Orange and Learning Life Lessons

by BanjoTheBear

Orange / Episode 1 / The group having fun together

A letter from me to you

Like many people, I have ideals. Tenets that I uphold and morals that I adhere to. One of my biggest is summed up as a singular phrase: no regrets.

I do my best to live a life that I can be proud of. Where I can get up, think about yesterday, and say to myself, “That was a good day; I have no regrets.” Often times, I will step back from what I am currently doing and make sure that it’s something worthwhile. Something that I won’t worry about later.

That’s not to say I don’t have regrets. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to avoid them. I regret staying up too late despite having work early in the morning. I regret not keeping my hobby of reading books going strong. I regret not visiting with my grandmother more as she lay lonely in hospice.

I do regret, I have regretted, a lot in my life. I have made small mistakes that have kept me up at night, and I have made royal screw-ups that impacted the very paths I would eventually walk.

However, as Orange claims — and as I reinforce — having regrets is not the end.

Orange: Regrets and Inspiration

To refresh your memory, Orange centers on a group of high-school teenagers who have one goal: protect their friend Kakeru. The anime mixes together a helping of romantic subplot, a side of drama, and a dash of sci-fi magic to tell the tale of a boy whose struggles go unheard and the friends that ultimately save him from himself.

Orange / Episode 2 / Naho talking with Kakeru

Its major throughput is my own mantra: no regrets. Naho knows what becomes of Kakeru, so she tries her hardest to be there for him. In doing so, she potentially prevents her future self from living with the regrets she has carried for years and years.

This anime is far from perfect. It devolves into a visual nightmare, its plot device is more of a plot convenience (with extra farcical explanation), and some of its events are more frustrating than understandable. If I look at it with a critical eye (which will happen in my next piece), the anime has undeniable problems. Or perhaps more relevantly, it has its own set of regrets.

Thankfully, we do not watch anime with only critique in mind. We also watch anime because it is a medium that we can personally connect with. Find joy in through the beauty it contains.

While it’s hard to do, looking beyond the rough surface of Orange reveals a story with a ton of heart. As Naho, Suwa, and the others learn of Kakeru’s difficulties, and as they do what they can to support him, the anime touches on a variety of topics. Sacrifice, trust, longing, hardship, fear.

The relationships Kakeru shares with the others as well as those they share with each other allow the anime to explore these ideas in a personable, relatable fashion. And, most important of all, its theme on no regrets rings true, carrying the cast forward as they do what they can to help their dearest friend.

Orange / Episode 7 / Suwa hugging Kakeru

After finishing Orange, I knew I had to write something. Although, I wasn’t exactly sure what. I usually go with an overly lengthy, educational essay about a particular cinematic or literary technique. But, this time, I wanted to do something different.

To me, Orange advocates three life lessons that I champion and I feel are essential for anyone and everyone to follow. They may be obvious, and they are nowhere complex. But they make living a life of no regrets a helluva lot easier.

My Three Life Lessons

Really try to listen.

Take it from someone who, as a kid, got way too many disciplinary slips and summons to the principal’s office for talking constantly and out of turn. Listening goes a lot farther than speaking because the former demonstrates interest. It proves that you are not just there to say what you want but rather are willing to hear what the other party has to say.

But you cannot only listen with your ears. Like Naho, you have to “listen” with your eyes. With your mind. And with your heart. Because some people, like Kakeru, are not forming words. Instead, they are “speaking” with their expressions, actions, and interests. If you can learn to listen to others, really listen to them, you’ll find yourself enjoying life that much more — and perhaps helping somebody else in the process.

Think of the ones who love you.

Maybe you have a father who encourages you in your endeavors. Maybe you have siblings who tease you and you quarrel with but who always have your back regardless. Maybe you have a kind professor, a close life partner, a fun workmate, a reliable next-door neighbor, or a supportive group of friends. Whoever it may be, know that they love you.

Orange / Episode 8 / Hagiga, Azu, Takako, and Suwa supporting and loving Naho

How they do so, though, is the tricky part, for love comes in all shapes and sizes. Kakeru’s mother tried to do what was best for him even if it made her look insincere. And Suwa’s love for Kakeru is a big, gluttonous bear hug. No matter how bad it gets. No matter what others may say. People out there care about you. More than you may ever realize. So start thinking about them — because they are already thinking of you.

Be happy.

So long as it is within reason and it harms neither you nor others, pursue happiness. A healthy relationship, a passionate hobby. As my former English professor and good friend says, you have to “scratch your itch” while you can. We only have this one life, this one chance to do what we want with the time we have. Thus, try to find happiness in whatever form it takes.

For Kakeru, he found happiness in the soccer club, winning the school competition, and in Naho’s daily homemade lunches. However, the time he spends with his five best friends is what makes him the most happy, and his happiness is their happiness. Thankfully, you can be just as happy. All you need is a positive mindset, willingness to take risks, and an itch in need of scratching. Don’t worry — happiness is always within reach.

Final Thoughts

There’s no real point to this essay. No deep analysis or anything else more “professional” like I normally do. Orange simply inspired me to give you some of my own personal life lessons that I try to stick by.

I’m not as old as my old man, so I can’t call it wisdom. But I’m not a youngling either, so I wouldn’t say I am running my mouth off. It’s simply advice. Advice I hope you, the reader, take to heart. To use to better yourself and the life you lead.

Orange / Episode 6 / Naho and Kakeru holding hands

For things will go wrong, and you’ll think that you probably could have done something differently. A bad grade on a test, losing your job, the death of a close family member. In the moment, it’s going to feel as if the whole world is against you, and that nothing you do or could have done will change that. We all have moments like this; trust me.

Yet we grow from these experiences. We study more. We make new goals for ourselves in the workplace. We goof around with our family before we see them again. Yes, we will never receive letters from our future selves to tell us what to do (and not to do). But the more we make an effort to listen to others. To think about those we love. To obtain happiness. I know that you will make the right choices.

And, eventually, you’ll get to that wonderful place. A content, happy life where you have a smile on your face and peace of mind, knowing that you can finally say it too.

“Today was a good day; I have no regrets.”