Well, as we hit the final stretch for this series, it appears the drop in art quality is here to stay. Also, the strange faces I criticized before make an unfortunate reappearance this week; as do some more Hagita moments that are seemingly out-of-character.
Production critiques aside though, in this episode Naho and her friends manage to lift Kakeru out of the dark place he was falling into last week.
This week’s episode begins with the three girls showing off their cheerleader outfits to the boys, but they’re too embarrassed to give an honest and positive response. As the girls walk off irritated, and Suwa freaks out over how short their skirts are, Kakeru cracks a brief smile before he forces it away. This is something he’s been doing throughout the whole day, and we later learn why when Naho and Kakeru get called away to help their teacher with some random errands.
After a short break, Naho and Kakeru resume their job of carrying a mattress somewhere, but as they lift it up, Kakeru aggravates his sprained ankle (which he probably hurt last episode during the pole toppling event). Having learned about Kakeru’s injury from Hagita’s letter, the rest of the group show up to lend a hand. With some prodding and a few flashbacks to the heartfelt words Suwa spoke to him before, they’re able to convince Kakeru to open up about how he’s feeling.
Kakeru explains that his mother has passed away, and apologizes for lying to them earlier about her not being able to attend. He goes on to explain that he doesn’t feel that he should be able to smile and have fun when his mother might be watching over him. He still carries a tremendous amount of guilt for his mother’s passing. Kakeru’s friends are able to convince him, however, that he’s thinking about this the wrong way. If his mother is indeed watching over him, then she’d be worried to see him like this, and he should smile if he really wants to. In a not-so-subtle metaphor, Kakeru’s friends all lend a hand to help carry the weight he’s burdened with.
The remainder of the episode covers the relay race, which Kakeru’s team manages to win with a chain of encouraging words. Kakeru has a nice conversation with his grandmother about how his mother must be happy for him, and it brings tears to his eyes. Before the episode closes, Kakeru also snatches a kiss on the cheek from Naho as his prize for finishing the race in first place.
— TVアニメ「orange」 (@AnimationOrange) September 5, 2016
I was surprised by a few things in the relay race this episode. From the onset back when they all first decided to participate, I wasn’t expecting Naho and her friends to actually win, mainly due to their not-so-stellar lineup. This feeling was further reinforced when we find out that Kakeru has sprained his ankle. I was expecting them to lose, but still have fun running the race together. However, thanks to a great effort by Suwa to take a strong lead, and an even better performance by Kakeru, they’re able to come back from last place and actually win the race.
The other surprises came from Naho and Azu. Given Azu’s personality, I was assuming she would be a fairly fast runner. Turns out this isn’t the case, and she was probably the second slowest on the team (after Hagita). I had the exact opposite assumption about Naho, but she was surprisingly not that slow during the race.
I also wanted to bring up Hagita and Azu, as they seem to be inching closer and closer to becoming a couple. They’re currently in a state where they appear to both have feelings for each other, but Hagita is too embarrassed to admit it, and Azu won’t force the issue. Although these signs have been present for a while now, the frequency with which they show up has been increasing lately. Unfortunately, Hagita wasn’t able to pass two people in the relay race, so we’ll all just have to settle with the bread he wins.
The main reason I bring up this topic though, is because I wanted to touch on the future timeline. Although it isn’t explicitly stated either way, it doesn’t appear that Hagita and Azu are a couple in the future. Given that they seem to have had feelings for each other for some time now and these aren’t recent developments, I wonder why a relationship didn’t form between them. Did Kakeru’s death play a role in it? Or did they graduate high school and simply go their separate ways without ever being able to take that first step?
I’m curious to see what issue stood between them, and whether they’ll be able to overcome it this time around. I’m also curious to see if this is written in either of their letters, as I’m sure their regrets aren’t all tied solely to Kakeru’s death.
TV animation orange
Currently Airing. Started on July 3, 2016