So, I’ve been a bit preoccupied as of late – and as a result I fell behind on one of my favorites from this season: Orange. Well – after ravenously consuming the last 3 episodes I’m ready to share my thoughts with you and get caught up – let’s go!
A romantic rival enters the fray as Orange begins to crank up the drama in episode 3! Naho and Kakeru grow closer, and demonstrate their complete teenage awkwardness by dancing around the question: Do you like me? Kakeru makes the first move by asking Naho if there’s anyone she likes – of course she has to say no, otherwise he might figure out that she has feelings for him and they could move on!
Naho bounces the question back to Kakeru, who also rejects the notion that there’s anyone that he’s interested in. So, here we are – the ol’ teenage emotional Mexican standoff.
Unfortunately for Naho, someone else jumps into the fray and pulls the trigger – the beautiful and cool Ueda-senpai!
Ueda likes Kakeru, and unlike Naho, isn’t afraid to let him know right away. She approaches him during lunch and suggests they start going out, but Kakeru buys some time by saying he needs to think about it. Naho realizes how close she is to losing Kakeru, and nearly lets it slide. However, prompted by another letter from her future self, she checks her eraser for a note from Kakeru to discover that he’s not so sure he and Ueda should be going out…
Naho sees this as Kakeru’s “cry for help” – that he is actually interested in being with her; or at least, not particularly interested in dating Ueda. Of course, Naho rushes to Kakeru to confess her feelings and they begin to date shortly afterwards.
Just kidding! Of course she doesn’t take the direct approach – she returns a note in kind to his shoe-locker. Once again, Ueda stays one step ahead of her by approaching Kakeru again, and this time he concedes and the two begin officially going out.
Jumping into the future, the friends all read letters from 10 years prior to their “future selves”. When they get to Kakeru’s letter, however, they make an unsettling discovery: his death didn’t appear to be an accident. It was a suicide. Confronted with this reality, the friends are shaken to their core and wonder what else they could have done to save him.
Leading up to this episode, Orange wasn’t particularly dramatic, but things definitely shift up in this episode as the love triangle between Naho, Kakeru and Ueda is formed and the group of friends from the future realizes that Kakeru was depressed to the point of suicide despite their happy times together.
The characters continue to shine in the show, a rare example of teenage characters done well. Sure, there’s a fair amount of bellyaching over Naho’s lack of assertiveness and her seemingly constant fleeing from tough situations – but she’s a character in development, as most teens are. The joking and teasing is natural, and is a healthy representation of high school friendship, and even budding romance.
So, Kakeru and Ueda begin dating…what comes next?
So, Kakeru and Ueda begin dating…what comes next? Well, as it turns out, almost complete excommunication from the former group of friends that Kakeru came to know. The episode begins in the future as the group of friends visit Kakeru’s house to discover that he spoke of them quite regularly to his grandmother.
The group, and especially Naho, remember that following his relationship with Ueda, none of them really engaged or talked with him much after that. As a result, future Naho tells her younger self to talk to Kakeru when she can. By opening that door, and keeping that friendship alive, she could positively impact his future.
Of course, that’s a lot easier than it sounds on paper. 16-year old Naho is terrified of confronting Kakeru or talking with him, since his new girlfriend is always within arms reach. Ueda is a fairly jealous girlfriend as well, which makes it difficult for Kakeru to go out on a limb and rekindle that friendship. Therefore, the majority of the episode is Naho trying to figure out how to connect with Kakeru again, while simultaneously ignoring him pretty much every chance she gets.
Things come to a head when Ueda knocks over Naho in the hallway (by accident, of course), and Kakeru subsequently freaks out. Ueda calls him an idiot and runs off crying, in a classic scene as old as time.
Naho also abandons him in the immediate aftermath, mortified at the embarrassing situation. However, she’s stopped in the stairwell by the studly and all-around awesome friend, Suwa. After confirming her feelings for Kakeru, Suwa motivates her to go after him and let him know how she feels. Reinvigorated, Naho catches up with Kakeru and tells him that she didn’t mind waking him up, or making his lunches. She actually enjoyed it, and wants to keep doing it for him. It might not be the soul-spilling love confession we’re looking for, but it’s certainly enough to spark the joy back into Kakeru’s eyes.
This episode was a bit more frustrating for me. It’s not that I was angry with the characters, more that I was disappointed. Naho has no backbone for the majority of the episode, and the way she treats Kakeru by giving him the cold shoulder was both disheartening and completely realistic.
In addition to Naho’s behavior, Takako and Azusa also were on my list due to their ability to do a complete 180 from the previous episode, when they were cheering Kakeru on as he accepted Ueda’s advances.
Suwa saves the day, of course, by continuing to be the only character with real common sense. Knowing that future Naho and Suwa are married, it’s cute to see their interactions, and the love triangle between Naho, Suwa and Kakeru is unique as a result. We know that some of the events future Naho have described are subtly changing, and therefore it appears as though young Naho is having some impact on Kakeru’s future. If this is the case, will she still be with Suwa? Or will Kakeru be her true love in the end?
We get some more insight on the love triangle between Naho, Suwa and Kakeru in the latest episode of Orange as Naho contemplates if the actions she’s taking are actually helping her future self.
The episode begins with Kakeru taking a one week absence from school. It happens to coincide with the 49th day following the death of his mother in episode 1. Naho expresses some concern, but ultimately is confident that she’s already changing the future, and that her conversation with him at the end of episode 4 is setting him on a different path.
When he makes his return, the crew is back together as Naho, Azu, Takako, Hagita and Suwa all joke with Kakeru regarding his poor choice of not bringing an umbrella to school. The group is in on Naho’s feelings for Kakeru, and have begun to plot in order to get them together, including setting them up to walk home together. During this impromptu date, Kakeru gifts Naho with a hairpin as a thank you for waking him up and making him lunch, to which Naho responds by melting into a puddle of happy.
Azu and Takako proceed to get on my nerves yet again, however, as they corner Suwa and make it clear that they’re “On Naho’s side” when it comes to her relationship with Kakeru. Suwa says that he’s on her side as well, and admits that while he has feelings for her, he would never get in the way of her and Kakeru.
Besides the romantic drama, Naho comes to a gut-wrenching realization following her teacher’s seemingly random jaunt into the theory of time-travel. Despite her best efforts, she seemingly has no power over the future where the letters are coming from. The fact that events are beginning to diverge even more than before suggests to Naho that the timeline is taking a drastic turn, but with no obvious changes to the future. Even still, Naho realizes that her future self must have found a way to overcome their grief and move on with their life, and it re-affirms her dedication to making her time with Kakeru as memorable as possible.
I was very impressed with episode 5 and its ability to construct a great love triangle. Oftentimes the flaws of one character are too obvious, making the choice for the OTP (one true pair) exceedingly simple. With Kakeru and Suwa, however, they each offer a genuinely unique relationship for Naho. There’s no doubt that whoever she would end up with,she would be loved and cared for, which is refreshing, and to be quite honest, hard to find in most anime love triangles.
The one thing that we have yet to really dive into is the mechanics of the time-traveling element. How is Naho getting these letters? What technology exists in Future Naho’s world that makes it possible? Are the letters coming from Naho at all, or someone else claiming to be her? All questions that remain to be answered…and ones I hope that aren’t discarded completely.
Overall, Orange continues to impress. While not as light as New Game! in terms of the material, it is a fine representation of teenage emotion, indecision, regret, and most importantly – relationships. It remains solidly on my list of weekly shows to watch, and should be on yours as well!