Orange Review — A-

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A group of friends receive letters from their future selves and try to save a boy who committed suicide.

Orange was my favorite show of the season. Like a number of my favorite shows (Simoun, Haibane Renmei, Princess Tutu, Hourou Musuko, etc.) watching Orange is like listening to a prayer. Raging against the inevitable injustice of the world yet somehow clinging to the tiny, almost inconsequential hope that somehow somewhere maybe  things will almost turn out ok.

Orange is a show about high schoolers, but as an adult it hits a lot harder. It keeps coming again and again to the grown ups in the future, and how everything they thought was important no longer matters, how the things they thought were trivial ended up being life-altering events, and how all relationships are ultimately lost to time and distance and death. I can relate. Everyone wants to believe their romances and lives are fated, but in reality they are the result of a chain of coincidences that is easily broken. Yet despite all this they cling to the foolish hope that they can somehow make things better.

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Part of what makes the show so successful is its portrayal of the relationships within the friend group. This is some good stuff. No way in hell I would date Kakeru or Naho (yes, I would become gay for Suwa) but damn it I want Naho’s friends. What makes them seem so real is how the minor characters interact with each other. In most anime the side character friends only communicate with the main characters, and not between each other. In Orange the relationships they have among one another is equally important if not more so. And they don’t act the same towards everyone— they act differently towards different people depending on their relationships. For example, those two who always fight, so damn cute. I’ve been harping on how critical this is to immersion ever since I started this blog.

  • Storytelling – A – Thought provoking, well-paced.
  • Voice – A – Nothing quite like it.
  • Characters – A – Great relationships among the side cast.
  • Attention Grab – A – Kept me glued.
  • Production – C – Animation got way worse as time progressed…
  • Overall – A-

Recommendations – Hourou Musuko, Kokoro Connect, Asatte no Houkou

6 thoughts on “Orange Review — A-

  1. Except for the fact that teenagers don’t act like any of the incredibly supportive friends in this anime, yeah, sure, this was great. Oh, yeah, and I totally get why multiple guys would be fighting for the attention of the incredibly dynamic and compelling Naho.

    And the part about the letters from the future making it to the past via black holes? Pure storytelling gold.

    1. All that is true, but I don’t care. It’s not like I watch anime for the realism. If the author takes some liberties to make a more interesting story, I’m perfectly fine with that.

  2. The “we gotta save Kakeru by removing every tiny thorn from his path!” mission statement went on way too long for its own good. On top of not doing enough with the idea, it made it seem as if the only way to help people deal with depression is to obsessively coddle them. That’s a terrible idea and I was hoping there would be actual blowback from it.

    It had about one movies worth of ideas spread into 13 episodes. I think was around just after episode 7 that I lost interest since the series was going circles and the production was buckling at the knees. This series either needed to be ruthlessly edited down or have had more variety in its conflicts to consistently deliver.

    1. I do completely agree with you 100% that their way of dealing with depression is terrible and I was strongly hoping for some pushback as well. When Kakeru smiled at the end and said “You all saved me!!!” it made me want to barf. But I do think this question is implicit in the whole framing of the show, with the question of whether Suwa should give up all of his dreams to make Kakeru happy, which the two girls have been getting angry with him over. And it’s unclear if Naho just wants to go out with him out of pity (at least to Kakeru it should be if he has any brains…). I imagine the movie will go more into this…

      I actually liked how it was focused on just this one good conflict…

  3. Yeah, all that was said before. Naho is a blank slate and not only it is laughable she’d be the vertex of this love triangle, it is even more laughable that the series basically frames it as if it’s 90% her romantic love that ‘saves’ Kakeru. When she consistently shows that she really has not much to go for her – goddamn it, even with prescient information she manages to screw up THAT BADLY on New Year’s Eve night! So yeah. The circle of friends is fine (especially “the two who always fight”, as you put it), it’s the protagonists and the driving force they provide to the show that are sorely lacking imho.

    Another moment I hated was the relay. I was hoping it would end the realistic way – catastrophic loss whose fault was distributed evenly amongst them – and it would teach Kakeru to take more fun in the activity itself and the company of his friends and to feel less under pressure. It went the other way around, with friendship winning the day and somehow providing Kakeru with the strength to run and win a relay with his ankle sprained. No matter how I look at it, psychologically, this was typical shoujo manga tripe.

    1. I agree completely, the relay is dumb, Naho sucks, and the thing about her half-assed romantic love saving Kakeru made me want to barf. But I think it’s possible to read the show exactly that way (I have my doubts as to whether Kakeru has really been “saved” at all) and there is a fair amount of ambiguity here.

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