Suicide is a tricky and often taboo topic when it comes to anime. Off the top of my head I can’t think of many shows that treat it seriously and tackle the issue head-on – I can think of plenty of comedies that play it for gags, however. If I were to bring manga into the fold then there would be several that are worth discussing – one that I’ve recently been re-reading and re-confirming its greatness is Oyasumi Punpun, which throws you headfirst into a depressing spiral that makes orange seem like child’s play – but as far as anime go, orange has to be one of the hardest hitting. I don’t know Takano Ichigo’s history, but I suspect the creator of such a story must have been affected by suicide at some point in their life. It’s entirely possible that she wrote this without that personal experience, but there’s a believability to Kakeru’s actions, false smiles, and mannerisms that seem too real to ignore.
After Suwa revealed he received a letter from his future self as well, it now feels like we’re striking to the core of the series. Naho’s approach up until now has been skeptical yet believable (if you can put aside the fact that she didn’t just read the whole letter in advance), but with Suwa now helping her it allows them to be honest with each other and work together to get to the root of Kakeru’s impending suicide. Their attempts to figure out his birthday and then shower him with gifts was sweet, and it wasn’t until a few minutes later when it clicked that they are just trying to make him as happy as possible. With concrete details, dates, and events that lead up to Kakeru’s death now in place there’s something for Naho and Suwa to work towards… but the fact remains that this new timeline is already different from the one before it, and I suspect things won’t go so swell. What occurred one day in the past may happen early or later in this version of events; if that’s the case then they’re going to have to keep a close eye on Kakeru at all times in case he slips through their grasp despite their best efforts.
After we learn about Kakeru’s first attempted suicide with a bathroom towel, Naho’s reaction to him talking about jumping/flying out the window was like a punch to the gut. I know if I were in her position and knew what she knew then I’d say the exact same thing. She doesn’t play along with his idea but instead does what she can to nip that notion in the bud before it leads to him attempting to take his life for real. It gets even more dramatic when Suwa steps in and, less subtly, confronts Kakeru face-to-face about what happened with his mother and how that has affected him. In the events of the past timeline it seems no one ever suspected Kakeru had these thoughts, and I can only imagine how naked and alone he must feel, yet relieved when he’s forced to voice his true feelings – the fact that he thinks about killing himself every day since his mother died.
I love some good old fashioned melodrama in my anime (or just drama in general) when it’s done well, and everything is on point here. I care about all these characters, I deeply want Kakeru to survive, and I’m continuously intrigued by the future timeline and how their current findings lead to Naho and Suwa (and perhaps the others?) to send those letter to their past selves. We’re just over half way through yet it feels like we’ve already spent 20-odd episodes with these characters. This is a great example of a well-paced, believable, and thoroughly painful drama that’s sure to hit a nerve with those who have been unfortunate enough to suffer from or be affected by suicide in their own lives.