This is Nana’s and shoujo manga’s lovechild.
Imagine a world where Orange the kind-of-sort-of-sometimes Animation did not exist. Imagine a world where someone didn’t have the bright idea to put a million animation directors on one twelve episode show which makes every episode look like a whole different god damn anime.
More stillframes or less stillframes, less colours or popping in realistic expressions – it’s a casino game and you don’t know which animation director you get this time.
Let’s ignore Orange, the (sometimes) animated series. Let’s talk about Orange, the manga that you probably won’t enjoy after watching the anime, instead.
Orange is a baby Nana. Nana is angry and busy smashing strawberry cups against walls (and author being in the hospital) and Nana is getting over death and Nana is stupidly humane – Orange is a baby Nana because the essence of both series are the same: you can’t change mistakes you’ve made.
The difference is, in Nana they are adults forced to accept it and Orange coats it with sweetness where the characters get a second chance and making a lunchbox can make all the difference.
This does not make Orange any less realistic than Nana is. Sure, none of us (probably) have had as much anxiety as Orange has had when it comes to putting a band-aid on our crush and we would probably realize by the time we’re 30 years old and having a child that our dead friend had a crush on us in highschool and we had a crush on our now dead friend in highschool.
What’s surprising, then, is how Orange (the manga) swings and hits us with reality from time-to-time when it comes to the core theme of it: dealing with depression.
It doesn’t beat around the bush. It doesn’t promise that friendship can kiss his mental health better. They don’t even really know how to deal with it, so it’s awkward, and nobody knows how to talk about it, and if you have a friend who is depressed, the scene where Kakeru admits he’s depressed will probably hit closer to home than you’re comfortable with.
This makes Orange different from your average shoujo manga – moreover it’s only five volumes long and the art is exactly what the story is – it’s shoujo, but it’s not. Mistakes and severe levels of cucking aside, Orange comes with many faults like plot holes and shoujo bullshit that doesn’t fit with the realism the rest of the manga is littered with. Regardless, for its five volume long run, the good weights out the bad and the anime should’ve been spectacular, but instead took away from its source material.
That’s when you know you’ve fucked up.