“Orange” is Sweet & Sour, Yet All The More Beautiful | OWLS “Treasure”

Chances are that if you were linked here from another blogger pal, then you might be new. To those first-timers, “Hi, I’m Takuto, welcome to my anime cafe!” As part of the OWLS blog tour’s  ninth monthly topic, “Treasure,” I decided to incorporate what would have been my standard review of the Orange manga into a cautionary yet hopeful look at the realm of teen suicide, and how, as an outsider, it is okay feel unsure when warning signs are observed.

There are moments in our lives where we lose our sense of self-worth and value and as a result, we find ourselves deep in darkness or drowning in the ocean. However, every person in this world is a treasure—we treasure ourselves or we are treasured by others—and at times, we may need to be reminded of that. We will be exploring characters who have suffered from mental illnesses, depression, and/or suicide, and then discussing how these individuals cope with these issues, the reasons for their emotions, and how they handled the situations they were in.

For as long as I’ve been avoiding it, alas, there’s no going around the major theme of suicide in Orange, so thanks for the prompt, Lyn! This is also my first manga review, so wish me luck!

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A brief spoiler-free discussion on the 5-volume 2012-2017 manga “Orange,” localized in the U.S. by Seven Seas Entertainment with story and art by Ichigo Takano. 

Death, Divorce, Drugs, Depression

Today, teachers will advise students to omit these four things when it comes to important college, scholarship, or job essays/interviews. This is likely because your employers and admissions offices do not want your pity; they want to hear about your strengths, a time you overcame tough odds, or maybe a moment of positive character development in your lifetime—NOT about the pitiable setbacks along the way.

But if these four items have become such crucial parts in the great cycle of life, why mightn’t you want to write about how you didn’t let the divorce of your parents or attempt at suicide ultimately stop you, or convey how even though drugs might’ve ruled your past that they would not own your future?

Ok, real talk. Depression is, well, depressing. Drugs are weird. And let’s face it, having to console someone about their “recently late” Aunt Susie can be extremely awkward, both for the you and the other party, rest-assured. It’s hard to talk about suicide and say “just the right thing” at “just the right time.” When is that time? Is it my fault for not knowing? It’s all just so . . . pressuring, so time consuming, and your boss probably doesn’t have the time to seat you on the sofa and listen to you express all your life’s troubles.

As much as I hate to say it, business and education are professional. Save your need of counseling for the counselor.

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I’ve Been Running for So Long

All this and more is why I avoid the Four D’s, both on my papers and here on the most informal of blogs. I try not to talk about specific real problems—negative aspects, terrible people, worrisome events—we face daily, but instead offer to celebrate the good that can come from something, even if that bit of positivity is ultimately (and knowingly) insignificant or greatly overpowered. Death and depression are hard to talk about for many, and the last thing I want to do is try consoling someone when I’d probably end up making things worse.

We don’t always get to make that decision, however, as entertainment has integrated these kinds of issues into their stories and characters. I might hear that a certain manga or anime is a “masterpiece of emotional conflict,” yet as soon as I hear “mental illness,” I won’t lie, I get turned off.

This brings me back to Orange, a brief tale about THE WORLD’S GREATEST GROUP OF FRIENDS and their willingness to alter time—risking the wonderful future in store for themselves—in order to prevent the inevitable suicide of a troubled young boy, their newfound beloved, treasured friend. It’s a story so short, powerful, and highly regarded of that it just couldn’t be ignored anymore, and descending into darkness proved well-worth the risks.

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To You, in the Past

The start of Naho Takamiya ‘s junior year in high school was unlike any other: for the first time, Naho overslept, which was also her first mistake. That morning a letter made its way to her, but she was too busy trying to make it to school on time. When she finally arrives, her teacher announces a new transfer student by the name of Kakeru Naruse. According to the letter (which she now has some time to scope out), he’ll sit next to her. And just like clockwork, the teacher seats him in the back right next to her.

To her disbelief, Naho realizes she stumbled upon a letter from herself ten years in the future, which chronicles her everyday emotions and actions for the next six or so months. It’s not until shortly after Naho and her four other friends invite Kakeru to walk home together after class that she, again, violated the letter’s requests: her second big mistake.

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Naho is tasked by her future self to get to know Kakeru Naruse better—to make him feel welcomed, loved, cherished, and understood—for ten years from now, Kakeru no longer walks among the living, and his loss was her greatest regret. Now unfolds a fatalistic love story that spans across time, a tale full of many emotional ups and downs.

Everyone Needs Friends Like These Guys

I find myself in the same boat as Naho; depression is hard to talk about, so she often skirts around the issue by using the excuse of “making him smile.” I suppose both technically work, but clearly, Naho has no idea how to make Kakeru happy. While I can relate to her frequent indecision and lack of self-confidence, C’MON GIRL, JUST SPIT IT OUT ALREADY. I love Naho’s cute and considerate character to death, but man, telling a guy that you have lunch for him shouldn’t be that hard. I guess it adds to Orange‘s drama, and that some social anxiety can be just as stressful as depression.

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Orange is only complicated on an emotional level, concerning itself almost exclusively with Kakeru’s depression and Naho’s inability to act the way she truly wants to. The relationship between the two of them is such a focal point that I couldn’t help but wish more of Naho’s friends played a bigger role. There’s the ever-teased soccer “giant” Suwa, a real team player, and he’s just about the best friend you could ever ask for. I’ll avoid spoilers by merely saying that he’s a funny guy full of heart, and that if anyone’s willing to take one for the team, it would absolutely be him. (Props to creating one of the most challenging love triangles ever.)

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But there are others: the girls, including the loud and cheerful Azusa and the cool, strong Takako. These two are almost always up to no good, snooping around whenever and wherever they can, but their presence makes me feel most at ease. They’re both overly caring, and despite how bratty Azu can get, or scary Takako may seem, they only mean to stick up for their friends.

Lastly there’s poor, poor glasses-kun Hagita, who likely would’ve been my favorite character had he been more than just the team’s punching bag. He’s picked on and ridiculed for nearly everything he does, but his logic and reasoning, no matter how pessimistic, often lead to the solutions everyone’s been looking for. Several times throughout the series he’s hinted on having a huge involvement with the finale (which could’ve led to something really cool), when in actuality, he’s just as equal in importance as the other girls.

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*gulp* Here We Go

It doesn’t take a second glance to see that Kakeru is dealing with his own demons. His smile may be pretty and sparkly, but underneath that shine is a whole lot of self-doubt, trauma, and shitty memories from his previous school. On top of it all, his parents are divorced, and he blames himself for his mother’s sudden suicide early on, which is what triggers the events of Orange! Well geez, it’s no wonder he’s thinkin’ about offin’ himself all the time!

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Suicide is big. It can be hard to stomach and awkward to talk about, I covered this. But because it can be so off-putting for some people, odds are that they will have a difficult time with Orange. It doesn’t help that Kakeru comes across as particularly frustrating and ungrateful. But we gotta help the guy out, that’s what we do, right? With these kinds of people and situations, we need to get as close as we can to hear them out. From there, we can only go with our gut and advise them, appreciate their efforts and tell them that  it’s almost always never their own fault, and that they are never alone.

In my opinion, Naho did what was right by involving all of her friends in on the dilemma. She took her sweet time, but thanks to plot convenience (and a neat twist), everyone becomes gung-ho about saving Kakeru. Take things slowly, sincerely, and whole-heatedly, for if you can save the life of a friend, then it’s always worth the time. You may not get it right the first time, but at least you tried.

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Regret and Happiness

I boast that one of Orange’s winning features is its short 5-volume run, but maybe that’s because I can’t take +10 volumes on suicide. Suicide plays a big role in the story, I’ll admit, but it’s not the real enemy here—regret is. As if all of the characters play supporting roles, Regret is the main antagonist (Guilt his henchman), whilst Satisfaction and Happiness work together to calm not only Kakeru’s mindset, but everyone else’s regret-filled future, too.

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It just sucks when you have to give up what could have been your dream life all because you felt a little guilty for having that blessed life in the first place.

To You, in the Future

Like the titular fruit flavor, oranges taste so sweet and delightful. That is, until you notice that subtle sour tinge. Once it stands out to you, that’s all you can taste, and the fruit no longer becomes desired for its sweetness.

Naho lives one of the coolest lives ever imaginable, surrounded by her dearest friends and caring family. But as soon as Naho experiences Kakeru’s false smile, the sourness just punches her in the gut and pushes her to the brink of tears and exhaustion. That’s when she remembers Kakeru’s value to not only herself now, but herself in the future: “Ten years from now, I’m still regretting Kakeru’s death and the fact that I didn’t even notice how he truly felt.”

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At this point, she makes a desperate call to fate, the ruler of this timeline, wishing to keep the treasure that she found—that they all found—in Kakeru’s heart. And if fate didn’t grant her this treasure, then she’d take it by force. I’m no love expert, but that’s pretty cool of Naho, and I’m glad that this sour story found its sweetness once again by the end—it just makes it all the more beautiful.

“Kakeru . . . is my greatest treasure. Please let us change Kakeru’s future . . . I will not let this be his last day.” – Naho Takamiya

What’s the moral of the story? Well, you could say “Never give up,” but I rather like the sound of “Live without regrets.” The author Ichigo Takano herself, in the epilogue, hopes that our future is a happy one, and that years from now we are still living without regrets. “If you have someone like Kakeru in your life, please find a way to save them. Every life is precious. Please treasure each and every day, the present, the moment, and yourself. Thank you very much.” 

If we notice someone displaying potential signs of any mental illness, don’t feel afraid to step out and let them know you’re with them. Never expect to know EXACTLY what they’re going through, but be prepared to get them the right help just in case. I’m excited to watch the Orange anime now, and with a LTD ED release coming this fall thanks to Funimation, I know what’ll bring my wonderful experience full circle! For now, the manga receives the “Caffe Mocha” approval rating!

A very special to Gigi (Animepalooza) over on YouTube for gifting me with the first volume as per her giveaway—without you, I would not have been allowed to experience this endearing story of romance and very attractive artwork, so many thanks again~!

This concludes my September 19th entry in the OWLS “Treasure” blog tour. Prior to me, Hazelyn (ARCHI-ANIME) wrote about reasons for living in the otome PS Vita game Collar X Malice, and just tomorrow the 20th, Crimson (Crimson is Blogging) will walk us through the Katie Green novel Lighter Than My Shadow! Thank you so much for reading, and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

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30 thoughts on ““Orange” is Sweet & Sour, Yet All The More Beautiful | OWLS “Treasure”

  1. Glad you won the giveaway so you can enjoy the story! There’s a sixth volume of Orange coming out. I believe it’s more of a spinoff/side-story volume.

    I do like how the regrets pile up. Nothing major, but those little “I’ll do it later”s and “I’m sure it’s fine”s start piling up. And even though Kakeru knows he shouldn’t feel that way, he can’t help but let his thoughts turn dark. Such a good read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was too! And isn’t the sixth volume something about Suwa’s perspective, kinda like how the film is? Maybe I’m getting that wrong, but either way, I’m looking forward to more of her art style!

      Watching the regret list grow slowly yet steadily is largely what made this show relatable for me—You’re absolutely right, all the little things can add up quite quickly (and dangerously). It’s human nature to first consider what “could have been,” regardless of whether it was one’s own fault or not. If he didn’t have his friends there for him, I can guarantee the story would have ended much, much sooner (and not for the better). It’s a great read, I’m glad you enjoyed it too!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. i like how you mentioned everything i feel about mental health stuff and “saying the right thing” at the “right time”. i had some friends in HS who had issues they were going through and I would always try to be there, to listen if they needed anything but i always felt so out of my depth when they needed an answer >_< also the reason i shy away from this topic. like i'm there for anyone who needs an ear but the rest, i probably suck at

    i got this manga series at acen this year! i nabbed it at a good price too i think but it's still sitting there on my shelf, unread because i want to read it, i really do but then there's the whole suicide thing. like i don't mind reading about these topics but they always make me sad in a way, even when there's a whole message at the end

    great post like always my dear takuto!

    Liked by 1 person

    • (I remember reading this comment then I forgot about it . . . so here is my response LOL)

      YES, someone who understand me! It seems like we’ve both been in that situation, where as friends we may be there, but don’t know the “best” course of action. I mean, do any of us really? You did the right thing in my book, because sometimes just being there can me the world to that person—you tried, and that’s what matters.

      While suicide is definitely a big issue the book tackles, there are many more slice-of-life moments and character sessions to counter-balance it all. I’d even go as far to say that it’s a feel-good story about friendship more than it is about the mental condition itself. So don’t let my sappiness stop you (because as I said, I also tend to make things worse >.<)!

      It's a beautiful story with many fun times in it that you're sure to enjoy. Thank you so much for this long comment Crimson~!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I liked the animated adaptation a lot (it made my top five anime of 2016.) The series does a good job highlighting the dangers of depression. I agree that Naho’s failings, when it come to romance, can be frustrating.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Having just finished the anime, I can totally understand why so many people loved it as much as they did. It blends the good times with the stressful and frustrating ones very well, balancing teenage bliss and the depression that comes with it quite naturally. Naho is a character that I loved at first, then lost interest for, and finally found that love again in the end. I guess that is no surprise, given that sometimes with these romance anime you could wait 12 episodes and be lucky they hold hands in the last 2 minutes.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I actually thought about doing Orange for my blog post, but I’m glad you were the one to take it. The way you described everything was beautiful as always, Taku. You really brought out the most important points, and I loved the way you included the meaning of the title. I would have never thought about doing that. Wonderful post as always!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I realize I “liked” this comment but never responded, but thank you so much! It was a tricky one to write, that’s for sure, and I’m glad my efforts paid off (like how you noticed the little title drop). Many thanks again, I’m glad you enjoyed it!

      Liked by 1 person

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    • I knew you were planning on it when I read your post (which was really awesome, by the way)! Hahaha, not sure about that, as you’re an excellent writer yourself, and you tend to do better with wording the emotional stuff than I do. But yes, I’m also glad you told me about Okazaki’s sadness and hope—it was something that I would otherwise never have ventured through myself. Thanks Hazel!

      Liked by 1 person

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  11. I remember Orange being an emotional ride when time got involved. I liked the cast of the series and wanted them to be happy, so I definitely was rooting for Naho to save Kakeru!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Excellent post as always, Takuto. I felt like you were stabbing me with a knife while reading this post. I don’t like sharing negative experiences in my personal life with others, especially on the web. And if there are moments that I share about them, I keep them at the minimum. Like you said in this post, it can get awkward pretty fast. You can’t take back what you said, so whenever I’m unsure about sharing something, I just don’t share. However, I think that since joining OWLS, many of us have been forced to open up more in facing our own demons because we have to talk about such serious themes in the blog tours.

    Anyway, death and suicide, depression and divorce are something that I also experienced in my life and with loved ones. Depression is something that I personally experienced and indeed, depression is DEPRESSING. It’s an all-consuming feeling like being drowned in thick jelly and no matter how hard you try, it’s just so damn hard to move and think positively. I’m actually a little hesitant in watching the anime adaptation of Orange. I started the manga last year, I think. But it got a little too much for me so I decided to drop it for a while. Then I head announcements about the anime adaptation. My interest got piqued again, but then I feel like I have to prepare myself for the feels.One of these days, I’m going to gather the courage to roll my sleeves and watch the anime or finish the manga.

    A touching post. Keep up the great work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh no! I meant no physical harm! (just kiddin’)
      I don’t like sharing much about myself either. You can never take back what you say, you’re absolutely right. Online, you can work your way around this by deleting content that you deem “too much” upon reflection, but then it’s just easier to not even write it in the first place. Joining OWLS has definitely opened me up as a blogger. Not sure if that’s necessarily a good thing, but I’ve learned that it’s not always the end of the world to share a personal tidbit or two about oneself. Finding the balance is tricky, but with each post, I like to think that I learn more about how much I should say, and when to say it.

      In my opinion, the anime is a much lighter approach to the same story. With written text, you can take your time—but it also means that you can dwell on the same line or image over and over again until certain scenes do, indeed, become unbearable. Depression is hard to confront because admitting to it, despite how heroic it sounds, can feel like losing to it. Again, achieving that balance is hard, and so I wish you the best in finding enough happiness to overcome the darkness.

      Whenever you muster the strength to try out Orange, be it manga or anime, let me know—I know you can handle it, and that we can have more wonderful discussions over the series. Thank you, Arria!


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