Our thoughts from the monthly Mangaforum
- http://www.twitch.tv/mangaforum – 17th March 2017
Orange, Friendships and feelings.
This months manga was Orange; A shojo style manga series by Ichigo Takano, first published in 2012; It’s since gained a lot of ground in recent years, now being universally recommended, without too much hype in the west, although likely to grow following the live action and anime series on the scene from 2016.
What we thought in a nutshell;
- It SO NICE!! And not another cheesy boring teem romance drama; Kudos, Takano!
- Accidental emotional attachment to all the characters
- Strong friendships shine through and prevail
- Nothing adds better drama, realism and contrast than a good bitch (#reallife)
- Is there anything you would write a letter to your selves to change your life course from 10 years ago?
What we liked;
As always, I came to this with prejudice and a preconceived fear of bad stereotypes and boring teen-drama characters, but thankfully, these preconceptions were shut down after probably the first half of the first volume for me.
This Manga is definitely aimed at the ladies, although the characters are strong, personable, real and funny, so I would still recommend it to all, even to your average manga bro, because of the nature of relationships that are formed.
Its definitely got that Slice of life realism, even to the extent of location references (which I personally really enjoy) with a sprinkle of fantasy time travel to give it that escapism edge. It’s also relatively short and contained but don’t for a second think it’s mellow – I was flinching emotionally, anticipating more and more heart break; the type of tension that comes with eminent tragedy.
I do think the letter writing thing is certainly a nice creative touch/loop-hole to get round the otherwise tricky-to-navigate questions about time-traveler paradoxes although, again, the cynic in me was expecting either the tragic end to maintain (a’la shit film series Final Destination – No one escapes death *brandishes knife*) OR be some super cheesy, catch-all cop-out explanation (a’la “She woke up and it was all a dream”); But this is why I read manga, to broaden my shocking preconceptions.
What we sorta maybe disliked
As always at The Manga Forum, we nit-pick at a few questionable aspects;
For me, the main jar to the story is Naho ; A subservient doormat who is always looking to please others, with no voice of her own and, lets be honest, a WEAK in her pursuit of saving Kakeru. However, it’s important to point out that;
- She is the only cheesy, typical-trope character in the series; The rest are interesting and eye catching on their own accord and I ended up not caring about her too much and actually wanting to know what the others thought more.
- She develops! So much so, that I even think the door-mat-ness of her in the early part is a tool specifically characterized, in order to show her contrasting forwardness towards the end. Although it takes too long to get there in my view; I think it would have been more satisfying to see her as the stronger her, for a longer period of the story.
Another questionable aspect would be the “romance” between Naho and Kakeru; Both Lex and I agreed that this seemed really very forced and unnecessary. Do they even really fancy each other? They both say they’re happy to not date each other, Kakeru dates a senior class-man early on (*BITCH enters stage right*) and Nahu essentially discusses needing to be with him to keep him from killing himself; That does not sound like true desire between 2 people to me.
We asked, why couldn’t this story just be about their strong friendship? It’s made clear that the whole group want to save Kakeru, so why does the focus have to be on it being so that Naho can Kakeru can be together…? Even poor Suwa, who actually loves Naho, wants them to be together so that she can save Kakeru at the expense of his own Future-self’s happiness, although really, it’s Suwa who strongly confronts Kakeru to get him to open up to them anyway.
When we discussed Sailor Moon last time, we discussed the aspect of strong friendship bonds and commitments between women, which is a theme perceived by some, to be lacking in comics and even main stream media. But I think also think that strong, true friendships between people of the opposite sex are also rarely focused on in such depth, without it becoming an inevitable romance. Of course, we welcome your comments and suggested reads on these themes.
Plus, is it not sort of REALLY creepy that they are constantly watching over him, able to predict his every move and medal in his decisions without his consent? Is this not that far removed from 24h surveillance? How ok are we with this?
Lastly, the ending gave us NOTHING about the “New” Future; What happens to the 10 year on friends after they received those letters and took the actions they did???
Oh, and I definitely would have liked a little bit more cultural references to give us a sense of when in time both periods take place (music, film, pop references etc; Japan is full of them!) I’ve been reading 20th Century Boys by Naoki Urasawa in parallel and there are a lot of background cultural references which I feel gives that series a specific time and place and depth of reality.
To summarize, This is a great, heart felt, simple manga and perhaps it projects of our own regrets and potential life choices, that makes us feel all our emotions with this one; Perhaps slightly cathartic, we asked our selves whether there were moments we would wish to reverse in time to alter the course of our reality…Would you?
With regards to Recommendations for similar Mangas, Lexa suggested Sand chronicles by Hinako Ashihara, which is another slice of life shojo which deals with a few of the same themes as Orange (family suicide, relationships and supportive friendships)
April’s Manga Forum will be reviewing Sword Art Online by Reki Kawahara and illustrated by Abec. We are extremely privileged to be broadcasting our fist Mid-Month live stream guest show with our own Manga Bros from the Manga Raiders Forum on the 9th April, to chat our first thoughts of Sword Art Online, and what ever other shit we’d like to shoot – They are Hilarious and I can’t wait.
Our regular book club review will then be on the 28th April, to give our over all thoughts and updates for May.
Tune in at http://www.twitch.tv/mangaforum, and follow us on twitter for more updates over the coming months- https://twitter.com/themangaforum.
As always, We look forward to hearing what you think so comment below!
Lara and Lexa