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Orange
by Chikage_Shampoo




Number of Episodes: 13

Summary

Ten years later, five friends open the time capsule they buried in high school. Most of the letters inside speak of the writer’s dreams—what they want to be when they grow up, the person they want to marry. There’s one letter whose writer isn’t there. It’s Kakeru’s.

The time capsule, ten years later.

The six protagonists.

In the present, 16-year-old Naho Takamiya receives a letter from her future self. The letter describes everything that happens to Naho that day, with some other thoughts in between. Future Naho informs her past self that Kakeru, the boy she loved, is no longer alive ten years later. She asks her to take care of him, and to do some things differently so she doesn’t harbor so much regret later on.

As her future self looks backwards, the past moves onwards.

“Highly recommended.”

Storyline and Characters

Naho and Kakeru.

This won’t be a feel-good romance.

Orange’s strength is its pacing, the way it gently unfolds the storyline like a good, long novel. The series doesn’t rely on cliffhangers or anything overly dramatic to keep the viewer interested. Instead, it introduces its premise during the very first episode and gradually reveals how Naho’s predicament is so bittersweet. Viewers will probably predict the ending a few episodes before the series’s finale, maybe even have an inkling at the very beginning, but there’s still an ounce of uncertainty that makes you stay and watch. It’s not just “Will they or won’t they?” but rather: “Knowing the end, will it still?” This caveat removes much of the saccharine, boy-meets-girl quality that marks many a romance. The series simply becomes more and more enrapturing as it slowly flows toward the end.

The happy times we don’t want to change.

The future is still beautiful, no matter what happens.

The themes in Orange have been explored many times, in many different books and movies, but Orange executes them wonderfully. For instance, how is the past (future) affected when the future (past) intervenes? Do you make the same life decisions even when you know what’s going to happen? And most importantly, can you change your future? There are other shows that touch much more on the many philosophical implications of time travel and how it can be achieved, for example, but these are not the focus in Orange. The one bit of science fiction is explained in passing and should simply be taken with a grain of salt. And, of course, many philosophical implications are there—I’ve just mentioned some of the related questions—but the series embraces a certain set of interpretations, mentions some alternatives briefly, and runs with it.

Getting teased.

Blushing anyway.

Instead, the focus of Orange is regret—learning how to live with it, learning how to live without it. Taking this into consideration, time travel is used to juxtapose the two scenarios, represented respectively by the future and the past. Naho is the perfect character for such an exploration. Her high school self is an incredibly sweet but shy girl, loath to be a burden on others and never expressing her opinion, especially if it conflicts with someone else’s. Because of her personality, she isn’t assertive, and it’s highly doubtful she would ever speak up if not for the nuggets of advice contained within the letters.

The link between future and past.

Changing her future.

Thanks to the letters, present Naho is different. Like a mature and insistent best friend, future Naho pushes her towards certain decisions. Since most of them involve asserting her opinion, Naho is still shy while following the letters’ advice, but she tries her best. Some of her future changes. If it were just that, Naho following future Naho’s instructions, it wouldn’t really be character development. Naho’s a better person for it, yes, but in the end she’s not really growing, just doing what she’s told by another person. Even if it’s her future self, and even if the consequences changes for the better. But little by little, she does develop as a person. By the end of the series, Naho begins to assert herself, not only for her future self but also for her present.

Group huddle.

Bonding through baked treats.

Another key difference is that Naho is not the only character involved. Her dynamic with Kakeru wouldn’t be the same without their other friends, who grow and experience life with them. Hiroto Suwa is a protective bear, serving as the main support character of the group. Saku Hagita serves as comedy relief, an intelligent guy who makes awkwardly awesome comments. Takako Chino is the quintessential cool girl, tough but caring about her friends more than anyone else. And the always cheerful and outgoing Azusa Murasaka always tries to back up her friends, especially her best gal pals. All of them support and complement each other. Remove any one of these folks, no matter how fleetingly they appear in the anime, and the series just wouldn’t be the same. Many of the key points in the anime happen precisely because of the other protagonists’ interjections.

Azusa and Chino, looking out for Naho.

Everyone working together.

The other five friends—Naho, Suwa, Hagita, Chino, and Azusa—thus serve as the main, active characters of the series. Because of its storyline, Orange emphasizes other people’s reactions to Kakeru rather than Kakeru himself, making it feel for the most part as if he was on the sidelines—part of, rather than participating in and changing, the story. This subtlety helped to elevate the theme of being trapped in the past: Naho and Kakeru can never break free until, well, they’ve passed the date at the end of the letters—whether it’s good or bad.

Animation and Music

The art style in Orange is more realistic. The anime focuses on the nuances of facial expression, which propels much of the characterization and thus storyline. Combinations of blushes and smiles or frowns convey the spectrum of embarrassment, guilt, energy, and happiness. This depth of emotion is supported by both subdued and bright colors, which help to augment the hopeful and bittersweet tone of this anime.

There are also beautiful backgrounds.

The expression conveys so much.

I also love the anime’s music, which features mellow and sad instrumentals to convey the mood at the appropriate scenes. There’s a lot of piano and flute, with some strings in between. I can’t say it’s my absolute favorite soundtrack—that title still belongs to AIR’s—but it's definitely one of the more memorable ones that I’ve heard in a while.

Conclusion

I won’t hesitate to say that Orange is one of the most beautiful anime I’ve ever seen. Everything from the visuals to the music all combine together into a coherent whole that meshes with your heartstrings. I’m quite impressed by the amount of character development the animators have managed to fit into just 13 episodes, a restriction that often makes anime choppy and overly fast-paced. Definitely highly recommended.

Rating: 9.5/10

If you liked this, you might also like: anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day, Kimi ni Todoke









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Published on: 2016-09-25 (1418 reads)

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