Monday, January 1, 2018

REVIEW: Orange: The Complete Collection (manga, vol. 1) by Ichigo Takano, translated by Amber Tamosaitis

Another vacation read review, so expect major spoilers after the break.

This is another manga that made it onto my TBR list because of some review I came across a while back. I can't remember which one or who wrote it.

Unfortunately, I saw the "complete collection" part and didn't look closely enough before requesting the volume. If I had paid better attention, I'd have realized that "complete collection" didn't mean that the series was complete in this one volume - instead, it's an omnibus edition with one more volume after it. I'd have requested both if I had known.

I went into this with vague memories that the reviewer had loved it, and also that it was maybe science fiction. I suppose it could be considered science fiction due to its thread about parallel universes, but it read more like drama that had the potential to be a tear-jerker.

The story: Sixteen-year-old Naho receives a letter from herself 10 years into the future. She thinks it's weird and some kind of prank, at first, except that everything it says keeps coming true. It tells her what's going to happen each day, her future self's regrets, and what she needs to do to make things better. Above all, she's supposed to look out for a new classmate of hers, Kakeru, who will commit suicide by riding his bike in front of a car in the winter of his 17th year.

I really enjoyed this, although parts of it gave me very mixed emotions. For example, in the original future, one of Naho's male friends, Suwa, will eventually become her husband. After Kakeru died, Naho, who had secretly had a crush on him, cried for days. Suwa eventually helped her pick up the pieces, they got married, and they now have a child together. A bit later in the volume it's revealed that Suwa, too, was told to do everything in his power to save Kakeru, which for him involved giving up on his secret feelings for Naho and instead trying to encourage a relationship between her and Kakeru. 1) This made me very sad for Suwa, even knowing that none of this would invalidate the parallel universe where he and Naho became a family. 2) I'm not entirely comfortable with the idea that romance with Naho could play a significant part in saving Kakeru. I don't want Kakeru's decision to commit suicide to be dependent on Naho. That doesn't seem healthy for either of them.

That said, I could understand what they were trying to do. I definitely plan on reading the next volume (in fact, I have an interlibrary loan copy waiting for me to read it right now). However, I'm worried that this series is going to rip my heart out and stomp on it. Every step the characters take makes it harder for them to figure out what to do next, and several important steps are hard for Naho, who's naturally pretty shy, to take.

Crossing my fingers that volume 2 puts everyone on a good path and doesn't make a high school romance the primary thing that saves Kakeru. I also hope there's some kind of explanation for how those letters got sent into a parallel universe's past.

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