July 30, 2016

Manga Review: Orange, by Takano Ichigo

Title: Orange

Author: Takano Ichigo

Publisher: Seven Seas P., N.Y.

Date of Publication: 12 February 2016

Number of Volumes: 5

Number of Pages: 192 (each volume)

Find it at: Book Depository (Vol. 1-3), Book Depository (Vol. 4-5)


Summary

One day, Takamiya Naho receives a letter written to herself from ten years in the future. As Naho reads on, the letter recites the exact events of the day, including the transfer of a new student into her class named Naruse Kakeru.

The Naho from ten years later repeatedly states that she has many regrets, and she wants to fix these by making sure the Naho from the past can make the right decisions—especially regarding Kakeru. What's more shocking is that she discovers that ten years later, Kakeru will no longer be with them. Future Naho asks her to watch over him closely.

Review


WARNING: Do not attempt to read this manga without a box of tissues nearby!

If I tried to describe the way that Orange made me feel, then I'd have to do it with a quote from the manga itself: It tasted sweet, sour, and sorrowful. Just like the orange juice that Naho tasted. But, first things first, Orange is one of those manga series that will tear your heart apart and throw it out of the window. Seriously!

The day of the opening ceremony Naho received a letter from her future self. The letter described how a new transfer student, Kakeru, would arrive into their class and all of the things that would happen afterwards. The Naho that tried to reach her younger self wanted to erase some of her regrets that had been tormenting her. Kakeru would die, and Naho thought that somehow she and the rest of the group would find a way to prevent it. Knowing what she did, it must have been devastating to her that none of them noticed Kakeru's suffering.

This science fiction element was the one that made the story work. Without this letter the story would have been the same. But it really added up that by changing the present, young Naho wouldn't erase the future. A parallel universe was created where her new actions led to a different future. So, in the original Kakeru always died 17 years old, while in the new one he could be saved, if Naho was successful. The only paradox that was created with the time travel (which would be weird if there wasn't one), was how the letter reached the past. That's the one thing that wasn't explained, but I didn't really care, as the story was so beautiful to bother.

In the surface, Orange is a romance manga. Yes, Naho and Kakeru fall in love, but for me what mattered the most was the friendship of all of the six students. Suwa, Takako, Hagita, Azusa, Naho, and Kakeru formed a delightful group. It felt like one of those friendships that could last a lifetime. That's why the news that they didn't keep in touch after they graduated, and the deat of Kakeru, it was disappointing. It felt realistic somehow that they fell apart. I also got the impression that in every action that Naho did, the rest of them always supported her. I'm not sure how many regrets she would be able to erase if it weren't for them. To be honest what stayed with me from this manga is that being in love might not be enough to save you, but maybe having some people care deeply for you is.

Another plus of Orange was the characters. I am usually frustrated with all those girls in shoujo manga that are too afraid to express their feelings and even share their thoughts, and Naho was more or less this type of girl. But it didn't bother me that much! Ok, there were times that I wanted to scream "Why don't you say something?", but the rest of the girls were totally different. Takako was serious and Azusa was so bright and cheerful all the time. The guys were the same, each one of them had different traits that were obvious in their conversation. Nevertheless, my absolute favourite is none other than Kakeru! After so many manga that I've read it's time for a confession: I am a sucker for the troubled guys, like Kou from Ao Haru Ride, Tsuruga Ren from Skip Beat, etc. Kakeru has definitely risen into the top of my favourite guys list.

Having a friend that died is depressing. But learning years after the incident that it was his own choice it's devastating. This fact hung over the whole manga, even though the group of friends was laughing. There is a particular chapter towards the end of Orange where we get the whole story from Kakeru's point of view. This must be one of the most depressing things I've ever read. I only wanted to hug him and say that everything's going to be ok and that life is worth living.

There is one final thing I could say about Orange: I loved it! I cried and I laughed, I swooned and I had my heart broken, I admired Suwa's choices and felt jealous of the students' friendship. When we are transfered in the future throughout the manga I was sad that they grew apart, but happy that they found one thing that could reunite them. It was like the quote I used earlier:

 
This counts as a manga in the 2016 Reading Challenge.  

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