Last week’s episode of Orange piqued my curiosity with its story. I left the episode still on the fence about how the rest of the show would unfold. Episode 2 carries over a few flaws from the first episode while continuing to intrigue me with its premise.
Note: The following review contains spoilers of the second 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).
Naho once again receives a letter from her future self. This time, it tells her that Kakeru’s mom doesn’t make his lunch and that she regrets not going through with making one for him. Thus, this becomes Naho’s mission for the episode.
The Good and the Bad
A few things before we get to the meat of the episode: the animation hasn’t really picked up yet. Perhaps I’m a nit-picky person, but it bothers me how simplified the character designs get when the frame isn’t zoomed in. I didn’t like when ERASED did this, either. It’s kind of a shame; I quite like the designs. The backgrounds for the show still look rather lovely. I wish the characters blended into the scenery better, though; it looks like they’re plopped on there at times. I didn’t go into this show thinking it would be a master-class in animation. That’s fine; it doesn’t have to be. I just wish the consistency was a little better.
On a more positive note, the level of realism when it comes to dialogue is still a strong point for Orange. To begin with, I was surprised that Hagita’s joke was actually funny. Jokes that characters find funny aren’t always funny to the audience. I know it’s a minor detail, but there’s nothing wrong with praising the little things, right? It also characterizes him a little better. He plays the straight-man to Azu’s jokes in Episode 1, but here he comes off as an individual with a dry sense of humor in general. We haven’t seen a lot of him, so it’s hard to say how he is as a character. At the very least, I’m glad I can get a chuckle out of his presence.
Another item carried over into this episode is simultaneous dialogue. I liked that about the first episode, and it still makes the scenes feel more natural in this one. One scene I particularly enjoyed is the scene in which Naho is debating whether or not she should make lunch for Kakeru. Having her mom debating her own actions in parallel, as well as her dad saying she’s overthinking things, are nice touches.
Overall, Episode 2 is better than the first one. As if in response to my first impressions, Naho lets fear get the better of her and doesn’t give Kakeru the home-made lunch. What she says in the episode is interesting: “A letter can’t change a person’s personality so easily.” This applies easily to Naho; she’s still a timid young woman and appears to be the shyest in the group. The tasks so far have pushed her out of her comfort zone, but they’ve been relatively easy to do. They’ve also been direct. While she does end up giving him the lunch, I do wonder if the letters’ requests will continue to push her. Part of me hopes this turns out to be the case: it would be interesting to find out her breaking point.
That quote may refer to something else, though; namely, Kakeru. She could end up following the letters as perfectly as possible, and things still won’t change for him. This episode reveals a major obstacle he’s contending with: his mother’s suicide. Quite frankly, I was shocked: I didn’t necessarily expect it to go in such a serious direction. I’m not sure if it’s a little much at this point for her to have done it after the opening ceremony. It could be melodramatic, but we still don’t know why she did it. Naho mentions that walking home with him isn’t in the letter. I’m curious about whether her future-self and the others knew that information about Kakeru. Did she learn about it sooner than before? Maybe.
More importantly, though, is that first item in the first letter. Because we learn why she doesn’t want her past-self to invite Kakeru, it begs the question: how much of a deal-breaker is it? Does her future-self believe that, if Kakeru went home, his mother would’ve been saved? It seems highly possible, but again, that quote from Naho is relevant. Doing that most likely wouldn’t have changed his mother’s disposition. It’s hard to know if what she’s doing is working or creating more problems. The final line of the letter mentions that Kakeru dies in an accident and that he could’ve been saved. This is what she and her friends regret. This leads me to believe that’s Naho’s goal: to save Kakeru. If it was simply a matter of making him happy before he passed, that belief of potentially being able to save him wouldn’t be there.
The image of Naho as a mother is interesting, considering she is one in the future. I don’t quite know what to make of it. Yes, she thinks of housework as a hobby and seems to be good at it. We learn that the child is hers and Suwa’s, but there haven’t been many scenes from the future so far. I’m still extremely curious about her future-self: does she hope to not only save Kakeru, but end up with him? She falls in love with him in high school, but saving him could lead to a drastically different life. It would also mean that the child she has may never be born. Are those things she’s really willing to risk? It becomes a trade-off of one life for another and complicates that image of a motherly figure. This is definitely something I’ll be thinking about as the series progresses.
While there are still some rough edges, Orange Episode 2 did what any good episode should do: it made me want to continue watching. Will things be easier for Naho? Will the next letter’s task be even more out of her comfort zone? I’m eager to see where the story takes us from here.
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