Orange Days: A Special Review for A Show That’s Forever Golden.

Orange Days (2004)
Picture credits to:

So it suddenly hit me that I need to write this. I need to document and review – how and why didn’t I before this? – the awesomeness that is Orange Days, my all-time favorite drama, bar none. I have watched this probably almost 6-8 times by now, which is a record feat for someone like me who typically doesn’t re-watch shows (I am always wanting, but rarely do I actually execute said desire). In fact, to be completely honest, I revisit this show every once or two years once a certain kind of poignancy or loneliness hits because this show? It not only pushes all the right buttons for me, but it’s also one that as I grow older and gain more wisdom and the like, my lenses as I watch it continue to change; I’d notice or feel differently about it now compared to say, two years ago.

Still, one thing is certain: mad love, mad props for such an awesome show that it is.

What is Orange Days all about? To put it simply: it’s a coming-of-age story about 5 individuals, their separate friendships with one another and as the Orange Society. More than that, it’s a love story between 2 souls set in a campus setting.

Why is it so awesome? I can name a few obvious reasons right off the bat: the OST – Mr. Children‘s “SIGN”, only the greatest if not one of the greatest Jdrama OST of all time; the writing – written by famed scriptwriter Kitagawa Eriko whose credentials include Long Vacation and Beautiful Life; the ensemble of cast – Tsumabuki Satoshi and Shibasaki Kou in probably the best I’ve seen them, Narimiya Hiroki and Eita who are always awesome in their own merits and Shiraishi Miho whom prior to this show I was unfamiliar but instantly took a liking to and finally, the very essence of the show: honest, moving and relatable.

At the surface of it, it tells the tribulation of a hearing-impaired girl, Hagio Sae played by the wonderful Shibasaki Kou; she was once a music prodigy before the disease took over. Now she’s just a 21 year-old college girl who’s much too prideful given her previous credentials and comes off too sharp because that’s her armor. On the other hand, the hero is Yuuki Kai played by Tsumabuki Satoshi, a 22-year old university senior on the brink of graduating and very much trying to decide the Where To Next path. I loved the opening scene where he finds himself standing between two groups: the salaryman on the phone and the college kids trying to decide their next party hub. I loved that when they all met as the series portrayed, everyone’s in this limbo of what happens after college? as they slowly face the impending reality of adulthood. In this most trying times, the best thing happened: they found each other.

And so begins a love story of epic proportions – or rather two, both distinct and wonderful – and a friendship group that tugs at my heartstrings in all the right ways. Sometimes one of them will speak in voiceover and I just love the narrations; they’re always so resonating and permeating. “She tugs at the edges of my heart,” he once voiced, “and never quite let go.”

Or at the brink of what seemed like the calm after the storm, Akane in voiceover, questions – a question she’d written in her letter to Shohei, who decided to leave for a photography project in Tibet to find and establish himself professionally, “Shohei, why did you leave at such an important time?”

My favorite, among so many other scenes of course, is this particular one: the one where they’re discussing their relationship and Sae claims that she’ll just be another girl Kai dated during his college years such that when he looks back, he’ll be telling the story of them and perhaps saying, “When I was 22, there was this girl I used to date, she was deaf.” Angrily, he responded and retorted that then he’ll be retelling this story over and over, “How at 22 I met this girl and fell in love with her, like a broken player on infinite loop.”

I love Orange Days so much because here’s a story that’s perfect to me in every sense – equal weights in the love story, the backstory, the issues brought up, discussed and executed and finally, the apt and absolutely wonderful ending. I can watch this over and over without ever feeling bored or not able to relate; watching it right now where I am finally closest to them in age and situation especially, I can’t even describe how melancholic it makes me feel.

I do believe that there is a golden period, a golden experience in every person’s journey of youth and sometimes, sometimes – if you’re lucky, you find yourself surrounded by friends for the ages; the sort that regardless the changes that take place 5, 10, 50 years down the road – you can depend on these few people who knew you way back when. I know they’re fictional, but funnily I secretly think I’ve found comfort of this very fact via the friendship in this show.

Orange Days, you’re purely awesome. Thank you for having been made and for forever resonating; an absolute keeper, forever golden and on infinite loop. I’ve nothing more to add except: watch it. Personally recommended.

Final verdict: 10/10.


17 thoughts on “Orange Days: A Special Review for A Show That’s Forever Golden.

  1. Just finished watching this for the first time yesterday. Finished it in 3 days. That’s a record for me and I couldn’t agree with you more, I’m already feeling like watching it again. Everything about this series was just so real, it was perfect, I can’t describe it any other way. Just perfect. Your review did justice to that :) Cheers, just had to describe this awesomeness to someone else.

    1. Orange Days is epic-proportions AWESOME. I’m glad this review brought me to another who thinks highly of the show – thanks so much for your comment! :)

      1. No problem :) I’m glad I found your blog, I had a look at the Jdrama collection you’ve got going and it’s really good, I’ll choose my next Jdrama from there. Orange Days was my first Jdrama so the standard’s set pretty high at the moment :)

        1. David, that’s a REALLY high standard! Aw man, I’m not sure if any can top that where coming-of-age dramas are concerned, at least. Yay to checking out the collection, hope you’ll pick up something good next. If you tell me your genre interests (mystery, human drama, rom-com etc) I can suggest a few :) (but the oldies cos I’m largely out of loop with the current crop of Jdramas!)

          1. Hmm let’s see, I’d still love to watch another coming-of-age drama even though orange days will probably outshine it. Anything else that’s slice of life or human drama would be good too. Technically orange days is an oldie right so I’m sure any oldie suggestions would still be awesome! Thank you in advance! :)

            1. Coming-of-age oldies:
              1) Tentai Kansoku/Searchin’ For A Polestar – absolute must-see! As I’d mentioned in my collection, this one’s kinda like The After where Orange Days ended. Incredibly thoughtful, moving and resonating.
              2) Last Friends – the darker version of a friendship with heavier topics dealt with, but there’s something poignant and genuine which I appreciated.
              3) PRIDE – not so much coming-of-age, but it has that breezy love story + friendship + bromance going on (before bromance became a fad!); this one’s my personal keeper.
              4) Nobuta wo Produce – high school setting if that’s your thing, plus somewhat unconventional and quirky characters, but amazingly everything WORKED. This one gave me the warm fuzzies for tackling that high school period/true friends combo so winningly.
              5) Honey & Clover – poignant, but not outstanding. Putting it in the list still though, cos there were some scenes which were noteworthy.
              6) Antique – again, not so much coming-of-age but friendship-group wise, absolutely gold, plus funny too boot!

              That’s my list for ya! First two’s highly recommended, all else to your preference :)

              1. Thanks so much, they all sound just like what I had in mind! I looked up Searchin For My Polestar and I think I’ll start from there. I’ll let you know how I go once I get into it! :)

  2. I love that this is your top pick because this was the drama that started everything for me with watching jdramas, kdramas and even twdrama…. This was the drama who made me fall in love with Asian tv dramas :) so I completely agree with you 100% :)

    1. Hey! No, thank YOU really, for your two lovely comments :) What great coincidence it is that Orange Days is your First Drama Ever (mine was Beautiful Life) – it has such a soft spot in my heart, until now, as made known here. This show is just gold, period haha.

  3. Waaaaaa! I just finished this. *sobs* Wait, it wasn’t supposed to be a tear jerker? My heart burst and I broke down when she yelled out “Kai” in the last episode. I’m not sure I really have any words for this drama right now. I might have to take your suggestion and revisit it often. All I know is that upon first watch, I loved this so much it hurts. Now I’m listening to the OST on repeat.

    1. I’m so happy you gave this a go!!! REJOICE.

      It is soooo worth plenty revisits. Each time I learn something new, even if I can practically recite certain dialogues mentally or know exactly what’s happening. The OST is also cracktastic – its been yearsss but that song remains a close favorite of mine. Don’t mind the tears, they’re simply part and parcel in the Orange Days-watching experience :)

  4. A wonderful series about fighting fear and moving forward. Sae is tempermental. But first hand, I can tell you of the passion a classical musician must possess to get to that kind of performance level. To have this lifetime passion so arbitrarily and senselessly taken away . . . . Yes, there would be anger, lots of it. Fear of inadequacy. Hating to be pitied even when you know that you will have to rely on others in ways most people won’t. Loved the f_ck you and the finger. And yes, squeaking out his name when faced with the possibility of your life going the wrong way and doing nothing about it . . . . Tremendously moving. No one has yet mentioned the exquisite string melody that opens the movie and reappears countless times. Strings playing up in the stratosphere with an echo chamber effect is very reminiscent of the openings of Acts I and IV of Verdi’s La Traviata. Just beautiful and very poignant. A very moving series.

  5. Don’t be scared, and don’t be put off by this but I as an old man loved Orange Days, and have already started to watch it again after finishing watching it for the first time yesterday!
    I can’t figure out what went on with Keito regarding the lipstick kiss in the closing credits though! Thanks for the wonderful review, I can see how you could watch it over and over again, I personally have seen Miyazaki’s from up on poppy hill 17 times!

  6. I don’t know why I never watched this again after they first time in 2005 , but I never forgot how good it was , aside from Shibasaki’s hideous hair.

    Watching it again now, 12 years later ….The whole drama is new for me again . Looking forward to seeing it again as though I never have.

    The cast is the best thing….All this pure talent so young back then… Shiraishi Miho…Ueno Juri…. Tsumabuki Satoshi…the perennially underused Eita…Nariyama Hiroki….even Yu Yamada…then again, all of these actors are underused, especially Shiraishi.

    Orange Days is a modern classic.

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