Orange (オレンジ) by Ichigo Takano
This was the first title on the Crunchyroll Manga subscription that was on my “most wanted” list. It takes off from a common idea: what if you could tell your high school self some important information and change the future. In this case, Naho receives a mysterious letter in the mail from her future self which quickly proves itself to be real by predicting the events of that day perfectly. A new student arrives, Kakeru, who instantly becomes a part of Naho’s group of friends. But the letter warns Naho that Kakeru will not make it to his 18th birthday and begs her to prevent this from happening.
“From here on in, please make Kakeru happy
as often as you can.
I’m sure that’s what will save him.”
There is a darkness, a sadness, in Kakeru after his mother’s suicide, which we learn happened on his first day of transferring to the new school. He hints at his pain and his smile is always melancholy but he never opens up. That is he doesn’t in the past that Naho is reading about, but slowly she starts to gain the confidence to ask Kakeru about his life and his feelings. Along with her friends she might just be able to pull him back from the brink.
Kakeru’s friends are so true to him that their love comes through in every chapter. His best friend Suwa is an especially memorable guy with his simple kindness, as he watches both Kakeru and Naho become close. You know immediately how dear their friendship is to him. But in true heartbreaking fashion, Suwa has loved Naho for a long time. As far as love triangles go, I can pretty much guarantee you’ll like both of these guys and be completely torn, feeling your heart pulled in both directions.
“Suwa is the dear person who saved my heart.”
While Orange has a strong romantic hook, the story is really about friendship. The type of friendship that changes people, saves people, and makes a difference in tiny ways each day. Naho and Suwa’s friendship with Kakeru is of paramount importance.
The series also intersperses scenes from 10 years in the future as everyone gathers to celebrate Kakeru’s birthday despite his death many years earlier. This adds some extra tension to the story, the more you learn about the future you wonder what they might lose by changing the past. The story is moving forward at a positive pace, or so it seems, but you really have no idea if Naho can truly change the outcome. Each moment of the manga is all the more precious because of that uncertainty. You’ll be busting out the handkerchiefs often with this series.