This episode of orange was easily the happiest one yet. I only teared up twice. Isn’t that a funny thing? This episode was the most joyous and positive, yet it hurt the most. I’m going to blame that on the sense of dread that looms over every conversation and revelation that we get. Thankfully, this episode started adapting the manga at a faster pace, and that paid off in delivering an episode that felt packed to the brim yet with enough breathing room to keep us from collapsing from an overdose of emotions. I’d say it was the best one yet, and if it’s any indication of where we’re going from here, then I’m even more excited for what’s to come than I already was before. Yet part of me is convinced this is where things will only get more painful, and I honestly can’t wait.
The reason why I liked this episode most of all (other than the improved artwork – matching that of the premiere) is that it feels like we’re expanding past just Naho and Kakeru. They’re both the leads of this series, and their drama deserves the attention it’s getting, but I’m glad we’re fleshing out the other kids in the group and getting a better sense of their characters. orange balances the casual conversations and genuine friendship of its cast wonderfully – it makes their interactions and reactions to what one another says believable, where many anime fail. None of them are true stereotypes; I can imagine each of them existing in the real world and this episode showed that the character writing is perhaps the show’s greatest strength.
Suwa got more spotlight than ever before, and now I’m seeing why he’s a fan favourite among manga readers. He’s a true bro – a friend anyone would be blessed to have, especially since he’s willing to put his own self-interest behind that of his friends. He’s constantly self-sacrificing his own feelings yet balancing the needs of those around him in a way that almost feels inhuman. That may sound like a contradiction to my claim of realism, but I totally believe that a guy like Suwa exists if only because he defies what many would expect from characters that appear to be like him. Normally the proactive, athletic, muscular (essentially a jock) high schoolers are arrogant asses who are always paired with the ‘popular girl’ and only serve to tear down those who are below them. In comparison, Suwa is the most genuine and sincere of the show; he’s cool, effortless, attractive, and compassionate. Yet it’s clear that he’s struggling with Naho’s affections for Kakeru. He says he’s rooting for them to get together – and I believe him when he says that, if only because he wants Naho to be happy – but when she thanks him for all the things he does for her… I couldn’t help but tear up along with him. That moment confirms that he doesn’t do all of those things for praise or attention. The moment he receives praise for his actions he doesn’t know how to react and stops being the cool guy for just a moment. I hope we’ll delve deeper into his character and his internal struggles with Naho’s affection for Kakeru because I’m seriously impressed with what we’ve seen from him thus far.
Naho and Kakeru still do get most of the attention this week, with them now walking home together and going on solo dates. It’s cute as buttons, and seeing them both smile and enjoy their time with one another is adorable. It’s an odd thing, though, because on one hand Naho is constantly thinking about this letters (which are becoming more and more unreliable), while Kakeru clearly has his own personal struggles that lead to his death. It all seems to be going so well… until time travel is brought up. The teacher just so happens to discuss the parallel worlds theory. It may seem like shoehorned exposition, but I’m willing to give it a pass because my own physics teacher did this very lesson off the cuff once, mainly because he was interested in it and the majority of the class wanted to get into the topic of time travel. All things considered, I think despite Hagita’s disbelief it seems clear that this moment serves as an explanation to the letters from the future and how the events of the past are unlikely to alter that particular future.
The other moment of the episode that made me well up was when Naho’s hand reached out to Kakeru when she realised she would never be able to heal the wounds and erase the regrets of her future self – all she can do is make a new future where things worked out differently. If everything does play out nicely then there will be two realities: one where she ends up with Suwa, and another with Kakeru. It’s hard to know what exactly we should be rooting for, expect that Kakeru doesn’t deserve to die either way. But with the focus shifting to Suwa – and knowing that he and Naho are married in the future – that could hint that the resolutions won’t be so simple. There’s plenty to consider here, yet in these five episodes orange feels like it has covered so much already. We know these characters so well and we’re not even half way through their story. But whatever does happen, I’m holding onto this moment of happiness incase it is our last.