Bingo Review 8: Orange
This is a review of a book titled Orange. Actually the full title is Orange: The Complete Collection 2. In terms of genre, it’s part 2 of a manga story told in two 2-inch thick volumes. The basic story is that there’s a set of 5 high school friends who take a new student into their group to become an even 3 girls and 3 guys. They all become bestest buddies, but one day one of the girls, Naho, gets a letter supposedly written by herself ten years in the future. The letter tells her that soon the new guy Kakeru will die, and it’s up to Naho to prevent this. At first Naho doesn’t believe it and ignores the letter, but then realizes that the letter is actually very accurately telling her what’s going to happen day by day, and she decides to try and follow its advice to save Kakeru. This is all covered in volume one but reviewed plenty in volume two.
Volume two picks up with a big reveal from the end of volume one: Naho isn’t the only one of the friends who got a letter from her future self. We also get to see flash forwards to those future selves, and see who ended up with whom (this turns out to be somewhat important to the past selves) and how they now look back on their time in high school. There is significant discussion of how they could have saved Kakeru, and how they come up with and reason the idea of trying to help their past selves save their friend. Trigger warning: Kakeru turns out to have died by suicide and had been suffering from depression based on a traumatic past including abandonment and misunderstandings. His perspective is a big part of volume two which helps explain what’s going on and what might happen, as well as building the tension.
The suspense of whether or not the high school age Naho and friends will manage to save Kakeru is pretty well done, especially since once they realize they have the same goal but different advice and information, and try to figure out what to do. Things go wrong just enough that it’s never clear until the last 2 pages or so whether or not Kakeru can be saved.
The emotional side of things is pretty realistic as well, although most of what we get to see is either from Naho or Kakeru; the other four friends don’t have as much a part, although Suwa has a little more to him than the rest of the friends. There’s a lot of the typical angst about who likes whom, how much personal info to get into with friends, etc. The touch of sci-fi with the time travel gets a little more attention and it’s based on a well-known theory, so the fantastic element doesn’t overshadow everything else.
The story actually doesn’t take up the whole book; the author or editor must have decided the two volumes needed to be the same size, so this one also includes a “short story” featuring a pair of high school age identical twins and their relationship issues. This is more of a straightforward romantic comedy, so it’s a contrast but it’s cute.
What does any of this have to do with orange, either the color or fruit? I have no idea, but that’s the title of the book, so it counts!