This is the most polarizing and borderline upsetting episode of Orange thus far. Originally upon watching it I felt furious and angry at a character but upon later reflection realized that this episode was almost engineered to create that reaction. When watching this it is very easy to take the perspective of someone who is watching the show or reading the manga and knowing things that one character cannot possibly know. This episode Kakeru acts very cold, snaps, and is very harsh to Naho during one incident. Initially my entire feeling was he is a terrible person and that this makes him incompatible with Naho and undeserving of every character’s effort. Then I remembered a few things I want to remind you as a viewer of:
- Kakeru has no idea about any of the letters. Kakeru’s only insider knowledge is his everyday struggle with depression and suicide. He doesn’t feel like he’ll be there but isn’t sure he wants to die either, and he is terrified about losing anyone else while grappling with the guilt of losing his mother the way he did. He doesn’t know what everyone is doing and he is not mysterically aware of what has happened or what will happen. Kakeru is flying blind unlike every other main character in the show, and so in a way is excluded from everyone else.
- Naho’s reaction to an outsider is immature. When Naho asked Kakeru to stay she was thinking about saving his life and being scared of a distance she was already informed of through the letters. Without knowing Naho is genuinely reacting this way because of the letters and her own fear, and adding on that she seemed less concerned with his grandma because she knows that she lives in the future, it seems like she just selfishly wanted more time with Kakeru and ignored the health of his grandmother.
- Kakeru genuinely trusted Naho with his fear of losing his grandma and she brushed it off without thinking about it. He has no idea why she did this and feels hurt.
These are all the reasons I decided not to throw my love of Kakeru out a window and into a fire. The whole episode I was furious Kakeru could do this to a person who loves him. At the end he literally breaks his phone to avoid Naho’s call because he is so angry/upset. Because of this I was ready to just say the winner of all is Suwa. Suwa spent this entire episode showing his true love for Naho: He was willing to sacrifice his future with her to make her happy. In the face of Kakeru who is being selfish and worried about his own issues Suwa seems like the best match. Maybe he is! Naho herself in the future said that his confession made her pick him to begin with. But the truth of it is is that Suwa is in a healthy state of mind and not struggling with what Kakeru is. His greatest strife comes from his feelings for Naho and the letter, whereas Kakeru has endured real trauma.
I’d say this episode definitely makes me feel conflicted on what team I play for. Luckily with some thought it becomes easier to forgive Kakeru, but I still think his actions were going very far. I struggle with depression and I have done similar things in my outright agony, though, so who am I to judge? Honestly, if this were a normal shoujo anime no one would be at fault and we’d all feel Naho was being manipulative. The truth is that Kakeru wasn’t alive to write a letter to himself and so he has no foresight. He is struggling alone and that makes the issues hard for him, even though everyone is trying to be there for him now.
Is…is it too late to request honorary membership to team Suwa though? I’m crying like a baby at this tragedy of an animu. Why heart, why? Judge for yourself if Kakeru if forgivable or not, as Orange has only a little bit of time left before we find out if their efforts are enough and if this gap between Naho and Kakeru can be mended.