We’ve reached the halfway mark of Orange, and it’s easy to see that though it employs many standard romance tropes, the story is very solid and well told. But this episode has left such an impact on the first half, it has overturned all of my assumptions regarding how much ingenuity the story contained.
After the first episode, I mentioned my concern that Naho sending a letter to her past self was putting more pressure than a young teenager could bear alone. Saving someone’s life is a daunting task, especially when it isn’t just a simple matter of avoiding a certain dangerous circumstance but actually involves providing emotional healing to someone so they won’t be a danger to themselves. This is why professional therapists exist; sometimes just offering emotional support doesn’t work.
So here Naho is, having tried and failed and tried again. Even though she’s starting to change, she could still fail, and the issues surrounding Kakeru are heavy enough to break her heart. It doesn’t help that Kakeru is so wounded that even the idea of asking Naho out seems too risky and dangerous, all because he might hurt her.
Naho, having newly discovered the true importance of the letter, starts to go in the opposite direction of her former hesitation and pushes too hard, because now she loves him and is terrified of losing him. This overwhelming fear and desperation doesn’t create a lot of tact, and though her conversation with Kakeru about his mother didn’t go horribly wrong, people just aren’t fixed so easily as a few comforting words and a romantic interest. It was probably good for him to open up, but he didn’t really do so freely. If Naho were to try to save him alone in this state, it would seem like a near impossible task. Mere people cannot really work alone to intentionally change each others hearts; only God can do that.
(Major spoilers ahead)
That would be a serious danger if, as we were led to believe, Naho was working alone. But after all her efforts, after all the times she’s known it was too much for her, Naho does what she probably should have done a long time ago. At the risk of having her sanity questioned, Naho starts to tell Suwa about the letter, but she doesn’t even need to finish, discovering what she should have seen all along: she was never actually alone to begin with. All of her friends had been struggling alongside her, their own letter guiding each of them.
We humans were never meant to do things on our own, a lesson Kakeru will probably eventually learn. God designed us to work together as a community. And even when we feel completely isolated, he is there with us. When we are faced with a task that seems impossible by human standars, he can provide us with the wisdom and support to overcome it. Changing a person’s heart is something God is incredibly good at, and in many cases, he uses other humans to accomplish this.
This was, in my opinion, the best episode so far. Many previous incidents make more sense now, and I feel like it’s good that a new variable has come to light, since Naho struggling on her own has been more or less explored to its full potential. So far, Orange has been a pretty brilliant anime. Though the characters are fairly simple, they’ve captured my heart, and the execution has been riveting. The only thing that really irks me is that, like any standard shoujo heroine, Naho is too dense to see that Kakeru clearly likes her! At least it’s because of a misunderstanding where she’s made an assumption that he likes someone outside their friend group, and she doesn’t think he hates her or some nonsense like that.
I’m really excited about the discoveries in this episode! I think it’s really been a credit to the story that it’s revealing everything at a very steady pace, and although the plot is simple it is far from predictable.