Warning, warning! This review contains spoilers!
A few months ago I was sitting on a plane and happened to watch the film, Orange directed by Kojiro Hashimoto. In the next few months, the manga and the anime became wickedly popular. So while my first encounter with the tale was with the film, I thought I’d share my thoughts on the two more popular mediums.
Knowing that the anime was months away from being released, I took the plunge and Orange: The Complete Collection Volumes 1 and 2 during a visit to Dubai.
With the manga, I fell in love with the story all over again. It follows Naho, a relatively girl with a few close friends, who gets a letter from her future-self. The letter, in short, gives her instructions on how to save her new classmate (and crush!), Kakeru, from himself. Add in Suwa, her bestie who’s been in love with her forever, and three other friends (who, to be honest, mostly feel like comic relief) and it all makes for nice story about friendship and romance… it just has a wee bit of a twist.
Can we just talk about Suwa for a minute? Suwa is the freaking MVP in this story, guys. This applies to both the manga and the anime (even more so with the anime, to be honest), but I just couldn’t wait to talk about him. He is the best flipping friend on the planet.
Like, come on. He’s fancied Naho forever! Then he befriends this new guy, fully knowing that Naho is going to fancy the new guy. Then he helps said new guy hook up with her. Even when new guy flounders and asks him advice a thousand times, Suwa is calm, cool and collected. He just wants his pals to be happy.
I mean, plot-wise? Yeah, no one knows why all the friends didn’t just add a little P.S. to the end of their letters. A little Hi! Everyone wrote letters, by the way! would have gone a long way, am I right? And yeah, there were definitely times when… well, it felt a little contrived. If I were Kakeru, I definitely would’ve questioned why all my pals were suddenly volunteering to run a relay with me. Like, surely a relay isn’t such a big deal, right?
But who cares a few plot-holes? …well, I do. I do a lil. But the rest of the story was enough to make me forget about that for the most part. It was sweet! I loved the friendships and thought the romance was adorable. And it had enough depth to make it more than just a rom-com.
A couple of months later, the anime was released and I pretty much lost my mind. I liked the anime. I really did. I loved the art, I loved the music, I loved the voice actors. There were definitely moments when I thought the pacing was off and the art dipped in quality, but overall I thought everyone did a super good job.
If I’m going to be critical, I did feel like the anime focused a little too much on the romance. Even though it didn’t really stray from the manga all that much, I just sort of got that vibe. A terrible description, I know.
But that extra focus made me feel like the story was almost taking a manic-pixie-dream-girl approach. Even though Naho isn’t that chirpy girl that we associate with the trope, the focus on the romance did imply that she is going save him. That it isn’t going to be the friendship or the memories. That it’s simply because fancies him back.
Maybe I’m looking into it too much. With the Athletics Day and the final episode, the anime definitely redeemed itself on that front, but… oh, there were just moments. There were moments when I was thought: Really? Is the crush really that important?
But overlooking that, I really liked it. I thought it was a really great adaptation of the manga. I especially liked how they handled the time-jumps. I loved the confession scene. Like, come on. Whose heart wasn’t beating through their chest at that one?
Ultimately, I probably enjoyed the manga a touch more than the anime, but I’m still super happy that I watched it. While it had its ups-and-downs, that final episode totally sold it for me. I finished the anime completely and utterly satisfied.
Did you read/watch Orange? Did you think it was worth the hype?