Orange takes it very slowly this week, even slower than its standard. Indeed, we can summarize the plot of the first 15 minutes just by one sentence: After Kakeru dating with another girl, Naho feels brokenhearted and avoids Kakeru like a plague. Which actually makes sense. After all, the guy already had a girlfriend so if you are truly his best friend, it would be for their best interest just to avoid any close interaction like they used to, right? Except that both Naho and Kakeru feel very awkward with each other. Naho feels powerless that she can’t control the way she wants, so she bounds for another regret: What if she said to him face-to-face instead of sending letter? Or blaming her future-self for having it way too easy. Those feelings are genuine but it’s truly exhausted to follow her feeling. Ueda the new girlfriend sadly doesn’t shed enough light for her own character, and because we see Ueda through Naho’s and the group’s perspective, Ueda comes off more as a negative object (girlfriend who steal their best friend away) more than an actual person.
For the last few episodes, I always feel that the letters work more as a plot device. It is those letters that made Naho changing the future, but I like the fact that in this episode, it’s not those letters but the friends who actually encourage Naho to take action. Yes, this is a right step because, like she stated last couple episodes, those letters can’t change who she is, it is by the support of friends that she could make her effort. Furthermore, I can understand the change in attitude of Kakeru with Naho. Unlike their original timeline, the feeling of Kakeru towards Naho and his hesitant towards Ueda comes directly from her response “No” last week, because now he knows what she’s thinking. But still I can’t see how the friends know what she needs and support her this time, and not in the other timeline? Maybe because this time they sense that Naho is hiding something from them (the letters) so they can sense that she’s been depressed? Or the other way round? I don’t really see the link here.
And to save the best for last, let’s talk about the stand out elements of this episode: the technical aspects. Except from the present day when the group visits his house after 10 years, the rest of the episode feels really off. Now, to be frank, this episode is doomed to be a disaster. After all, making an entire episode basically about love despair with no main action until the very end of episode is not ideal, to say the least. In addition, the restrain of the budget is shown visibly here: so many still frames; our characters in long shots look so shabby. Instead the show tries to be different. There are many out of place elements in this episode that constantly put us off: The CGI part of the vending machine; the mixing of dialogues with montages; the heavily use of frog motifs (which I’m not sure what for); random conversations from other people, and most jarring, the use of rock music in a supposedly sad and melancholic episode. This episode just basically screws over the consistency Orange had built in their first 3 episodes. It’s a risk move, of course; because most of the time I’ve been wonder if I watched the same show. I remember certain episode from “From the New World” run with that very same idea and went all out with their own styles. All this for the service of the climax scene, and boy, it works wonderfully. The confrontation between our lovebirds in the end really pays off what come before. I like the Orange now. Orange’s still going strong, but our Naho won’t and thus our hearts will burst into flames along with her.