Sep 1, 2015
27 of 31 chapters read
people found this review helpful
May contain spoilers
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.
TL;DR: Fuck Orange.