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orange – 13 (END)

「LETTER #13」

And just like that, orange saves the best for last. Gah, what an episode. This is the level of high drama and emotional poignancy that I expected from this adaptation. Some episodes may have been less exciting, but a good ending makes all the difference, and this was pretty much a perfect ending. I can’t think of a better way for the story of orange to reach its conclusion other than what we got here. Thank the anime gods this came in at 37 minutes rather than the usual 21, because it would have made for a rushed finale otherwise. There were quieter moments here squeezed between the monumental ones, and giving that extra time to breathe made all the difference once things got serious. Really serious.

First off, this episode looked great. It wasn’t gorgeous, but there wasn’t any off-putting facial expressions or unsightly animation tics; some scenes were almost beautiful, even if that was mainly down to the backgrounds and vibrant colours. It’s obvious that orange suffered in its production midway through its run, and whether that’s down to scheduling or budget or anything else will remain a mystery, but I’m glad that more effort was put into this final episode. Without that extra touch to make it burst off the screen, it might not have been so impactful. Previous episodes suffered from that lack of emotional investment when the characters just looked so wrong that you couldn’t get dragged in by their stories. Here, everything fit together nicely, and the result was exactly what we needed.

I’d like to mention just how much Naho has grown these past two episodes. I never hated her or blamed her for all this mess, but I do think it took her longer to reach that point of clarity that would have been preferable. But now that she understands what she has to do and how she has to approach Kakeru head-on despite the worries in her heart, she’s proven herself a fitting protagonist to this story. Again, Kakeru kept trying to push her away and avoid conversation. But she didn’t give in, even when an unsightly face confronted her at the worst opportunity. She persevered and got through to Kakeru in the end, changing his fate forever.

Kakeru’s actions this week weren’t too surprisingly, but they had me on the edge of my seat. Knowing that this was the exact moment he would kill himself, and that the events were playing out exactly the same despite the groups best efforts, I didn’t know what to expect. For a moment, I thought we were going for a tragic end, but then everything became clear and the answers we got were fitting and rewarding to the story we’ve watched unfold. Even though all of Kakeru’s friends were waiting at that intersection to stop anything bad from happening, it would have been cheap if they only stopped him in this moment. The fact that Kakeru saw light at the end of the tunnel and pulled away from that truck just in the nick of time is the ending we needed, deserved, and got. It goes to show that the efforts of his friends were worth it in the end, and that it all paid off. Slowly, day by day, they got through to him until he felt loved enough to keep on living. Every day he considered taking his life, but when the moment came, he paused and remembered what he’d be missing out on. Suwa may have shouted at him afterwards – when he thought Kakeru had been hit and only survived out of luck – but this goes to show that their nurturing, loving, and tender methods to show how much they cared for him worked out in the end. It’s not so easy to just shake those bad thoughts out of a suicidal person’s head. You can’t just tell them that life’s worth living, you have to show them. And that’s exactly what they did.

I’m shocked but relieved that they spilled the beans on the letters. If they bottled up that information for the rest of time, it would be unsettling to know Kakeru was left out of the loop throughout his high school years. His reaction was much better than I expected, and the moment where the group handed their personalised letters from the future, that’s when I started to well up. I had major Ano Hana flashbacks right there, and anyone who knows me knows that an Ano Hana comparison is a sign of true quality in my eyes. It was the perfect emotional conclusion to this tale, even if Kakeru wasn’t saved in the previous timeline. His friends from back then will be haunted by their ignorance forever, but the fact that they were willing to make the effort to save him, even if it meant still not seeing him again, shows how much they cared for him. It’s a happy end for all, in one timeline or another. Naho proved herself, Kakeru survived, Azu and Hagita are still adorable, Takako is a supportive friend, and Suwa is just the best. They’ve all lived happily ever after, and it feels wonderful. I love a tragic ending when it’s done right, but a happy ending this earned is incomparable.

Final Impressions
I feel like I’ve already said all that can be said about this finale, so my final impressions won’t be as lengthy as usual. What I can say is that I had high expectations going into orange, as I had read the first half of the manga and knew what level of quality storytelling to expect – I knew it would be raw, emotional, with a killer premise, and present a bunch of teenagers that you couldn’t help but root for. Now, I have to be honest and say this isn’t the adaptation wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, similar to Boku no Hero Academia last season. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just that the director’s vision and the limits of anime production meant that the result didn’t live up to my hopes. However, I did appreciate the distinct directing by Hamasaki Hiroshi, and I think by the end he and his staff did the best they could manage.

It’s been fun (and also very emotional) to write about this show these past three months, but what’s even better is there’s a movie sequel on the way! That came out of left field. I don’t think anyone was expecting that to be announced after this double-length episode, but there we have it. It sounds like it’s going to be a retelling of the TV series from Suwa’s perspective while also adapting the two-chapter story that mangaka, Takano Ichigo, is publishing shortly. It feels like we’ve already got the ending we deserved, so I expect this movie to be an extra treat rather than an attempt to make up for past mistakes. It will hopefully give Suwa some well-earned screentime for his sacrifices, we’ll see Naho and Kakeru being cute and smitten with each other, and hopefully Azu and Hagita finally get together and make their current world the one where they get married.

September 27, 2016 at 12:13 pm
26 comments »
  • September 27, 2016 at 2:06 pmCrunchie

    I’d read the entire manga just before the anime was announced, but when Naho saw Kakeru at the intersection, I immediately burst into tears. That scene was so well done, this whole episode was well done. The series wasn’t perfect due to production but I’m very satisfied with how the anime went when in comparison to the manga.

    • September 28, 2016 at 6:16 amSamu

      The anime and manga are certainly different beasts, but for what it’s worth this was a solid adaptation.

  • September 27, 2016 at 3:15 pmHalfDemonInuyasha

    Another one of my favorite series of the season but, sadly, seems to be passing under the radar given I don’t seem to see it talked about a whole lot; under the shadows of ones like Re:Zero, Prisma Illya, and whatnot.

    One thing I’m really glad for was that it was Kakeru who saved himself with his choosing to turn back at the last second rather than go through with the suicide. While the support of the group was definitely a factor by giving Kakeru something to want to live for, it’s ultimately up to the person suffering to make the choice to keep fighting and living, so for me personally, that kind of impact would have been really lessened if Suwa were to dive-tackle Kakeru out of the way of the truck or something (the one most likely able to, and to do such a thing).

  • September 27, 2016 at 3:55 pmsealouse

    I was really wanting to see the version of the future with Kakeru still alive. Perhaps in the movie?

    • September 28, 2016 at 6:20 amSamu

      Well the title is literally: Orange: Future, so we may jump forward several years into the future if we’re lucky.

  • September 27, 2016 at 5:06 pmJustSomeRando

    This is a wonderful series, and it honestly shook me to my core. I’ve never commented on RandomC before, but I felt like I really had to talk about this:

    I’m a recovering depressive whose attempted suicide before, and the irrationally self-negative and self-isolation-oriented conversations Kakeru would have with himself were all too familiar. “Just living is the hardest thing” was an especially strong statement. It’s something I’ve said before. It’s something I’ve heard other depressives I’ve counselled say before.

    And the conversations Kakeru had with Naho and Suwa this ep are conversations I’ve had as well, with the people who are the reason I’m still alive today. Suwa especially saying “If you die I will never forgive you” is something that has been said word by word to me. I thought I was crying a lot at that point already, but boy howdy was I wrong.

    It was disheartening to see comments in the past episodes saying Kakeru was oversensitive, or emotionally manipulative, or didn’t deserve his friend, because his mental process and self-destruction is one of the most relatable things I’ve ever seen. But his friends flipping the world upside down for him and fighting for a happiness that he could and would no longer fight for himself made me thankful for the people have been there in my own experiences, and for the people who are there for each other when their days are darkest. I understand now and the show has reiterated it to me: sometimes you really can’t understand each other’s sadness, but that will never stop you from being there for each other.

    Orange could not have come at a better time for me. It’s underrated as hell, and it made me cry a lot, but god was it uplifting. Takano Ichigo knows her shit, and I am thankful for her for telling this story. And to you to for blogging this, Samu!

    • September 28, 2016 at 6:18 amSamu

      Thanks for sharing your story. I agree those comments were disheartening, but at least it all worked out in the end and it completely made sense. Takano Ichigo gave us an insightful story of suicide and depression and love and friendship and I too thank her.

      Hopefully you stick around and comment on other posts in future ;)

  • September 27, 2016 at 6:42 pmrs456

    Was an alternate time line created by saving Kakeru?

  • September 27, 2016 at 7:54 pminfo600

    Welp, another series over. *sheds manly tears*

    Personally, I think Naho channeling her future-self towards Kakeru was the highlight of this week:

    http://randomc.net/image/orange/orange%20-%2013%20-%20Large%2011.jpg

    ps. 2 (final) chapters for one and a half episode…sounds about right…

  • September 27, 2016 at 10:01 pmNishizawa Mihashi

    I’ve much to say about this show in general now that it’s finally concluded, but I must attend to my lunch first. I shall be back in a moment

    • September 28, 2016 at 1:39 amNishizawa Mihashi

      Wait, on second thought, I think I can only get back to this post tomorrow as I’m currently busy reviewing Macross Delta at the moment. Hopefully conversations will still continue to happen by the time I get down to relaying my thoughts tomorrow

  • September 27, 2016 at 10:52 pmSageM

    When I saw them hand the letters to Kakeru at the end, I was almost expecting the ending theme from Anohana to suddenly start playing. I mean that ending was nearly as emotional and heartbreaking as the ending to that series.

    It was a great series, I am sad to see it go.

    Lets hope the future will now be a brighter one for Kakeru in the new parallel world they helped make. ^_^

    • September 28, 2016 at 6:19 amSamu

      Anything that comes close to the Ano Hana finale is a great thing in my books. I remember weeping for that entire episode and then for a few more minutes after it ended (yeah, I’m not ashamed to admit it!). It’s my fav anime, so I can see what you mean about hearing the music playing in that scene.

  • September 28, 2016 at 6:01 amSetsunahenry

    This is a good anime but I don’t get it why not many people watch this show. I found Re:Zero boring but most people love it so much. Plus Re:Zero is a bit rushing in last episode.

    • September 28, 2016 at 6:22 amSamu

      Re:Zero has the makings of a series that appeals to a majority of anime/manga/LN fans, so it’s not surprising that it’s the most popular. I wouldn’t call it boring, but I’ll take an orange over a Re: Zero any day of the week.

  • September 28, 2016 at 9:20 amMMX

    Marathoned this one today and absolutely did not regret it. Although some episodes were downright unsightly like ep.9 -I had to check the blog episode review if it was just my perception or it was really just badly animated and drawn. The climax had me at the edge of my seat and I really thought they would go with the most tragic of endings. Of course with this ending, there’d be no doubt more questions now. I have this weird feeling Naho and Suwa will still end up together, and I don’t know if it’s just me but that last scene of Naho, Suwa and kid looking up at the sky seems to me belongs to the future of the changed timeline. But that’s just me. Anyway, this was a great series albeit quite under the radar, a lot of people haven’t even heard of it, and the few people I know who did thought it was an Anohana clone, which is an unfair comparison.

  • September 28, 2016 at 2:46 pmNameless

    I would be honest to say I didn’t realize the episode was more than 35 minuets long until I checked the time and wondered how there was only 20 minuets left to my dentist appointment (when it was 1hr b4 that) and the anime didn’t even finish yet? I was so submerged. “We can’t change the future” killed me, I was hoping we can :P

    Besides that episode where Kakeru looks like a different anime character, or the one where Naho’s mouth opens but Azu talks, I loved the series :) The opening theme is really one of my likeable ones for 2016.

    Thanks for your review,
    M

  • September 29, 2016 at 5:11 amNamaewoinai

    So…That Mama’s Boys finally saved, Well fair enough! but the real question is…

    Where is he now, after his high school days? oh well…i guess we never know when we see them
    i think that special episode (IMO), will know about it! i hope!

    Overall…uh…i mean i say this. Romantic stories for me are getting more duller or worst it gets really irritated! However in this case i give this an exception! so yeah we’ll see what happens on the special episode!

  • September 29, 2016 at 10:43 amAzsurance

    Suwa is just too pure, my heartstrings were tugged so hard when he said “no” and blushed at the future of a married Naho and him.

  • September 30, 2016 at 10:55 pmsamui

    Final thoughts:

    This is my anime of Summer 2016.

    A longer one.

    Man, this series is a bit bloated. If this was a 11-12 episode series, I think it might have trampled ERASED as my regret-filled time travel story this year. Alas! Episode 8 happened, then the production fell on episode 9. It took 10 minutes into episode 10 before I realized the show might be back on its tracks. From there, orange went upswing and was great till the end.

    For someone who has been through depression in his teenage years, yeah, only you can save yourself. If you think things are perfectly okay, one stumble and you’re back to your self loathing self. It felt so awful, the kind of awful that you wish to disappear since no one might care anyway.

    I hope the BD release of orange will be fixed. I really hope.

    PS: the ending is just wonderful.

  • October 1, 2016 at 6:44 amKanade

    Honestly speaking, I’ve never really understood the hype about Orange. I love Takano IChigo (the author), don’t get me wrong. I was probably one of the few foreigners that introduced her works with (back then) running manga Yume Miru Taiyou (I was the first one to translate it), and honestly speaking, I found Yume Miru Taiyou to be more interesting than Orange.
    I love me some drama, tears and good story telling but Orange? Instead of making a love action movie aanime (and what next, a musical?) for the title I wish they’d turn more valuable manga into anime, like, let’s Asano Inio.
    For me, all Orange looked like was a suicidal boy being chased by a crybaby girl. Before anyone starts flaming it, let me point out that it’s just my opinion.

    • October 1, 2016 at 12:55 pmyoloalchemist

      Then I’m curious. What did you want Orange to be? Because as far as I can tell, Orange was always meant to be like this, a dramatic representation on the issue of depression and one such way to handle and remedy it. If you don’t like it, so be it, I’m not one to judge, but just don’t undermine it as a story for daring to tackle a deadly issue our society faces. Because as such, by the end of it, I personally don’t think it was meant to be enjoyed so much as it was meant to be pondered upon and learned from. Depression is that big of a deal. I’m sorry if it didn’t turn out to be a story you’d enjoy but like I said, it was always meant to be like this.

  • October 1, 2016 at 9:23 amNishizawa Mihashi

    Alright, so my comment came in really late but regardless, I’ll just talk a little bit about orange from my knowledge as a psychologist.

    I’ve mentioned this before, but the depression Kakeru has isn’t major depression, but atypical depression. That said, regardless of the kind of depression he’s facing and the technical or creative aspects of the overall production of the anime, the most important thing that I simply cannot stress enough as a psychologist is that I am glad that the story places a very strong emphasis on the critical importance of community support when helping someone with depression. I am also very glad that depression is portrayed very accurately in the story in addition to the actions and reactions of the individuals that come into contact with, or are already within the depressed person’s interpersonal circle.

    The reason why depression is a very complex condition or state of being is (I have also observed that it is mammals but most specifically homo sapiens that can be primarily afflicted with it) that the reasons that cause depression range from the biological all the way to the social- but primarily social. In Kakeru’s case, it is much less due to genetic influence but rather that his depression arose due to his very strained relationship with his mother, in addition due to the socialization that he had received living in his native culture. While the various reasons that depressed individuals use can frankly be absolutely opaque and downright unreasonable at times to others, even to psychologists, what is most important however, is to at least suspend all sense of judgement and conditioned paradigms and instead attempt to comprehend at a cognitive level the overall plight of the depressed person as deeply as possible. One may not understand or comprehend their plight on an affective level but the sincere and genuine interest in attempting to do so on a cognitive level certainly helps. If one is part of a depressed person’s interpersonal circle, that alone provides one with a distinct advantage over the average psychologist or psychiatrist in regards to strengthening one’s bond with them. However, there is also a higher risk of alienating them on a more viscerally personal level if one treats the relationship without necessary attention.

    As I have mentioned previously, while this approach of strengthening one’s bond with them is most useful in cases of depression involving interpersonal relations, and that it may not work as effectively in cases where the depression stems from issues with intrapersonal identity and several others in terms of social causes or from biologically based ones, that does not mean however that is simply more effective to not focus on strengthening one’s bond with individuals afflicted with such cases, but rather that different types and cases of depression are best handled according to the origin and nature of their causes. For Kakeru, it is in empathizing with and helping him to accept his overall sentiments, feelings and relationship with his mother without imposing one’s judgements and socialized or conditioned paradigms onto him or his situation.

    In any case, that is all that I have to say in regards to the matter. If anything, I certainly wish that more stories are created to address these issues, but I also do hope that the creators of such stories do at least research the issues thoroughly and construct the stories WITHOUT being influenced by hidden agendas- ESPECIALLY if those agendas are deeply antagonistic to these issues to begin with. In other words, just as I have mentioned previously, suspend ALL and I mean ALL judgement and paradigms and portray the stories simply as they are.

  • October 2, 2016 at 4:45 amYukishiro

    I enjoyed this anime, made me cry a couple of times. If there’s one thing I didn’t like much about it, it’s Naho’s character. Kinda weak and uninteresting.

    I also find it quite disturbing that future Suwa and Naho are so eager to change the past and create an alternate future. They already are parents and I’m sure they love and cherish their daughter more than anything in the world. They must know that saving their friend meant they might lose their precious daughter. Even if they are not going to lose their child in their current reality, they’ve decided so easily that there should be an alternate world where Kakeru is alive, Kakeru and Naho are together, and this child would never exist. I can’t imagine any parent letting that happen.

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  • January 26, 2017 at 3:16 pmscampjot

    Late reply (as usual ahah).

    I really loved this anime. I started watching by the end of December, and I took my time. Seeing flashbacks of earlier episodes here was bittersweet, but I loved “revisiting” (it has been a month! eheh) these character in their best light.

    This is one of those animes I just can’t give a score, because I know other people won’t value it as I did, but to me it was top-notch. :)