Orange Volume 2 Review Discussion
Reviewed by: Linny
Synopsis: It’s a volume full of revelations as we discover all the budding romances blossoming between our group of highschoolers but things turn dark as we learn more about Kakeru’s death in the future, and a jealous ex seems determined to get in Naho’s way. But even with all the hurdles, love and friendship save the day. And we find out that Naho might not be the only one with a mysterious letter.
Review (Warning: Spoilers to Follow):
Two volumes in and Orange continues to be sweet and almost melancholic with the portrayal of the happy days of our protagonists in high school, especially when you read the parts about their future lives which are a lot more darker than this current group of cheerful teenagers could ever imagine. The volume kicks off with Naho continuing her work on ensuring that Kakeru is cared for and Kakeru thanking her for everything with a gift. The chapter also shows the students learning about the theory of time travel which then goes on to explain how despite Naho’s best efforts currently, it might not change the future Naho’s life after all. This was an interesting angle to introduce, to realize that even with the best intentions and efforts, one really can’t fix the past. Compared to a lot of time travel stories that usually end with most, if not all things fixed, Orange seems to be of the opinion that you cannot salvage anything and everything with the wave of your hand. It may be interpreted as a pessimistic or realistic view but regardless of how one interprets it, it does help Orange stand out from others in its genre for now. Maybe it will retcon all of this in a future volume but we’ll find that out when we get to it.
We also have our two main protagonists have a discussion about the very thing that Naho is going through right now, discussing if they would take the chance to change the future even if it meant that it would all be for naught which was a natural followup to the time travel classroom scene but also helps the reader get a glimpse of how the characters feel about the entire concept itself. It’s a bit predictable but Orange seems to be destined to be so especially when portraying its teenaged characters. They act and behave as most readers would expect their manga high school kids would, and to some this may be comforting but others might find it a bit too cliche.
The best part of this chapter was seeing Naho building up the courage to speak up and do something that was clearly a difficult task for her. It’s been plenty clear that Naho struggles a lot to do or say the simplest things so to see her gather up the nerve to do something that the ‘old’ Naho would have never dared is exciting and heartwarming and is sure to have readers cheering her on in her quest to save Kakeru. She’s going to need it as we start to see more and more signs that she may be facing even bigger obstacles in the form of Kakeru’s jealous ex- girlfriend.
Orange has been doing a good job of showing how close our group of protagonists are, and even if it hasn’t gotten extremely sentimental yet, it still manages to show that these kids care for each other in their own ways. So it was both extremely sweet and surprising when Kakeru asks Suwa’s permission to watch the fire works alone with Naho. Surprising because up till now, there had only been the most subtle of hints about Suwa’s crush on Naho, and sweet because it was extremely thoughtful and respectful how both Suwa and Kakeru handled the situation. It plays out in an ideal way, almost too ideal some may feel as they consider being in Suwa’s shoes and having their long time crush and close friend being swept away by some new person. But that’s a matter we’ll discuss again later.
Things came to a screeching halt though when Hagita outright calls out Suwa’s feelings for Naho, which Naho reacts to in a manner that might have people divided. Some might be annoyed at how Naho seems to just blink it away, as if consciously trying to play dumb so as to avoid the responsibility and guilt of realizing that she might have inadvertently hurt Suwa with her actions. You could maybe explain it by seeing how surprised she was that she may be in shock and in denial not on purpose but because her lack of confidence and cluelessness made her genuinely unaware it was actually her that was named as Suwa’s crush.
The group of friends seem to be handling this revelation rather well, with the two other girls, Azusa and Takako asking Suwa if he is really okay with how things are playing out. Though he claims he is alright, it’s clear that there’s more than meets the eye here and maybe not just his obvious struggle to accept what’s happening. Once again, it’s a subtle buildup and it’s sure to please those who dislike over dramatized in your face sequences. There’s also a lot of bullying happening in this volume and it is another derisive topic in my opinion. For some readers, these may act as a good way to demonstrate how much Kakeru and her friends all care for her as we watch them become super defensive of her and try their best to protect her when she needs help. It’s true that the bullying she is facing is unfair and unwarranted but Kakeru unwittingly played a role in it by breaking up with Ueda and making it obviously clear what the true reason for doing so was. It’s also true that Ueda isn’t the nicest person ever but her aggravated behaviour is most likely exaggerated by the fact that she feels insulted and hurt about being dumped so quickly. The bottom line is that this is a messy situation and one that can’t be solved in an instant and while it sees like it’s being used as a sympathy raising and bonding tool, it’s also necessary to note that Ueda deserves to be more than just the villain in the situation. For a lot of younger readers, these kind of stories are their main or early sources of learning about relationships so while there is nothing wrong with enjoying a dreamy take on it, it’s crucial to always remember that this is fiction after all and people aren’t always easily divided into good or evil.
For those whose hearts are breaking for Suwa, I’m in the same boat as you. Even if you haven’t been in the exact situation, it’s easy to imagine the pain he must be going through and it was nice to see that future Naho tries to do right by him. It may feel too small of a gesture but seeing as how focussed this stroy is on Kakeru, it’s not surprising that Suwa is getting so little so far. Fingers crossed that there’s a brighter future ahead for him or atleast not one where he gets his heart completely ripped to shreds.
Orange does a good job of constantly switching up the tones, ranging from a playful school festival, to bullying to a romantic scene. The constant switching plays out naturally for the most part and while some of the romance may feel silly to older and experienced readers, it’s undeniably overflowing with the sweet innocence of teen love. There’s also lots of continued highlighting of the bonds of friendship and when examined against their future selves, it makes every sequence bittersweet and also intriguing as we try to picture how Naho and gang got to their current lives and situation.
Saving the best for last, this volume has a rather complex and heavy final chapter as we get an honest and intimate confession from Kakeru after all his light hearted exchanges. We finally get to hear the true reason why Naho was supposed to let him go home on time on the first day of school and how by not doing so, she actually let a rather tragic event play out again despite her best intentions to prevent it. It’s a dark moment and reading Kakeru putting the blame upon himself for his mother’s death is disturbing and sad and hints at the future events to come. It also helps to bring him closer to Naho while also motivating her to take her mission to save him even more seriously than before to the point where she decides to ask for help, all of which leads to a most surprising cliffhanger. Now I don’t want to spoil too much least you haven’t caught up yet but for those who have, did you see it coming and if you didn’t, how did you feel about the cliffhanger?
Orange remains a wonderful read for those who enjoy high school romances and even those who just enjoy reading about a group of high school kids and their daily, slightly romantic adventures. Yes, there are a lot more elements in play than just being about high school life and kids, but Orange does such a good job of viewing high school through rose tinted glasses that it is sure to make readers reminiscence or dream about the joys of young love and friendships.