Written by Bananaowns
Images courtesy of Telecom Animation Film
Every now and then I absolutely fall in love with a show, only to have it disappoint me. The pattern is always the same. The initial premise and first few episodes are perfect, but the middle portion always creates the issue. The show I am reviewing today started and ended very strongly, but the aggravating middle section turned me off from truly enjoying this show. Of course I am talking about Orange. I am Bananaowns and this is an Otaku Youth anime review.
Story and Characters
Orange stars Naho, a high school student who receives a mysterious letter from her future self. The future Naho asks her to prevent the biggest regret of her life, which has everything to do with a new transfer student named Kakeru. Early on, Naho learns that in the future Kakeru is dead. Due to his mother’s death, Kakeru spirals into depression and ends up committing suicide in the same year in which he enrolled at the school. Naho is forced to overcome her own character deficiencies in order to prevent Kakeru from killing himself.
This initial setup is phenomenal. It becomes apparent quite early on that the story will have an emotional punch to it. The story is about suicide, depression, and feeling responsible for the death of a loved one. It’s quite serious in nature and dealing which such a difficult topic made this show a powerhouse in the first few episodes, but it loses its way during the middle. This is due to a weakening story and Naho’s character.
Before getting into my gripes, the rest of the main cast is great. Naho’s group of friends feels absolutely genuine with how much they love and respect each other. Some people have criticized Kakeru’s character, but I find this does not really a lot of legitimate criticism. Kakeru is depressed and he acts out at times. He’s at the point where he is depressed enough to be suicidal, so his acting out is completely appropriate in terms of the story. Suwa is also a delight. He is the nicest and most sacrificial anime character in existence. He goes out of his way to help his group of friends, often at his own detriment. He is one of the first to figure out that Kakeru is dealing with some dark stuff and he actually sacrifices his own personal feelings to help save him.
As for the criticism, the plot meanders quite a bit to the point where episodes feel identical and this is usually caused by Naho’s character. The typical episode structure consists of Naho failing to consider the letter because of her own insecurities even though she knows what will happen as a result. This is fine for the first couple of times, but these moments still occur towards the end of the series. Just when you think her character is evolving and she’s gaining more confidence, it just goes back to the drawing board. As a viewer it gets frustrating to watch Naho make the same mistakes over and over again. At a certain point, they probably could have cut a significant portion of episodes and the payoff of the ending would likely not change. This repeating story really diminishes the emotional impact of the anime and brings the series down as a whole.
Animation and Sound
Initially, the series starts off with gorgeous animation. The backgrounds are highly detailed and carry a bright aesthetic. This initial bright aesthetic is an excellent contradiction to the serious tone of the series. Much like Kakeru, everything looks fine on the surface, but there are issues within. The first few episodes possess a high detail of animation which creates an issue that is highly similar to the issue with the story. The animation quality drops down significantly during the middle of the series. There are plenty of noticeable moments with awful animation quality similar to that of the infamous Dragonball: Super screenshots that went viral awhile back. Again, it’s unfortunate because the series started off very well, but degraded in the middle. However, I had no problems with the animation in the last couple of episodes.
As for the sound design, everything is just generic. The music carries the typical dramatic and hopeful tones that the audience would expect given the subject matter. Similarly, I found the voice acting to be average, with some scenes standing out immensely. The actors do pull off the more emotional scenes to perfect, but these scenes do not compose a large chunk of the overall series. However, I will say that Suwa’s voice actor perfectly captured his character’s caring personality and it was the best performance of the series to me. Overall, much like the story, the animation and sound possessed problems that held the series back.
Orange started off great, but quickly lost its way, which is a shame considering how emotional the story could be at times. These problems manifested themselves in a way that could not be ignored which is why I give Orange my Don’t Watch rating. The series had the potential to be great, but simply ended up in the bowels of mediocrity after the issues began to become a real problem. I’ll be back next week for another review and thanks for checking this one out.