Picture credits to: http://wiki.d-addicts.com/File:OD8.jpg
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.