orange: future

By Ichigo Takano. Released in Japan by Futabasha, serialized in the magazine Manga Action. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Amber Tamosaitis. Adapted by Shannon Fay.

When orange ended its main run, it was a somewhat ambiguous open ending which I praised at the time. The point of the series was not about whether Naho and Kakeru would hook up, it was about facing down Kakeru’s suicidal thoughts and actions, and an examination of how you can sometimes try your hardest with good intentions and still have it not be enough. When word came out that a 6th volume was being released (which is coming out over here separate as ‘future’), I admit I expected that after such a serious and frequently tear-jerking story, we would finally get a light and fluffy series of side-stories, maybe get romantic resolution to the main pairing. And technically we do get the latter, but I probably should not have been too surprised that orange: future is not interested in sweet fluffiness, but instead continues to examine our decisions and their consequences, in both the world where Kakeru killed himself and the world where he was stopped.

That’s Suwa on the front cover, and indeed Suwa is on the back cover. And throughout the book. This final volume is an examination of Suwa and his burgeoning love for Naho. We begin with the ‘epilogue’ to the main series, where Kakeru has been saved and Naho is clearly going to end up with him. It’s made clear that Suwa’s letters from his future self clearly said he and Naho were married now, but that he should save Kakeru anyway. Suwa, who tends to reflect on his own actions a bit too much, sees future Suwa as a bit of a jerk for stepping in and stealing Naho after everything that happened, and it’s up to his friends to explain that the Suwa they know isn’t like that at all. It’s a nice little bittersweet epilogue, but it only takes up about a quarter of the book. The majority of the book explores what actually did happen in that world where Kakeru wasn’t saved.

As I said before, the entirety of this volume is focused on Suwa and his perspective on things. This allows the reader to gain a greater appreciation of the character (and he was already one of my favorites) and shows us how just because you realize that the girl you love is in love with someone else, it doesn’t mean that your love moves on. The main issue with this volume, I think, is that we don’t get Naho’s perspective on things at all, which can make the ultimate decisions she makes look a bit out of the blue. This fits well with Suwa’s POV – he’s trying his hardest, but from what he can see Naho just isn’t responding – but from a reader perspective we agree with him, and wonder what led her to her decision. That said, I have no real complaints, mostly as I simply enjoy the way that Takano tells the story, and the emotions feel very real and earned.

If you enjoyed the initial orange onmibuses, this is clearly a must buy. But be aware that it’s not going to be happiness and sweets. Also, loved the inside cover art showing the cast in their future professions. Also also, Azusa and Takako are the absolute best.

orange: The Complete Collection, Vol. 2

By Ichigo Takano. Released in Japan by Shueisha and then Futabasha, serialized in the magazines Bessatsu Margaret and Manga Action. Released in North America by Seven Seas.

I’d mentioned while reviewing the first omnibus of orange that it wasn’t a slam dunk that Kakeru was going to be saved. Fortunately, the author agreed with me, and most of this 2nd omnibus shows us that trying to change the future is hard, especially when you’re dealing with someone who killed themselves – it’s not always something you can fix just by being really nice. Naho and the others don’t really screw much up here, and they try their hardest, but there’s a lot going on in Kakeru’s head, and even Future Vision can’t solve his own inner demons. This leads to a devastating chapter that is easily the best of the book, as we see from Kakeru’s POV the thoughts and actions that led to his suicide in the original world.


And there is, of course, the romance between Naho and Kakeru as well. I’m pleased that the future flashforwards we see here show that Naho and Suwa’s marriage isn’t an unhappy one – they’re two people who’ve led a good life, and even have a kid, but they’re both still devastated by the boy they couldn’t save. Perhaps this is why, despite all the suggestions and hints, the romance is mostly left on the back burner, and we don’t get a definitive “and they married and lived happily ever after” here. Much like A Silent Voice, this is a series that’s trying to be about friendship and overcoming difficulties. Because in the end, after everything they changed, and every way they tried to make Kakeru feel loved and welcome, he *still* tries to kill himself.

But they did make a difference – he pulls back at the last minute, realizing he doesn’t want to die. (Admittedly, Hagita breaking his bike helped – Hagita is mostly used as comic relief throughout, being the “friend nobody likes” sort, but he’s also quite clever and absolutely one of the gang here.) I was rather surprised that, in their tearful talk after his attempt, they all confess they got letters from the future, and show them to him. The science of how this happened is very vague, and I don’t think we’re meant to dwell too hard on it. In the end, appropriately, the six friends bury the time capsule we’ve seen before, only now dedicated to a new future.

There wasn’t quite enough orange to fill a 2nd omnibus, so we get a short multi-part romance from the same author, Haruiro Astronaut. It’s not as good as the main story, but isn’t too bad, and has some good twists – the romantic setup is theoretically between the cool guy and the sweet guy, but ends up taking a third option, and there’s some talk about actually trying to care about what girls think rather than just trampling all over them. It’s good, but the main draw of this collection is orange itself. It’s excellent, and both omnibuses are absolutely worth your money.

orange: The Complete Collection, Vol. 1

By Ichigo Takano. Released in Japan by Shueisha and then Futabasha, serialized in the magazines Bessatsu Margaret and Manga Action. Released in North America by Seven Seas.

I always feel a certain need to geek out when reviewing titles like these, such as explaining that it’s not a typo in the header, orange really is meant to be spelled with a small O. Or talking about the odd move from a shoujo magazine (Betsuma) to a seinen one (Manga Action) when the author switched publishers. Or that the complete series is out digitally via Crunchyroll (though I haven’t spoiled myself). But honestly, there’s enough to talk about in this title so that I don’t need to go into that at all. (cough) This is three volumes in one, and tells us the bittersweet story of a group of friends, struck by a tragedy from their youth, who unite in order to stop it happening. It’s a chunky book, but is absolutely worth the time.


orange, for the most part, reads like a shoujo romance, as you’d expect for a series begin in Betsuma. Naho, our heroine is cute but shy, and Kakeru is cute but troubled, in the best manga tradition. There’s a guy with an obvious crush who suppresses it in order to support his crush’s true love, and those two girls who exist to contrast with the heroine; one spunky, one grumpy. It honestly reads a lot like Kimi ni Todoke in many ways, but there’s a twist: Naho has a letter from herself ten years in the future, telling her she has to prevent a tragedy; the fact that Kakeru killed himself when he was just seventeen. It’s the science-fiction premise that’s what really drives this book.

The doubts and self-awareness that comes from teenage love meshes well with the doubts and self-awareness that comes from changing the timeline. It’s all the more poignant when we see flashes forward to the future, the one without Kakeru, and see that Naho and Suwa are married with a child. It weighs so heavily on the two of them that they’re willing to sacrifice everything in order to save their friend. Of course, it’s not all angsty drama, there’s a lot of fluffy humor and fun here. Everyone’s basically a good kid. The issue is Kakeru has a huge amount of stress in his life – he’s moved from the city, his mother just killed herself and he takes the blame for it, and of course he’s also falling for Naho, even as he tries dating someone else.

We get the first three volumes here, and by the end you realize that Naho is not the only one who got a letter from her future self. This of course makes you want to go back and reread what you’d just seen, to see if it’s now more obvious that everyone was acting based off of future knowledge. And there still remain the question of whether or not they’ll succeed – these sorts of series can also be tragic, and it would not surprise me if things ended with Kakeru dying in any case. I certainly hope not, though, as I want to see everyone here happy. In the meantime, fans of shoujo should absolutely make orange a must buy.