Remembering the past can be both a gift and a curse. The happy moments have their potency multiplied, but so do the sad moments. Actually, the moments that once were insanely happy can become painful to remember. But what if you had the opportunity to change the past, with all of your present knowledge? The sad moments could be traded with even happier moments, and your present would be happier as a result. This is the opportunity that the characters of Orange receive.
Orange began serialization in 2012 and ran until 2015. It is a shoujo romance manga written, created and illustrated by Ichigo Takano. The company Seven Seas Entertainment will publish it in 2016 in the West and Crunchyroll currently has all of it available in its online catalog.
Naho Takamiya’s first day of her second year in high school doesn’t begin that well, she oversleeps for the first time in her life and receives a mysterious letter supposedly written by her (that she doesn’t have time to read). Things start looking up when a new student, Kakeru Naruse, transfers to her class. During his presentation, Naho reads the letter, which really seems to come from herself from the future and warns her not to invite Kakeru to walk home together. Ignoring that, Naho and her friends invite him to walk home together. For the next two weeks, Kakeru doesn’t come to class and his newly found friends get worried. After these events, Naho decides to follow the letter, which asks for her to help Kakeru truly smile and says that she will fall in love with the boy. The past, present and future are deeply conected in her search to save Kakeru.
From the start, the thing that stands out in Orange is its honesty to its theme. The past can hurt. That point is made multiple in the first five chapters. But that is not the series sole theme. Another one of the main focus is the capacity to take responsibility in your own actions and not being carried away by counsel, mainly in the image of Naho, who comes to depend on the letters. Both of these themes are portrayed in a novel and refreshing way, while still managing to have weight in the reader.
The main trio (Naho, Kakeru and Hiroto Suwa) is, undoubtedly, the group of characters that receives the most development. Naho starts of as a rather timid girl who always “goes with the flow”, but her experiences with the letter and Kakeru shape her to be a more headstrong and decisive person. Suwa seems to be the regular charismatic, friendly and athletic character that is just there, but with time his deeper personality is revealed. I won’t say anything about Kakeru, as it would be too much of a spoiler. But I’m just going to say it is wonderfully realized and an emotional.
That is not to say the rest of Naho’s friends doesn’t receive any development, but it is not as major as the one for the main trio. Their development is mostly built through one single event.
The art of Orange is very cutesy, something very natural for shoujos, but it is not any less beautiful or realistic because of it. The realism is a very welcome change of pace from most manga and, despite that, it still manages to get something of magic in its pages. It is pretty well detailed and really pretty, to boot.
Orange is the first shoujo I ever read and I feel it ruined the demographic for me. I doubt any other shoujo will be able to reach the same level of enjoyment, fun and emotional-power that it gave me. It will probably forever be my milestone to what a shoujo should aim to be, fun and yet deep, with a hint of tragicness.
I would recommend Orange to shoujo-lovers and people looking for a very original romance. Also, people looking for a great portrayal of how to deal with the past and taking action for the present. Moreover, I think everyone should consider giving it a try.
Thank you for reading!