Posted on 19 October 2016 with categories: Anime Reviews, Orange, Reviews by SuperMario

What would you do if you receive letters from your future-self saying that you can change your future? That’s exactly what Naho experienced as she obtains ones from herself 10 years later that urge her to look after her new friend and prevent him from committing suicide. The premise, I agree, is hardly anything groundbreaking, but it functions well as a romantic drama anime. And orange is exactly that: a romantic drama anime. We have tons of romance developing between the leads Naho and Kakeru, and even more time focusing on the depression of Kakeru and the group’s attempt to save him.

The very central theme of orange is the sense of regret. Kakeru always feels regrets over his mother suicides, blaming himself for what happened and the thought of continue to live on proved to be too much for him. Moreover, it’s the adult counterpart that hold that same sense of regrets and griefs towards what they could do in the past for Kakeru. If they were more attentive, they could’ve realized his inner struggles. If they helped him out when he needed the most, chances were, he could’ve survived. Should’ve known better. It’s that regret sense that carry the weight in Naho’s, and eventually Suwa’s and the rest of the group’s actions and make their efforts feel grounded and genuine.

But that’s not to say that their efforts were executed flawlessly. The show’s at its best when the group confronts Kakeru to say out loud his issues, to really share his troubles to his dear friends. Kakeru always puts up a mask in order to cover his troubles, mostly because he believes he could drag the group down, and partly because he fears that he’d be rejected. By making him to be honest to himself, he knows that he can rely on his friends and that’s what save him in this new timeline. But orange feels forced whenever the group tries to recreate a perfect happy time for Kakeru; be it their fireworks night, his birthday, their relay match. Although those moments come from good intention, I can’t help but feel uneasy the way the group manipulates the outcomes so that little Kakeru always feel happy. Is it fair for the guy to receive too much without give anything away? Is that selfless love that you protect your loved ones from being hurt really the best possible outcomes? Hell, NO.

Although Kakeru and Naho share some good romantic moments together, it is Suwa who become the show’s best character. He’s in a complex situation since he decides to support the leads all the way, despite his own feeling for Naho. Sound cliché I know, but what make his character works is that Suwa is an observant, sensitive and highly emotional intelligent than the rest of the group. On the other end of the spectrum, Ueda is really a bad-written character. Orange clearly doesn’t think too highly of her, so the show frames her in a biased and negative light, it’s sad because whenever she appears on screen, she becomes a sore thumb to an otherwise solid cast. The rest of the cast share a natural, lively and effortless chemistry, but they are not the deepest bunch of characters you will ever witness. In fact, in the second half, the amount of time spent on the group trying to help Kakeru overwhelms their own character’s development.

In terms of production values, orange remains a very strange shoujo adaptation. The show has an above-standard quality in terms of direction. The director Hiroshi Hamasaki (who most famous for his Steins;Gate) elevates the show by his sensitive directing, which many scenes convey smartly the emotions the show want to make. The show, on the other hand, was done on a shoestring budget, as a result in a middle part the production values took a huge downfall, the characters are often off-model and those insignificant parts are treated equally messy and off-putting to the point that it brings the whole production down. This is a shame because this is a kind of budget that orange doesn’t deserve to have.

Despite a huge leap in quality, orange at least ends in high note, as the conclusion successfully ties up loose end and gives up a satisfying emotional ride. With the main theme about trying your best in order to have none regrets, it’s more about the ride, how to get there rather than the results, yet I have a feeling that orange focuses too much on the outcomes. To say all that, the ending was executed fairly well that I’ll complain no more. Overall, despite the huge decline in terms of production values in the middle part, and some thematic issues, orange is what it is- a solid entry of shoujo romance drama anime. Anyone who expect more from it will end up being disappointed.

Posted on 28 September 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Orange

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.

Posted on 20 September 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Orange

For the first time orange manages to do something different narratively. The first half of this week’s episode tells the original timeline in Kakeru’s point of view, and with that we can understand more clearly about his emotional progress, at the same time gives us much more details about his Mom. In the original timeline, Kakeru hides those negative feelings from his friends, because he both doesn’t want them to be bothered so much about his own personal affairs, and moreover he doesn’t want to get hurt again. After all, what happen if after he tells them about his suicide thoughts, they just laugh it off? Or they just avoid being friend with him like a plague? So he decides to keep everything for himself and unbeknown to him creating a wall between him and his friends. When his emotions become unstable, others (Naho especially) just can’t break down that wall because frankly they have no clue to help him. That wall becomes too thick to break that he’s getting many conflicted ideas going on simultaneously: on the one hand he just wants to embrace Naho, talks to her and tells her that he needs her; but on the other hand; he acts obliviously, cutting off Naho and basically behaves like he has nothing to do with her. It’s getting painful (in both good and bad ways) to watch from time to time.

Prior to this episode, no matter how you think about it, it’s just plain cruel the way his Mom commits suicide to make Kakeru feel bad for ditching her. No one in her right mind would do that; well except Mother Gothel that is. This week brings her whole actions into light and it was much more poignant, consider how things would end up badly in the end. Although whatever she did (getting divorce, moving house, ditching his soccer bag and cleat) seems selfish at first, she actually did all that to protect Kakeru from getting hurt again. Her final message to Kakeru before she commits suicide indicates that she believed herself had become a burden to Kakeru, thus she ends her life so that she doesn’t get in his way ever again. Her thoughts of committing suicide are of course very flawed, but there’s no denying that those thoughts come from a relatable sentiment.

But as far as this Kakeru’s perspective has to offer, one thing that keeps bugging me is the lack of Ueda’s appearance. I know she’s never an important character but I get the feeling that orange itself doesn’t have high opinion of her. I was always curious to see how the relationship between Kakeru and Ueda would end up in the original timeline, but they just conveniently shrug that relationship off like nothing ever happened. At least now we know that Kakeru doesn’t technically commit suicide (he just ride a bike while his gaze was up the sky), but still his very thought that “living another day is a struggle” pretty much qualified that action as suicide attempt anyway.

While I really like the adult’s segment of orange, this time though when they discuss about the technicality of time travel again they completely lost me. I never really care about how these letters go back through time because it was right there in the premise. My logic had already been suspended upon reading that premise, so why bring it up again? To make it worse, the adult actually “figure out” how they going to send those letters back: by sending them to the sea (with the 16-year old address and hope that these letters will find their respective receivers at their precise time in their precise house, dry and clean. How did you guys even find the black holes anyway? This is just laughable underwritten, which makes me wonder why they bother to include it at all.

Our poor Naho after being dished by Kakeru last new year eve event, continues to take a role a normal guy would do; which mean to apologize even though she did nothing wrong, tries to talk to him again but the guy just basically plays hard to get at this time. She even expresses herself to walk home with him and he just walks away? Be a man, Kakeru. Behaving like a man. Now you really get on my nerve Kakeru. Now, she even confesses to him to wait until Valentine, so the long-awaited Valentine might happen after all. Now with only one episode left, how will Kakeru, Naho and the group end up after the Valentine Day? Can they really save Kakeru this time? I really hope orange can manage to pull a satisfied ending here.

Posted on 14 September 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Orange

Well, this episode is one the most emotionally wrenching orange has put up so far and for me at least this dramatic turn of event is what this show does best. Kakeru’s issue is a fundamental one. So far, the group succeeds in helping him to open up more and enjoying himself bit by bit, but they don’t actually change his very perceive that he’s responsible for his mother’s death. That and the thought that he might lose another person closed to him depresses the hell out of him and he comes full circle after the whole series of trying to get better. When he eventually gets into that self-loathing mood, everything just snap. That of course is frustrated. It doesn’t help either that Naho is incapable of sharing the feeling with him. She has known that they eventually got into arguments that day, but when it happened, his problem proves to be too big for her to handle and she just froze at that crucial moments. After that, she chose the worst possible way when dealing with someone’s outburst: chasing right after them. It’s much wiser to just give them some time alone to calm themselves (at least Kakeru would save his phone that way). But really, what would you expect from a 16-year-old girl to do? I can completely understand his outburst, but still that is not how you treat a girl, Kakeru. Ever. This guy needs a professional help and clearly he isn’t ready to have a healthy relationship with anyone anyway. Which come to a shortcoming from the group’s effort to save Kakeru: Does the group putting Kakeru and Naho together really is the best way to save Kakeru?

I know I said it before but I don’t really like the way the show’s main focus on the second half squarely on “saving Kakeru”. That aspect just overwhelms others relationship between the cast, since most of the time the topic they talk to each other is how to make Kakeru happy. This week proves to be a nice change as we see more perspective from the rest of the group towards Suwa’s feeling for Naho. Moreover, when the rest of the group calls Suwa, they all actually raise some valid points to the table. Yes, saving Kakeru doesn’t mean that Kakeru and Naho need to be together. Well, at least they like each other, but still it doesn’t mean that Suwa would just sacrifice himself for the sake of those two. At least give yourself a chance. Hagita in turns points out (accurately, but at the same time somehow inappropriately) that changing Kakeru’s future will eventually indirectly changing the future of those around him, and it might not be a good idea to change things so much in this timeline. Azusa argument is the most direct response; she wants him to express his feeling to Naho because she knows that he could make her happy; something I’m starting to doubt that Kakeru could offer Naho. Well, knowing all that, in addition that he knows how his old-self in original timeline would end up (he’s the only one out of the group who seen the pictures of his kid and the old group, talking about “overpowered”), he still decides to support Naho and Kakeru till the end. He might eventually become the awesome dude that no one deserves to have.

Last episode I predicted that the story might end on a Valentine Day, but given that this episode still wanders around Christmas and New Year (one of the saddest New Year Eve in anime I would say), we might have a Valentine that will never come. Instead, I think the story could pretty much end in another event that was hinted many times before: the day the group writes their notes to their 10-year-older self. Judging from that, things might not end as melodramatic as one would think. At least, this episode restores my hope that orange might actually pull off a satisfy ending.

Posted on 7 September 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Orange

Orange has a much better episode this week compare to the shipwreck last week, mainly because it has a much more solid material to dance around with this time, and the animation is actually good enough to carry the emotion abroad. I have mentioned last week that I’m no fond of the way the group forced Kakeru to feel happy. Even if those actions come from good intention, it doesn’t mean that he himself feels happy, because he doesn’t actually do any damn thing to earn it. Indeed, in this first half Kakeru is rather melancholy, because his mother just passed away and he thinks that he’s here having fun is an irresponsible act to his mother. In a sense, this is a valid thought. Kakeru is an insecure kid, he has always feel responsible for his mother’s death, blames himself for what happened and is unable to talk about his problems to his friends. Kakeru can only get better if he can be able to talk about it with his friends and let his regrets all out…

Well, if you have followed my orange’s weekly posts, you’d realize the last sentence was originally from my previous episode 7 post, which brings me to my main point: While that scene itself is satisfying, they basically repeat the same notes over again. We have already seen the group pushing Kakeru to lay bare about his inner feeling before with a greater emotional impact, in a sequence when Suwan and Naho directly confronted him about his suicide thoughts. In addition, it doesn’t help either that the metaphor they try to convey becomes as obvious as it gets. Here in the middle of the festival run, Kakeru and Naho have to do an errand by carrying the mattress. As they themselves realize that it’s a hard task for just two people, the group appear to help them carrying the burden, both literally and figuratively. This is as in your face as you can get, thus making the final result much less impactful.

Finally, the moment we had been waiting for the last few episodes arrives: the relay, which not-so-coincidently the final, decisive game in the festival. I originally worried about the relay, considering how the animation quality dropped drastically for the last few episodes. But I’m happy to say that the sequence is very solid. Kudos again to the director’s decision of focusing on the emotional impact of the group rather than the race itself. The relay is a perfect set-up for the group to explore their chemistry because they have to reach to each other, again both literally and figuratively. The metaphor again is too on-the-nose, as each member of the group tries to send their heartbeat message to Kakeru: “Don’t lose. Promise me. We’ll always be together. Even ten years from now. We’ll be waiting”. This is a whole other level of subtlety! Again, I don’t hate the relay sequence and I think it does its job, but I will put it simply: the more obvious the feeling they try to convey, the lesser the impact.

The sports event seems to be the end of this middle arc and we head off to the final chapter with its 3 remaining episodes. It is clear from those 10 episodes we have seen that the story has stretched a bit too thin for a full cour season. We spend nearly 2 episodes for the sports festival for example and I could easily cut 2-episode material to make the story tighter. Yet 3 episodes remain and we still have the Valentine day, and the day after that when Kakeru in the original timeline has committed suicide to cover. As for the theme I can see that Kakeru has gotten much better than himself of the original timeline, so I don’t know how he’s going to end up in this timeline. At the same time, I feel that the current development is too good and light-hearted to be true. Well, at least that is something I’m still looking forward to see in next couple of weeks. Surprise me orange!

Posted on 31 August 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Orange

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.

Posted on 23 August 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Orange

This week, Naho and Suwa face a dilemma of whether or not they should follow what written in the letters. The relay is coming and Kakeru is appointed to be an anchor. They have been followed the letters very closely, but the original reality becomes too different from this reality that the content is not really relevant anymore. Should they follow the letters because clearly the older-selves have all the answers, or should they rely on themselves to act according to Kakeru’s happiness? Naho and Suwa at first decided to ask him not to join the relay team, since the relay could affect badly to Kakeru. But Kakeru, being himself, feels insecure that he might let the team down so he’s agree to pull out, but he’s clearly not too happy about either decision. Kakeru has been afraid to make a choice. He doesn’t want to repeat the same problems and have more regrets, even to the point where he confesses his feeling towards Naho, but too afraid to date her. Naho and Suwa realize they have been way over-protective to Kakeru, because really without taking a step forward, how could Kakeru move on to his next stage? The rest of the group pick up on that as well, and they together make an awesome decision: let the group run for the relay, so that Kakeru can run and moreover they can run together. Now I understand the running part in the Opening Credit. Yes, it has its purpose and this is not some cliché opening credit where everyone runs for no reason from all over directions, right? RIGHT?

But as I mentioned in previous posts, some of the incidents can’t change and those lead directly to the sad outcomes. Because the group invited Kakeru on the first day, his mother commit suicide. Because Naho couldn’t bring herself to talk directly to Kakeru, he dated Ueda. This time they ignore the letters, but could it be the reason the letters don’t want Kakeru to join the relay is because of his health? Earlier in the episode he passes out and with the stress he’s currently building up, his physical gotten weaker and weaker. I’m not imply he’s in some kind of terminal disease and I really hope the show won’t go that way, but it’s possible that they might not be able to ‘save’ Kakeru the way they want to.

This is now confirmed that the rest of the cast also receive the letters from their 26-year-old selves. All they want is to support Naho and Suwa to save Kakeru, and all Naho and Suwa have to do is to share it with them. Now this lead to a fundamental issue of the show: all the developments emphasis on the same united purpose: saving Kakeru. For that I say they’re trying a bit too hard for the sake of Kakeru (really? 5 adult people sent letters to their younger selves so that they can do their best effort to save him?), and other aspects of friendship will be ignored. Now, every time Suwa and Naho talking to each other, it’ll be about Kakeru. They grow through their interaction with Kakeru, not wuth themselves. I kind of miss the interaction between the group in the first episode where I can see more angle about their friendships, see how they bound off each other in a natural way.

But really, the more I see orange the more I think this is a kind of weird production. The director Hiroshi Hamasaki is not well-verse in shoujo drama, the budget is tight and that hurts. The rough quality and still-frames are more prominent now than ever. It’s a shame because orange works best if the production values can express those emotions, but the level shown in orange simply couldn’t match it.

Posted on 16 August 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Orange

This episode is a winner. It hits all the right notes on what make orange so appealing. Upon knowing that Kakeru will attempt his first suicide after talking to his Tokyo friends over the weekend, Suwa and Naho confront him and tell him not to go. Kakeru is an insecure kid, he’s deeply troubled by the death of his mom, blames himself for what happened and is unable to talk about his problems to his friends. But as Suwa points out correctly, close friends are supposed to share pain together, and his mistake was not his fault. I once had a real friend who told me that she had thought about attempt suicide and it was nasty. The real ugliness of it is once you had it, the thought of suicide never leaves you away and there’s always an urge that push you to do it whenever you feel depressing. Kakeru can only get better if he can be able to talk about it and let his regrets all out. The last sequence is a very nice moment, and I tip my hat off to the direction of that sequence. When Suwa confronts Kakeru, there’s no music cue between those exchanges and it’s the silence that makes us feel the tension and weight behind each conversations. Talking about these things is never easy but at least all three can be able to speak out what they really want.

Suwa steps up to become a big bro for the group. I mentioned last week that I had my concern about feeling cheated if all Suwa did was just followed what were written in the letters. Well, he did follow the letters but thank god the show never sells him short. The thing is that Suwa is not a selfless kid who pull back his feeling to see Naho and Kakeru happy. He did it for the sake of them, yes, but he also did it for his sake as well. It’s a hard role for him but he can pull it off because he’s the most mature and most emotionally honest of the group. There’s still unclear if the rest of the cast also receives the letters like Suwa and Naho did, but they fulfill their supporting roles very well this week. Scenes when they asking Kakeru what he wants for his birthday, or when they stand up to protect Naho from Ueda (Ueda sadly remains the only sore thumb in this episode) are all genuine that showcase their great care towards the leads. And I love the way the two girls stand behind the door, overhearing the sincere conversations from the leads. That small moment speaks more than thousand words, and suddenly they become much more layered in that single moment than they were for the last 6 episodes. Yes, those friends might not be the ones who could change things significantly, but they will always be there whenever you need them.

You might have notice that in previous posts I didn’t discuss much about the romance between Naho and Kakeru, mostly because I found it the most ordinary aspect of orange. Although they share great chemistry together, there’s no denying that “boy gets girl” part is the most cliché part of them all. But even so, this week’s moments between them are goddamn effective. The reason why Naho and Kakeru in the original timeline couldn’t get together was because they were unable to express their feeling to each other. Kakeru always hides his feeling deep down, and Naho is too nervous to say what she really thinks. In this timeline, however, with the help of Suwa and all these friends, Kakeru has a chance to confess to her and she replies him back. Call me cheesy but I found the flowers scenes are heartfelt. They were used twice but each sequence conveys different feeling. When the adult Naho receives the flowers from Suwa, it feels deeply poignant, but when the young Naho accepts the flowers from Kakeru and his confession to her, it feels sweet and genuine. On other notes, there are many nice visual motifs in this episode: the flowers, butterfly (butterfly effect?) and the fluid-est scene transition that fit to the opening credit (go see it!). Based only from this episode, things are about to get better after Kakeru confesses his deepest regrets, but I’m not sold. The theme and the tone of orange always firmly head towards the melodrama territory, so things going to be sad. I’m for once keen to see how they pull this off but at least this episode is a solid example of what orange can do best.

Posted on 8 August 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Orange

What a development! It turns out that Sowa’s also receiving letters from the future as well, presumably his future self (there’s no way the future Naho would send him letters, right?). From the look of it I think the entire cast receives letters from their future self too, the way they act very supportive lately. Does this development work? I don’t know, it all depends on the direction it goes from now. Personally I would prefer that Naho asks for their help, and then tell them herself about the letters. That twist makes me questions every actions from the group back then, and if those actions are ‘genuine’ genuine (like Suwa’s selfless actions last week). If it turns out those kids behave the way they did just because of someone telling them already what would happen, then I feel a bit manipulated. But there must be some good reasons to make that twist, right? For now, I will reserve my comment to see how all this play out. I guess after all we just finished the first phase (Naho and Kokeru dating together) and proceed to the second phase now (the group try to help Kokeru out of his attempt suicide). Naho also points out in this episode that there are two things that she couldn’t follow the advice from the letters, and those lead to unchanged consequences. The first being the group asked Kokeru out on the ceremony day, which directly lead to the suicide of the mother. The second time she couldn’t talk to him how she felt face-to-face, and Kokeru decided to date Ueda. Although the letters become less and less relevant, it seems that the outcome of those important events doesn’t always change, which makes me wonder if they can really save Kokeru from committing suicide. But I have a feeling they gain too much information from the letters which give them somewhat unfair advantage, like how Naho already know the time and place of his dead. Whatever you do orange, just remember that relying too much on those letters to progress a story is a dead wrong decision. Those letters can’t solve everything; it needs to be from the characters themselves.

This episode further highlights the insecurity of Kokeru. Several times in this episode, he asks Sowa if it’s really okay for him to date Naho, not because he fears that would hurt Sowa (maybe a little), but because he fears that dating Naho would turn out to be a disaster and he will bounce for more regret. Moreover, he always feels guilty about his mother’s death. But really, he should understand that moving forward is way better than don’t do anything at all, and he shouldn’t blame himself on the death of his mother. It is really a good call from Naho to ask him about the mother, because this guy needs to share it to his friends. Keeping it to yourself and the pain will never go away. The two lead’s chemistry is engaging and intimate so far, kudos to the fireworks scene, which for me is a bit cheesy but overall effective.

This episode is also a return-to-form quality in terms of production values. As mention above, the firework sequence is animated very well, and I love the shot’s choices of many scenes. Many of the shots focus on the pair with their backs on us, either when them watching the fireworks, or later when they sitting in a park, it creates their very own atmosphere: just the two of them witnessing things together, but perhaps never really see things eye-to-eye. I also like the shot when Kokeru needs sometimes alone and sits in a different chair. The shot (included in the screenshot above) really establish the distance between them and moreover the isolation of Kokeru. To conclude, this episode marks the end of the first half and wheels forward to the latter stage in which the group attempt to save Kakeru from committing suicide. I’m overall happy with the first half and hope it continues to be a rewarding ride. But seriously Naho, get rid of that hairpin. It brings you no luck at all.


Posted on 3 August 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Orange

This episode sets the focus squarely on Suwa and his secret/ not-too-secret affection for Naho. Suwa is actually the one who always look after Naho, and he would do anything to make the girl safe and happy, even if it means he will eventually end up losing her. Normally I never buy that kind of love, simply because I believe if you truly love someone, you have to be a little selfish. You would want that special someone to yourself only. All that to say Suwa’s sadness is just so damn appealing that it’s hard to fault him for being too nice. Naho, on the other hand, takes his kindness for granted and she’s just too occupy about her feeling towards Kakeru to really notice everything around her. This episode gives her moment to really takes a step back and looks around, so that she could notice the efforts of everyone around her, Suwa especially, and moreover she has to acknowledge that. The two developments from Suwa and Naho come together nicely in the last scene, but I’m not entirely happy with its execution. There are 3 consecutive scenes where the show basically repeats the same message. In the first scene we have Kakeru asking Suwa if it’s alright for him to go watch fireworks alone with Naho, then the next scene the group teasing Suwa on the girl he likes, just so that the insensitive Hagita bluntly speaking out loud. The very next scene we have the girls confront Suwa again, asking him directly if he will help supporting Naho and Kakeru, in which he agrees. Those scenes are variation of the same things: Suwa has a felling for Naho and everyone but her notices that, but Suwa decides to steps down and being a supportive player. I get it but sometimes repeating the point too much and it lost its impacts. While I personally think the last scene is rewarding and effective, I also feel the story drags down too much in that middle part.

This week orange mentions time travel for the first time and honestly I don’t really care much about that. After all, the time travel element in the show is just the setup to progress the story, there’s no point to delve much into that. When the teacher goes for the technicality of time travel; about how it could produce alternative timelines, my mind wanders right back to Steins;Gates; which is very fitting because the director Hiroshi Hamasaki was the director of Stein;Gates. The topic of time travel was then explored nicely by the discussion between Suwa and Kakeru: “Would you go to the past or future if you could time travel”. It’s interesting to note that Kakeru really wants to go back to the past to fix his regrets, which is exactly what the future-self Naho has been doing. The conversation also hints at the insecurity of Kakeru, which further evident by his message towards Naho asking who she sent her chocolate for on Valentine Days. He hides his feeling well from his friends, but he is the one who always looks back to the past, feeling regrets with what he could do and refuses to look ahead to the future.

This episode still has an awful lot of still frame and the animation itself is a huge step down compare to the first three episodes. Let’s take a look at one of this week’s screenshot and you can see the quality of the animation was dropped to the point their faces are slightly deranged. While I can accept it last week as an illustration for Naho’s feeling hangover, there is no excuse this week and I start to think that this is more of a budget thing. Sadly, if it’s true then I have to come to terms with the animation quality. Overall, I think this is my least favorite of orange so far, both because the story could have been neater and more impactful, and the animation quality has decreased significantly. It’s not a disaster yet but I really hope the show can pick up itself from here.


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