Orange Review

orange2b1Story:
Naho lives a pretty standard existence. She’s the incarnation of shyness itself, is blessed with a very supportive group of friends and together they enjoy their high school years to the fullest. One day, Naho receives a strange letter in the mail. It’s supposedly written by her future self and instructs her to save the life of a boy who enters her school the very next day.

Violence:
A few scrapes and such, but nothing serious. However, one character commits suicide off screen, another attempts it more than once and the topic of death comes up a lot.

Language:
Some sh-ts and a few instances of the b-word being used.

Nudity:
We’re in the clear here besides some shirtless scenes from the guys.

Theology/mythology:
Going to a shine on New Years is the only thing to put here.

Personal impression:
This series is pretty clean, yet I’ve decided to rate it for young adults simply due to the heavy themes within. Not going to lie, this show was really hard to get into and, once I did, I had more than a few moments where I wasn’t sure how I felt about the show overall. I still don’t.
What this show seemed to be doing at first was set up a fantasy world, but have the characters act as if the strange and totally impossible things were normal, aka magical realism, in a sense. It rubbed me the wrong way, as did the numerous times Naho’s shy behavior was used to an extreme for drama and/or she was blamed for other characters’ actions. However, as the show progressed, it started to become clear that this series was trying to tackle another issue all together.
Depression.
A weighty issue that few who don’t experience it personally can understand, depression is a mental illness that can be deadly. Seeing a counselor and possibly taking medication can be the difference between life and death for some. And the case of dealing with the death of a loved one who committed suicide, well, that’s even more complicated.
Once I understood what the show was actually trying to portray, the viewpoints of the characters began to make far more sense.
Even so, addressing depression is a hard path indeed. Where support is a requirement for those suffering from depression, it’s also vital that those around know that there’s no magic combination that can cure or “save” someone permanently from depression, and thus it is no one else’s “fault” that the person who is depressed has, ya know, depression.
As someone who has anxiety, I’m happy to see mental illness being tackled. At the same time, I know for a fact how slippery the slope is. See, my main issue with this show, and what still puts me a hint off, is this series’ constant trend of characters blaming themselves and cross examining themselves on every little, tiny issue, to try to keep Kakeru from committing suicide. Because the reality is, everything around someone can be fine. Everything can be perfect, even. And someone might still be drawn dangerously to suicide because depression is a mental illness and not always triggered or sustained by outside forces (sometimes, but not always).
On the other hand, I understand why his friends feel like it’s their job to do what they can. They love him and want to help. That’s good. But I still believe you should be careful when discussing what to do to help those with depression because there’s really only so much you can do. Unfortunately, it’s a demon only the depressed party can personally fight head on. All those on the outside can do is constantly offer support and encouragement. You can’t take that burden away,  no matter how much you love them. If someone with depression closes off, refuses to talk to you and even verbally abuses you, it is not your job/duty to force help upon them. You don’t have to abandon them or anything, but you also shouldn’t blame yourself for their behavior.
See how much of a slippery slope this is? The issue is a complex one and while I appreciate the show for addressing it and I do think it captures depression very well, I also feel some wrong conclusions can be drawn from it.
Overall, this is not a bad show. Not at all. It’s actually very good, considering the monster of a topic it took on. But if you watch it thinking about how someone you know behaves exactly like Kakeru, you need more than just friendship. You might need to do some extra research on depression and possibly seek the help of a good counselor. Depression is serious and can be life threatening.

Personal rating: Young adult

Episodes: 13
Languages: Sub
Official rating: TV14
Genres: Drama, slice of life, fantasy
Company: Toho
Official streaming: Crunchyroll

Himouto! Umaru-chan Review

Story:
Umaru is the ever popular, much envied, “perfect” girl at school. At home, however, she’s a lazy, self-absorbed gamer otaku with a soda addiction. Her older brother really has his work cut out for him….

Violence:
There’s a lot of slapstick stuff flung around, which includes bloody noses and bruises, but nothing is taken seriously and the “injuries” are gone in the very next scene.

Language:
Besides some sh-ts and such, nothing too bad, actually.

Nudity:
This section is actually pretty clean. There’s one girl that has large breasts, but it’s not capitalized on too much, thankfully. Also, in one episode Umaru jokes about sticking some leeks in her brother’s butt to cure him from a fever. But I honestly don’t feel like it came off as sexual, nor was it meant to. I have a feeling it’s some weird “home remedy” joke over there. Not sure. In any case, it doesn’t last long, but just throwin’ it out there.

Theology/mythology:
Besides the usual going to the shine at New Years, there’s nothing to say here.

Personal impression:
This is one of those shows where I think it’s ok, but nothing at all to write home about. In fact, it’s kinda boring overall. The comedy elements are lukewarm as are the “endearing” scenes. Also, Umaru is supposedly portrayed as cute, but to me she just came off as horribly spoiled to the point of being completely obnoxious. I just felt bad for her brother (but also a hint mad at him for always enabling her).
If this show has any good points, it’d be in the fact that there’s no sick romance going on between siblings, an element I am always weary of in anime these days. Thankfully that was never an issue. However, considering how there’s no character development in this show, it’s largely pointless.
If you like slice-of-life shows, this will be a nice watch. It has some comedy, but it pretty much sticks to a chill feel overall. However, this isn’t a groundbreaking series. It’s quite plain, so don’t expect much.

Personal rating: Young adult

Episodes: 12
Languages: sub
Official rating: TV14
Genres: Comedy, slice of life
Company: Toho
Official streaming: Crunchyroll

Blue Spring Ride Review

bluespringrideStory:
Tanaka Kou disappeared from Futaba’s life in middle school, just as it seemed she might begin to have a deeper relationship with her crush. After being stood up, Futaba enters high school committed to not being girlish to avoid bullying and possibly being hurt by boys again. Until Kou reappears in her life. At her school. And calls out her fake life and shallow “friendships.” So much for keeping a low profile.

Violence:
The violence in this show is pretty non-existent as it’s a slice of life. So besides a character scraping a knee, nothing here to fear.

Language:
Some average stuff here, like d-mns and sh-ts. A few b-words, but only once or twice. Most of this show is free of coarse language.

Nudity:
Another area you need not fear. A few implying jokes and one character brings up how girls shouldn’t walk around alone at night. But no nudity is shown and the above points are very light.

Theology/mythology:
Aside from the tradition of having a picture and memorial cabinet dedicated to passed away family members, there’s not much to put here. Like many Japanese traditions, it’s not explained, just seen for a few seconds.

Personal impression:
Aside from the last two episodes feeling a tad rushed, this was a pretty amazing show. I’m not overly fond of shoujo, but I did enjoy this due to it having a common bond with another solid title: Kimi No Todoke. Both shows focus far more on the main characters forming healthy relationships with others first, before diving into romance. That said, due to one of the main characters having so much emotional baggage, there was even less romance in this title. I have to say I was indeed impressed with how they handled most of Kou’s issues, which are heavy topics anime usually shies away from (honestly, how many titles handle divorce? Most just kill parents off). Although the last two episodes were rushed, it kept focus on where it was most needed, instead of tumbling off into half-hearted romantic drivel and ending up in the Confusion Blender (*cough*OneWeekFriends*cough*).
The art and music are all pretty average for today’s standards. Nothing really strands out much, but it’s not bad either. Just decent. Thankfully the characterization makes up for that a bit.
So while this isn’t the most action-packed pick, nor the most deep, Blue Spring Ride is a solid drama that has heart. A healthy one too.

Personal rating: 10+

Episodes: 12
Languages: Sub
Official rating: TVPG
Genre(s): Slice of life, drama
Company: Toho
Official streaming: Crunchyroll
Screenshots:
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