by Nick Creamer,
How would you rate episode 10 of
Community score: 3.9
The relay race finally arrived in Orange's tenth episode. I was worried about this relay, frankly; not so much because I was concerned about if our heroes would win, but more because I doubted the show's ability to visually convey a race in the first place. Fortunately, my fears ended up being largely unfounded. Orange's relay race wasn't a visual highlight or anything, but it was a satisfying culmination of all the work Kakeru's friends have done to bring him to a happier place.
The episode opened with a series of other athletic events throughout the day, as the members of Naho's group all wondered in their own ways about Kakeru's feelings. This sequence served as another nice showcase of Orange's unique editing sensibilities. Contrasting the disjointed thoughts of Naho and her friends against rapid snippets of various other festival activities emphasized the preoccupation of the main cast; by framing these consistent thoughts against rapidly shifting visual events, the show nicely expressed the sensation of being so wrapped up in one thought that the day just passes you by.
Ultimately, Naho and her friends resolved their concerns about Kakeru in the most direct and healthy way: actually asking him how he was feeling. Confronting Naho and Kakeru as the two of them carried supplies around the school, Suwa directly addressed Kakeru's sprained ankle and asked him if there was anything else keeping him from smiling. This scene served as a reasonable culmination of the characters pitching in to help Kakeru with his emotional burden, but at this point, it's starting to feel like the show doesn't really have anything left to say. Orange has always been a slow-moving story, but retreading conversations we've already had with metaphors as on-the-nose as “that looks heavy Kakeru, let me carry it for you” isn't really the height of subtle dramatic storytelling. Shows like this only justify their pacing if slow scenes actually result in us learning more about the characters; when it all feels like a retread, “meditative” quickly shifts into “dull.”
The race itself fared reasonably better. While Kakeru and Naho's chemistry is largely limited to the two of them stammering every time they talk to each other, there were a bunch of cute moments between Hagita and Azusa as the preparations began. And the actual race was perfectly well composed, limited animation aside. This was actually one of the scenes where Orange's flailing production didn't hurt too much - the conflict here was far more based in emotional punchlines than athletic prowess, and the show's consistently sharp direction was able to convey the sensation of each of Kakeru's friends giving him their own push forward.
In the end, this was a perfectly reasonable episode of Orange that nonetheless left me feeling a little underwhelmed. It's not really this episode's fault, but the show overall has reached the point where even the intimate character moments are starting to feel repetitive and somewhat emotionally inert. Orange's material is heavy, but that doesn't make it inherently profound - seeing the show deal in such heavy-handed metaphors as a physical weight literally representing Kakeru's emotional burden verged on eyeroll material. The show has had to drag its heels to fill a full season, but hopefully the last few episodes can finish it with some grace.
Orange is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Nick writes about anime, storytelling, and the meaning of life at Wrong Every Time.
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