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Monday, 1 August 2016

Orange E5

Episode 5.

I've heard people speculating that this anime might be a split-cour one, since they seem to be going at a pace of one episode per chapter and the manga has twenty-two chapters, which leaves me wondering how on earth this story could be stretched out for that long. I'm enjoying it, don't get me wrong, but there's no way to get around the fact that not a massive amount actually happens in Orange. Every episode focuses on Naho trying to follow a direction from the letter, but usually the biggest barrier to her doing that is her own awkwardness and reticence, and the series' whole vibe and storyline isn't really set up for larger plot arcs or villains.

(Not that I don't see you trying there, Ueda. Your commitment to being the villain of this show is admirable, but I just don't think it's going to pan out.)

So I'm hoping that it'll just be twelve or thirteen episodes. Unless there's a pretty stark change in how it's structured, that would be kind of the perfect length for it, whereas twenty-two episodes would be way too long.

In this week's episode, with a springtime festival coming up, Naho finds that all of her friends are pushing her to spend more time with Kakeru. With the letter warning her not to let any of older Naho's good memories get changed - especially a memory of the two of them watching fireworks together - Naho takes it upon herself to be more forthright and direct with Kakeru. Meanwhile, the group reveals that they're aware of Suwa's feelings for Naho, but will be encouraging Naho to go out with Kakeru - a plan of action that Suwa also pledges to support. In the future, Naho thinks back on the last text Kakeru sent her.

Kakeru, you look ridiculous.

So, first off, I do like that while a sort-of love triangle is in this series, there's no bitterness or resentment there, and everyone's being very up-front and forthcoming about it. I actually really liked the scene where Azu and Takako talk to Suwa and make it very clear that they're going to be encouraging Naho and Kakeru to get together, because it makes all of them - including Suwa - seem like reasonable, good, straightforward people.

Done wrong, that scene - and the one where Kakeru asks if Suwa's okay with him taking Naho to the fireworks - could have come across as very creepy if done wrong, either swinging over to making some of the cast seem cruel and unfeeling, or over to seeming oddly proprietary, as if they're having to ask permission for anyone to go near Naho. The show struck a pretty good balance, I think.

The series goes to pains to show us that Suwa is popular with girls, as well, as if to reassure us that he'll definitely find someone else to fall in love with, which is nice, I guess, but which seems a bit unnecessary. 

Suwa and his fanclub.

Incidentally, we also get Kakeru remarking that he's attracted to Suwa, so I don't see why we can't get a serviceable OT3 out of this situation.

This does make me wonder if all of them got letters, though. I mentioned last week that every time the present hasn't panned out like Naho's letter said it would, it's been because of Suwa's intervention, but now we see it changing because of Azu, Takako, and Hagita. We also get a slightly suspicious sequence where Hagita all but interrogates their teacher on whether it's possible to change the past, and where Azu expresses anxiety at the idea that the past can't be changed, and all of that is leading me to think that maybe they've all gotten letters with slightly different instructions.

This was a very sweet episode, though. Suwa remains my absolute favourite character, and this episode just cemented that, and it was nice to see Naho loudly thanking him for everything he's done for her, as per future Naho's instructions. It was a nice moment, and it fits in well with how this is a very warm, pleasant series.

On the other end of the 'how well do you deal with romantic rejection' scale, we have Ueda, who seems intent on being the cackling vaudeville villain of this piece despite the fact that nobody else seems all that interested in having any kind of conflict with her. Her biggest contribution to this episode is to try and steal Naho's hairclip (itself a gift from Kakeru), only to get stopped by Suwa.

They do make a cute couple.

I'm still a little vexed that Ueda didn't turn out not to be a perfectly pleasant person who just happens not to be the right person for Kakeru, but right now I kind of find her hilarious, as she acts like a character from an entirely different show and basically flings herself into the middle of the warm-happy-cuddlefest that is regular flavour Orange to act like the distillation of every mean girl stereotype in fiction.

So this was a fun episode. Next week, we hit the halfway point of the show (or of the cour, at the very least), which is usually the point where we'd expect something dramatic to happen. Don't be letting me down, show.

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