orange follows the story of Naho, a girl who is trying to save the boy she loves with the help of letters from the future. Suwa–a boy who has always been in love with Naho–is also Kakeru’s best friend. He is faced with the difficult choice of continuing to pursue Naho (and thus ignore the feelings and happiness of his friend) or give up on his feelings and possible future with the girl in order to see them both happy.
[Warning: This article contains spoilers for the end of the orange TV anime]
orange -Mirai- (lit. orange -Future-) is a film that premiered in Japan on November 18 that combines footage from some of the most important moments in the TV anime and new parts with a story by original creator Ichigo Takano. It even includes an ending that wasn’t included in either the manga or anime that depicts the alternate future that the protagonists created at the end of the story. However, rather than being a compilation film for new viewers to watch, this film provides those who have completed the manga and/or anime a way to look at the story of orange at a different angle.
Although the original TV anime focuses on Naho, the film is mainly told from Suwa’s viewpoint. Because of this, Suwa’s self-sacrifice that is depicted in the anime is even more obvious and heart-wrenching in this movie. Suwa in the future where Kakeru doesn’t exist says that he’s an unfair person who approached Naho in her moment of weakness. Even though he’s married to her with a child in the future, he still apologizes to the deceased Kakeru–apologizing for “stealing” her away. He even goes so far as to say the only reason Naho fell in love with him was because he imitated Kakeru’s personality and said things that he thought that Kakeru would say in order to gain her favor.
However, the reason he says all these horrible things about himself is because he loves his two friends so much that he blames himself for everything bad that happened to them in the past. He is such a good person that he can’t enjoy his own happiness knowing that two others aren’t happiest they could be. By sending the letters to the past with a picture of his family and the words of “do not confess to Naho” enclosed, Suwa is essentially implying that he does not believe his love with his wife–Naho, the girl he loved for so long and now has a child with–is canon.
The present Suwa, on the other hand, knows that there is a path where he can become happy with his beloved Naho. He could easily ignore the letters from his future self and head toward a future with Naho. However, Suwa realizes that what he loves more than anything–even more than the image of himself being at Naho’s side–is seeing Naho and Kakeru smiling at each other side-by-side.
To me, the ending of the original manga and television anime felt inconclusive because it didn’t show us the new future the characters had worked so hard to make. This made it satisfying to see this future in the film, and despite this future not being the one Suwa read about in his letters, it is clear to see that he has found his own happiness watching his friends become happy. The film left me hoping that this martyr finds a happy ending all his own that will make the others around him feel just as happy about. Because damn, Suwa is the best friend ever and he deserves his own.
The orange television anime began airing in Japan on July 4, 2016. It can be viewed for free and with English subtitles in the US at Crunchyroll. Crunchyroll is also releasing the manga digitally in English and Seven Seas Entertainment is releasing it physically in North America. There’s no word on whether the film will be released outside of Japan yet.
©Ichigo Takano, Futabasha/orange Production Committee