© 1996 Matsumoto Izumi, Terada Kenji/Shueisha, Toho, NTV, VAP and Studio Pierrot
English Version Copyright © 1998 Toho International Co., Ltd.
Released in North America by A.D.V. Films
by Charles McCarter
What happens when an anime series turns ten years old? Sometimes nothing,
but in the case of KIMAGURE ORANGE ROAD, like so many others, they made a
movie. After the first ORANGE ROAD movie, however, I wasn't sure this was
such a good idea. After all, the first movie really did "end" the original
series and resolve the Hikaru-Madoka-Kyousuke love triangle. What more
could they do?
Well, series creator Matsumoto Izumi and screenplay writer Terada Kenji
delivered a story based on the Orange Road novel they collaborated on
several years ago. The basic plot revolves around Kyousuke getting into an
accident and being shunted three years into the future. This, of course,
displaces his current self in that timeline. He has to figure out how to
get back to his time, if possible. But along the way, he meets some
familiar faces. (For a more complete plot explanation, see our review in
Character designs, done by Gotoh Takayuki, do a nice job of reflecting the
aging of the characters since the TV series, although hard-core fans will
complain that they are not done by Takada Akemi. Probably the most
dramatic change is in Hikaru, who has grown up (and grown her hair out as
well). And this "grown-up" appearance is not superficial or merely
cosmetic. As the story progresses, the viewer is left with the feeling that
of all three principal characters, she is the one who has grown most as a
person, despite her own feelings of immaturity. She certainly is
head-and-shoulders above either Kyousuke (the 19-year-old or the 22-year-old).
Kyousuke spends a lot of time in the movie acting much as he did in the
television seriesembarassed and confused, though I can only imagine that
would be how I would behave were I suddenly thrust three years into my own
future. Madoka is pretty much the samequiet and brooding, mostly over
the missing Kyousuke.
The movie contains liberal sprinklings of flashbacks and references to both
the television series (including the 99.5 steps and ABCB) and the final
movie (Hikaru's show), which seriously increases the nostalgia dosage for
those who have seen and love the television series.
Where the movie excels is in the exploration of the growth of the
characters as they've aged. Hikaru is still the same bright, bubbly person
that she was in high school, but she's also more mature and self-reliant.
She doesn't depend on anyone any more than she has to. And she's also
taken some of the boldest steps with her life, such as moving to New York
to work in a dance company. Madoka is now a musician and composer who seems to be
moderately successful and happy with her work. She doesn't seem to be very
different from her earlier self, although it is obvious in several scenes
that she still thinks of her old best friend very often. Kyousuke is a
student photojournalist who is in Bosnia covering the fighting when he
disappears. And, although the 22-year-old Kyousuke's part is brief, in him
we see a glimpse of what he could eventually becomeconfident and
self-assured about both his professional life and his relationship with
This is a worthy movie, much better than I ever expected it to be.
However, its greatest strength requires a previous knowledge and interest
in all of the characters. The viewer has to understand how and why the
pieces fell apart to appreciate them being put back together. One who
hasn't seen ORANGE ROAD before is not going to get the full effect of
seeing some of their favorite characters grow