First Look: Orange

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Manga Adaptation by TMS Entertainment
Streaming on Crunchyroll

Premise

High school student Naho receives a letter that claims to have been written by her future self. Though skeptical at first, Naho is surprised when the letter correctly predicts that a new transfer student is joining her class that day. Worried by the letter’s ominous vision of her future, she decides to follow its instructions in order to prevent its future of origin from ever happening.

Marlin’s verdict: Orange you glad we’re actually getting new Shoujo?

I’ll admit, I’ll probably stay on this show just for the fact that it’s the first time in what seems like years that a shoujo show has really engaged me in its first episode. Sure, coming off of Zero Time Dilemma, it might just be I’m in the mood for time travel stories, but I also just really love the wistful tone of the entire show. I love this idea of the person of the future trying to fix past “regrets” in order to improve her future. Something tells me that the grass is always greener, and eventually changing these regrets will bring problems of their own. However, this optimism comes with a bit of temperance. I am more than a bit worried about the absolutely bizarre way some of these scenes were animated montage-style. It seemed to speak of some real budget and pacing issues that could hamstring the series in the long run. Hopefully this is a momentary problem, as I can really see this idea bringing out the kind of well built drama I’ve been sorely missing.

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Aqua’s verdict: Orange Crush

Orange? More like grey, am I right? Director Hiroshi Hamasaki brings the popular shoujo manga to screens in his trademark grainy, bloom-riddled style, which kind of makes the whole thing look like a first-person shooter from 2011. It’s a surprisingly fitting look for this tale of melancholy and regret, however, and even discounting the signature look, Orange is still a pretty cinematic show, with interesting cuts and expressive character models setting it apart from the usual shoujo fare. Some questionable decisions do however mar the viewing experience a bit. Relying on making viewers read text on screen is generally a bad idea, and the pacing is all over the place – with certain scenes being over before you know it, while other shots are held for far too long. Yet Orange‘s biggest problem is the utterly trite romance at the centre of it all. While none of the characters have gotten any proper characterization just yet, Kakeru especially seems like a generic wet rag, and his chemistry with Naho basically amounts to a pile of standard teen love tropes. Hopefully, the romance will be but a means to an end, as Orange‘s central premise does have me interested. Hamasaki can craft a mean atmosphere, and the future scenes do show a willingness to deviate from the standard high school romance. That’s a lot of potential with very little payoff so far, but for now, I’m willing to give Orange the benefit of the doubt.

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Artemis’ verdict: Sensitive In All The Right Ways

It’s been a while since I’ve seen an anime that’s really managed to hit me squarely in the feels. Sure, occasionally I’ll become heavily invested with a specific character or particular storyline, but even then that rarely keeps going for an entire series – most shows don’t drag me in like that until I’ve been warmed up first, so to speak, while others start off strong and peter out towards the end. Obviously I can’t yet speak for how Orange will end up, but the first episode at least felt pleasantly solid. It felt genuine, with a pervading sense of bittersweet nostalgia that, wonder of wonders, did not cross over into melodrama territory. I’m wary of many high school-centered romantic dramas because not only do they often struggle to be innovative within an already extremely prevalent genre, but they also too often come across as overly theatrical or worse still, utterly unconvincing. If I’m going to get emotionally pulled into a story then I need to be able to believe in the emotions that are being expressed in one way or another onscreen; something which has nothing to do with the physical realism of the piece (e.g. time travel) and everything to do with crafting a realistic atmosphere. I’m not saying Orange had a perfect premiere (weird montage was weird, and I get the impression the creators have some work to do on the pacing in general), but what it did do right away was make me believe. This anime has the potential to deal some seriously heavy punches, and while I’m not optimistic enough to just assume it’ll live up to that potential, I’ve got to respect its sincerity. This one’s a keeper for sure.

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One thought on “First Look: Orange

  1. The first episode of Orange definitely made me intereste but whether they can pull off the emotional journey they seem to be setting up or whether we just fall into the usual high school romance routine is yet to be seen.

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