Orange Episode 4 doesn’t do a whole lot different from the previous episodes. This, in part, makes it one of the weaker ones so far. What went wrong? Let’s go over the episode’s events and figure it out.
Note: The following review contains spoilers of the fourth 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. This time, though, she purposely avoids doing what it tells her, saying that it’s too difficult. Meanwhile, her friends are growing suspicious of her strange behavior.
The Good and the Bad
There are a number of moments in this episode that I can’t wrap my head around. I know I’ve praised Orange‘s realism with regards to conversational dialogue in the past, but the scene with Naho and her friends hanging out is bizarre. Why did they show the inner workings of the ice cream machine? Is that important? Is there a deeper meaning behind it?
The same questions apply to the conversation the group has about their parents and their hobbies. Is there something about ricefish that I don’t know which makes the scene smart or foreshadows something? I honestly have no idea. At this point, that scene appears to be padding for the episode. Maybe they’re trying to portray the group as being genuine friends, and genuine friends have strange conversations sometimes. It just doesn’t work for me, though. Sure, you can have those moments, but if they aren’t being used to the story’s advantage, like informing us about a character or moving the plot along, I don’t really see the point.
You could argue that it’s just a nice moment to enjoy between the characters. This, however, is part of another problem. I don’t really know any of the characters besides Naho and Kakeru. What do we know about Suwa? He likes soccer (and Naho), and he eats a lot. Hagita? He’s a bit of a comedian. The same can be said about Azu, though she’s funny in a different way from Hagita’s dry sense of humor. Takako? I really don’t know anything about her. We see she has a bit of a temper in this episode and seems willing to defend her friends, but that’s such a small moment. I hope things change and we get to know the rest of the cast as well as we’re getting to know Naho and Kakeru.
I know I’ve said that watching Naho struggle with the letters’ tasks is interesting, but I have a problem with it this week. She has trouble simply talking to Kakeru, and I don’t buy it. Wouldn’t making him lunch be more embarrassing than just hearing him out? She knows that the letters’ tasks help her avoid regrets and that Kakeru dies in an “accident.” It’s a major thing she’s trying to prevent, and she can’t even listen to what he has to say? Oh, but she doesn’t want to get in the way of Kakeru and Ueda-senpai.
But that’s exactly what she didn’t do the last time, hence her getting all these letters! I’ve been understanding towards Naho so far, but I just don’t get it this time. It’s like the writer wants her to keep struggling, but they don’t know how to up the ante. Maybe it’s to get her friends more involved? They do help her talk to Kakeru. I’m just not sure.
Episode 4 also takes a step back with its music. While Naho writes at her desk, the soundtrack plays a song with a moderately fast rhythm. The song uses acoustic guitar and drums, and it sounds more like a song for someone coming up with a plan or putting the pieces of a puzzle together. Yet again, the music isn’t really the most appropriate for the scene. I’m still not sure why this keeps happening.
Episode 4’s opening scene has a couple interesting moments. For one thing, we learn that Kakeru lives with his grandmother after his mother dies. This means his father isn’t around, which could be a hint as to why his mother commits suicide. What else piqued my interest? The moment when his grandmother talks to the group. She brings up Naho’s son, and as Naho answers her about whose child he is, Suwa cuts her off and tells Kakeru’s grandmother that they’re married. Why? It’s such a small thing. Does it show his own happiness towards their marriage? Maybe. Part of me thinks something is up. This isn’t the first time I wondered about the little boy. Is he not really Suwa’s child? Am I overthinking this? It wouldn’t be the first time. I guess it’s another wait-and-see sort of thing.
The scenes with the frogs running around puzzle me. They appear too often to not mean something, but I’m not entirely sure what they mean. The frogs carry taiyaki, fish-shaped cakes that are filled with things like red-bean paste or even chocolate. Something similar appears in Episode 1: a panda bear holding a tray of bread. That was just a one-off thing for Episode 1, though. The frogs in this episode appear on screen a lot more. Naho, Takako, and Azu eat taiyaki right after the first frogs are shown carrying them, so it’s possible the frogs relate to the characters. Another frog appears alone in a pond right before the scene changes to Kakeru on his date with Ueda-senpai. This makes that interpretation even more likely, since he’s the only one missing from the group.
Later on at Naho’s house, the frogs show up on her family’s television. This time, though, it’s just one frog carrying taiyaki. Maybe this represents Naho? She’s trying to save Kakeru by herself, so she’s that one frog running around, now separated from the rest. This ties in to the end of the episode, when we learn Takako and Azu go to Suwa and have him talk to her about Kakeru. Naho says the letter doesn’t mention it, so this must be another instance of things changing because of her past success with the letters’ tasks. Finally, the frog in the pond appears as she reads the next letter and decides talking to Kakeru is impossible. Thus, she leaves Kakeru alone, something a previous letter tells her to avoid. Whether there are other meanings besides this one, I’m not sure.
By the end of the episode, we’re still left wondering the same thing as last time: does Kakeru like Naho? The ending makes it seem more obvious. He tells Naho he thought about breaking up with Ueda-senpai because Naho said “no” on the note. When Naho directly asks if he’s in love with someone, though, he tells her that “it’s a secret.” More likely than not, Kakeru likes Naho. I still think that it might be because she reminds him of his mother. Not too much progression concerning this, but maybe the next episode will offer more.
Overall, Episode 4 disappoints me a little. After watching Episode 3, I hoped that the momentum would continue to build. Naho decides to avoid Kakeru because “Senpai doesn’t like it” and it gets in Kakeru’s way. It makes sense for Naho to think the former, but the latter? He obviously wants to talk to her, so how could doing so get in his way? If Naho continues to struggle with the letters’ tasks, they should at least make sense. Here’s hoping the next episode resolves that, as well as some of the other problems it hasn’t addressed yet.
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