Shoujo / Seinen – Drama, romance, slice-of-life, supernatural, tragedy
1 Volume (complete)
Hiroto has always liked Naho, and he couldn’t help but be envious as she starts to fall for Kakeru, a transfer student. But Hiroto knows Kakeru is a good guy who is always thinking about Naho. Torn between friendship and love, what kind of future awaits him?
First, orange -future- is both a sequel and a spin-off of orange. It’s billed as the sixth volume in Japan (and you can see it’s also labeled as such inside the English version), but because it was released after the main story had finished, it’s also considered its own volume. (Remember that Seven Seas released orange in two omnibuses, and I guess orange 3 didn’t seem right.) If you haven’t read orange, be aware there are major spoilers in this review. If you are reading this, I am assuming you have read or seen orange. Again, major spoilers.
So orange -future- is divided into two Hiroto-centered parts. First is what is essentially an epilogue to the main story set in the present. This section is the titular orange -future- chapter and is almost a third of the volume. After that is orange -Suwa Hiroto-, a three chapter miniseries about Future Hiroto and Naho.
Also, just for clarity’s sake, Future Hiroto = the one 10 years later, Hiroto = high school student.
Now, enough background! On to the actual review.
We often hear about giving up everything for love, but would you even give up your own love?
That’s the decision Hiroto faced in orange and again faces here. Like Naho and the rest of their friends, he received a letter warning about Kakeru’s upcoming suicide. But Future Hiroto included a major detail Future Naho’s didn’t: they were married and had a child. If you were wondering why, this chapter explains the reason.
As elaborated in -Suwa Hiroto-, Future Hiroto in high school was understandably jealous that Kakeru and Naho were drawn to each other. He had liked Naho for a long time after all. But Future Hiroto likes Kakeru as a person, and they can’t hide their crushes on Naho from each other. The two friends often end up discussing what they’d do if they were dating Naho. Between the original series and this volume, it’s clear that this isn’t a normal love triangle found in most romance manga; they both wish to be with the girl, but they also believe she would be happier with their rival.
After Kakeru’s death, the other five start drifting apart, and it’s a couple of years before Future Hiroto bumps into Future Naho again. He wanted to forget and had been running away, but once they start crossing paths again, he starts finding excuses to hang out with her.
Well, not so much excuses as much as Kakeru’s ideas. Ideas Kakeru revealed to Future Hiroto in their conversations over their ideal scenarios with Naho. Future Hiroto waffles as he wants a) the girl he’s always loved to be happy, b) to honor Kakeru, and c) for his own feelings to be reciprocated. He calls himself a scumbag several times, feeling like he’s taking advantage of Naho through Kakeru’s death. Is it a testament to Kakeru’s memory that Hiroto remembers all their discussions and actually fulfills them, or is he a shadow copying the one Naho seemed destined to be with? How much of his current happiness is built upon guilt?
It’s this turmoil that causes Future Hiroto to write his letter asking his past self to make a huge sacrifice. Both parts of the volume emphasize that he hardly considers himself a nice guy. Future Hiroto’s life is already set, so he won’t lose his wife and child; it’s his past self that would give up his future happiness. Ostensibly, Hiroto could have still tried to win Naho’s heart and fought on equal terms with the living Kakeru. But orange -future- (the chapter) gives readers a deeper understanding of why Hiroto took his future self’s words to heart. Hiroto was already popular in the original orange, and his fanbase is only going to grow bigger and more passionate after this spin-off/sequel.
The manga does a very good job of covering both Hirotos’ conflict between friendship, love, and regret. Future Naho, on the other hand, remains a bit of an enigma. In orange, it was never really clear if she was more or less settling for Hiroto or if she truly fell in love with him during those 10 years. Although Future Naho explains directly to Hiroto why she wants to be with him, I still feel like she’s holding the missing piece of the puzzle in the story. It’s possible Future Hiroto is a somewhat unreliable narrator and we are seeing his wife’s muted expressions through his jaded, self-defeatist eyes during their courtship. Future Naho starts moving forward, certainly, but it doesn’t help that Future Hiroto kind of skips a step or two in their relationship. The vagueness surrounding her feelings remains a significant flaw in the orange universe.
As you might have gleamed, their other friends play a minor role in the story. Takako, Azusa, and Saku are supporting characters in the truest sense: they do not play huge parts, but they support Hiroto in both timelines here as he decides how to handle his relationship with Naho. In other words, the best type of supporting characters. I must add it’s also amazing to have a manga featuring three guys and three girls and NOT have everyone just pair up to have perfect happily-ever-afters. Sometimes, romance just isn’t in the picture, but that’s what friends are for.
In fact, that’s what makes this entire volume such a pleasure: it’s like visiting an old friend. The manga answers a few questions left open by orange‘s ending, and that is certainly a plus. But orange -future- feels like a natural part of the story, and Takano writes in her notes that this includes her original envisioned ending. Orange‘s ending was on the sudden side, but now readers get the perfect companion to it. It’s like taking a finished painting and adding more color and depth to it. The sorrow and the light comedic ribbing still shine as much as they did in orange.
I imagine Takano wanted -Suwa Hiroto- to go after -future- because that’s how she wrote it. My first thought after finishing, though, was that -future- should be read after. Other people may feel differently, and I wonder if I’ll feel the same way when I reread it in the future. (Heh.) As we all know, side stories hardly are placed before the final chapter, plus I can see how Hiroto’s description of his future self’s actions could be taken as truth by readers. It’s only after -Suwa Hiroto- that know he was questioning himself and his actions. On the other hand, -future- has more of a since of finality. It bridges the two timelines beautifully.
The art is unchanged from orange, so I don’t have much to add on that front. Expect a lot of misty eyes. Oh, and Future Naho is a little hard to understand when she spends so much time looking either sad or like an all-knowing mother. Otherwise, I like how there’s a balance between Hiroto’s narration and memories. It flowed so smoothly.
The same translator who worked on orange also worked on this volume, so it’s nice the adaptation remained consistent. Otherwise, I’m not going to go into this since it’s short. There’s no translation notes or honorifics guide. Future Naho also calls Hiroto “Papa” in the story, but it’s common for parents to address each other that way in Japan.
Orange was a great manga. Hiroto was a great character. Combine these two and you get the great orange -future-. Any orange fan should be adding this to their collection immediately. Run out and hand over the green for some orange -future-.
Seven Seas released the main orange series. They are also publishing Takano’s Dreamin’ Sun. Crunchyroll released ReCollection before it went on hiatus. Funimation released the anime, which is also streaming on Crunchyroll.