Orange: The Complete Collection vol. 1 by Ichigo Takano
A REVIEW by ALEXA DUNCAN
Before I get into the review for the books this month, let me preface it by saying that I’m technically cheating a little bit. The books I’ll be talking about aren’t exactly “new,” per se, but they’re new to us at the library. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get to the review!
Orange by Ichigo Takano is not your typical novel. Nor is it your typical graphic novel. It’s manga, a form of comic mainly produced in Japan. Manga is almost always black-and-white and it’s read from right to left, not left to right like we’re used to in Western comics and novels. I’ve been a casual reader of manga since my early teens and I’ve recently gotten back into the genre since we’re acquiring more of it here at the library.
Orange is one of the volumes we’ve collected thus far. The omnibus edition we have, called tankoban in manga terminology, collects the first few volumes of the series, and that’s what this review will be discussing.
Orange is the heartbreaking story of a group of friends living in a small town outside of Tokyo, Japan. They receive letters from their future selves regarding the tragic death of one of their classmates and spend the rest of the manga trying to save him. If this sounds heavy, it’s because it is. While the artwork is beautiful and the writing is poignant, its plot is often difficult to read about, especially if you’re sensitive to such topics as suicide and clinical depression.
One of the best things about Orange as a series is its depiction of friendship. Centered around a sixteen-year-old girl named Naho, Orange portrays youthfulness without condescension, friendship without melodramatics, and romance with a sweetness you can’t help but coo over. Nothing in Orange is graphic or violent, but the discussions around Kakeru’s (the boy they’re trying to save) mental health can be a little upsetting. Orange is told mostly from Naho’s perspective—though there is a brief foray into Kakeru’s point of view—and her development as a character throughout the series is nice to see. She grows from being a timid, almost debilitating shy girl to someone who would do anything to save the boy she loves.
Though Orange is mostly a romance manga, there are elements of science fiction as well. Time travel is essential the plot. Overall, I would highly recommend Orange. It made me tear up on more than one occasion and the art alone is worth the prize of admission.
If you’re already a fan of manga or if this might be your first exposure to it, I’d highly recommend picking up the first volume of Orange at the Oreana Library today!