That. was. dramatic.
And here I was thinking these past few weeks of orange were fairly slow and almost uneventful. That couldn’t be further from the truth this week, for better or worse (mainly better). This was easily the most exciting episode in weeks. After so long of progress with Kakeru going well, it only takes one little slip-up to revert back to the unfortunate events of the original timeline. There’s a few we can point fingers at (and I know fans already are blaming one particular character for this mess), but at the end of it all if Kakeru doesn’t want to be saved, then he won’t be. He is his own person with his own problems who can’t look past the short-term pain. Even with his friends knowing what they know, it still might not be enough to save him in the end.
I should probably begin with Naho. Poor Naho. She’s getting all the hate under the beating sun after what she did (or rather, what she didn’t do), and I can understand that, but at the same time I don’t blame her for all this mess. At this stage in the story she’s on the same level as the rest of her friends in terms of background knowledge and foresight, so it’s not like she’s carrying the burden solo any longer. She’s had less of the spotlight in the past few weeks, so this is her first time in a while to actively change her relationship with Kakeru and how one particular event between them played out. Obviously, things didn’t work out well at all. Their relationship may have blossomed more than it did in the original timeline, but the events with his grandmother are still the same Kakeru still feels guilty when he’s done nothing wrong. Perhaps Naho should have offered to go with him or have been more careful in choosing her words, but it’s clear that she just wants to solve this as quick as possible and trampled on Kakeru’s feelings as a result.
Suwa was (one again) the standout of the episode, proving why he is the ultimate best friend. He’s sacrificed so much of his potential future to aid in the saving of Kakeru, even if it means not confessing to Naho when he originally did before. Of course, the scenario is different now, but that’s a bold and brave move for him to take even with all his friends rooting him on. I’m glad he took the stand though, because that seems like the dodgiest time to confess his feelings, especially now that he knows about Kakeru’s suicidal thoughts. Back then he wouldn’t have known, so there’s no use blaming him, but if he repeated history here that would have put him in the bad books for sure. He’s doing what’s best, and he’s frankly better at it than Naho. But Naho is the lead character here because she has the strongest bond with Kakeru and is the most likely to help him through his troubles.
I’ve seen some criticism for this episode because of his overdramatic it was, but I love a dose of drama in my anime (my all-time favourite is Ano Hana, after all), so I’m not in that camp. The art has improved again, and the dark winter colours helped set the tone even before things started to go horribly wrong. I can see why viewers would get angry over the events of this episode, but it was inevitable that we were going to get some miscommunications and bad decisions before we reach the end of this story. With only two episode left I expect things will have to take a positive turn next week if we’re to end on a happy note. That’s what I’m expecting, but we could also be in store for a surprise tragic end, which would be a ballsy move if nothing else.
Also, the new ending visuals are really pretty. My favourite ones so far.