We come to an end of orange’s ride. After teasing us for a whole season whether or not history repeats itself, they decide to go with a happy ending route. While I’m not entirely happy with orange as a whole, this double-length final episode succeeds on closing the story in high note. At the very least I’m glad these kids turn out to be alright.
But first let me lay out some issues I have with orange. First, orange decides to jump from the new year eve events to the valentine day, and it doesn’t ring well for me. Orange has always been about progression, be it how far Naho and the group would go to save Kakeru, or about Kakeru’s fight for his inner struggles. Making that time jump kind of defeat that purpose. You could argue that it will end up being the same: Naho struggles, Kakeru ignores the rest, the group tries best to help; but I want to see those conflicts. Another problem I see is the double-length, and for that I blame the series composition staff. The story stretches out too thin in the middle part (we spend an entire episode on Naho’s hangover after Kakeru dated Ueda for example; or the sport events that eat up nearly 2 episodes), and now they have to rush things over for the final episode. I feel no time was wasted on this week’s episode, but the first half could easily be in last week, so we’d have more time for the final climax.
Ueda reappears for the last time, but the show still frames her in a very bias, negative light. It’s hard to care for a character when the creators clearly don’t give a damn about her. That is for me orange at its worst. Ueda is a throwaway role, she will always be a pretty stuck-up bitch that everyone in orange hates, and thus the creators persuade us to hate her too. For a show that relies heavily on characters and their interactions, she ultimately becomes a sore thumb in an otherwise endearing cast.
On Valentine day, Naho desperately wants to give him her chocolate, but finds herself to be consistently pushed away by Kakeru. At long last, she finally confronts him and he tells her what he truly feels. It’s good to see Naho finally cracks the wall Kakeru created all by her sincere efforts. But there’s one thing that I don’t take it very well. She thought that it was her own fault for being insensitive in New Year Eve that things become awkward between the two. When she blames herself for something she clearly isn’t responsible for, it makes me really think if this relationship is healthy. Imagine when they really being together; she’d constantly blame herself or struggles to make Kakeru happy. I’m not sure if Kakeru could make her happy, but I know for a fact that if he keeps his attitude like that he’d never make her happy. Setting up romance when he’s clearly not ready for it is not a good move by a long shot.
Which lead us to the final climax, when the group literally try to save Kakeru the day after the Valentine. This time I pretty much appreciate the sequence through Kakeru’s point of view last week, because we already know how his mom’s unsent message could potentially affect him, thus we understand what are at stake here. The main different in action between Kakeru in his previous timeline and Kakeru now is how important those friends are with him now (well, that and the broken bike). That thought “What would they feel if I die” pretty much sums up the change in Kakeru’s character arc. At least now he has something to live for.
Moreover, he receives the letters from their friends’ older self and I personally think this is the most effective payoff orange pull off narratively. This story is all about regrets, and the only people who still having regrets are their adult counterpart. In their world Kakeru had long gone and there is nothing they could do to change that. That is why their letters to the living Kakeru bring out the most emotional honest orange could ever have achieved. All those heartwarming moments of course is conveyed through a sensitive direction and on-par production values. I agree with most of this episode artistic choice (from using random passerby to highlight the distance between Kakeru and Naho in the beginning, or the only windy sounds during the ‘car crash’) and the production actually gives orange the quality it deserves to have. Everything looks just gorgeous here. If only they could deliver every episode like that.
Now to those who don’t know, there was an announcement that orange will have a theatrical film that will come out at the end of this year. It is a retelling of sort from a perspective of Suwa. While I’m not really that excited to check out the film, I think the sequel could potentially be better than the series. Both because Suwa’s role in this whole affair is more complex than others, but also he’s the most mature and the most observant out of the group. Naho and Kakeru always stuck in their own thoughts that they rarely look around and notice those around them. Suwa aware of all that, and that quality makes him a rather interesting protagonist. Well, I will save my thoughts on orange’s overall quality in the final review, but at least we have this last episode: one of the most effective ending we could ever hope for in orange.