One day, Naho Takamiya receives a letter from herself. The letter itself states that it is from herself 10 years in the future, and she has written it in the hopes of changing things that she will regret her entire life. At first Naho doesn’t believe the legitimacy of it, until she realises that everything her future self tells her will happen on that day actually happens. She’s late for the first time in her life, they get a transfer student called Kakeru Nanase, and he will sit next to her. Strangely, the letter warns her to not let Kakeru hang out with them after school on that day, but this is somewhat difficult to prevent because Naho’s friend group invite him along and Naho is too shy to say anything about it.
Kakeru is absent for a while after that, but eventually returns and another prediction from Naho’s future self comes true: she falls in love with him. Things seem like typical fun school life, but the end of the letter reveals that future-Naho is actually trying to prevent Kakeru’s death.
Orange was one of the most anticipated shows to air this season as its manga is very highly regarded. It’s not hard to see why – it’s one of those rare shows where teenagers actually act, and speak, like teenagers and have personalities beyond cookie cutter moe traits, and it has a degree of realism to its character interactions that sets it far apart from most other school-based shows (something that is especially welcome after having to sit through Rewrite). Naho’s group of friends seem like a real group of people, they seem like they’re fun to be around and even one episode in their personalties are all distinct and well-defined.
Ironically it’s Naho and Kakeru that are the least defined, Naho basically being ‘shy’ and Kakeru being ‘transfer student’. I expect this will change, and it’s not really too negative at the moment, but I think seeing things through Naho’s eyes gives the show a kind of slowness that it could do without. It really does move pretty slowly. This will probably change in the second episode now that the twist has been dropped at least, but to be honest my attention wavered several times. It wasn’t like I was bored or anything, but I just couldn’t watch the whole thing in one sitting.
I really enjoy the fact that this is set in Nagano; I don’t think I’ve seen an anime set there and it really is a beautiful place that gives certain scenes some breathtaking scenery. I’ve been to Nagano once before and watching this really made me want to go again. There’s so many anime set in Tokyo or ‘Anywheremachi’ that I really do like it when a prefecture less-represented in anime pops up. It always stands out to me. It’s the thing I like best about the visuals in the show – while the animation itself is pretty nice, every now and then the actual character art seems kind of off. Maybe it just didn’t make the transition from shojo manga to anime all that well but there are times when the characters look kind of awkward to me even though they’re animated well.
Now, it’s inevitable that the whole ‘prevent the death of someone in the past’ thing will draw comparisons to Erased, and I have to admit that had me a little skeptical, especially giving what a massive disappointment Erased ended up being. However, what’s interesting about Orange is that the Naho in the ‘past’ has no idea about any of this – she’s not the future Naho in the past Naho’s body, and all of this is happening for the first time for her. There are glimpses of Naho’s future life – most notably she seems to be married to one of the other guys in her friend group – so it’ll be interesting to see how past-Naho’s actions change this future. The one thing I’m not really sure about and I don’t think was ever clarified was exactly how many letters were in this episode. It seemed like she was just reading the one the whole time, but that would mean she was deliberately not reading ahead, which seems weird to me. I’d like to know why it was so important for Kakeru to not hang out with Naho and co only on the first day and what affect this had on his future – why was he absent for so long?
These kind of mystery-hooks mean I’m interested enough to watch more of this and am cautiously optimistic that it’ll be worth it. We’ll see.