As the dark streets were illuminated by the light of the moon, and her friends all laughed joyously around her, sixteen year-old Naho Takamiya smiled and thought to herself, “I didn’t know the preciousness of everything, or the importance of life. I was still a child." Often times, we as humans and individuals, take our lives for granted and regret it later. In Orange, a Japanese animated television series directed by Hiroshi Hamasaki, explores themes of life that incites me to think about my own life, and what it means to me.
The production Orange is about a young high school girl named Naho Takamiya who one day receives a letter from her future self. In that letter, it consists of a series of directions the future Naho wants the present Naho to follow, in the hopes of saving the life of her friend, Kakeru Naruse, who is no longer alive in the future. Together with her friends Suwa, Azusa, Takako, and Hagita, she gradually starts to understand that in life, you cannot always do things by yourself and with that, helps Kakeru through his dark times as well.
To start off, I want to discuss the character Kakeru. He is a seventeen-year-old student who recently transferred to Naho’s school. The series quickly shows that he is someone who walks a dark path. Throughout most of the show, Kakeru blames himself for the death of his mother due to the fact that she committed suicide, thinking it will lessen his burden of her. He is someone who keeps things to himself and believes that if he tells someone his troubles, he will be burdening them. Because of this, it causes me to think about myself. I can relate to him well because occasionally, it feels like no one wants to listen to me, even though in the back of my mind I know that is not true. Though his character is primarily focused on the more grim aspects of the show and in individuals, it is exactly that quality that helps the hope and light around him shine. He is surrounded by people who genuinely care about him, and they all emit a different aura of their own. This leads me to ponder over the thought that even though I may feel like I am alone and in a dark corner by myself, I am just unable to see that I have close ones who do have interest in what I have to say and how I am feeling. I reflect on all the times I was alone and felt anguish by myself, wishing there was someone I could tell but never really making the effort to do so in fear that I was bothering them. Orange helps me see that that is not the case; in fact, there are friends and families that are willing to support me, just like how Naho saved Kakeru’s heart.
The character of Naho forces me to come to terms with my own personality and mind. It almost pained me to see that I am so similar to her. As I angrily watched her continuously struggle to comply with the directions of the letters due to her timid nature, I realized that maybe I was just infuriated at myself. I now understand that perhaps I am so frustrated at her because of the fact that I do not like how I am exactly like her; someone who is held back by themselves. I cannot count the times where I regret not being able to push myself forward just a little bit and show a morsel of fearlessness. At the end of the day, I would come back and mope to myself, upset that I let myself down. While I watched Naho, the inner me wanted her to become something that I felt I was not; courageous, daring, and above all, brave. When she proved that she also did not have those characteristics, I felt disappointment, and secretly knew it was not at her, but at myself. After a lot of reflection and thoughts, I came to accept that even though hesitant nature may keep me from doing certain things, it does not define who I am. And just like Naho, who was able to overcome her own self, I strive to push myself out of my comfort zone.
Orange makes me recognize that in life, it is challenging, but also blindingly beautiful. Kakeru indirectly wills me to grasp that I am encircled by a sea of people who cherish me, even though I might not be able to see it myself. He exhibits that even when life throws curves and knocks me down, I can get back up with the help of loved ones.
Naho illustrates to me that I can be brave, despite having a shy personality. If she were not confident in herself, she would not have been able to save Kakeru. And even though she holds regrets, she is able to come to terms with how valuable life is and that we need to be living, not just be alive. From her, I think about how I myself can learn to be bold and not be restricted by what my head tells me, and instead follow what I believe in.
As Naho sat by herself in her room, “[she] drank the orange juice that Kakeru got for [her]. It tasted sweet…sour…and sorrowful.” For life, though both sorrowful and sour at times, is also sweet.