This Manga Will Have You in Your Feelings

orange book coverorange book cover

Orange by Ichigo Takano

On the first day of 11th grade, Naho receives a strange letter. The writer of the letter claims to be Naho from the future — ten years in the future, to be precise. And in it, future Naho tells her younger self to look out for Kakeru, a new student who will be joining her class. From the moment Naho sees Kakeru, she feels a deep connection with the melancholy boy, and she happily invites him to be a part of her close-knit group of friends. Still, she’s skeptical about the letter. How could it possibly come from an older version of herself in the future? Surely it has to be a prank.

But then things in the letter start coming true. And the more the letter is able to foretell the future, the more Naho has to take the warnings seriously. No matter what the cost, she must save Kakeru from a horrible fate, and every change she makes to the timeline will have consequences.

If you’ve ever lost someone close to you, then you have probably wondered what would have happened if you could go back and change the past, knowing what you know now. You’ve probably wondered if there is some alternate world out there where they are still alive. I really appreciated how this manga explores that possibility. And, without giving too much away, we do also get to flash forward to the future to see where Naho and her friends are now, years later, still reeling from the loss of Kakeru, a person who had such an immense impact on their lives when they were younger. How does changing the past affect these people in the future? You will have to read to find out.

Orange is juggling a lot of elements, and I think this series does it really well. It’s a reflection on grief and loss, absolutely. But this is also a story I would comfortably categorize as sci-fi, as it also explores elements of time travel and the consequences of alternate timelines. Orange is also a love story, one in which — no matter how the story shakes out — someone is going to end up brokenhearted.

Above all else, though, this is a story about friendship. This is a story of a group of six friends who will do absolutely anything to support each other and take care of each other. Friends who manage to stay connected into adulthood. Despite the often depressing subject matter of this manga, ultimately, the message of Orange is that friendship is what makes life worth living.

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