Orange, the 2016 summer anime that I had predicted to not only be anime of the season, but anime of the year as well. It is a slice-of-life anime set in high school with some sci-fi elements imbedded into it for a little twist. Orange was made by Telecom Animated Film whom to my knowledge haven’t made anything significant before. This anime started off so well, it had everything going for it at the time and although Telecom being a newbie studio, I had faith that their project could be something really special and blow everyone away.
Orange follow main character Naho Takamiya and her gang of friends, when a new guy named Kakeru Naruse transfers from Tokyo to her class. You quickly learn that Naho has received a letter from her future self instructing her to befriend him, as well as completing certain tasks that she will end up regretting in the future.
The story has a great start as it explains the premise, and sets up everything you need to know from the get go. Sadly to say though, the story after going strong for a while quickly goes downhill. The story up until the half way point is great to follow as little details are revealed slowly as new information from the future is presented to Naho and more tasks that she needs to accomplish. Details on the new guy Kakeru are also slowly revealed, but half way through the series the story not only becomes lackluster but infuriating to watch.
The characters moreso than the story were the shinning aspect of the story. Naho’s gang of 5 friends are entertaining and varied in their personalities, and the dialogue and banter between them feels so real it makes you wished you had friends like that. The gang of friends gave me flashbacks of Steins;Gate and their cast, and that is a huge compliment considering that cast is one of my favourites in anime. The characters in Orange might not be individually great, but as a collective they sure are.
But again the second half of the story is a let down. Somewhere down the line the characters lost their sparkle and become so annoying to watch. The main pair Naho and Kakeru suffer from this the most; Naho became the most infuriating character to watch as her shy persona started off cute and endearing, but then quickly devolved into annoying as she struggled with the basics of human interaction. While Kakeru started off as an aloof and all-round likable guy, but then became a lost cause, and no matter what or how hard his friends tried, he didn’t listen and became an even less likeable guy as the story continued.
The supporting characters during the second half didn’t get better or worse, but rather just didn’t progress along with the story, and were left behind. New relationships formed between the cast, but none of the members felt fleshed out as the story continued and none of their back stories or motives got explored to the lengths that they should have been. This resulted in me not caring about what happened to the supporting cast, as the story hadn’t given me any reason to care for them.
And here is another section that let itself down half way through the series. The art and animation for Orange was amazing at first, the character design felt new and fresh, the background art was splendid and the overall atmosphere presented through the colour palette was well done. However past episode 4 of the series the animation was just horrible to watch, the detail in the art was non-existent, the colours felt either too bright or too dull. It felt like the studio behind Orange wasted their whole animation budget in the first 3 episodes, and considerably dumb down the animation quality in the latter half of the series due to lack of funds. This is a real shame since I thought Orange was one of the best looking shows of the summer season along with Mob Psycho100 and Amanchu!.
The sound design in this series is very well done, the background music mended well with the scenes they were in as enhanced the atmosphere of the series as a whole. The standout which showed me how far they thought into their sound design was the inclusion of cicada’s during the summer period, which enhanced the feeling of summer and all the effects that summer brings. The OP and ED were also great to listen to as I hardly ever skipped them, and all the music used in between were also great. The OST on the whole was a thoroughly thought through as everything in the series showed care to it.
Orange is a series that had a lot of potential, it showed great promise at the start but quickly took a nose drive. The whole second half of Orange; from the story to characters and even the animation made the show not only feel like a chore to watch, but was also disappointing to see considering how strong it started off as. If this anime was done by a more experienced studio that knew how to manage their budget and a better director to add some better writing I think it could have been a strong contender for anime of the year. This was ultimately a show of wasted potential.
Orange is a series that started off great then fell flat, this is a shame considering it was my most anticipated series for the summer season beating out shows like Mob Psycho100 and 91 Days. It has a great story at the start, but then pacing issues as well as bad writing quickly made it lost interest. The characters also follow suite as they were interesting and likeable at the start, but the main duo became irritating as they become even worse characters than when they started; whilst the supporting characters didn’t undergo any development at all to further their character progress. The sound was done well and shows thought put into it, whilst the animation was amazing at first but then what I suspect to be mismanagement of funds lead to a drastic decline in animation quality.
[see end of review for weighing]
A much better anime, that handle some of the themes shown in Orange with a vastly superior cast of characters is: Anohana. Anohana handles its cast of friends who are trying to help each other out infinitely better than Orange. It also deals with more mature issue than Orange had attempted and unlike Orange, Anohana gets better as it goes along not worse.
And another anime that has similar mature themes as Orange is Welcome to the N.H.K. It is a great watch and one of the best from that period, and that’s saying a lot considering that the mid 2000s are what many anime fans consider The Golden Age of anime.
[story+characters+animation+sound] + [enjoyment]