to avert the death of a close friend.

OVERVIEW

Based on the manga created by Ichigo Takano, Orange is a thirteen-episode anime, which is presently available to stream on Crunchyroll (should you be fortunate enough to live in a nation that they cater to.) The series begins with Naho receiving a letter, which seemingly foretells what is set to transpire in the upcoming days. Despite initially doubting the envelope’s claims, she is forced to accept its authenticity after several of the note’s predictions prove to be correct. Sadly the older Naho didn’t jot down winning lottery numbers to aid her past self with some extra scratch. The letter does however help teenage Naho win a softball game and encourages her to form a relationship with Tokyoite transfer student Kakeru Naruse.

Unfortunately it isn’t always easy to follow good advice, even when you know that the wise words come from someone who has ten years of hindsight. Shyness dissuades Naho from getting too close to Kakeru, which she soon laments after a fellow student asks him out on a date. Missing out on a potential boyfriend, who has a dreamy smile and is great at soccer, is the least of Naho’s concerns though. If what the letter says is true Kakeru is fated to die in a tragic accident. There’s only so much one girl can do, so to prevent disaster from striking Naho will have to rely on the aid of her closest confidants Suwa, Takako, Azusa and Hagita.

Hiroto Suwa is the kind-hearted jock that is willing to sacrifice his feelings for Naho in order to save Kakeru. He’s a true bro. From the aforementioned group Takako Chino gets the least screen time, but her Amazonian presence does at least come in handy for protecting Naho from bullies. Spunky Azusa Murasaka and bespectacled manga reader Saku Hagita provide the show’s comic relief by constantly bickering with each other. One of the funniest scenes has Hagita trying to emulate Suwa’s muscular torso by drawing fake abs on his gut. Why waste time at the gym when you can get identical results with a permanent marker?

VERDICT

My rating for Orange is a four out of five. It’s a great tasting citrus fruit packed with nutritious vitamin C. Um, I mean it’s a heart-warming anime that combines slice of life moments with cute romance. Even if the time travel elements were to be removed from the script, I would have still been entertained watching the cast hang out in class and competing at their school’s sport festival. The love story between Naho and Kakeru is sweet, although it did test my patience at times. Let’s just say that when it comes to matters of the heart Naho’s naivety rivals Sawako from Kimi ni Todoke.

Part of the reason for my high rating is that Orange reminds me of other stellar anime. A teenager using knowledge from the future to change things for better is reminiscent of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. I also got an Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day vibe from the series, as the story deals with a group of friends coming together to make peace with the loss of a childhood chum. I was also impressed by how the narrative highlighted the dangers of depression. Behind Kakeru’s forced smile is an individual struggling to cope with family grief. Orange shows its audience what a big impact having supportive friends can be for persons suffering with such issues. Never turn a blind eye to a buddy in need, or years from now you could be tormented by regret… just like me when I squandered money on that god-awful Gearbox console game.

25 thoughts on “Review of Orange

  1. Another good review, and very funny too! πŸ˜€ This series had a load of problems but it seems like the main theme resonated with you. I probably won’t get to my review of it for a bit, but your comparisons gave me something to think about.

    • Thanks for the kind words. It’s good to see that there’s someone out there who likes my corny jokes πŸ™‚ I enjoyed this series, although from browsing online it appears that other people have problems with it. The artwork could be better and the story slows down a bit around the midway point, but overall it worked for me. Maybe I am biased because I have a weakness for time travel stuff.

  2. I honestly enjoyed your jokes in this article. Not just Naho, but all of those blokes missed out on the chance to become Millionaires.

    Kidding aside, I enjoyed the way the show played around with the idea “what if you knew what would happen in the future?” Saying you’ll get a letter from the future is one thing, but is it really something you’d actually believe in? Orange even dabbled a little in the whole sci-fi of it all, questioning the repercussions of changing history (i.e. the butterfly effect) and the resulting paradox it creates (if they change the past, then there’s no need for their future selves to write the letters, so there’s no one to send them the letters in the first place). But interestingly, the show doesn’t get caught up in these details. In fact, it blatantly brushes the whole idea aside by indirectly saying “that’s just the way things work – btw, we sent your letters through the Bermuda triangle. Pretty neat, eh?”

    Naho provides many wonderful insights as to how being on the receiving end of such life-changing information can feel. Her struggles at coming to grips with her own insecurities feels sincere, and the way her actions affect Kakeru and the it affects her own emotions feel palpably real. I give further praise to how the show gave a very sensitive treatment on the topic of depression through Kakeru’s troubles; the alienating sense of self-loathing and the claustrophobic feeling of helplessness it creates. The shows greatest triumph is how it reconciles these themes through the camaraderie of its characters. Now if only the show wasn’t bogged down by mid-season key animation meltdowns and an overly dramatic musical score.

    What are your thoughts on the movie? I hear it’s going to depict the story from Suwa’s POV.

    • You would think someone would have written down lottery numbers or sport results to make their alter egos rich. Maybe they were concerned about wealth having unforeseen consequences, which would distract them from saving Kakeru?

      I knew there was a live action Orange movie, but have only just realized that an animated film is coming out soon. Usually I am not a fan of flicks that are just an abridged recount of the show. Getting the story from the most likable character’s perspective could be interesting though. The feature will also have an epilogue not shown in the manga or series, which is intriguing. I am curious to see how things turn out in the new timeline.

  3. When you mentioned the drawing abs on with permanent marker, I was oddly reminded of Ru Paul’s Drag Race – Seriously, they sometimes draw lines on themselves and gets amazing results!

    Not… That I’ve seen that show, you understand? Ahem. What-o!

  4. I enjoyed this series too. The premise is a tad far fetched – let’s send letters to ourselves in the past (I know Royal Mail is slow but come on….) – but the story had a lot of heart. The fact they chose to use this for an act of selflessness may seem twee but was refreshing, as the favoured route is for personal gain only.

    (spoiler ahead)

    However I did have a problem with Naho’s husband and the father of her child being happy to have his wife throw away their future (or present) to save someone by falling in love with someone else. There’s selfless then there’s just plain nonsensical.

    (end spoiler)

    But the cast where cute and personable, (although Naho’s constant bottling out every time she had to change the past got annoying) and they told the best story they could inside 12 episodes. So yes, a nice little series. πŸ™‚

    • Heh, in my original draft I actually made a joke about snail being so slow that it could end up in the past. Suwa doesn’t have a selfish bone in his body does he? I assume his future counterpart was working on the parallel world theory, which would mean that altering the past wouldn’t affect his existence.

  5. Now that you mention it, why the older Naho didn’t pull a Marty McFly and try and try and make her younger self rich is a surprise. Or maybe we Westerners are just that much more selfish, haha.

    Orange has proved surprisingly divisive, with some reviewers outright hating it. So it’s nice to read a more favourably review. I’m glad you enjoyed it πŸ™‚

    I absolutely agree with The Girl Who Leapt Through Time comparison and I’ll have to check out The Anohana: Flower We Saw That Day.

  6. That citrus fruit line got a solid chuckle out of me haha. Show had too many problems for me to enjoy it personally but I’m glad you got something out of it.

  7. I saw one episode of this but I didnt stick with it – awesome review though… I guess I prefer the actual citrus fruit πŸ˜›

  8. You know, this is a concept I do find interesting. And it’s available on CrunchyRoll? Hmmm….

    Also, you really bought Duke Nukem Forever new? I didn’t know anybody did that except as a joke.

    • Well, between this review and the show’s availability, I’ve taken a break from Ippo to start watching this. This seems like it could get emotional. It could make me feel. I just want you to know, if I produce any manly tears out of this, I’m holding you accountable.

  9. I’d use permanent marker for my abs but I eat too much food so they’re not there. It seems like an interesting concept, I’m pretty sure that if I could change my past I’m pretty sure that I might do too much and start tearing apart the fibres of the universe.

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