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A Slice-of-Life Anime With a Time Travel Twist

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Content Warning: This article contains discussions of suicide and mental health.


While the anime industry has a variety of genres to offer, the slice-of-life category is one that has consistently remained a fan favorite. With relatable storylines and a laid-back narrative, these anime are the perfect source of light entertainment. However, one slice-of-life anime takes a different approach, with a heavy-hitting narrative and a storyline that can sometimes be a bit difficult for viewers to digest.

Written and stylized by Ichigo Tanako, Orange is a slice-of-life romance anime, yet it doesn’t quite revolve around the standard light-weight high school plotlines that this genre usually tends to encompass. Rather, the anime focuses on real-life problems that plague high-school students, even touching darker themes such as depression and suicide. The series’ storyline becomes even more distinct with its time travel twist, following a more multiverse-like approach with parallel timelines.

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Slice-of-Life Storyline With a Twist

Orange Time Travel Letters

Orange does a lot of things differently than its slice-of-life counterparts, yet its most distinct element is the incorporation of time travel into the plot. This is revealed in the first episode, when Naho Takamiya receives a letter from her future self, warning her about the events that will transpire. Although Naho initially does not believe the authenticity of these letters, she eventually starts to realize that the letters are actually from her future self when every single detail mentioned starts to become true.

The series even gives a scientific explanation for how the time-traveling mechanism works, yet the vague explanation wasn’t enough to satiate fans. The characters’ future-selves find a blackhole and send the letters to their past selves through that rift in reality. While the explanation was not necessary as the undefined nature of the mechanism added a bit of mystery to the anime, many fans still appreciate the author’s efforts to include an explanation for the turn of events.

It is worth mentioning that the time-traveling phenomenon in the series follows a more multiverse-like approach, as the future characters can’t change their own timeline, and instead try to change the past in a separate timeline. A linear timeline approach would have created several complications, as even a single change in the past would have drastically altered the future.

Depression

Kakeru and Suwa Hugging

While most slice-of-life anime follows a linear storyline centered around high school drama and romance, Orange takes on much heavier themes such as suicidal ideation and depression. This is also why the characters start receiving letters from the future, as the primary purpose is to ensure their new friend, Kakeru Naruse, does not succumb to his crippling depression.

The show also explores how this affects the relationship between them, since most people are not aware of how one should deal with a loved one suffering from this mental illness. The awkward moments throughout the series feel even more attuned to reality, as dealing with such a complicated and severe issue can be daunting for people, especially for those that are closest to the person suffering from depression.

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These triggering issues are exacerbated by the end of the series, when Kakeru actually tries to commit suicide, creating an extremely heavy and heart-wrenching scene. Even though he rethinks his decision last minute, adding such a distressing scene to the series was necessary in order to portray the extent of this illness, and how a simple act of love and kindness can deter a person from ending their own life.

Relatable Characters

Naho looking at Kakeru

Apart from the accurate display of the crippling effects of depression, another thing that Orange nails down is the authenticity of its characters. Unlike other slice-of-life anime that portray highschool students as flamboyant individuals, Orange gives its characters a relatable depth, from their awkward interactions to the display of shy love and affection, one can easily put themselves in that position.

The portrayal of the future characters is also an element that the anime perfectly nails, as each character’s distinct personality is clearly visible in their future-selves, just slightly more mature. Portraying mature versions of characters is always a difficult task for authors, yet Ichigo Tanako achieved this feat easily with her excellent depiction of each character’s matured future-self. Overall, the anime takes a very life-like approach to teenage relationships – be it friendships or romantic relations. Coupled with its dark themes and time traveling twist, Orange easily becomes a must-watch anime, especially for those looking for something with a touch of hard-hitting reality.

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