Hiroto Suwa is probably my hero. If you have ever loved a character in a love triangle while still loving the ‘intended’ romance you know why this normally happens, but Suwa is a completely different case. We learn in episode 6 that Suwa also has a letter, but what is very important in Suwa’s letter is what we seem to learn is not there. This begins with all of them trying to get Kakeru’s birthday out of him and figure out what present he wants. This turns out surprisingly well for all of them, and even leads to Kakeru finding out how much of a jerk Ueda is being to Naho. Ultimately Suwa asks last after Kakeru laments he cannot do anything for Naho, and Kakeru decides he wants a bouquet of flowers so he can give them to Naho. We see in the future that this never happened and so Suwa gives his wife the flowers for Kakeru, only for everyone to finally reveal to future Naho that Kakeru had loved her all along. In this future, Naho never knew that Kakeru returned her feelings.
In the past everyone finds out the presents in time and Suwa gives him the flowers, this leads to Kakeru’s confession to Naho and Naho beginning her struggle to admit her feelings. At first this just seems to be a light hearted confession episode but it turns into so much more. We see the struggle Suwa had probably even writing his letter. . .and he only says to his past self, for some reason I just couldn’t support them. He says it as if he forgot, or as if he never got to marry Naho. Suwa is witholding this information for Naho and Kakeru’s sake. He knows that if his past self knew he got to marry Naho part of him might not be able to do it, might not be able to give up the future with the woman he loves to save his friend. He knows that Kakeru loves Naho and that maybe even her love and preventing his own hesitations could save Kakeru. Suwa proves that he loves Kakeru and Naho more than he simply loves Naho. This story isn’t just about the love between two people ending despair, it’s about the love between friends saving their friend.
Suwa became…immeasurably amazing to me this episode. He selfishly gives up his love for Naho because he can’t live with the regret of not supporting Kakeru when he needs him. He gives so much to his friend when he needs it, and the future Suwa shows that he loves Naho and the friend he lost so much he would even give up his child. Knowing that they both get to have their futures gives me so much joy knowing this. I cried because Suwa knows it’s more than ‘deserving’ someone, it’s about your choices and your life. He is just a genuinely good person and I am glad he gets a future where he gets to love Naho and be genuinely happy. Yet I know that in this future too his love for his friends will also give him a genuinely good life. I feel bad that there will always be some regrets in his life, but it is choosing between regretting letting someone die and regretting not trying to be with someone. He knows Naho’s happiness and love for Kakeru, and he lets her have that.
But Suwa’s simple amazingness does not stop there. When Naho and Kakeru are talking about Kakeru’s past, he brushes her concern off. Suwa confronts him before he can walk off and calls him out on his sadness and asks him not to go out with his Tokyo friends because he knows that they will brush off Kakeru admitting when he wants to kill himself. Kakeru explains that he just wants to laugh with them and Suwa responds that Kakeru needs to understand they don’t want to just laugh if he’s suffering. These are such real things about depression and Suwa literally hugs him and cries. Honestly I want a third universe where they get together, LOL! But seriously, Suwa does what Naho can’t because she’s so shy. He fights to make Kakeru realize they all love him and want him to talk to them. Kakeru admits he wants to die everyday and feels so guilty, and Suwa tells him that the way he thought was so normal and he shouldn’t feel guilty. Then hearing Kakeru feel like he should die makes Naho realize she needs to tell him how she feels. She reciprocates her love and this seems to give Kakeru so much relief. This is only episode 7.
Episode 8 has Naho and Kakeru in an awkward position. They aren’t dating but Kakeru says it is to protect her, he doesn’t want to hurt her. In a normal shoujo this means nothing, but this is such a good representation of the way he feels. He is still thinking about killing himself and he doesn’t want to hurt Naho by being with her and then leaving. This is unspoken but I genuinely think he feels this way. It is important I say that being loved helps but sometimes it is not enough, which is why this anime did not end last episode. Being loved by Naho makes him happy but Kakeru still lives with so much pain and regret. This is probably one of the only anime where awkwardly not getting together makes perfect sense. The episode continues when Naho and Suwa mess something up because of the letter, only for all of the friends to agree to be in the relay so Kakeru can do it and have fun. This episode was moving because it showed how really great other characters were. Seriously, Nagita is hilarious. He and Azusa are OTP! Chino was really moving today as well and seeing her fight to make everyone have fun was really cool.
At the end of the episode we learn something important: Every one of the friends got a letter from their future selves. This episode of the anime officially transformed everything. Instead of simply being a shoujo about one girl saving the guy she loves, this is a story about a bunch of friends saving their irreplaceable friend. Kakeru is not just an exchange student they all forgot, he was one of their best friends they regret letting die. Now, they are all working together to change their future and help Kakeru regain the will to live. Orange is now one of the most unique and heartwarming anime I have ever seen, and I can’t recommend it enough after these two episodes.