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.
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?
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.