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「LETTER 02」

There were many standout moments in this second episode of Orange, but I think the most vital piece of dialogue here was said by Naho in a transition scene that was overshadowed by the dramatic shift in the second half:

“A letter can’t change a person’s personality so easily.”

It’s when she says those words that it puts into perspective just want sort of series Orange will be. It was obvious this was going to focus on the regrets of the Naho from the future, but what’s more important is how the Naho of the present deals with that information. While us watching at home have the luxury of knowing more than the characters themselves, it’s unfair of us to judge Naho for not making sudden decisions that are out of character for her. Everything she did in the past she did because that was the type of person she was; without knowing the full details of Kakeru’s death, she’s having to piece together what little hints these letters give her and actively become a different person along the way. People may call her a boring protagonist (and people have), but I think her introverted qualities shone through in this episode, and I expect that to continue in future episodes as she’s forced to become someone more bold and outgoing.

The first part of this episode once again proved that having a realistic group of teenagers is more than enough to carry these seemingly empty scenes – scenes of conversations that feel natural, with voice actors who don’t sound like over the top caricatures; who instead say the words like a real person would. Of course, when it get dramatic, that’s changes, but that’s the nature of this sort of story. Every good drama needs its downtime, and the little scenes were just what we needed before Kakeru’s big bombshell.

The first key revelation is the reason for Kakeru’s two-week absence: his mother committed suicide on the day of the opening ceremony. We don’t learn the details of why she did this or what we relationship was with her son, but Kakeru saying the words so bluntly was more than enough to leave an impact. It’s then that you realise he’s been trying his best to force a smile and enjoy what he can of his daily school life, but then once you remember a line he says in the opening minutes of the episode about his mother not making him lunch, it’s all the more painful. He’s clearly masking that pain, and knowing his eventual demise is not too far away, it adds a sense of urgency for both Naho and us, the viewer.

Unless it wasn’t obvious, Kakeru is most certainly dead in the future. The other detail we learn is that he died at the age of seventeen in an accident that Naho considers preventable. With less than a year until the dreaded event, it’s now up to Naho to do everything she can to become the person her future self so desperately wants her to be, so she will not feel those same regrets. Yet it also makes you wonder whether Naho from the future really has it all that bad? We see that she’s with Suwa now and they have a baby together, and her friends seem like they’re enjoying their lives, even if Kakeru’s death is a regret that lingers over them all. If Naho of the present does everything she can to prevent him dying, what will that do to Suwa and their future child? Will another timeline be created? Will it be overwritten? Or perhaps Kakeru’s death will be an inevitability – just like his mother’s. We got more answers in this episode, but also plenty more questions. But those questions are fascinating, the directing is strong, the characters feel genuine, and it seems like we’re in for one hell of an emotional ride to get to the bottom of this mystery.

July 12, 2016 at 3:48 pm
15 comments »
  • July 12, 2016 at 4:57 pmKabble

    I’m sorry we’re not even 3 episodes deep and I definitely teared up a lot more than I should have.
    When Kakeru said his mom committed suicide that pretty much hit me in the gut like a sudden gale force wind.
    This anime is already so damned tender it’s driving me nuts while literally making me recall every moment in my life I wish I could do over.
    Forget the 3 episode rule, this is picked up because I’m incredibly emotionally invested already.
    Add onto all that, he supposedly dies?
    Oh no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no nononononononononononononononooooooo.
    I need the future to be changed for my own peace of mind.

  • July 12, 2016 at 5:32 pmBamboo Blade Cat

    I like the fact that Naho doesn’t listen to the letter, and thinks, as you mentioned “A letter can’t change a person’s personality so easily.”, but it’s enough to get her to make smaller changes, and all the smaller changes will, hopefully, lead to the bigger changes. Maybe that’s part of the theme of the show.

  • July 12, 2016 at 5:51 pmAlec

    Kakeru’s death needs to be an inevitability. There’s more potential that way
    Besides, I’d feel bad for the baby

  • July 12, 2016 at 5:57 pmyoloalchemist

    I love this show, including how it makes me ask so many questions.

    But the most urgent one I have now is: Does the Naho from the future realize that if the Naho of the present succeeds in saving Kakeru and averting those regrets, her life as she knows it will cease to exist? Her marriage with Suwa, their baby will all be gone.

    We all have the wish to turn back time and do earlier parts of our lives better, but this anime begs the question: What about your current life that you want to change?

    Which is why, as much lovely as it is to see the current Naho strive to be with Kakeru, save him and change her life, I’d also like more focus on the future Naho and see what drives her to make such a life changing attempt at what I can only currently think of as redemption, especially seeing as she is most certainly happy with the life she has. Or is she? Like I said, more focus on future Naho would be appreciated.

    • July 12, 2016 at 6:28 pmNayrael

      I’m pretty sure that Future Naho’s letter will just create a different timeline with a different Naho. Looking at Future Naho, she does not seem like someone who wants to change her own life in the first place so I wouldn’t fear for that (of course, that’s just my interpretation XP ).

    • July 12, 2016 at 6:52 pmdanny

      Why are you assuming that if Naho manages to change events, she will not still end up with Suwa? Has it already been determined that her future with Suwa only happens because Kakeru dies? Where did that info or assumption come from?

      Maybe Kakeru’s death isn’t inevitable, maybe he doesn’t fall in love with Naho even if he lives, and maybe her eventual choice for Suwa would happen regardless. The story is just getting started, we only have Naho’s POV and already it’s getting declared that the future is either one or the other with no fun, messy middle ground to cover.

      • July 12, 2016 at 10:34 pmyoloalchemist

        But she’s clearly in love with him. Even if her love isn’t reciprocated, at least within the time frame that she must save Kakeru and change her life it will certainly play a part of it, and sooner or later, he will notice it. Hell, this episode gave a hint that Kakeru’s relationship with Naho might be different from his relationship with the rest.

        Of course this is all pure speculation at this early point. But whatever happens, if he is indeed saved, it will be a defining moment in their lives that will determine if they end up happy together, lovers or not.

      • July 13, 2016 at 3:43 pmdcho

        I agree. Even if they save Kakeru, and even if it follows that Kakeru and Naho have a romantic relationship as teenagers, it doesn’t mean that Naho and Suwa don’t fall in love as adults. Things change as people get older.

    • July 12, 2016 at 8:53 pmBamboo Blade Cat

      I have a feeling, no matter if they save Kakeru or not, the future with her and Suwa won’t change.

      But I agree with you that changing anything about her past regrets will change the person she is in the future, fundamentally so, as it’s our mistakes and regrets that define us, as much as our successes and happiness do, if not more so in some cases.

      That would be my only caveat with the premise with the show, that an adult character would probably understand (after much thought) that changing anything in the past would have adverse affects on them in the future, and unless your situation is miserable or bleak, and from all accounts Naho has a pretty good life, changing that past, no matter how much you loved your friend (or family), might not be in either of your best interests.

      So, I’m interested if they tackle that aspect of the story. If not, I won’t be in the least disappointed either.

  • July 12, 2016 at 6:17 pmTori

    Awareness of the future yields the likelihood of changing it. If you know how events are supposed to play out it’s not like you can recreate them exactly the way they ought to have been when you didn’t know it was going to happen.
    Hopefully this can save Kakeru, because this series already stresses me out.

  • July 12, 2016 at 8:55 pmBamboo Blade Cat

    This anime is like if Boku Dake and The Girl Who Lept Through Time had a kid, lol

    The Girl Who Lept Through Time is one of my favorite anime movies btw!

  • July 13, 2016 at 1:17 amHalfDemonInuyasha

    I have a feeling that, based on how things look so far, that this seems to be one of those kinds of alternate timeline deals where things in the future, with future Naho, won’t change when past Naho does things differently and only affect the future of that specific past Naho. I mean, as time travel-style things tend to go, even the tiniest changes in the past can have huge, dramatic changes for the future, and past Naho has already made some pretty big changes, even if they don’t seem like it, but each time we see future Naho after past Naho does something different, things don’t look different at all in that future nor do they suddenly seem to shift around to accommodate that change(s).

    Past Naho also brings up a good point in that the letter isn’t (nearly as) reliable after she changes something that she’s warned about because things that come after will most likely be different than what the letter tells her now that she had changed something and so without knowing precisely what will happen and what it results in, there’s no way to know whether what she does next will be good or still lead to Kakeru’s death somehow.

  • July 13, 2016 at 9:54 amBear

    Up till now I think everything we see in the future could be the same regardless of whether Kakeru is alive or dead. For example we think of flowers as a grave offering but maybe they’re not. Maybe they’re for something else like his birthday or birth of his first child. Maybe these things are misdirection and the future is in a Schrödinger’s cat state which will only be determined by what Naho does based on the letter.

    • July 13, 2016 at 2:53 pmBamboo Blade Cat

      That’s a great observation, that whatever we see in the future will stay the same, but the end result of where they’re going will be different from what Naho does in the past. It will most likely be something like you said, that they’re visiting Kakeru after the birth of his child.

  • July 14, 2016 at 5:19 amlaila703

    i didnt read the manga but i dont think a letter will change the future !! she already has a baby will that change as well !? i dont understand !? ok so he is dead in the future and i dont see how will that change but maybe her mission is to make him happy …anyway i have to prepare a dozen of tissues because this episode made me sad even though it was a happy episode .