Orange: Volume 1

9781626923027_manga-orange-1-primary.jpgNaho Takamiya has a secret. She has received a letter from herself, ten years in the future. Naho’s future self implores her to value and support her new friend, Kakeru Naruse. Naho of the future reveals a number of regrets and offers suggestions to improve how certain situations pan out. In doing so, Naho believes she will be able to save Kakeru’s life.

Orange: Volume 1 is a realistic fiction manga with a sci-fi twist, written by Ichigo Takano. It follows the life of Naho Takamiya and her friends as they go through their eleventh grade year of highschool. Scenes cut between future and present Naho and her friends.

Naho is a lovable and friendly character. She is incredibly empathetic, always putting her friends and family first and working hard to contribute to her classroom culture. Naho’s friends, Hiroto, Takako, Saku, Rio, and Azusa are fun, energetic, and believable as a group of friends who have grown up together.

Naho often struggles with taking risks and her fear of embarrassment. A firm belief that doing so will help her friend helps her to overcome these fears. The storyline of friends working to prevent the suicide of Kakeru is relevant to the lives of todays’ teens, as suicide is the cause of about 20% of deaths in teens ages 15 – 19. Even in Ontario, a huge percentage of teens are diagnosed with mental illness. Despite these heavy topics being the backdrop, Takano keeps the story and characters bright and uplifting. The story is a balanced blend of heartbreaking and sweet.

Orange is appropriate for ages 12 – 17, though older readers will also enjoy the story and characters. Manga and graphic novels are quick, popular reads with teens and young adults. Orange has also been made into a beautifully animated anime series.

5-flashlight-rating

I give Orange: Volume 1 5 flashlights. Despite not personally being a manga reader, I fell in love with the characters and their mission. The artwork and dialogue is gentle and subtle, the perfect reflection of Naho’s character.

Teens who enjoy Orange: Volume 1 might also enjoy A Silent Voice, by Yoshitoki Oima. The manga focuses on another topic that remains close to the heart of teens: bullying. Shoya, the main character, is a bored student who tries to bring excitement to his life. When a new girl, Shoko, is transferred to his school, she becomes a natural target due to her hearing aids. A Silent Voice loudly crashes through the story, where Orange is slower paced and gentle. Both stories, however, are simultaneously tragic and heartwarming. A Silent Voice is a seven volume series and was made into an anime movie, released in September 2016.

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