Last July 3, fans of Hiroshi Hamasaki (Steins:Gate, Terra Formars) were treated to the pilot episode of a new anime in Orange Episode 1. Based on the manga with the same title, Orange by Ichigo Takano follows the story of Naho, a shy and timid 16-year-old high-school girl who, in the first episode, receives a letter from her 26-year-old self. Hoping to persuade herself, the letter contains words of encouragement to push her beyond her comfort zone and take risks. The letter also tells her about a new transfer student named Kakeru Naruse- the boy she will supposedly fall in love with.
The episode moves on to show how Naho spends an afternoon with Kakeru and her friends after their school?s opening ceremony. The afternoon passes by fleetingly, like a dream, and the next day Kakeru disappears. Naho regrets ignoring the letter, which said not to invite Kakeru that day and wonders if this was the reason for his absence.
What happens now that Naho has chosen to stray away from the contents of the letter?
She continues to read it and learns more about her future. Twenty-six year old Naho explains that she is also regretful for holding back during the softball game and straightforwardly tells her that she fell in love with Kakeru Naruse that same day. Naho and Kakeru meet again and exchange encouragements. Naho hits a homerun and Kakeru, through this event, unfolds that he?s there for her. Ten years into the future, her 26-year-old self writes ?Kakeru isn?t here?, leaving her wondering how Kakeru died. If the anime stays faithful to the manga, Orange Episode 2 will show more of Kakeru?s character as he interacts deeply with Naho and the rest of the gang- Suwa, Higata, Azusa, and Takako. It will also be revealed that the reason for his two-week disappearance was the death of his mother, which also happened on the day of the opening ceremony.
Orange Episode 1 also provides viewers with clues that point to something tragic happening in the end. But this pensive style of storytelling is presented perfectly in the anime with the animation flowing seamlessly in its color-faded style, bringing out the feeling of nostalgia and melancholy with its dramatic flashbacks and background music. ?
The anime is being directed by Hiroshi Hamasaki at TMS Entertainment and Telecom Animation Film, with Yuuko Kakihara (Chihayafuru 2) leading the script writing duties. Nobuteru Yuki (The Vision of Escaflowne, Kids on the Slope) heads character design. The anime and manga are ongoing. For more spoilers and news on Orange Episode 1 and the series, visit TheBitbag.com.