Nikku is an indie game developer, a freelance translator, and an avid anime viewer.
After last week’s episode and all of the issues I had with it, it’s nice to see Orange return to normal. None of the distractions and inconsistencies I complained about in my last review were present in this episode. I’m also glad to see a larger dose of Hagita and Azu moments than usual, as well as confirmation regarding everyone else’s letters.
— TVアニメ「orange」 (@AnimationOrange) August 19, 2016
This week’s episode was a largely positive one, with only about two bad things happening throughout.
The first of those bad things occurs when Kakeru passes out during soccer practice. It appears that he’s been pushing himself too hard in order to keep up with the rest of his teammates (and I’m sure the emotional strain he’s under must be taking a toll on him as well). This leads Suwa later in the episode to worry about whether it was the right choice to invite Kakeru to join the team, but Naho reassures him that it was, given how much Kakeru enjoys soccer.
Kakeru later wakes up in the nurse’s office, surrounded by his concerned friends. After a bit of back and forth with Azu, Kakeru gets a chance to clarify his relationship with Naho. I like that the two of them aren’t going out yet, even though they’re both aware of each other’s feelings. Kakeru has problems he needs to work through, and simply going out with Naho isn’t the solution to them. It’s nice to see Kakeru being more thoughtful about this than when he decided to go out with Ueda, and to see everyone else be so understanding.
However, I do have one concern regarding this. I get the feeling that when Kakeru says he wants to avoid potentially hurting Naho, this is because he still feels that he may commit suicide one day, and wants to maintain some distance to lessen her pain.
Later on in the episode, Kakeru gets chosen to be the anchor for their class in an upcoming relay race. The letter mentions how in the future timeline Kakeru gets hurt during the race and ends up feeling responsible for causing their class to lose. Naho and Suwa decide it’s best for Kakeru to switch with someone else, and although they’re surprised to find out Kakeru is looking forward to the race, they manage to convince him to switch anyway.
Azu and Takako, however, don’t like this decision, and after they confront Suwa about what he’s hiding from them, they come up with a plan for all of them to run in the relay race together. They’re able to change this event from one that puts pressure on Kakeru to win, to one where they can all have fun together as friends. Since most of the students chosen for the relay didn’t want to do it anyway, switching out the members worked out for everyone.
The other bad thing that happens in this episode is a small misunderstanding between Naho and Kakeru. On two occasions Kakeru holds his hand out to Naho, but after she gets confused and asks him what’s wrong, he gets sad and just says goodbye. Although Naho is very dense for not being able to figure this out, Kakeru is also at fault for feeling hurt without actually voicing what he wants. Suwa convinces Naho not to worry about this on her own and to rely on her friends for help. As Naho explains the situation and also about her letter from the future, we finally find out that Azu, Takako, and Hagita have all received letters as well.
— TVアニメ「orange」 (@AnimationOrange) August 21, 2016
This episode really highlighted two issues that Naho and her friends face as they try and help Kakeru. One of them is the difficulty of the decisions they need to make, and the other is how much they should rely on their letters from the future.
Recently, the decisions they’ve needed to make have been getting harder and less clear-cut. An example is the relay race: Naho and Suwa, trapped between the knowledge of a potentially bad outcome and Kakeru’s desire to participate in the race, reasonably struggle to figure out what would be the best decision to make. This trend will likely continue as more unforeseen situations and consequences make the outcomes of their decisions more difficult to predict.
The other issue is how much they should rely on their letters from the future. Naho decided this episode to put her letter away and to stop relying on it. I think this is both a good and a bad idea, as it’s risky either way. The information the letter provides can be used to better understand the events surrounding Kakeru, and to make better decisions regarding them. At the same time, however, this information will influence Naho and her friends both consciously and unconsciously. Also, with so many things starting to differ from what’s written in the letter, its value as a source of information is declining, although it certainly isn’t obsolete yet.
I think Naho and the others are better off thinking for themselves what’s best for Kakeru, rather than having their actions be dictated by the letters. However, the letters are still very valuable as a reference. They just can’t let the information contained in them overly influence their decisions and actions. It’ll be a tough balance for them to strike.
starting from the July 3, 2016