Recently I have discovered the wonderful stories found in Japanese manga. I had no idea there were so many genres of manga: Doujinshi, Gekiga, Shoujo, Shonen and Kodomo just to name a few…basically something for everyone’s taste and style.
Orange was the first manga I have read and what got me hooked into reading more…the story of Orange was created and drawn by Ichigo Takano. There are many versions and covers; however I picked up the complete volumes 1 and 2 -they are pretty hefty in size, but all the “letters” are included and the covers are beautifully illustrated.
Orange is a romance melodrama that has enough emotions that your ‘feels’ craving will be 100% satisfied.
One day Naho receives a letter from herself ten years in the future. At first she thinks it’s a prank; then the letter’s contents come true one by one… The future Naho writes in her letters that she needs to save the new transfer student, Kakeru, from a “terrible future.”
After forming a close friendship with Kakeru who is pretty awesome – a letter tells Naho that Kakeru will die unless she can somehow change fate – not an easy thing to do when you don’t know what actions will sway fate in the right direction.
Luckily Naho is not alone. She has four friends who agree to help ‘save Kakeru’ — there’s the gorgeous Chino Takako, bubbly Murasaka Azusa “Azu”, the gloomy glasses wearing Hagita Saku, and the charismatic and overall good guy Suwa Hiroto.
The story is set up in “letters” instead of chapters. Each “letter” reveals a little more about the mystery of Kakeru, and why his fate depends on Naho and her friends.
In Volume 2 an event happens that is not written about in the letters, throwing Naho off balance and not sure what to do…my heart actually dropped into my stomach when I read the words “that was the last conversation I ever had with Kakeru.” I did not like that one word: last.
Takano has woven a magical story of the strength of true friendships, and the ache of feeling alone and what it can do to those you love and of course, yourself.
If you have not read Japanese manga before it might take a while to adjust to the style of the actual book’s layout. Instead of reading left to right, manga is written right to left you have to read from the top right to the bottom left of the page, then start again on the top right of the next page …it sounds complicated (fortunately most mangas have a page with reading directions at the beginning) but once you get used to the format it’s easy to get lost in the story and drawings.
Besides being an amazing storyteller Takano’s art is wonderful – so finely drawn and detailed to the character’s eyelashes…it’s fantastic.
“Both now…and in the future. My friends and I all have the same goal. I’m not alone. All of us, together. Let’s save Kakeru.”
Orange has sold more than one million copies in Japan and was so popular that was made into a live action movie in 2015 starring Kento Yamazaki and Tao Tsuchiya.
The movie is perfectly cast – the actors were the Orange characters… the emotions rolling off Naho (Tao Tsuchiya) and Kakeru (Kento Yamazaki) made the movie; along with the friendships portrayed by the four supporting actors. I thought Suwa jumped off the black and white page as actor Ryo Ryusei; the confident posture and the good guy vibe oozed out of him in every shot.
If the book doesn’t kill you with “feels” and buckets of headache inducing tears…the movie will!
Heck…even watching the trailer makes me tear up…and I’ve seen the movie at least three times.
“If we ever get a chance to do it over again, we would watch over you with all of our might.”
“Please forgive us, and live on.”
The movie also introduced me to Kento Yamazaki – a well known Japanese actor who is known for his manga-live-action drama roles; he played ‘L’ in Deathnote (another Japanese manga – a dark thriller) and the Black Prince in Black Prince and Wolf Girl (a romantic comedy type manga). He is also well known for his roles in blockbuster movies in Japan.
Besides being easy on the eyes (I mean…come on…look at him – who could resist that smile?) he is a versatile actor that lives in his roles that he practically disappears.
If I ever want to have a good little “ugly cry” I only have to pull these two volumes off my bookcase…or watch the movie for the umpteenth time…