Orange Episode 7 finally gets to the heart of Kakeru’s problem. Though other episodes address it, none of them do so as directly as this one. How does Episode 7 accomplish this?
Note: The following review contains spoilers of the seventh 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).
This episode and review discuss mental illness. Reader discretion is advised.
Naho and Suwa team up to help save Kakeru. They find out his birthdate, and everyone asks him what he wants for his birthday. They give him his presents, and Suwa and Naho confront Kakeru over his feelings of regret and desire to die.
The Good and the Bad
Quite frankly, Suwa is “the good” for this episode. I’ve been waiting for Naho to confront Kakeru for so long. I like this a little better; to begin with, we probably would have had to wait at least a couple more episodes for Naho to work up the courage to talk with him about it. This episode presents an urgent situation: the letters say Kakeru will attempt to commit suicide after meeting his Tokyo friends. There isn’t any time for Naho to work up the courage to talk to him about it. She starts to do that towards the end, but you can tell her nerves are getting to her. When Suwa comes into the scene, he speaks directly to Kakeru about his feelings. He doesn’t let Kakeru squirm his way out of the conversation. That’s exactly what Kakeru needs: when Naho tries talking to him in Episode 6, he asks to be left alone for a bit. She complies, and he leaves soon after without her knowing. I know Naho is Kakeru’s love interest, but Suwa seems like the better choice when it comes to saving Kakeru. Based on the final shot of the episode, I assume each friend will try to help him in their own way.
I like how the rest of the group fit into this episode. We get to see Naho stand up for herself against Ueda-senpai, and Taka goes in for the kill. It’s a great scene. Even Hagita gets involved. He did so last episode, when he tricks Ueda-senpai into thinking Kakeru is waiting for her in the soccer practice area. Here, he both asks Kakeru what he wants for his birthday and also goes along with Suwa and helps a bit with getting Kakeru and Naho together. Just like Episode 6, Naho’s friends help move the story along while also showing their personalities. I finally feel like this group is coming together.
I noticed something unusual, though. So far, this is the only episode where the characters use “anime/manga expressions.” They’re cute, but Orange hasn’t presented itself with that kind of tone before. Sure, there are comedic moments, but those are based on dialogue rather than the show’s visuals. Episode 7 doesn’t use these expressions that much, but they still feel a little out of place.
The most interesting character so far is probably Suwa. Sure, Naho is the protagonist, and I enjoy watching her grow and become more confident. However, her cluelessness still bothers me. Even after all that time, Adult Naho never realized Kakeru liked her. Really? She didn’t gain any perspective after his death? I can’t believe she never thought about Kakeru and their time together after all those years. She regrets his death, so much so that she sent letters to another version of herself to save him. This means she’s thought about him ever since he died. How could she not think, “Maybe he liked me. Why did he ask all those questions, like the one about the Valentine’s chocolate?” I know she lacks confidence and can’t see what makes her special. But she thought the same of Suwa, right? What happened with him? Oh, yeah, he married her.
Kakeru should be a shoe-in for the most interesting character in the show so far. Why isn’t he? Well, despite the show being about Naho saving Kakeru, Orange hasn’t really looked at his perspective that much. The first few episodes keep us in the dark over his feelings. That could lead to a good build-up of suspense. However, we know Naho wants to save him, and in Episode 2, we learn his mother committed suicide. You know how this episode shows his perspective during scenes from Episode 1? I think it would have been better to show those from the start. Maybe there wouldn’t have been a build-up to the big reveal that he commits suicide, but we would have known more about him from the start. Another idea would have been to include more scenes of just him. Look at the moment he talks about being Superman in this episode. If there were more small moments like that, I think he’d seem like a more interesting character. I know he’s the one who’s depressed and suicidal. Those factors can’t be all he’s about, though. I guess I think that a better balance of information would have worked: learn about his regret alongside other things about him.
Suwa is the only other character we’ve seen a lot. When I say he’s the most interesting character, though, I’m not referring to his high school self. Adult Suwa sends High School Suwa a letter asking him to save Kakeru. He already knows the outcome: Kakeru dies, but Naho ends up marrying him. In this episode, he tells Adult Naho that Kakeru liked her. Why does he do that? He knows she regrets his death, much like the rest of them. Perhaps he also feels like he was her second choice. If that is true, then how selfless is he to try and convince a younger version of himself to help Kakeru and Naho be together? He deeply regrets letting Kakeru die, but he receives a family in return. Now, it’s possible things won’t work out between Naho and Kakeru, and Suwa will still end up marrying her. He doesn’t know for sure, though. It’s easy to reason that he of course regrets his friend dying. But maybe he also regrets how distraught Naho becomes after Kakeru dies. It’s an intriguing dynamic, and it says a lot about his love for Naho and the kind of person he is in general.
The final thing I want to look at is the confrontation scene. Before this, Naho and Suwa read that Kakeru attempts to hang himself with a towel, something they learn after his death. He does this after meeting with his friends from Tokyo; he confides in them, and they brush off his words as a joke. This is actually pretty believable. Kakeru does the same thing in the confrontation scene: when he tells Naho about wondering if he could jump from the window and fly like Superman, she takes his words seriously. In response, he tells her to not do so and that he was “just daydreaming.” I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s how he acted around his friends in the other timeline: brushing off his own confessions as a joke, so they then do the same. The difference here is that Naho and Suwa know the truth. He can’t joke his way out of it. His reason for not wanting to talk to them about his mother is somewhat similar to what I thought last week: he says that, because they’re close friends, he only wants to laugh when they’re all together. He doesn’t want that laughter to fade with the burden his words may bring. Naturally, this is faulty logic, which Suwa points out.
Up to this point, Naho approached Kakeru softly. She definitely had her moments of outbursts, but her words haven’t been too blunt regarding his feelings of sadness and guilt. Suwa, on the other hand, targets those feelings as directly as he can, even going so far as to ask Kakeru if he’s ever felt like he wanted to die. This is the kind of determination that Naho needs. She was correct in Episode 6: she says that this may be too big for just her. This episode proves it. Suwa says exactly what Kakeru needs to hear: his mother’s death isn’t his fault. By hugging Kakeru as he says that, Suwa offers as much comfort as he can give. While Suwa encourages Kakeru to let go of the past, Naho tries to have him see that he’s wanted in the present. By confessing her feelings, she fills an emptiness in his heart. Remember early on how Orange mentions Naho as a motherly type? Consider Kakeru’s relationship with his mother. She needed him, but she didn’t show it in a way that made him think she loved him. Her weakness got the better of her, and that’s his image of her. Naho also wants him to feel needed; however, it’s not because she wants him to do things for her or because she’s weak. She wants him to feel needed as a person. She tells him she feels the same way about him that he feels about her. While his mother may have loved him, that love forced him to only ever focus on her. Throughout the series, though, Naho’s affection encourages Kakeru to live his own life and do the things that make him happy.
Orange Episode 7 does a lot of things right: we get to see Kakeru’s relationship with his mother better, the story integrates the other friends better, and the episode places Kakeru’s feelings at the forefront more than any of the previous ones. The shot of Taka and Azu standing outside the classroom suggests that they’ll involve themselves more in the mission to save Kakeru. Suwa and Naho have tried doing so in their own way, so I’m curious about how these two (and possibly Hagita) try to save him, too. I’m also curious about whether there will still be a final “save Kakeru” scene. At this point, it seems like everyone will try to do whatever they can for him. However, from Naho’s reaction at Kakeru’s smile after they all cried things out together, I’m not convinced Kakeru has had his “aha” moment with regards to his deeply-rooted depression. Hopefully, Orange handles future scenes with as much grace as the final scene in this episode.
If you or someone you know are experiencing similar feelings or thoughts, please contact a medical professional or your local suicide hotline. For more information, please visit the MentalHealth.Gov website.
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