Adapted from a slice-of-life manga of the same name by Ichigo Takano, Orange (Orenji) is a live action adaptation released in 2015 and was number one on its opening weekend in Japan with US$2.58 million. An anime adaptation also began airing in 2016. A story with two timelines, revolving around a group of six high school students, Orange is easily one of the best movies in its genres released in recent times. With a story telling that is both artful and sensitive about the subject matter, Wikipedia describes it as a “fantasy drama”
Tsuchiya Tao, best known from her Rurouni Kenshin fame, plays the lead character – 16 year old Takamiya Naho. As Naho starts her second year of High School at Matsumoto in 2015, she receives a letter, drifting down to her feet from the sky. Seemingly innocent, Naho opens the letter to actually find that it is a letter furom the future! Written in 2025, by her own self, and directed to her 2015 version – the letter obliquely implores her to prevent her “biggest regret” from happening.
While she is initially skeptical, the letter correctly predicts several happenings – for instance, the joining of a new transfer student Naruse Kakeru – and she begins to realise that she must follow what it says in order to prevent whatever “regret” the future holds. The letter alludes that something bad will happen to Kakeru which leads to Naho and her gang befriending him. They learn that he lost his mother on the day of the Opening Ceremony. When Naho fails to take any action on the first day, old patterns mentioned in the letter start to occur. To prevent the future possibility of a bad outcome, Naho starts doing the opposite of things which the letter states in hopes of changing what happens in the future.
The films runs on two parallel tracks – 2025 and 2015, however the sci-fi aspect isn’t remotely touched upon and isn’t the focus of the film. The focus of the film is the friendship developed among the six-person squad –
Takamiya Naho, Naruse Kakeru, Suwa Hiroto, Chino Takaku, Hagita Saku, and Murasaka Azusa , and the moral that sharing ones burdens is always a better option. Ryo Ryusei plays Suwa Hiroto with aplomb and does justice to his character, as the good-guy putting others before him. It is his energy that runs the gang and makes Kakeru feel included.
While the future has already taken place, as the 2025 Naho writes, it might be possible to create another parallel universe where things are different – this is what their professor says. If a time machine were to exist, it wouldn’t change the past or future, but only create a new one. As the story unfolds, we journey more into the life of Kakeru and the impact of his actions in both the present and future.
Kento Yamazaki has time and again proved he is a great actor and the first choice for any shoujo movie adaptation. I was initially skeptical as to how he would shed off his perfect boyfriend image, built on a steady dose of L.DK, One Week Friends, Your Lie in April, etc. However, his performance as the obsessive Otaro Dojima in Todome no Kiss surprised me and proved that he does indeed posses good talent. ((Can someone please confirm if Yamazaki and Tsuchiya are dating or not?))
Orange deals with the sensitive subject of depression. Yamazaki has subtly portrayed the internal conflicts faced by Kakeru everyday as he enjoys his time with his friends. His burdens aren’t portrayed as a sadness that can be flipped off upon finding good friends or a girlfriends – but rather as something that persists and must be continuously fought against. It stays with him until he decides to face it and deal with it. It is a part of him, only now subdued because he chooses to look forward.
With a happening cast and good performances by all the leads, Orange falls into that thin line, often toting between tragedy and happy tears. The screen is filled with blossoms and shades of pastels, orange sunsets and happy faces. But the climax is heart wrenching and the innocence of 16 year old students trying their best to understand what they grasp little of is endearing.
The cinematography itself lends the film a light, easy vibe. The climax is shot entirely in darker shades whereas the film opens with a beautiful shot of cherry blossoms.
The movie deals with themes of regret, love and friendship. Naho and her friends regret they didn’t notice Kakeru’s struggles. Kakeru regrets his past actions which lead to disastrous consequences. And the characters aren’t able to realise this until they come together and help each other through their struggles (with some help from their future, wiser selves).
It is easy to retrospect and spot mistakes and wonder, “was it not very obvious?” However, the movie questions: do we analyse our present actions as much as we do our past? Orange does just that. With the help of some advise, the teenagers realise their actions today could bring a better tomorrow (and change some fates).
Bonus: No Second lead Syndrome because [[SPOILER]].
Orange is a must watch for any shoujo movie fan and remains true to the manga as much as possible within its 139 minutes runtime.
Orange has an IMDB rating of 7.1/10.
MyDramaList rates it 8.4/10.
Asian Wiki gives it a 97/100.
Soundtrack: by Warner Music Japan and can be found here.
If you haven’t seen it yet, watch the trailer here:
Foxy Turnips gives it a final rating of 8.5 Turnips out of 10!
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