Orange Episode 5 finally answers some of the questions I’ve been asking since I started watching. It’s also a big improvement from last week’s episode. Just how has Naho been changing the future, and will we see those changes happen for her future self? Let’s look at the answers Episode 5 of Orange provides us with!
Note: The following review contains spoilers of the fifth 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 discovers how her actions effect the future and vows to work harder with regards to the letters’ requests. Her and Kakeru also grow closer with the help of her friends.
The Good and the Bad
Quite honestly, I was happy to finally have some of my questions answered! The way time travel seems to work in this show went in a direction I didn’t consider: parallel universes. It’s a good compromise, considering Future Naho’s life: she has a family of her own, and tampering with that came across as a little messed up. Don’t get me wrong; that could be a very compelling narrative. Orange just doesn’t feel like that kind of show, though: we spend far more time with Naho in high school than with her as a grown woman. That would make it more difficult to understand her perspective as an adult. I also like that they integrated that revelation into a class lesson. Trying to answer that in some other way probably would be clunky. I do have one small gripe with it, though: in the same class, they receive their chemistry tests back. The teacher going over time travel and alternative universes is more in line with physics. Maybe he’s just really into time travel? He does say they have extra time, so it’s not really too big of a deal.
Are some of the letters’ requests odd? The whole bath-towel-instead-of-a-handkerchief thing seems a little trivial. Maybe it’s the small stuff that shows she cares about Kakeru? I think her not wanting him to date Ueda-senpai sort of said that already, though, as well as making him lunch and waking him up. It’s nitpicky, but I guess I’d be more concerned with major regrets like most of the others. Little things could lead to bigger things, so maybe it isn’t as trivial as I think it is.
I’ve started to notice just how sparingly this show uses music. The background noise is pretty detailed; when Naho asks Kakeru to watch the fireworks with her, no music plays. Instead, you can hear students chatting, footsteps, and even a stray squeak from a shoe. It’s impressive. The sound department must have worked hard to make even incidental noise seem natural. I know the soundtrack hasn’t completely wowed me. Still, I pay my respects to the team behind the background noise.
This may be the first episode in which Naho is completely honest about her feelings. In the previous episodes, she’s made efforts to hide her desires from others. Even when other people saw how she truly felt, she would run away, like when Suwa saw her teary-eyed over Kakeru dating Ueda-senpai. When Naho receives the hairpin from Kakeru, she admits that it makes her happy. Even that seems like something Naho wouldn’t do because she’d think it was embarrassing. It’s just one indicator of how much she’s grown. I was worried last week that she lost whatever progress she’d made with regards to overcoming her fears and embarrassment. Episode 5 gives us a few moments that prove that worry to be unwarranted. When Kakeru asks Naho if she’s free for the weekend, a young woman lets go of a red balloon. Now, this could mean a number of different things, so my interpretation is only one of many. Considering both the context and the object, I think it represents Naho. She’s always turning red with embarrassment, so it could be a sign that she’s starting to finally let some of that go.
I really like the scene where Naho talks to Ueda-senpai. Right before, she tells herself that she needs to be proactive when it comes to Kakeru. This scene acts as follow through. She doesn’t just let Ueda-senpai and her friends mess with her. She tells them the truth about her relationship with Kakeru and refuses to let them get ahold of the hairpin he gave her. It’s precious to her, and she’s right to feel suspicious about letting them see it. I’m eager to see how this change in Naho will continue throughout the rest of the series.
This episode answers how the time travel aspect of the series works. Naho does what the letters say, and her own future changes in her own universe. I think Adult Naho (as I’ll call her from this point on) knows this. The way the letters are worded suggests this: she doesn’t want her high school self “to have the same regrets.” The wording has a sense of distance to it, as if her high school self is a separate person. In this case, she is; she’s a Naho from a parallel universe. It’s a similar time travel model as Steins;Gate, another time-travel anime directed by Hiroshi Hamasaki. There are some differences between the two shows, though. Steins;Gate‘s time travel plays a larger role in each episode of the show. In Orange, it’s really just the letters that are directly involved in time travel. I wonder if future episodes will focus more on time travel, or if they’ll instead continue to focus on Naho changing her own future.
Since there are two universes, how will Naho use the letters? In this episode, she does something I didn’t expect: she incorporates a moment from the other universe and puts it into hers. She doesn’t want to lose the good memories her other self mentions. The way those memories are made is different, but the outcome may still be the same. Kakeru doesn’t whisper in her ear. Instead, she flat-out asks him to watch the fireworks at the cultural festival alone with her. It’s another indication of Naho’s growth. Before this moment, she would never think of doing such a thing. As the two universes diverge even more from one another, it’ll be interesting to see how Naho uses the information in the letters.
One last thing I want to discuss are Naho’s friends. Last week, I said that I didn’t know much about them individually. That’s still somewhat true. I do know that a few of them don’t care about studying. (Azu and Suwa got scores in the 20s on their chemistry test! Did they even look at the textbook?) The show’s focus is on Naho and Kakeru. That’s fine. I don’t want to learn random information about her friends, per se. Episode 5 does a good job of balancing “hanging out together” with “story progression.” This time, the gang jokes around while they paint signs for the cultural festival. The joking around leads to Hagita saying that Suwa likes Naho. We know how things end up in one universe: Naho and Suwa get married and have a son. However, she might not have known about Suwa’s feelings back in high school. Adult Naho’s letter asks High School Naho to notice how much Suwa looks out for her. She doesn’t mention regret, but she might regret not acknowledging her future husband’s kindness towards her. Adult Naho doesn’t know how the letters change High School Naho’s universe. Will she end up with Kakeru? Suwa? Neither of them? It’s hard to say. High School Naho denies that Suwa could like her. However, it puts the thought in her head.
Her friends want to see the plot move in a certain direction; they want Naho and Kakeru to date. Azu and Chino pick sides, but apologize to Suwa. The way Azu phrases it is important: they choose neither Kakeru’s side nor Suwa’s side. They align themselves with Naho. They don’t say one person is better for her than another; they simply want to support their friend. A small scene like that shows more of their character to me than one of those camaraderie scenes. They want to be considerate of Suwa’s feelings for Naho because he’s just as good a friend as she is. Suwa’s selflessness is also important to note. He tells Azu and Chino that he’s on Naho and Kakeru’s side, too. Of course, he still has feelings for Naho. When Naho slaps Ueda-senpai’s friend’s hand away and scratches herself, Suwa both notices the wound and gets bandages for her. He decides to give them to Kakeru. He repays Suwa’s kindness by admitting to Naho that Suwa got the bandages, and Naho thanks Suwa. He’s in a difficult position: he wants to see Naho happy, but he wants to be the one who makes her happy. When she thanks him, he’s able to receive just that. It’s a nice moment.
It feels like there’s still so much to talk about! What about the last text Kakeru sent Naho? I have a feeling we’ll see what her response was soon enough, so I’ll hold off on looking into it for now. Episode 5 is a big improvement over Episode 4. The story is definitely moving forward, and my frustrations from last week have been replaced with that intrigue I felt when I finished watching the first episode. How will things progress from here? Will the story take a more direct route, with Naho and Kakeru dating? Or, are there a few more twists to this story? I look forward to finding out!
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