One of my favourite animes of the season is Orange. It is about a girl named Naho who receives a letter in the mail from herself ten years in the future. This letter informs Naho of some of the things that will happen in the next year and asks that she fix some of the things that she regrets in the future. The biggest regret expressed in the letter is the regret that she couldn’t save Kakeru who died almost a year after he moved to the city that Naho lives in after a supposed fatal accident.
Recently I read an article on CrunchyRoll.com about how emotional distance works in Orange. This is an anime that explores some heavy topics. So far these include regret, healing, and suicide. This article explains how difficult it is to watch at times because of the ways the characters act.I agree that there are times where the watcher is yelling at their screen for Naho to tell Kakeru how she really feels or for them to kiss in a moment of closeness. But I don’t think that this makes the anime hard to watch because to me it makes the characters more relatable.
One of the few things that I dislike about watching certain shows is that I tense up and feel extremely awkward whenever a character does something over the top. This has made Psych almost impossible for me to binge watch and causes me to avoid many comedy’s. Also I find myself flinching whenever Subaru does anything overly dramatic in Re:Zero. In Orange I haven’t flinched or tensed up once. Naho and her friends act in a way that makes them seem more realistic. I guess this is the biggest reason why I love this show.
I find Naho to be relatable because I see me and her as being extremely similar. It’s hard to tell others how you feel at times. You tend to worry that others will merely laugh at what you have to say, reject you, or simply be offended because what they assumed about you is wrong. You keep everything inside because you worry too much about other people. This is how Naho rationalizes everything. Kakeru is very similar to Naho except his regrets are large.
In the second episode it is revealed that the reason why Kakeru was out of school for two weeks after the day that he first met Naho was because his mother had died from suicide. Most people who have been affected by suicide in this way regret not seeing anything wrong with the victim or not being able to save a life. In Kakeru’s case he blames himself for his mothers death and regrets not helping her move into the hospital in the area rather than hanging out with Naho and her friends. This is a very heavy regret and it shows every single time Naho tries to talk to him about what happened.
In episode 6 a few things happen that develop the characters and continue the story. The first of these is a scene where Suwa and Kakeru are talking. They talk about Naho and Kakeru mentions his regrets. What made this scene so powerful for me was the fact that Suwa was standing in the sunlight and Kakeru was sitting in the shadows of some boxes. I have been watching a youtuber who occasionally analyzes scenes in anime and he looks at the symbolism of certain aspects of the animation. In this particular scene Suwa standing in the light represents the fact that he has few regrets that you wouldn’t expect a high school boy to have. Kakeru being in the shadows represents that there is something serious going on with him which we already know because we know that Kakeru is going to die from suicide around Valentines day of that same year from the letters and the scenes in the future.
The watcher of the anime already knows that there is something going on with Kakeru but episode 6 shows just how deep it is. He doesn’t really talk about his feeling which leaves us in the dark most of the time. We know he regrets not being there with for his mother to save her but we don’t know how powerful his regrets are. At the end of this episode Naho prods Kakeru to get him to talk about his mother. She thinks that this is going to help save him but the only thing that it seems to do is make him think about his mother and make him cry. He goes to a different bench to be alone for a bit. When Naho looks in his direction when their other friends come she sees that he is no where to be seen.
I think this is how a lot of people would react if someone were to push them until they were forced to talk about a subject that they find difficult. I also think that it is natural for someone to try to find out what is wrong with someone they care about though I do have to agree that Naho went a little too far. This anime is very realistic despite the letter from the future thing. No characters have over the top reactions to anything. Instead they are very rational until their emotions get involved.
Now the final thing that I want to write about in this post is the letters. I have heard a few people talk about how stupid it is to send letters back in time and not give a description of future events that isn’t too vague. For instance why did future Naho send the letter to present Naho if she wasn’t going to give a word for word description of the “accident”. First of all later on it is revealed that future Naho did write about the accident in more detail later on in the anime. Second of all I don’t think the concept of the letters needs to make sense 100%.
The letters help develop the anime’s themes of regret. As watchers we know that Naho and her friends in the future regret not being able to save Kakeru. When they learn that it was a suicide this becomes stronger. The whole reason for the letters is so that present Naho can fix the regrets that she has in the future. Kakeru regrets not being their for his mother. Kakeru also regrets dating Ueda who is a bully. Everything in this series ends in one of the main characters regretting something.
I have only watched up to episode 6. I hope that the future episodes show how the characters move on from their regrets. I also hope that nothing changes with the show to make it seem less realistic to me. I don’t like flinching or feeling tense when I watch shows. I will try to write more posts like this in the future.
The article that I talked about is here: Why it Works: Emotional Distance in Orange on CrunchyRoll.com
The youtuber I mentioned is here: Mother’s Basement
If you want to watch Orange go here: Orange on CrunchyRoll.com