Orange started off with quite a bit of subtle symbolism, most notably when Naho’s description of orange juice paralleled the overall atmosphere of the story. Symbolism can reveal things about a story that aren’t very noticeable, and I feel like it’s been a little lacking in the past few episodes. Fortunately, this episode brings it back in an interesting scene that alludes to how the plot has progressed so far.
Kakeru and Naho are called upon to carry a mattress that’s far too heavy for the two of them, and soon the rest of the group comes to help them, releasing Kakeru so he can get medical treatment. This seems intentional in showing how, at the beginning of the series, Naho alone was trying to help Kakeru carry the weight of his grief. But as the story progressed, it became clear that she couldn’t do it by herself. The others joined her and their efforts together were enough to change the situation. If this is a metaphor for where the story now stands, the problem is that there’s only one thing left to do.
Kakeru was able to tell them about his mother because they already knew and they convinced him to. If this is going to work, he needs to reach out on his own and open his heart to them, otherwise I’m not sure how much the letters are actually going to work. His friends surely have the power to save him, but it isn’t going to be enough if he doesn’t want to save himself.
In a similar way, God is always waiting for us to stop running from him and let him help us. He never gives up on us, and pursues us relentlessly, but he never forces us to choose him. Each person must make that choice individually. If we do not let go of our need to help ourselves, we are closing a door for him to work in our lives, which will only hurt us. We need to let go of the things that are hurting us and give them up to God, because he is more than strong enough to carry all our burdens.
I was actually a little surprised they won the race—wasn’t the point that Kakeru should let go of winning and just have fun? But I suppose he did enjoy it, so oh well. As much as it’s nice to have a break from just Naho and her denseness, I really miss watching her character growth, although we had a nice moment during the mattress scene where she let Kakeru know that the group would love to listen to him. It was really cute when she and Kakeru exchanged their red headbands, which I suspect is a nod towards the red string of fate. Now that the sports day arc is over, I look forward to seeing the story heading towards its ending.