Today…we chose a different path from the letter. Even if we do things differently…it’s all right if it leads us to a bright future.
Author’s note: This article contains spoilers for the manga Orange.
Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of manga with colors for titles, including Blue by Kiriko Nananan, Pink by Kyoko Okazaki, and now Orange by Ichigo Takano. Blue is very artistic and minimalist, and Pink is a gyaru manga—a love story that also involves adult themes, like sex and drugs. Orange is very different from Blue and Pink; it’s a slice of life shoujo-seinen manga with a more mainstream appeal.
Orange tells the story of high school students Takamiya Naho, Naruse Kakeru, and Suwa Hiroto and their group of friends. After receiving a letter from herself ten years in the future, Naho attempts to make small changes in her daily life to stop the events of the future, particularly the death of her friend—and crush—Kakeru who recently transferred to Naho’s high school.
Naho eventually enlists the help of her friends to make life better for Kakeru who is still dealing with the death of his mother. She also discovers that her friend Suwa—who has a crush on her—also received a letter from himself in the future, and the two of them team up to try to make the future better.
The story goes back and forth between the past and the future. In the future, Kakeru is dead, and Naho and Suwa are married with children. They eventually discover that Kakeru’s accident may not have been an accident and that he may have committed suicide like his mother.
Back in the past, Naho is trying to accomplish the tasks set out for her in the letters from the future, but she finds herself struggling to follow through, especially when Kakeru starts dating another girl. Also, the apparent love triangle between Naho, Kakeru, and Suwa isn’t really very overt. It almost appears to exist more in the future when Kakeru is already gone than it does in the past. Suwa is just as concerned about Kakeru as Naho is, and he presumably sends the letters from the future because he cares about Naho.
I’ll save him. I will! I’ll save Kakeru.
In the end, the story isn’t so much a love story as it is a story about a group of high school students who want to make their friend’s life better. Also, there are a few moments in which the characters try to understand how time travel works, but in the end, the manga doesn’t really address this issue. It’s not really a fantastical manga; it’s a manga about high school friendships and growing up.
One thing that made the manga a little difficult for me were the cuts between the past and the future. They were confusing to me, especially at first. But, after realizing that the manga was showing me these two different time periods, I found myself backtracking in order to review and better understand the first half of the manga when I didn’t really understand what was going on.
Also, the art is very typical of shoujo manga, with large, dark eyes, round faces, and cute clothing. The panels are actually fairly sparse, however, with lots of white space and conversations that sometimes end abruptly. There are also very brightly colored pages inserted in between volumes that appear to have been painted with watercolors and are also very typical of shoujo, although they are black and white in my digital review version. The art reminded me a little bit of the josei manga Honey and Clover by Chika Umino, which I highly recommend.
Overall, I enjoyed Orange, although I didn’t realize that there was a second volume until I got to the end of volume 1 and the story hadn’t been resolved. Also, I usually read manga in paperback format, so reading it digitally was a bit challenging for me, especially given the cuts between the past and the future. I don’t own a tablet, but I can imagine that the digital version would be more enjoyable on a tablet than on my laptop. In the end, I think that if you like shoujo manga about high school friendships, you would probably enjoy Orange.
Orange was originally published in Bessatsu Margaret Monthly Action in Japan from 2012 through 2015. It was also published digitally by Crunchyroll Manga. The Orange: The Complete Collection 1 was released by Seven Seas Entertainment on January 26, and Orange: The Complete Collection 2 is set to be released on May 31.
Story: 3 out of 5 stars
Art: 3 out of 5 stars
Overall: 3 out of 5 stars
Rine Karr is an Anime Writer at Girls in Capes. She’s a writer and aspiring novelist by moonlight and a copyeditor by daylight. Rine loves good food, travel, and lots of fiction, especially novels, anime, manga, video games, and films. She’s also the Chief Copyeditor and an occasional contributor at Women Write About Comics.