Hey everyone, it’s Chris again! Zeke and I are continuing our tag team efforts to help wrap up this season of Orange. As we near the end, the big question becomes: is the future truly changing? Read on to find out my thoughts!
Note: The following review contains spoilers for the eleventh episode of Orange. If you do not wish to be spoiled, please watch the episode before you continue reading. If you haven’t seen the series, be sure to check out our first impressions (spoiler-free).
The episode begins with everyone crowded around a desk, looking at pictures Suwa’s dad took at the athletic relay. Each person claims a picture, and Suwa remarks that Kakeru’s smiling face in Naho’s photo reminds him of a picture of young Kakeru with his mom. Suwa tells Kakeru he has no reason to suffer anymore, and Naho feels the choices they’ve made will save Kakeru.
In the future, Suwa feels regret for “stealing” Naho from Kakeru, and the rest of the group chime in, saying they would have cheered for Kakeru. Suwa claims that if Kakeru were alive, he would have been married to Naho, but she disagrees. She tells him that when he proclaimed his feelings for her during high school, she was so happy. Hagita then spills the beans that it happened on New Year’s Eve.
Back in the present, the group decides to continue a tradition to bring in the New Year at a shrine. Suwa claims he can’t go, and is accosted by Takako later, who knows he’s supposed to confess his feelings to Naho at that point. Suwa tells the others he will never do that, because it has nothing to do with saving Kakeru. At home afterward, he looks at pictures he received from his future self, including one of Naho, their baby, and himself.
On New Year’s Eve, the group meets up (sans Suwa), and Naho knows her future self got into a fight with Kakeru and never got to apologize. Azusa and Takako tell her it’ll be alright, and she can just apologize if something happens. When alone, Kakeru and Naho talk about Kakeru’s sick grandmother, and he gets disheartened and wants to head home. Naho tries to have Kakeru stay, but makes the situation worse, causing him to leave and telling her to stay away from him. Suwa appears and comforts her, urging Naho to chase after Kakeru. She calls his cell phone, but when he sees who’s calling, he smashes it on the ground.
The Good and the Bad
Right out of the gate, I am happy to report that this episode didn’t appear to have any noticeable drop in quality. On the other hand, it did have an odd section of 3D animation that sprang out of nowhere. Either way, I’ll gladly take the latter over the former.
I have to admit at this point in the show, Hagita is by far my favorite character, mostly for his comic relief. Several times in this episode he adds a throwaway comment, but his phrasing and timing are wonderful. Such as when Naho and Kakeru talk about how they’re wearing scarfs, and that they look good in them. Meanwhile, in the background, Hagita also nonchalantly mentions that he’s wearing a scarf, just in case no one noticed. He also makes a blunder and admits that Azusa and he bicker like a married couple because they care for each other (which is one relationship I’m totally rooting for).
And now for the bad: Naho. Just… everything she says and does. She never fails to screw up the hard work that the group has put in to save Kakeru. She has also CONSTANTLY disregarded the advice from her future self. I know I’m not alone when I was yelling at the television (sorry neighbors) for her to say something, ANYTHING, to Kakeru after their fight. She was told not once, but TWICE to just apologize to Kakeru if something went wrong on New Year’s Eve. Instead, she stood there like a bump on a log whimpering into the night. It doesn’t help her case when she wonders if she’s the cause of Kakeru’s suicide, due to her inaction. For someone who knows the future, she has a bad habit of saying and doing the wrong thing.
I really feel for Suwa, particularly in this episode. It’s revealed that he has pictures from the future(!!!), and that his future self-regrets “stealing” Naho. Because of that, he basically asks his younger version to forego his love in order to help Kakeru. I don’t know about you, but having a glimpse of a life you could have (and likely want) and being told to erase it sounds heartbreaking.
However, Takako asks a good question of him: does he think not telling Naho how he feels will save Kakeru? I suppose Suwa thinks that if Kakeru survives, it would be a burden on Naho to know of his affections and have to choose between them.
One of the more interesting points of view in this episode comes from Hagita, during his phone chat with Suwa. Hagita mentions he’s not sure they should even be changing the future, because it not only affects them, but also the other people around them. He’s essentially referring to the butterfly effect, where small changes ripple and cause a larger impact than anyone can imagine. It doesn’t feel like the rest of the group have taken that into consideration, being very focused on themselves. Who knows what consequences their actions can have on the world around them? God forbid if someone else was depressed and on the blue team, losing that day at the athletic relay.
In the end, I have to wonder if the group has really made any progress at all. It stands to reason that their actions should have altered a lot more than a few conversations and the race outcome. However, when we see the same events play out (e.g. the fight) regardless, it almost feels futile. Honestly, from how Kakeru responded to Naho, he is clearly in the same shape, or worse, than he was in the original timeline.
I think the defining moment of this episode is Suwa’s statement to Kakeru near the beginning, that there’s no reason to suffer anymore. Except that’s not truly the case, especially for someone battling depression and fear of loneliness. If they all think he should be fine and chipper just from their pep talk, they are sadly mistaken. Unfortunately, I am leaning more and more towards the notion that Kakeru may be beyond saving.
At this time, I’m kind of glad the show only has 2 episodes remaining. I’m not sure I can take much more, especially if I’m going to wind up frustrated like this. Orange has definitely had some highlights, but those are overshadowed by its hand-wringing moments.
Now that we’re about to reach the penultimate episode, what do you all think? Is there some way you can see it ending happily? Is there anything you’d do differently if you had a letter from the future? Let me know in the comments below! If you’ve read the manga, please don’t spoil it for anyone!