Best Animated Film: Favourite manga – Orange, Ichigo Takano
Hello again, awesome nerds! Before we dive into this category that I’m super stoked to be writing about, there are a couple of things I think you should know about me. Number one – reading is my escape and my haven. Two – music helps me understand the pieces of me I haven’t figured out yet and three – I’m the kind of person that tries to make light of most things; whether it be a broken heart, my congenital heart condition or my constant battle with depression.
Well… that took a rather morbid turn, but let’s just get that out in the open – I promise there is a reason I dumped all that in here. I like to think of my mind as the enchanted forest; not only because I love how mysterious that sounds, but whenever someone says “enchanted forest”, my mind immediately thinks about the one in Snow White. The forest that one minute appeared to be attacking her, pulling her here and there and then the next it brightened and cute fluffy animals came to keep her company. My mind is a lot like that, both a friend and a foe to me. And the cycle is constant. It doesn’t end.
Orange tells the story of a high school girl, Naho Takamiya, who receives letters from her future self to help her prevent the suicide of her friend, Kakeru Naruse. At first Naho is hesitant to follow the instructions given in the letters, but as more events mentioned in the letters start to occur she makes it her personal mission to create an alternate reality where her friend can still laugh with her a decade later. As the story progresses, we learn that Kakeru and Naho’s other friends – who also care deeply for him – have the same mission. To give a little background info without giving too much away, Kakeru blames himself for the death of his mother and as readers we see how the guilt and depression slowly chips away his smiles, laughter and strength to move on.
This manga is a beautifully crafted heart-wrenching tale about depression, friendship and romance. Sure, it has the usual tropes like: a love triangle, troubled guy falls for quiet girl, a best friend who’s in love with her and has always been there for her, but it’s twisted in the most earnest and sweetest way possible. The romance doesn’t take centre stage in this manga and Kakeru’s depression isn’t a mere plot device to push him and Naho together. Instead Orange is a painfully realistic story about a teenage boy dealing with clinical depression and we learn that even with all the love, acceptance and friendship it sometimes isn’t enough.
As a person who goes through depression, I know how frustrating it can be when I literally count all the positive things I have going in my life, but still can’t get out of that black hole and Ichigo Takano conveys that feeling brilliantly. Kakeru’s story shows that high school life can be filled with laughter, sadness, hopelessness and amazing friends; not only the stupid, pettiness the media loves showing us.
Lastly, I’ll leave you with this, PLEASE READ IT! Honestly, whenever I find a movie, TV show, book or manga that does a good job representing mental illness I feel like I have to hand them out like pamphlets to everyone. So… here (hands you the “pamphlet”) Take it and read it.