Unfortunately for us, this is not a good orange episode. Hell, I could say this is one of its worst episode. orange has always relied on the regrets of the main cast, and the foreshadowing suicide of Kakeru as their main emotional impacts. When they steer away from those, this episode just loose its punch. While the character’s interactions are still there and those moments are one of the only high points of this week’s viewing, there is an issue with it as well. You see, there is no damn fun when everything goes entirely according to plan, when all the moments are just too perfect. I have no problem if this was about making Kakeru talk honestly about his suicide thoughts couple of weeks ago, but creating every moment with Kakeru too flawlessly (like the umbrella incidents this week, the “good morning” exchanges) make the whole situation feels rather forced, and to make it worse I feel Kakeru was manipulated by the group here, even if the intention comes from a good place.
But my biggest problems with this episode lie in its pacing. Last week we dedicated half of its episode for joining up team for the upcoming relay events, and this week the episode strangely drops any of the preparation phase, instead focuses on the revelation that all the cast has their own letters, worries about Azusa’s birthday, cares so much about the weather, and concerns about whether or not Naho and Kakeru should hold hands. Then they jump STRAIGHT to the events. The inconsistency of plotline occurred before in one of the episode when Naho pushed Kakeru to talk about his mother for the first time. After that Kakeru and Naho had a rather uneasy tension until it was revealed that Suwa had received the letters himself, then suddenly Naho and Kakeru again talked to each other normally like nothing happened. Well, I understand that they have to jam in many plot details to both heighten the relationship and carry the emotional weight, but I am not quite fond of letting the story just moving on its own like that.
As I mentioned in my last episode, orange is a weird shoujo production, and I will say in more details this time. For a shoujo romance-drama anime such as orange, they have an unusually high quality director and an equally unusual below-the-standard budget. So what we have here is a show that stands out in its artistic merits, as many of the director’s choices shine through this week. For example, the sequence from Asuza’s point of view is nicely displayed, as the characters are more colorful, childlike and whimsical than Naho’s point of view. In another case, the director displays Kakeru’s feeling of detachment from the rest of the events by showing him standing awkwardly among a disappearing crowd, with the wash-out color background and a slightly disorientated sound designs. Those are great moments because we really know more about these characters just by experiencing the same thing they do. The art designs of other background characters though, are just too rough and inconsistent. As a result, what we have in the end is the episode that glorious at certain important scenes, but meh and below quality in general. The sport events haven’t concluded yet, as we still have that relay to look for. Here’s hoping for a rewarding relay (and episode) ahead.