Orange episode 5 and the beginning of episode 6 gave the impression that Kakeru might almost be cured of whatever is ailing him. His growing affections for Naho seem to be changing his outlook, and he is even closer to Suwa who he respects and doesn’t want to take Naho from. Midway through episode 6 of Orange we see the most striking representation of mental illness I can recall in anime. Kakeru is genuinely falling in love with Naho and is more and more interested in her. He even asks who she would like most to ask her out and it is clear he is testing the waters and hoping it will be him. Kakeru does not stop feeling emotions or expressing his love for other people.
But even if he loves other people, Kakeru is still suffering immensely. It caused me physical pain to see what Kakeru is experiencing. It takes most of the episode to get Kakeru to confess his feelings and what he says is “I didn’t want to tell you because I thought you would hate me.” As he is tormenting himself with the death of his mother he is also adding the fear that all of his friends might abandon him in disgust for what he thinks he has done. So what did Kakeru do? He simply told his mother he couldn’t take her to the hospital on the Opening Ceremony because he was so happy to be invited out by the crew.
Naho is mortified: The letter warned her not to invite him out. She begins to cry as she begins to believe this is her fault and not Kakeru’s, while he probably interprets her tears in a more negative way. This is all a serious metaphor for something far more intense: sometimes one person can’t just solve the things that are burdening you. Kakeru is so lost in his sorrow and guilt for, in his view, letting his mother die that it even influences the way he can relay information to the people he cares about. He loves Naho, but he is held back by the immense pain he is feeling.
This episode also flat out confirmed to every character and even past!Naho that Kakeru did kill himself. His grandmother reveals to the future gang that he left a note for her pleading to mark it as an accident and the rest of the friends are shocked and guilt ridden. While the beginning of the episode is shown making everyone happily get along, subverting Ueda’s attempts to separate Naho and Kakeru, and making the story seem lighthearted this does not remain at all. By the end of it, Naho is feeling lost. Suwa asks about Kakeru one day when he hasn’t made it to practice and in a fit of desperation Naho decides to tell him about the letter. . .
Until he reveals he also got one. The episode ends there, with the realization that Naho has not been alone in this dilemma the entire time. My mind is blown by these concepts and I’m really pulled in, but I’m also hurting for Kakeru. Seeing how desperately alone he felt and knowing it led him to end his life despite all his friends loving him is such a sad and also truthful thing. Kakeru is a great representation of anyone dealing with depression, loss, and grief. That being said, I am both excited for the future. . .and terrified for it.