Orange Movie Recap
More than romance and friendship, I love that this movie brought light to two of society’s darkest issues- depression and suicide. It has a strong message addressed to both young and old, and that is “live a life without regrets”. Bottom-line is: let’s do the things we need to do while we can or it’ll be too late and the chance will pass us by.
There’s an intermixture of past and future events, so if you’re a hardcore realist and not a fan of time-travel and parallel universes then this is not the movie for you. But believe me, if you can look past all the fantasy, you’ll find “Orange” one awesome movie.
PS: I’m extra generous with the screencaps. It’s YamaKen we’re talking about after all. Tehehe!
It’s spring and the first day of school. Tamamiya Naho (Tao Tsuchiya), a 16 year old second year student enjoys looking at the beautiful array of cherry blossoms for the first time. On a bizarre twist of fate, she receives a mysterious letter. It is unfathomably written by her, dated 10 years into the future.
Turns out, the letter is a chronological narration of what will happen and what she needs to do to prevent herself from doing the same mistakes again. And as the letter dictates, a new transfer student from Tokyo named Naruse Kakeru (Kento Yamazaki) will be joining the class and will be sitting right next to her. Though everything happened according to the letter, Naho dismisses the events as purely coincidental.
Naho reads on and her future self incessantly begs her not to urge Kakeru to join them on that day. The letter says he will initially say no, but her friends convinces him to go so he relents. While watching Kakeru and her friends, Naho wonders why her future self wanted her to prevent him from coming with them.
Naho’s close friends include the bubbly Murasaka Asuka (Kurumi Shimizu), mature Chino Takako (Hirona Yamazaki), weird Hagita Saku (Dori Sakurada), and the athletic Suwa Hiroto (Ryo Ryusei). Seeing Kakeru laughs and happily chatting with her friends, Naho is glad that he’s actually fine and that they invited him. The group eat bread for snacks. All of them seems to love curry-bread so Naho gives way and let them have it. But somehow Kakeru notices this and offers to trade his curry bread. Naho reads her the letter that night. Though she admits it’s her handwriting, she chooses not to believe in it.
After that, Kakeru is absent for two weeks. She reads that on April 20, Kakeru will return to school. And on that day, she will be asked to bat in a softball match. In the past, she refused to play but regretted it afterwards. This is also the day she will fall in love with Kakeru.
On April 20, Kakeru did come back and it’s pretty obvious he’s not keen on answering why he was gone for days. Naho notices him sadly watching his classmates play soccer and tries to have a small chat with him. She asks why he doesn’t play and Kakeru responds that he’s just a substitute and since he’s been gone, he hadn’t been practicing.
Naho’s class is losing the game, so her classmates begs her to bat, knowing that she played softball in middle school. She politely declines simply because she’s not confident enough. Kakeru backs her up, saying that her feet hurt and she can’t play. So Asuza volunteers in her place. However, the letter says they will lose and not playing is one of her future regrets. Thinking it through, she changes her mind. Luckily, she hits the ball and they win!
Naho hurts her feet in the process. Kakeru sees her limping so he tends to her wound. He tells her that she should have complained about her wrong shoe size. Naho smiles and assures she’s okay since she’ll only wear the sneakers during PE. And besides it’s too late for her to complain. She’ll just suppress it for a little more while. Kakeru, however, differs, saying that if she’ll only suppress it then she’ll miss out. But Naho insists that she’s fine and as long as no one notices, she’ll just leave things as they are. Kakeru falls silent for a sec and on a serious tone, he tells her that he was looking at her and he cares. Naho is shocked by his revelations.
Before he leaves, she returns the favor and tells him to play soccer if that’s what he wants. She knows because she’s properly looking at him too. Kakeru beams. He proudly tells her that what she did was awesome and promises to join the soccer team next year. Like what’s written in the letter, Naho fell for him that day.
On the way home, Naho, Kakeru and the rest of the gang passes by a bridge. Naho stops to look at the horizon. She reflect on things, wondering if her decision erased one of her future regrets.
Next, we see the older Naho on the same bridge. She’s joined in by Suwa, who is carrying their baby and a bouquet of flowers for Kakeru. It has been ten years and she’s already married to him. Once Asuza, Hagita and Takako arrive, they proceed to fulfilling a long overdue promise to Kakeru.
And then we go back to the past. Naho is reading the letter and it says that at the age of 26, she has so many regrets including the fact that Kakeru is no longer with them. She’s greatly troubled by what she read and at school, she can’t help but worry about Kakeru.
It’s lunch time and Suwa jokingly asks if Kakeru really thinks he’s good at soccer. Kakeru is confused and Suwa reveals Naho told him so. Kakeru appears offended but smiles, teasingly poking Naho on the head. He then tells her to bring him bento since his mom doesn’t cook one for him. He tells her in jest so though Naho wants to make one, she holds back. But with her future self telling her to have a go, she finds the courage to cook for him.
The only problem is she can’t seem to give the bento to Kakeru. She even chides him for trying to peek on her bag. After mulling it over, she finds the courage to apologize and clear things up. In return, Kakeru invites to go home together. But the impromptu “date” is a diversion from the letter so Naho doesn’t know what to do.
Naho and Kakeru talk in a nearby park. Kakeru asks what Naho does after going home and Naho shyly answers that she often help her mom prepare dinner. She turns the question back to him and he shares that he only play games at home. Naho laughs at his honesty and agrees, seeing his love for soccer. Kakeru suddenly turns quiet. He dismally confesses that though he likes sports, he is not and will not be a member of any clubs. The truth is his mom died during the first day of school and he promised her he will not join any school activities. His sad account renders Naho speechless.
Before they part ways, Naho finally tells him she made bento for him. She’s supposed to give it during lunch break but is to too bashful to even tell him. She then promises to make one for him everyday. Kakeru is undeniably delighted. Turns out, he’s actually expecting it. In voice over, Naho expresses her contentment in seeing him smile, saying it will be in her memory even after 10 years.
In the future, the group goes to Kakeru’s house and they are welcomed by his grandma. Suwa says they originally planned to visit earlier but couldn’t get hold of each other. But when Naho gave birth, they suddenly have the urge to get back together and properly talk to him (Kakeru). Grandma smiles, looking at Kakeru’s photo, she tells him it’s time she tells them the truth. Through the letters, we learn that Kakeru passed away in Autumn when he was 17 years old. His untimely death was unfortunate but what they regretted the most is that they weren’t able to save him.
The letter says that on May 1, Kakeru will withdraw from the soccer club. Naho then vows to convince him not to. But to her surprise, Suwa announces that Kakeru has become an official member of the club. This leaves Naho wondering if the future changed.
The next day, Ueda, a senior confesses to Kakeru. And according to the letter, they will start to date. But she may be able to prevent it from happening. On that day, she will lend him her pencil and eraser. Once he returns eraser, she must immediately look at the back of it. There will be a note and if she finds it sooner, she may change the future. However, she wasn’t able to do as she was told and the next thing she knew, Kakeru and Ueda are already dating. Turns out, he is asking if it’s okay for him to date. Though it’s rather late, she writes him a reply and put it inside his locker. The word written is “No”.
Hurt and disappointed, Naho cries at home. She says sorry to herself for not being able to erase one of her regrets.
The next day, Naho meets Kakeru at the locker area. She then tells him that she won’t be making bento for him anymore. And even though the letter advises her to talk to him when he calls out, she stays away from him.
One day, she accidentally bumps into Ueda. Kakeru sees the mishap and immediately lends Naho a hand. Ueda is pissed that Nakeru take Naho’s side and to avoid the confrontation, Naho runs away. But Suwa, who witnesses the scene, tells her to go back and tell Kakeru what she really feels.
So Naho musters up the courage to listen to what Kakeru has to say, which clearly brightens up his gloomy mood. He then spills that he wants to break up with Ueda. When he started dating her, he noticed somethings was off. Naho, however, tells him to know Ueda a little more since they barely started their relationship. But Kakeru seems to have made up his mind, even teasing her that she was the one who said “No”. Yeah, he read her note. And besides, there’s someone he’s more interested in. She asks him if that ‘someone’ is the one he likes, and he answers that it’s a secret.
One day, their teacher taught them about the probability of time travel. Even if they change the past, they will only make a parallel world and the future will be the same. Naho then realizes that even though she will be able to save him, his fate will still be the same and her regrets will remain.
After class, Kakeru asks her what she prefers, the past or the future. Of which she answers the future because she wants to see the things she can change. But Kakeru chooses the other path, the past. He wants to wipe off his guilt. His words give her the push and she boldly invites him to watch the fireworks together after the cultural festival. Not with everyone but just the two of them. Kyaaah!
Fastforward to the cultural festival. While watching the school pageant, Kakeru secretly asks Naho where they will meet and she answers that she’s thinking of the pool area. Ueda, the angry ex-gf, sees the sweet exchange and with that evil eye, we have reasons to believe she is planning something. And yeah, she does have something on her plate. Together with her accomplices, they bully Naho and orders her to do some errands for them.
But thanks to Naho’s good friends, Asuza and Takako, she’s able to come to the meeting place on the nick of time. The fireworks display has begun, so Kakeru grabs her hand, taking her to the best spot but when they look up, the fireworks stop. They hold hands for a few moments and suddenly, the fireworks begin again. Yay! Kakeru then shares that he’s glad he watched the fireworks with her. He will never forget this moment, declaring that it’s a very happy day indeed.
The gang seems to connive and let Naho and Kakeru spend time together. Dressed in kimonos, they enjoyably join in the local festivities. But when Kakeru sees a group of children participating in the bonbon parade, he remembers Mom. They end the ‘date’ by wishing on a shrine. Naho asks what Kakeru wished for and he sadly replies that he has none. He further explains that if it comes to wishes, he’ll ask Mom but if it’s God, then he’ll call out for an appeal. He doesn’t bother to tell her what it is though. Thankfully, it rains, giving the two of them more time to properly talk.
Determined to reach out to Kakeru, Naho probes if the regret he was referring to involved his Mom’s death. He refuses to talk because he believes that if he tells her the truth, she’ll end up hating him too. Naho promises not to judge or hate him no matter what.
Kakeru yields and conveys that his Mom kept on complaining that she’s not well. And because of that, they get into petty fights. He was supposed to go with Mom to a new hospital during the first day of class. But he chose to spend that time with them. He received a text from Mom, telling him to go home but he just told her to buzz off. After that, he didn’t receive a reply. Later, he found out that Mom committed suicide. He breaks down remembering that day and Naho can only look at him with sympathy.
That night, Naho continues to read the letters and learns that Kakeru killed himself and made Grandma tell them it was an accident.
Kakeru acts aloof after that. Suwa visits Naho, asking if she knows what’s bothering Kakeru. Naho takes a chance and tells Suwa about the letters. To her surprise, Suwa doesn’t seem shocked by her tale, simply because he also received letters from his future self. Naho then puts two in two together and concludes that he’s the reason why Kakeru was admitted to the soccer club.
Now, we shift to Suwa’s perspective. His letter says that on Sept 14, it’ll be Kakeru’s bday, but nobody knew and he didn’t bother telling them. Knowing that, they plan to organize a surprise party for Kakeru. Each gives him their gifts, but what stands out is Suwa’s bouquet. The gang gives Kakeru and Naho some room. And to Naho’s surprise, Kakeru hands her the bouquet, saying that it’s his way of conveying his feelings.
We go back to Suwa reading the letters. His future self wants him to properly cheer on Kakeru and Naho’s relationship because when Kakeru died, Naho suffered an emotional breakdown. Suwa’s future self begs him to let go since this is a sacrifice he must be willingly make to see Kakeru and Naho smile ten years from now. It’s understandable that not being with the girl he likes is sad but he still got soccer, so he’ll be fine.
In the future, Suwa gives Naho the bouquet he originally bought for Kakeru, saying that it is what Kakeru wants. He may not be able to say it to her before, but Kakeru loved her.
On October 1, Kakeru will be the fastest runner in the class and he will be assigned as anchor for the relay in the upcoming sports festival. But on that day, he will twist his ankle and will blame himself for losing the game. And so, Suwa and Naho tries to convince him not to join but he doesn’t budge. Asuza, Takako and Hagita notice them secretly talking and they are forced to tell them the truth.
The others find it hard to believe their story but nevertheless, they have faith in their friends. And since they failed to convince Kakeru to bail out of the competition, they end up running the relay with him instead. The fateful day arrives and Kakeru is obviously not himself. When they asked him about his Mom, he lies that she won’t come and will be at work the whole day.
Naho and Kakeru are tasked to carry a heavy mat. Kakeru complains that it’s too heavy for them and suggests that they put it down. But before they can, Suwa and the rest of the gang joins in to help and carry the load. Hagita scolds Kakeru for not telling them he injured his foot. Yah, he noticed Kakeru massaging his foot earlier. Suwa then tells him not to keep all his troubles to himself.
Kakeru bares all and tells them his Mom died. He feels guilty for laughing and enjoying life, knowing that Mom is gone and watching him somewhere. Asuza assures that if his Mom is really looking at him now, she’ll surely want to see him smiling. Suwa adds that if it gets too heavy, they are there to help and he doesn’t have to carry the burden alone. Kakeru then slowly lets go of the mat, and symbolically, to his life burdens as well.
The relay starts. Along with the baton, a message is also being passed and that is: “We’ll always be together, even after 10 years, together with everyone”. Kakeru trips but seeing his pals anxiously waiting for him in the finish line, he gets up and finish the race! Much more than the achievement they had that day, Naho is glad that the future will change immensely.
Naho notices the scratch on Kakeru’s arm, so she puts bandage on it. Suddenly, Kakeru pulls her close and gives her a kiss on the cheeks, saying that he already got his reward. Kyaah!
Kakeru’s death is looming and on Dec 21, the letter says she will have a huge fight with him. To avoid the incident, she must never quarrel with him.
Dec 21 comes and Naho notices that something’s bothering Kakeru. She asks him about it and he tells her that his Grandma is sick and he worries that if she dies, he’ll be left alone. Naho cheers him up, assuring that she’ll be fine. But her words only flares him up. He did thought that Mom was fine but she died anyways. She tries calling him but he never answers.
On Dec 25, they met at the lockers area. They haven’t made up yet but he greeted her like always. He casually tells her that it’s cold and she agrees. That was the last talk they had.
Gawd, this is one of the saddest scene in the future. After visiting Kakeru (or rather Kakeru’s Grandma) and learning the truth, the gang goes home. They can’t hold it anymore. They cry for Kakeru and for the life he may have had. At home, Naho reads her diary and cries even more. Suwa comforts her with a hug. He then suggests that they write a letter for their past selves.
We return to the past, Naho bumps into Kakeru in the lobby. Naho isn’t going to leave things as they are and forces him to have a talk with her. She says sorry for being insensitive and he responds the same. He tells her it wasn’t his intention to say those words, it’s just that he remembers his Mom.
He says his goodbyes but she stops him by confessing that she loves him and that she wants to be by his side. But he sadly replies that he’ll only hurt her if she stays and she’ll end up hating him in the process. However, she remains undeterred by his words, even declaring that she will never hate him as long as he tells her everything. And he did.
Kakeru: It hurts. A reason to live, I lost it. When I’m alone, I end up throwing everyone out… Naho and everyone. I can’t forgive myself. At this rate I’m no good. I want to become strong. I want to be happy.
Naho: You can…be happy.
She hugs him tight. All the while, their friends are happily looking from afar.
Now we get answers as to why the mysterious letters reached Naho and Suwa. After heartily writing the letters, they bury it, along with the hope that there is a parallel world and they will be able to save Kakeru.
The day of Kakeru’s death arrive and hoping that they could save him, Suwa texted him to go to the park together with everyone. But unfortunately, that night Kakeru goes to Mom’s room and sees her phone lying around. He reads her last text and notices that there’s an unsent video message for him.
In the video, Mom says sorry for what she did and tells him the truth. When he was young, his father used to beat him up so she filed a divorce. She noticed he had trouble making friends, so she decided to move to Matsumoto and made him promise not to join any clubs to shield him from being hurt again. She did all those for his sake.
Mom: In the end, the one who hurt you the most was me. Kakeru, I want you to be happy. I pray that from the bottom of my heart. I’m sorry for being in the way. Forgive Mom okay?
The gang waits for Kakeru in the park but he’s a no-show. They try calling him but can’t get through. They go to his house but Grandma tells them he already went out. By this time, they are already panicking.
Kakeru is actually riding on his bike, mulling things over. He thinks of Mom and remembers the good times with his friends. Unfortunately, he doesn’t notice the approaching truck until it’s too late. Kakeru jumps off the bike, barely escaping the crash.
The gang sees the accident and they worriedly runs towards him. Kakeru emotionally shares that he wanted to say sorry to Mom, but at the last minute, he got scared that his memories with them will disappear. His pals are undeniably thankful he’s alive and he chooses to live. Each says their I love you’s and they end the emotional scene with a group hug.
Next, we see the gang sans Kakeru on a hill, looking at the beautiful orange sunset. On a parallel world, their younger versions are also looking at the same sunset. But this time, they have Kakeru with them. In voice-over, Naho: To me in the future, the me 10 years from now, thank you. Thank you for helping us save Kakeru. This very moment, with our lives connected to each other, for teaching and guiding me, thank you.
Credits to Furritsubs of Furritsubs Sanctuary for the subs. 🙂