Kimagure Orange Road: Ano Hi ni Kaeritai

Alternate English Title: Whimsical Orange Road: I Want to Return to that Day
Also Known As: KOR Movie 1, Kimagure Orange Road: I Want to Return to that Day
Genre: Romance
Format: 1 Movie
Allegiance: Studio Pierrot
Director: Mochizuki Tomomi
Vintage: 1988
Intelligence Agency Report by: Kuzu Ryu Sen
One cold morning, Ayukawa Madoka and Kasuga Kyosuke ride to the local university to find out the results of their university entrance exam. Passing through the bustling university campus to get to the announcement board, Kyosuke overhears two students talking about the debut of a new play. Suddenly, memories of that previous summer come flooding back. Memories of exhaustive studying, of an energetic Hikaru, of a tearful Madoka, and of that one summer’s day, when he made the hardest decision of his life.

Field Agent Report by: Kuzu Ryu Sen
Overall 9.75
(not an average)

One could tell that Ano Hi ni Kaeritai was going to be very different from the original Kimagure Orange Road series from the nature of the very first scene. Where KOR was humorous and silly, Ano Hi ni Kaeritai is mature, serious, and sometimes even downright depressing. However, this change in mood is by no means detrimental, as this movie sprints past the slapstick that dominated the series, and gets right into the heart of Kimagure Orange Road: the romance.

Given this complete change in atmosphere, one could only wonder if the characters, who had been forged in the atmosphere of the TV series, could adapt to the transition. Well, not only did they adapt, but they absolutely thrived. In fact, the complete change in personalities between the series and movie acted as an emotional sledgehammer for those who had become attached to the characters during the series. Watching the characters (Hikaru in particular) in their moments of weakness was particularly emotional, akin to watching a loved one struggle to overcome a hurdle in their life. Complementing this characterization perfectly is a plot that appears very simple on the outside, but actually has all the intricacies involved in resolving a love triangle between best friends. It is this mutualism between plot and characterization that allows Ano Hi ni Kaeritaito strike so deeply into the hearts of its viewers. Ano Hi ni Kaeritai doesn’t shoot for a happy or sad mood/result; it shoots for a realistic one, and succeeds with flying colours.

However, it must be noted that this level of emotional response cannot be elicited with plot and characterization alone. Aurally, this movie has several vocal pieces that fit exceptionally, but also recognizes the value of silence in drama, and utilizes it to its full extent. Visually, the animation is crisp, and the art is exquisite, with excellent use of faded colours. Together, the audio/visual aspect of Ano Hi ni Kaeritai takes that emotional sledgehammer and turns it into a wrecking ball. Much credit to Director Mochizuki Tomomi for the fantastic job he did in fitting the various pieces of Ano Hi ni Kaeritai together with seamless perfection.

Kimagure Orange Road: Ano Hi ni Kaeritai is the denouement to the climax that was established at the end of Kimagure Orange Road, and as such should not be viewed independently whatsoever. On that note, anyone who has seen Kimagure Orange Road absolutely must watch this masterful conclusion to the KOR saga. Join Kyosuke, Madoka, and Hikaru once again, as they embark on the bittersweet home stretch on the road of adolescence.