First Impressions – Orange

It may not be rhymable or the new black, but I’m satisfied.

OP: “Hikari no Hahen (光の破片)” by Yu Takahashi

Orange - 01 -1As I feared I’m hopelessly backlogged – the queue is full of premieres (and Rinne) and I have a mountain of stuff from A/X.  So a short post on Orange is all I have time for – I had intended to do it last night but I fell asleep.  The shortest answer I could give is that it’s good – excellent, even.  I have not read the manga but have read a lot of commentary on it, so I went into this premiere with a good deal of expectation and no little curiosity.

Orange - 01 -2Orange is the story of a 16 year-old girl named Takamiya Naho (a pleasingly restrained Hanazawa Kana) who receives a letter purportedly from her 26 year-old self.  It’s full of predictions which come true, and cautionary notes about things Naho will regret if she doesn’t do them differently (“Swing the bat, Takkun!”) than the first time around.  The most crucial advice isn’t revealed until the final moments of the episode, and it concerns a transfer student named Naruse Kakeru (Yamashita Keiichirou).  The older Naho warns the younger that Kakeru is “no longer around”, and that Naho should keep an eye on him.

Orange - 01 -6There’s no indication yet how this letter seemingly travelled back in time.  What’s interesting is that while most of its directions are very specific, the note about Kakeru is quite vague despite obviously being the most crucial.  What results is a very odd tone to the story, which is rather upbeat and focuses on a close-knit group of kids who have a strong bond of friendship that they let the new boy inside of with admirable openness.  Yet we have a foreboding hanging over everything (it’s hinted at in the prologue), and that sort of makes you hesitate to emotionally bond too much, knowing heartbreak is on the way,

Orange - 01 -7The other four in Naho’s circle don’t get a lot of focus yet – it seems Suwa Hiroto (Furukawa Makoto) may be destined for a romantic bond with Naho despite her falling for Kakeru.  That openness is obvious in the fact that everyone calls each other by their first name, even generally excluding honorifics (including the new guy).  Director Hamsaki Hiroshi is a veteran, having worked on many series (including Stein’s;Gate), none of them really shoujo – and the result is fluid and natural without any distinct “shoujo feel”.

Orange - 01 -8I went into Orange expecting it to be one of the better series of the summer, and nothing I saw here suggests it won’t be (though the season is off to an impressive start).  I’m preparing myself to be put through the wringer as I get to know these kids better, but there’s solace in knowing that the manga is completed and Hamasaki-sensei can do a complete adaptation in the 13-episode timeslot without making major changes.  It’s a definite keeper with big upside, though it’s easy to see that the emotional grinder is plugged in and warming up.

ED: “Mirai (未来)” by Kobukuro

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6 comments

  1. R

    I have never experienced love at first sight in real life, but this….this is love at first sight for me.

    orange wasn’t my first pick, but I was curious enough to check it out while hoping that this wouldn’t be another boring melodrama of high-schoolers. I may be jumping to conclusion, but this is no melodrama at all (yes, this is my own subjective statement), and the characters feel real (love it when high-schoolers are treated as high-schoolers.) I’m hooked.

    HanaKana is totally in her zone and has done a great job voicing Naho. I also like the use of atmosphere in the overall storytelling — even when you felt the hint of a looming tragedy, it still made an impact at the end that Kakeru would no longer be with them… The ED is great, too.

    Now, bring on Battery please…am a big fan of Mochizuki Tomomi.

  2. Hyped for Battery! I absolutely loved No. 6!

  3. The faces look a little bit off to me, but I guess those are the character designs. Seems like we’re all buckled up for an exciting rollercoaster ride.

  4. I’m super excited to watch this because this is the first time I’ve read the source material before the anime was announced. This will probably be my favourite for this season, who knows? I hope the adaptation goes well because the manga is only 14 chapters!

  5. g

    No, it has 22 chapters or so. The author was on hiatus (for personal reasons and some problems with publisher) but she came back with the manga in the other magazine (form shoujo to seinen, lol) and ended it properly.

  6. Orange looked liked shoujo. Shoujo always has this look to the eyes which tend to appear very open. This quality for me is always appealing because it suggests anything in the world is still possible, nothing’s yet final. You’re in that rarefied moment of adolescence where everything has a late spring/early summer feel. There’s also less male gaze. The character presentation is more semi-aspirational–not as objectifying. This may be the one for this season.

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