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orange – 12

「LETTER #12」

Well, that was certainly an episode of orange – dramatic, tense, silly, and insightful. For the first time, we get the story from Kakeru’s point of view, which makes all the difference in understanding what he’s going through. It pains me that so many viewers cannot empathise or understand what someone in his position is going through. It’s a struggle to watch his crushing teenage years flash by in the first half of this episode, but I sincerely hope it affects people in such a way that they’ll learn to be less judgemental and hateful towards someone suffering from severe depression and who is plagued with suicidal thoughts. His issues are real, and people in the real world are often looked down on or ignored when they go through similar struggles. When I see those attitudes reflected in the comments I can’t help but be taken aback. I sure hope the people who have no sympathy for Kakeru’s feelings wouldn’t act how they say they would to someone in real life. I’ve tried not to get to personal in my point of view, but as someone who suffered with suicidal thoughts in the past and attempted to take my own life in my early teens, I am 100% on Kakeru’s side here and the way his struggles are conveyed in orange feel authentic and true to life.

When Kakeru says the words: “To keep on living is the most painful thing”, my heart breaks. I’ve always thought Takano Ichigo knew what she was talking about, but this episode cements that she either was directly affected with suicide in the past or has done extensive research on the topic. When you see the unfortunate events of Kakeru’s high school life piling on him one after another, it’s hard to imagine what it would be like to be in his position. He blames himself for his mother’s death due to his blunt words, he puts his grandmother through stress, he loses the relay race, his high school love is confessed to by his best friend and he doesn’t have the energy to fight back, his old friends from Tokyo laugh off his depression, he attempts his own life to the secret of his new friends, and they trample on his feelings after being unable to tell them what he’s been thinking this entire time.

This is all in the previous timeline of course, but this episode highlighted how lonely Kakeru truly was. Naho was right to point out so many individual moments that stood out in her memory, because even if he did a convincing job of masking his inner demons, it’s clear that he struggled every step of the way, right up until he found his mother’s unsent message before she took her own life. That’s what pushed him over the edge. He had already given up by that point, and now we can see why his death came as a complete shock to them all. Without context, they would never have known.

But that was then, and now there’s another timeline. I could pick apart the absurd explanation for the new timeline, but I liked most of what this episode offered, so I’m not going to get bogged down in the iffy details. I think it would have been best to not have a concrete explanation for the letters being sent back in time; this one is just… dumb. But it set-up this great story that’s unfolded before our eyes, and finally, Naho is being the proactive protagonist that many have been hoping for. After her crude words last week, she goes out of her way to make sure history doesn’t repeat herself – that Kakeru doesn’t go down in a spiral after this point just like before. She tries so hard, and Kakeru is refusing her with equal force. You’ve got to give her credit for not backing down, as her friends watch on with nothing much else to add.

Is Kakeru a lost cause at this point? We’ve got one episode left to find out, and it’s been revealed it will be an hour-long special, so you can expect plenty of tears, drama, and revelations to come. I’m curious to see whether she or Suwa or any of the group will come clean about the letters and explain that Kakeru of the other world killed himself not long after now. It’s a tricky situation they’re all in, and Naho has a lot to consider if she’s to win Kakeru over and convince him that life is worth living when everything until now has convinced him otherwise.

 

September 20, 2016 at 7:42 am
11 comments »
  • September 20, 2016 at 9:26 amET

    The first half hit too close to home. Like Kakeru, I have lots of regrets from the past which I haven’t gotten over and this resulted in me constantly thinking that I’m a terrible person. And again like Kakeru, I’m reluctant to talk about my problems because of so many fears: that I’d be rejected (fuck his Tokyo friends), of being a bother to others and burdening them with something unnecessary. I know that these thoughts aren’t rational but knowing is different from believing.

    Orange might not be a very good romance show in the end, but it deserves praise for its portrayal of depression.

    • September 21, 2016 at 10:15 amHiro

      ” I’m reluctant to talk about my problems because of so many fears:[...]of being a bother to others and burdening them with something unnecessary.”

      This. This is why I never tell anyone anything that is remotely sad/depressing.

  • September 20, 2016 at 11:22 amHalfDemonInuyasha

    I can definitely relate as someone who has suffered heavily from depression (and anxiety) throughout Junior High and High School, including suicidal thoughts. After one bad event, I even just refused to go to school for three months. The only reason I didn’t automatically fail for missing 30 days total was because my psychiatrist kept my school’s guidance counselor up-to-date on my condition and I also got a school tutor after a while to keep me up on lessons and such.

    Although never targeted specifically, I have seen, and continue to see, countless comments by ignorant people on the issue in general – saying people suffering depression are merely “playing victim”, “attention whores”, “lazy”, “insensitive”, “taking advantage of people’s kindness”, etc. It’s really like an endless loop where you feel bad, blame yourself, etc. and when you see others feel bad over you, it only makes you feel even worse and it just goes back and forth.

  • September 20, 2016 at 12:48 pmBlue

    I think at this point coming clean about the letters might be the best thing, that is if Kakeru will believe them.

    I understand how hard it is to carry your regrets with you. I’m sure many of us, myself included, sometimes wish ‘if only I could go back’ ‘if only I had chosen to do this thing instead of that’ or ‘if only I could go back to when I was ___ and relive my life’. Even knowing that it’s futile, it’s common sentiment to have.

  • September 20, 2016 at 2:59 pmdanny

    I agree that any attempt to “make real” the method of time traveling letters is an unnecessary distraction. I don’t care how the letters got there.

    However, I disagree that random people can be blamed for “trampling” on the unexpressed feelings of other people.

    There are some very real issues of emotional abuse and enabling being presented here and I feel the author is giving it a pass.

    I, also, speak from experience with depression, grief, and more. However, it is possible to be those things and NOT be an inherent jerk. It’s also possible to be a frustrated, lonely, isolated teenager with all the pressure and confusion and annoyance which goes with it, and then some, and also not unpredictably lash out at others.

    Get this: he was a jerk to his mom before she died.

    This episode didn’t make me more sympathetic to him, it confirmed that even when he isn’t suffering from terrible grief, he still can lash out at those close to him at the same time he’s putting on a happy face for others. That’s not depression. That’s not grief. That’s not being suicidal. That’s being an egotistical jerk. His litany of “complaints” about his mom amount to “she didn’t let me co-parent myself!” His mom probably should have talked to him more about the big changes but the apple sure didn’t fall far from her tree. Neither of them talk enough but both expect others to be psychic.

    So I think the author did a poor job of making Kakeru sympathetic. The problem is that a large percentage of people experience tough times much like Kakeru did, without treating others the way Kakeru does. Yes, other people experience deaths (including suicides) of loved ones and don’t routinely hurt everyone around them. I wanted him to be made sympathetic. But if the author knows about depression and suicide (as many feel), the author doesn’t know much at all about abusive personalities or is supporting such.

    Because Kakeru’s emotional behavior and treatment of others is unpredictable, volatile, and selfish. I dread a future with him and Naho together because she will have to work very hard and worry constantly about tending to his unasked desires, his casually hurt feelings, and feeling blame for things she should never feel guilty for. Imagine the rest of her life being an extension of this show! Kakeru is a good looking guy who can put on a friendly face but gets secretly angry over others not filling his own secret sense of entitlement until he is accidentally triggered to lash out, leaving everyone hurt, confused, and feeling both blame and helplessness. He was like this before his mom died. It’s classic abuse.

    And one thing emerging here I can’t stand is the idea that, if a person feels either such emotional pain or emptiness that they are suicidal, a high school romance can cure that. I sure hope that’s NOT the direction this show is going in. Early on, I appreciated the tackling of such a dark and difficult subject which is rarely touched. But it entirely lost me with the idea that mere high schoolers can and should solve the problem. What message would this send to those touched by real suicides? “You didn’t cater to that boy’s crush, his death is your fault!” “Your friend was suffering depression, how terrible for you to not notice that or do more to fix it!”

    That would be a terrible message and would totally counteract any credibility the author seems to be showing about understanding suicidal tendencies. The only point of interest in this episode is how it was indicated that his mom regularly visited the hospital. She expected Kakeru to go with her. After she died and he tried to kill himself, his grandmother asked him to go to the hospital and he harshly refused. What kind of hospital services were Kakeru’s mom receiving? Emotional counseling? There’s some real issues being suggested here but the story seems to be leaning in a terrible fantasy-based solution. As long as he gets the girl, he’ll be okay? He’ll become a true nice guy and stop lashing out at others for not giving him the things he denied wanting?

    Understand, my position is not that he should off himself. I hope he lives. I hope he finds hope, heals, and becomes a better person. But I hope Naho can find a future of happiness and not emotional subservience.

    • September 20, 2016 at 7:00 pmDevil’s advocate

      You make valid points. He was dismissive of his mom though I’m sure we all had that feeling at one point. He never reached out to anyone, though when he did, he wasn’t taken seriously. if I were in his shoes, I’d probably jeep things to myself as well.

  • September 20, 2016 at 5:23 pmAzsurance

    This episode was clearly dedicated to the people hating on Kakeru, and thinking he could really say those selfish things despite what his friends were doing to help him. The truth is, the internalized dialogue of a depressed person is never revealed or understood easily, so we really needed this episode.

    But the entire drama also sums up how important communication is between family/friends. No doubt Kakeru’s mother did things in the best of his interest, I find it weird why she would just smile things off instead of telling him why she did things (from something as trivial as the throwing of his soccer boots/things). And initial flashbacks gave us the assumption that she wasn’t “well” and was mentally reliant on Kakeru, lest she had a breakdown.

    So it’s really hard to completely feel sympathy for his mother, I’m really confused in fact.

  • September 20, 2016 at 5:58 pmlunascha

    The first half of the episode, I really thought it might be over between Kakeru and Naho and that the future cannot be changed after all. Then the conversation with the black hole and all got my hopes again and perhaps they could change their future with Kakeru and somehow, in another parallel universe, they saved him.
    I can’t believe there is one more episode to this series. I feel like it just went by too quickly with all the emotional moments. Though, it is still difficult for me to understand his mother and what she did was really selfish as a mother even though she felt like she was in his way, she didn’t think through of what it would do to Kakeru..
    Anywhos, I hope it will be a happy ending for everyone D:

  • September 21, 2016 at 10:31 pminfo600

    There’s two things that I would pick on, Kakeru and his mother.

    - First the mother; Her behavior and post-mortem explanation literally screams running away, with a side of selfish (she didn’t explain to Kakeru at all on her actions to try protect him from emotional harm, thinking that she had made the best choice for him like a helicopter parent overprotective parent trying not to get her kid to go through something similar to what happened to her). That continuing behavior lead to…

    - Kakeru himself; like a few folks here have said earlier, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. He was reclusive, stuffing his suffering deeper within his mind and only once(?) attempted to open up to his friends (the ones from Tokyo, who brushed it off as a joke – didn’t help Kakeru’s case at all). That resulted in him being in a somewhat similar mental condition as his mother. (Remember the pills she was taking in this week’s episode?)

    Anyways, onto the rest of the episode…
    Naho’s really trying to reconnect with Kakeru now, with February being just around the corner and the others in the group getting her opportunities / moral support. Still, Kakeru’s rejecting her attempts just as hard. (damn, so close to typing out spoilers for next week).

    ps. we got through chapters 19 & 20 now. ONWARD TO THE FINAL EPISODE (and the last two chapters)!

  • September 22, 2016 at 7:45 pmAnonymous

    I wish I had friends like Naho and the gang, where they all thought of him even after 10 years…

  • September 23, 2016 at 2:10 amMi-Chan

    Ok so can we take a moment to notice how Kakero looks different when he talks about himself LOL I mean, the Kakera in episode one sure looked slightly different xD I still can’t forget the scene when Naho speaks but its Asza talking instead -.-”..