What thoughts would be running through your mind if you were given future messages from yourself 10 years from now stating that you could alter some events that could ultimately save someone’s life? Naho finds herself in this odd predicament when she receives a letter from her future-self 10 years from now that earnestly persuades her to do certain actions to ensure that a friend that will come into her life doesn’t commit suicide. For today’s Inkling Anime Review, I will be focusing on Orange.
While I don’t think the premise is original since many anime shows have centered around the concept of parallel universes to some capacity, I still found it to be fairly intriguing. Orange explores the idea in which people can subtly impact their own past lives, while most shows with similar themes had characters making more brusque and coercive methods. It made me think about how I would act around certain individuals if I had the complete foresight of knowing that they’d end up being someone who I’d share a very close bond with, or if I knew that they’re lives were possibly teetering on the brink of calamity. This anime also delved into the emotional state of regret; which is something that we might not feel initially during some moments in time, but might feel later on in life. Their are numerous scenes throughout Orange where we see adult versions of Naho and her companions sadly reminiscing about what they could have done differently in order to save a dear friend who was internally heartbroken and stricken with grief.
As for the animation, I feel like this was one aspect of Orange that was kind of a mixed-bag. While I do think that the backgrounds and character designs were nicely detailed overall, their were some visual aspects that I found to be distracting. The facial designs of some minor characters were slightly disproportionate, the movements appeared stiff and wonky, and it utilized a lot of still frames which kind of took away from my sense of immersion with what was going on. Another thing that annoyed me were the parts where Naho and her friends read the letters. The text appeared on the screen for very brief intervals, which forced me to pause quite a bit throughout the show in order to fully gauge a clear understanding of what was written down. I guess if I was well-versed in Japanese, the fast text wouldn’t have bothered me as much, but I think it was egregiously frustrating. One visual quirk I did like though was the slightly diluted color palette, it did a great job of capturing Kakeru’s crippling depression that he tries to suppress and hide from others.
I think this show’s biggest draw or flaw sort of depends on how you see the characters. In most of the other shoujo and slice of life shows that I’ve seen, usually they exude a lot of zany quirkiness or forced comedy during most moments. But Orange instills a more subdued portrayal of teenage life when it comes to showcasing the awkwardness and slight trepidation that might come with socially interacting with your fellow friends or making new ones.
While I do see characterization as one of the strengths of Orange, their were some things that I wished were handled a bit differently. I would’ve liked to have gotten Kakeru’s backstory a little earlier in the series rather than towards the conclusion. He did end up being a character that I felt an emotional connection with, but it was hard to gauge my thoughts on him for the most part since he was sort of an enigma for most of it. In addition, I found Naho to be incredibly dense at times. I can totally understand her conflicted emotions since she cares about Kakeru’s overall well-being and doesn’t want to hurt him at the same time, but the way she handled some situations (especially when the letters specifically told her exactly what to do during pivotal moments) did have me roll my eyes with indignation whenever she messed up.
All in all, I thought Orange was alright. It has an interesting concept regarding time travel, which was rarely explored in a lot of prior shoujo-romance shows that I’ve watched. In addition, it also has an emotionally compelling narrative that deals with sensitive topics regarding depression and suicide, even when it does come off as a tad melodramatic at times. While it does disappoint in some areas, I think Orange is still worth a watch if you can look past some of it’s flaws and shortcomings.