Walking the Orange Road

Madoka, Kyosuke, and Hikaru

Madoka, Kyosuke, and Hikaru

On Wednesday, I finished the classic anime series Kimagure Orange Road.  On Saturday, I watched the first movie (I still have the OVAs and the second movie to watch).  Titled The Kimagure Orange Road Movie: “I Want to Return to That Day,” it serves as a conclusion to the original series.

That series deals with 15-year-old Kasuga Kyosuke (Furuya Tooru) as he tries to decide which junior high school girl he loves more: the perky and fun Hiyama Hikaru (Hara Eriko) or her best friend, the cool and athletic Ayukawa Madoka (Tsuru Hiromi).  He also must contend with Hino Yuusaku (Kikuchi Masami) — Yuusaku was childhood friends with both Hikaru and Madoka, but later developed a crush on Hikaru (they are both a year younger than Madoka, who is the same age as Kyosuke).  In addition, Kyosuke must keep his horny friends Komatsu Seiji (Nanba Keiichi) and Hatta Kazuya (Tatsuta Naoki) from his younger sisters, twins Kurumi (Honda Chieko) and Manami (Tomizawa Michie).  And if that weren’t enough, both he and his sisters are ESPers, which means that they have special powers (called “The Power”) they inherited from their deceased mother.  If they are caught using their powers, they’ll have to leave town.

The series is more light-hearted and humorous than the movie.  The film also omits two major supporting characters: Yuusaku and Kyosuke’s five-year-old cousin Kasuga Kazuya (Sakamoto Chika), who also has “The Power.”  Both the series and the film have excellent soundtracks, while the movie is better animated.

Since “the Power” often leads to comic situations in the TV show, it is not used in the movie.  Instead, the film focuses on the relationship between Kyosuke, Hikaru, and Madoka during Kyosuke and Madoka’s final year in high school.  As they prepare for their college entrance exams, a kiss between Kyosuke and Hikaru forces him to decide which girl he loves more (if you’ve seen the series, his choice won’t come as a surprise).  That choice allows Hara to give one of the greatest of voice-acting performances.  Though Kyosuke breaks up with Hikaru and asks her never to see him again, Hikaru won’t let go so easily.  Hara’s performance covers all the emotions that Hikaru is experiencing, including suppressed ones.  The movie hinges on her performance, and it is stunning.

And sad.  It is sad because the film is about the change that must happen to everyone as they grow up and leave friends and lovers behind.  People rarely stay with their first loves, or even their second ones.  It might be that Kyosuke and Madoka’s relationship doesn’t survive the trials of college, but for it to succeed at all, Kyosuke has to be mean to Hikaru, and Madoka has to cast off her best friend.  Futures are built on the ruins of past relationships, and while some may wait and hope for greenery to sprout through the debris, others know that more fertile ground lies elsewhere, if only we can leave the wreckage behind.

Kimagure Orange Road Movie