Orange Episode 3 Review (Letter 03)

Orange Episode 3 reveals a little more about Kakeru’s potential future. A number of the themes from last week make their way into this episode, as well. There’s also a few improvements from Episode 2 this time around. Let’s go over Episode 3 of Orange and see what may be in store for Naho and Kakeru!

Note: The following review contains spoilers of the third 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 starts to believe that the future is truly changing when one of the letter’s tasks is already taken care of without her intervention. When she learns someone else likes Kakeru, Naho continues to struggle with what the letters tell her to do and her own feelings and disposition.

The Good and the Bad

Orange Episode 3 Review Naho about to write a reply to Kakeru.

Although I criticized the animation last week, Episode 3 has some pretty well-animated moments. (My criticism still stands, though.) There’s one scene in particular with Naho running. It looks pretty smooth. There are a few background characters moving as she runs, as well, which makes the scene feel more natural. There are also a few moments when the characters make small movements, such as Naho taking out a notebook to respond to Kakeru’s note, that are nicely done. I’d love to see more of this as the series progresses.

Another improvement is the music. This episode uses more piano-focused pieces during a number of scenes, and they really add to the mood each one is going for. There are still some pieces that have an acoustic guitar/banjo in them, but it’s a little more quiet and subtle than in previous episodes. I wouldn’t mind if this variety continued. More importantly, though, I hope that the music continues to better highlight the scenes it’s featured in.

Orange Episode 3 Review Soccer cleats littering the ground.

I do have one small critique, though. After Naho wakes up Kakeru, there’s a transition sequence featuring soccer balls and cleats. One of the image transitions, though, goes by really fast. I checked a few times to make sure it wasn’t my internet connection. I consistently saw it transition too fast, though. It’s not the biggest mistake, but it is a little sloppy.

General Thoughts

Orange Episode 3 Review Naho after telling Kakeru that there's no on she likes.

Last week, I considered something Naho says in Episode 2: “A letter can’t change a person’s personality so easily.” The quote continues to apply in Episode 3. Naho has the chance to confess her feelings to Kakeru, but she doesn’t have it in her to go through with it. Once again, she faces overcoming her shyness, only this time she fears this is a regret she cannot prevent. Kakeru does end up seeing her response in his shoe locker, so it may not be over just yet. Things have been resolved without going exactly as planned before, and this may be another one of those instances. I wonder if things will change so much at some point that the letters aren’t really helpful anymore and Past Naho will be on her own in helping him. If that were to happen, I imagine it would be later on in the series, though.

Orange Episode 3 Review Kakeru looking up at the rest of the group.

As for Kakeru, there’s a moment after he collects the drinks from the vending machine where he looks up and sees the group laughing together by the window. The shot slowly pans toward him, and he has a slight frown on his face. This implies that he still feels disconnected from the group, like he’s still an outsider. Later in the episode, the group reads the letter he left behind and discover he made no future prediction for himself. They then realize that the accident he died in may not have been an accident at all. The letter itself is a reminiscence of each friend, and it comes off as a sort of suicide note. From what we’ve seen of the past, the group seems to have welcomed him in since the first day of school. It’s only been a month since the school year began, though, so perhaps he’s still unsure of his place in the group. I’m not sure what it will take to turn this way of thinking around. Will these small things in the letters all come together to change his feelings? Will there be a major moment that really changes his mind?

Episode 3 also brings up mothers again. This time, their homeroom teacher talks about mothers not needing to make lunch since it’s a half-day. This made me think: does Naho remind Kakeru of his mother? We don’t really know how he feels about Naho, though he seems to favor her a little more than the others. Considering his mother recently passed away, it’s not unusual to think that he might be comforted by Naho’s motherly behavior. Even if he does romantically like her, it may be for the reason above. If this is the case, then it’s possible that Naho might still end up with Suwa, have the baby, and save Kakeru.

Orange Episode 3 Review The group walking down the hallway together.
“It’s okay. The future can be changed. I’m sure it’s an easy thing to do.”

Naho says that changing the future might be “an easy thing to do.” This sums up where the show can go from here. The issue might be that it’s too easy to change the future. If someone does something out of Naho’s control, it could easily change the future she’s trying to achieve. She might even do something that jeopardizes it without realizing it. I’m not certain if we’ve seen anything like this happen yet, but it’s still a possibility.

Another possibility is that she’s wrong. The future might be far too difficult to change, especially considering the revelation that his accident wasn’t truly just that. This means he probably committed suicide. His past self, then, is severely depressed. I’m not certain Naho can easily change that. Just like Satoru’s mother in ERASED says, “There’s only so much one person can do.” She’s dealing with something that goes beyond making him lunch or confessing her feelings. That’s partly why I feel something drastic will have to be done if she’s going to save him.

Orange Episode 3 Review Kakeru asking Naho what she wants to drink.

I think the scene Kakeru takes down everyone’s drink orders is important. It’s a small moment where he challenges Naho’s disposition; once again, she says she’ll be fine with anything, just as she did in Episode 1 with the bread. He refuses to let her do that and forces her to make a solid decision. I like that he challenges her so directly. It’s for a small thing, but it helps her get out of the mind-set of being too easy going. Quite frankly, that might be Naho’s undoing. In this episode, she decidedly doesn’t want Kakeru to date Ueda-senpai. However, she backtracks and thinks it’s unfair of her to feel that way. The episode shows the scene of Kakeru helping her with her blister during the drink-ordering scene, and his words seem to be more true than before. She always tries to endure things so she doesn’t trouble others. If she always does this, though, there’s no way she can save Kakeru. That failure will be her “loss.” Seeing her forced out of that way of thinking, then, is hopefully a sign that she’ll come around and be just a little more “selfish.”

Orange Episode 3 Review Naho drinking her orange juice.
“In my room, I drank the orange juice that Kakeru got for me. It tasted sweet, sour, and sorrowful.”

The scene also has her choosing orange juice. This potentially gives us the reason for the title of the series. Where does it appear in this episode? She mentions it after Kakeru forces her to make a solid decision; she receives the juice box right before the break ends and it’s too late to drink it; and she drinks it after seeing Kakeru accept Ueda-senpai’s feelings. Is it too early to see the significance behind it? It’s hard to say. In this sequence of events, it’s almost as if the juice indicates that Naho will be too late to change her personality enough to save Kakeru. Perhaps the image is just following the events in the episode, rather than implying things to come in the series. Still, her past self’s final words of the episode are, “It tasted sweet, sour, and sorrowful.” She’s experienced sour moments so far. However, they led to sweet ones for Kakeru. Does “sorrowful” indicate the next scene’s discovery, or something else? This will be yet another thing to keep in mind as the show progresses.

Orange Episode 3 Review The group listens to Suwa reading Kakeru's letter.

Finally, I want to mention the letters themselves. I know time travel will always have its implausibilities in stories. I’m not saying Orange doesn’t, nor am I complaining about it, per se. I am, however, confused about when Future Naho sends the letters. Her letter in Episode 2 says Kakeru dies in an accident. In this episode, they discover it might not have been an accident. This means Future Naho sends the letters in real-time. So, when are they all meeting? Are they meeting on different days. or is it all the same day? There have been scenes with Suwa and Naho’s child. I would think that they see one another on at least two different days, then, because he’s not around when they’re outside of the school. They’re also wearing different clothes, which confirms that possibility. Maybe she’s not physically sending the letters? If she just thinks about what she’d do differently in real-time, maybe those thoughts become the letters. I’m still not quite sure. Hopefully the show clears this up at some point.

This was another good episode of Orange. At this point, I’m waiting for things to reach their boiling point. I can’t wait to see how the show gets there.


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About the Author

Cindy Caraturo

Continual student of the Japanese language and valiant attempter at novel (and article!) writing. Enjoys when it's softly raining outside and is an avid drinker of quali-tea. Also thinks she is amusing. Take that for what you will. (⌒▽⌒)

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