It may not be rhymable or the new black, but I’m satisfied.
OP: “Hikari no Hahen (光の破片)” by Yu Takahashi
As 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 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.
There’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,
The 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”.
I 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