Zeke here! I’m taking over this week for Cindy while she is getting settled in Japan. I’ve been following Orange, so I volunteered to pick it up this time. A few secrets were revealed in episode 8, but did we really make any progress in the story?
Note: The following review contains spoilers of the eighth 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).
Suwa and Naho realize their letters are becoming less useful over time as the future keeps changing. Kakeru collapses during soccer practice, but later says he was just feeling dizzy. The group of friends decide to run a relay during the upcoming athletic event and we learn that all five of the future selves have sent letters back in time.
The Good and the Bad
I enjoyed some of the sweet little moments in this episode. Like the one above where Kakeru is teasing Hagita about listening to music and he ends up sharing it with Naho. Of course, Hagita can’t let that go and the teasing continues. We’ve seen a lot of these kinds of scenes in Orange, scenes that just show the group interacting with each other. The problem with these is, even though they are pleasant to watch, that starts to feel like all they are. A large section of this episode felt this way to me, just filler between a couple plot points, important though the plot points were. I kept thinking to myself “when is the story going to move on?” I think this has been an issue for some time in Orange. Some episodes the pacing feels spot on, and others, it feels like they are killing time.
This episode in particular doesn’t have as many scenes like that as some previous ones, but these have more of a feeling like dragging on too long. One that sticks out in my head is when the whole group agrees to run the relay with Kakeru. Originally, Suwa and Naho were going to convince him to drop out because the letter said he would twist his ankle in the race and blame himself for the loss. The only problem is, he actually wants to run. So they have to decide to let him run and hurt himself or convince him to not run. With the help of the others, they decide to all run together so he’ll have fun no matter what. Like I said before, nice scene, but from the switching between all the characters, and the side conversations from filler characters, the scene just seems stretched.
The background music was very well blended in this episode. Gone are the awkward music choices of early episodes that left me scratching my head in confusion. Instead of rockabilly music, we get played down pianos and strings to listen to. It makes for a much better backdrop that doesn’t take away from what’s happening on the screen. I especially liked the musical number played during the second time Kakeru attempts to hold Naho’s hand. It’s sweet and slightly sad and it sets the mood perfectly.
The animation, as usual, was very fluid and close ups are drawn extremely well. I’m always amazed at how crisp the drawings look, so much detail is put in, especially in the hair. But I have to say, this show is still having trouble with far away shots. Often when we see these, the character faces look rather… simple. As you can see in this shot from the final scene in the episode, this continues to be an issue. It’s really too bad as the rest of the show looks quite good.
Honestly, this episode felt a bit like running in place. I’m starting to have real trouble believing in Naho, not because her heart is in the wrong place, far from it, it’s just that sometimes she can seem so oblivious. This relates back to episode seven, where Adult Naho never realized that Kakeru might have liked her. A similar thing happens in this episode.
Kakeru and Naho are heading to the doors together when she trips and falls into him. He catches her and their hands briefly touch. After she jumps back a bit, he puts his hand out with sort of a sad look on his face and she asks, “what?” He puts his hand down and says it’s nothing. As I mentioned above, he makes an attempt to hold her hand again later, but she doesn’t understand. She thinks there is something wrong with him and when Naho finally tells her friends, they laugh and say that Kakeru just wants to hold her hand.
Now, I don’t know about you, but that seemed obvious to me. Given just last episode they confessed their full feelings for each other, and in this episode even say they love each other, it never occurs to her that he might want to hold hands? That seems like a bit of stretch to me.
Another thing I noticed about Naho in this episode is her flip-flopping opinion on the letters. In previous episodes, she sticks close to the letters, thinking they will help her save Kakeru. In this episode, she decides to stop depending on the letters as much, seeing as how the future has been changed anyway, she’ll just try to make him happy the best she can. Then one little thing happens (the hand holding thing) and she wants to turn to the letters again. That didn’t last long. That character trait kind of bugged me this episode, it almost felt like the change of heart had no purpose.
Of course we have to talk about the climax of the episode where a big secret is revealed. There are a few clues in the episode. Takako and Azusa corner Suwa and ask him if he is hiding anything, which he answers off-screen. And there is a very convincing fake out with Hagita and Azusa, that I fell for, that also happens mostly off screen.
It turns out that the entire group has received letters from their future selves. I had been wondering if this was a possibility since it was revealed that Suwa had received a letter. I think this will prove to be good for the series. Naho and Suwa’s actions were starting to seem a bit eccentric and there wasn’t much of a way to explain them outside future knowledge. It seems to me that the story will progress better if all the characters are on the same page and truly working together.
Episode 8 of Orange was a bit of a hit or miss for me. I feel like we got important story bits in, but also that we had to trudge through some filler to get there. The groups letters raise a number of questions. Why didn’t they say anything earlier? Did their letters tell them not to? What exactly do their’s say besides “save Kakeru”? Do they have more than one like Naho does? Will they have to tell Kakeru at some point?
I would imagine he will start to get suspicious of them at some point if they keep being so insistent on things, like inexplicably asking him not to race. And will they be able to save him? He still seems to have issues expressing himself, as he can’t ask Naho to hold his hand. But going by his statement in the episode that they aren’t going out because he doesn’t want to hurt her, maybe that has something to do with it? We have a lot of questions left, and not many episodes to go. I hope that Orange can get back on track next week and move us forward to a satisfying conclusion.