One morning, Naho Takamiya receives a letter in the mail claiming to be from herself 10 years in the future. The letter reveals a series of events that are supposed to take place that day. At first, Naho thinks it's just a prank; but when the letter mentions a transfer student named Kakeru Naruse, who really ends up transferring into her class later that day, she is forced to believe in its contents.
As Naho continues to read the letter, her future self mentions several regrets, urging Naho to take the right decisions now. Somehow these regrets all seem to be connected to Kakeru, and with the burden of the knowledge that the boy wouldn't be with her and her friends in the future, will Naho be able to make the perfect choices that will alter what seems to be fate?
After chapter 9 ran in Bessatsu Margaret magazine in November 2012, Orange went on hiatus for over a year. In 2013, the series switched publishers from Shueisha to Futabasha, which re-published the first two volumes, and starting from chapter 10, serialization moved to Monthly Action magazine starting in the February 2014 issue.
The series has sold a total of 1.6 million copies since it was serialized, with the fourth volume ranking 25 on Oricon's weekly manga rankings chart. Orange also ranked 15th among male readers in the 2015 Kono Manga ga Sugoi! magazine. A live-action film adaptation was released in Japan on December 12, 2015.
The first five volumes of Orange were published in English by Seven Seas Entertainment in two omnibus volumes from January 26 to May 31, 2016, and the sixth on January 23, 2018. Crunchyroll published the manga digitally starting on January 24, 2014. It is also published in Spanish by Tomodomo Ediciones, in Polish by Waneko, and in Brazilian Portuguese by Editora Jbc.
You ever read or watch something extremely popular, and as time goes on, it gets more and more relevant and more and more popular, yet, you don’t like it? Maybe you’ll detest it so much, and it will remain so beloved, but no one ever explains why it’s good? For me, that series is the manga Orange, which was recently adapted into animation, giving me an excuse to re-review it.
The character designs in Orange are quite boring, having traditional “shoujo hair” and generic school uniforms. The lips and facial structure does look a bit more human than normal; however, it falls right into
the uncanny valley and is quite disturbing to watch. The manga has decently detailed art, but the panelling is just atrocious. There is no flow or structure to actions, and the literal panel space is even off, which is such an obvious aspect of a manga that you’d have to try to fuck it up. The backgrounds are scarce and often not even existent, which makes the whole thing feel empty and lazy. The anime is pretty mediocre from a production standpoint; occasional bits of movement, but cuts corners whenever possible. However, the directing in the anime added a lot to the original story, giving a coat of melancholy to everything, and adding a bit of subtlety to characters through movements and such. It reminds me of another show recently, though not nearly to the same extent, that used great directing to bring a lackluster source to life: Re Zero.
The characters in Orange are hollow and lack any personality traits. The protagonist, Naho, is “nice” and “in love with Edgy Teen Batman” with literally nothing else to define her. Edgy Teen Batman has no character traits other than those that my sophomoric nickname describes. The only other thing given to characterize him is that he suffers from depression, though the way it’s portrayed is childish and lazy enough to be considered offensive by some, including myself. Every other character acts merely as a plot device to further the narrative or to make sure that the audience knows that Naho is nice and Kakeru is the best. Having somewhat recently finished Legend of the Galactic Heroes, which has such a wonderfully fleshed out cast of over 70 characters, reviewing something with such little care to even its two protagonists is disappointing.
The dialogue in the manga for Orange is dronish and forced, feeling more like it is trying to get across a quota for what needs to happen in a chapter, rather than being an actual genuine conversation. The anime, however, has a slightly more natural feel to the dialogue, making it slightly easier to watch.
Orange is driven entirely by drama, rather than strong characters, atmosphere or anything stupid like that. It exists solely to show drama, and the only reason it gives you to continue watching is to see the next point of over the top drama. While melodrama is not inherently a problem, it becomes one when it is the main focus of the series, and distracts from any positive aspects, if there are any; which in the case of the Orange manga, there aren’t, and in the case of the anime, there are few.
Not only is drama the only driving force of continuing to watch the series, but it is also created artificially, to make conflict harder to resolve. Characters hide important information from one another just to make everything worse for them. The entire narrative is built around one time that Kakeru hid information from his friends, and is perpetuated by his friends withholding information from him and each other.
The conclusion of Orange is insultingly anticlimactic and rushed. It seems to through the meager efforts of the rest of the series in the garbage. It manages to make me hate the whole package even more than I already did, which honestly impresses me.
The next paragraph is a massive spoiler. The series is quite lost thematically. It’s trying to convey a message of “Don’t let your regrets own you” because of how Kakeru ends up killing himself because of his regrets, which is portrayed as a massive mistake. However, because they only saved him because of trying to fix a regret, that regret being failing to save him, the series ends up contradicting itself. Reminiscent of Steins;Gate having a similar contradiction, though in the case of that show, it was more of a complete heel-face turn, rather than thematic incoherence.
I caught up on Orange about 3 chapters into its run, and after 3 years of melodramatic emptiness and shitty artwork it finally concluded. I wrote a horrible, rambling, poorly written review soon after describing my hatred for it. A year later, the anime started airing, and I had hope that I would be proven wrong, and the anime would be excellent and no one would even have to tell me whatever they like about it. However, while the anime was slightly better than the manga, it still failed to be remotely acceptable as a piece of work. And I still have yet to be explained what merit can be found here, other than the miniscule few positive points I have mentioned here.
At first glance, Orange may not seem to be anything more than your typical romance/drama set in your usual shoujo location - a high school. The incorporation of changing fate as its main and defining premise, which in itself is nothing too unique even in the romance department, can lead to premature and ignorant condemnations of Orange as nothing more than a mere "melodramatic shoujo" when it is nothing of the sort.
Whilst its premise may not be something immensely exciting at first glance, what Takano has excelled at is the execution of this premise. There exists a delicate yet extremely refined harmony between the
potential romance and exploration of our characters both in their present selves and in their future selves, 10 years down the line. One of the most astonishing aspects of Orange is that it successfully balances the two timelines, not only in the pacing of their progression but particularly the ability to reinforce characterisation of their younger selves through their older counterparts and vice versa. This is accompanied by a steady pacing which decelerates accordingly during the exposition of our characters and potential answers to how any of the sci-fi elements are possible and the purpose behind the entire "future letters". Not only has Orange provided a potential explanation to the plausibility of these letters, it maximises the potential of the premise to broaden the possibilities the storyline takes whilst simultaneously respecting the actual complexity of time travel - and the physical reality attached to it. It is all too common for shows to be bogged down by time travel and many series, in anime and manga, fail to respect their premise which often leads to glaring plot holes or a detraction from what the creator is attempting to convey. Orange does not try nor pretend to contain any magnanimous storyline; it is an earnest story whose simple premise acts a platform on which authentic and compelling character growth is achieved.
The characters in Orange present themselves initially to be a cohesive cast with a mixture of personalities that are commonplace in shoujo. For some readers, the existence of certain stereotypical traits may be a deterrent but they provide a sense of appropriate levity and humour in a storyline that explicitly explores mental illness as a key theme. Naho and Kakeru are the series' main focus and their journey is an outstanding exemplar of introspective growth. My experiences with shoujo had previously left me with little expectations on the genre's ability to fully comprehend and portray the whole range of nuanced emotions individuals experience but Orange's characters distinguish themselves by doing so even when faced with a Herculean task of saving a life whilst dealing with how one's own actions can knowingly completely change your own. Through a combination of delving into the regrets of their adult selves, an exposition into their current future lives and the primary storyline concerning our teenage protagonists, readers can experience fully the true gravity of the decisions that they make and do not make and how this may affect them and subsequently their future selves. Orange's prevailing quality is achieving this sweeping exposition by seamlessly entering different POVs and different timelines assembling every perspective of the same events creating a deeper and rounded drama that never turns a blind eye to potential consequences but rather addresses them directly and in an earnest fashion that we would expect a group of young and close friends to approach.
The artwork is simply sublime; Takano has really tailored Orange's visuals to fit its universe perfectly. The drawings have a crisp yet delicate style but maintain the quality of an enchanting romance reminiscent of Io Sakisaka's art. Their high school versions have a youthful and exuberant look in the present which is contrasted by much more mature designs for their future selves. Moreover, attention has clearly been placed in the way facial expressions are drawn and what exactly is being portrayed in every panel - a single chapter of Orange is packed with more development and exposition that most manga could hope to achieve in even 2 or 3 chapters of similar length. The fact that such an elaborate story is told in a mere 22 chapters is a testament to the poetic economy Takano has achieved in Orange.
It is extremely challenging for me to fully explain why I believe Orange is this extraordinary and I attribute that to the series' interwoven and self-reciprocating plot. To compartmentalise Orange as just a tragedy or just a romance or just anything for that matter would be an injustice and a criminal simplification of what is a meticulously well-crafted masterpiece but I feel that if you are looking for a unique story that incorporates any of the aforementioned themes, I would urge you to give Orange a go and to experience a true profoundness in conveying human beings in all its complexity and the power regret can hold. Orange will not garishly and boringly shove its message, any melodrama or textbook philosophy down your throat; its individual elements are there for you to indulge in and to experience together its bittersweet nature.
After a year of hiatus and a release every 2 months, the manga is officially done.
So your future self sends you a letter and everything that is written happens. It gives you advice that you have to save this guy because he isn't in the future anymore.
I've only read a few mangas but I think this kind of plot is unique. I first started this review 3 years ago and now that it's done, I'm editing it to reflect my view on it.
Since 3 years ago I've read a lot more shoujo than I did before and still, even though yes, there
are still cliche moments that would make you want to smack the protagonist, the other gut-wrenching, heartstring-pulling scenes are still enough for you to overlook it. (I mean really, tell me one shoujo manga that doesn't have a single cliche scene in it.)
The story also tackles with time travel and those things but even though she didn't focus on those things, the author got her point across in the end.
Wow. The art. I seriously love the art in this manga. Maybe that's one of the reasons why I enjoy it so much. The characters are drawn beautifully. I have no words for the art except that I'm giving it a 10.
And three years later, the art is still truly exceptional. Takano Ichigo is amazing when it comes to drawing her characters. It's like their personality comes through with what she draws them with.
The characters are really enjoyable and fun. Since it switches from the 16 year old time to the 27 year old time, we could see how they all grew up and how Kakeru changed them. There's only a few chapters out now and already we can see that the characters, especially Naho and Suwa, have the potential to really develop. Also, Kakeru since he has to struggle with a lot of things especially during his teenage years.
My favorite character is Suwa okay. You'll understand once you read it. I love how they all care for each other and how they all work together for their friend. Like what I said before, there would be a time you'd want to smack either of the protagonists, but eh, don't we all have imperfections? Anyway, their group is pretty fun and seeing them interact is pretty fun.
9 for character!
Don't be fooled by the pretty art and the shoujo tag. There's also the Tragedy tag there. By the end of the second chapter, you feel these strings of emotions and come the fourth chapter, you'll be filled with giddiness. 8th chapter, your heart will hurt and at the same time you'll be surprised with the turn of events. The 19th chapter will give you the feels and the 22nd, well. The end's the end. Feel what you want to feel because there won't be anymore chapters.
I'm giving it a 9 for enjoyment.
I'm giving it somewhere between a 9 and a 10 overall. Too high?
I think it can be justified with the art, characters, and unique story line that it has.
This manga is really a refreshing feel even though it's tragedy, maybe it's the art. So if you're looking to read something new that's not your usual shoujo manga (lol cliche line), then pick this up. Just don't blame me when it will hurt so much since there's only a few chapters out and you are smothered with feels.
Maybe I should read the manga from the start again and edit this.
Everyone has something in life they wish they could do differently. For Takamiya Naho it wasn’t one thing, but rather a series of events: poor choices, lack of communication and the inability to understand, that caused the loss of the most important person in her life. Her future self decides to send a letter, ten years into the past when she was in high school—warning herself not to make the same mistakes.
Orange is an unusual shoujo in that it tackles the heavy topic of suicide without glossing it over; it paints the ugly truth by pulling the reader through the dark cloud of depression.
It allows us to see how one person, isolated in the confines of their own mind, could fall victim to self-loathing and guilt to the point of being desperate enough to bring it all to an end. Yet it also colors a vibrant picture of how people survive in the wake of loss when someone precious to them makes that heavy a decision—it is filled with grief, blame, and an ache that will never dissipate no matter the passage of time.
The plot is masterful in presenting an intriguing premise that leaves as many questions as it does answers, and the anticipation only builds through the climax of the story. It doesn’t falter on explaining the mechanics of “time-traveling letters” and how this operates with multiple universes and time paradoxes. Although the explanations are rather brief in that respect, Takano doesn’t leave the reader hanging and gives just enough to be informative and conclusive without being excessively boring. She rewards us with a conclusive ending that gives us an additional tidbit of wisdom, saving someone in the throes of depression who is suicidal isn’t just about keeping them from ending it. It’s about healing them, helping them, and simply being there.
In the characters we find the biggest strength of the series, because Takano puts so much effort in making the main cast relatable and multi-faceted. Naho is shy, reserved, but ultimately sweet, driven initially by the letters forewarning her of the regrets day-by-day, however she quickly becomes emotionally attached to Kakeru because of the present. She isn’t simply motivated to eradicate whatever her future self is lamenting, she wants to save her future because she loves the present Kakeru. Yet Naho is deeply flawed as evidenced by how narrow-sighted she is at times, because she focuses more on the letters and saving Kakeru at times rather than how he feels in the present. She grows greatly from the start where her only aim is saving him, to actually trying to understand (read: empathize) and support him.
Kakeru is initially a little distant to us, more of an enigma than someone we can sympathize with. This is actually a positive, because Takano builds our attachment to him through the supporting cast and Naho, which means there is more of an emotional punch when she finally introduces Kakeru’s point of view and illuminates his inner struggle. This ultimately means a bigger payoff at the conclusion of the series, but additionally gives him greater character development from beginning to end. The change in his friends around him, however radical, does not alter the fact that Kakeru is ultimately very depressed. He has every reason to be, and while having friends around him certainly helps, it isn’t a miracle cure. Takano doesn’t make depression simplistic or boil it down – the fact is that just being there won’t magically change a person. It does, however, have an effect and in that way her message is successful.
It would be enough to talk about the main two, but not mentioning the supporting cast would be a disservice. Much of the development between Naho and Kakeru would be impossible without their support, and they are not without their struggles and flaws, trying to save Kakeru while feeling the conflict of changing the future that she is supposed to have. It only serves to make them more human and more endearing, and it makes the reader more invested in their journey as a group.
Takano is known for her clean art and gorgeous character designs, but even more here she paints in the smallest details in each panel. Rather than narrating emotions as some mangaka do, Takano focuses more on displaying them through the characters’ expressions and actual dialogue exchanges. This ultimately means she conveys her message more convincingly and immerses us more than other shoujo authors that preoccupy themselves with trying to submerge us in the main character’s point-of-view. Takano is more interested in her reader being invested in everyone rather than in any one single part of her story.
To anyone who enjoys suspense, romance, and a heartfelt story, this is the first title I would recommend. Takano has out done herself and surpassed her past works to leave us with something that is ultimately memorable—because any manga that a reader can walk away from, feeling as though they have learned something that will stick with them forever, is phenomenal. Any manga that can touch you in a way no other has is a classic. A manga that can do both? Now that’s a masterpiece.