Anime Film Review: Kimagure Orange Road: I Want to Return to That Day

Kimagure Orange Road: I Want to Return to That Day is a film released for the Kimagure Orange Road franchise that brings the story to a close.

Kimagure Orange Road: I Want to Return to That Day
Directed by: Tomomi Mochizuki
Written by: Kenji Terada
Starring: Toru Furuya, Hiromi Tsuru, Eriko Hara, Chieko Honda, Michie Tomizawa, Show Hayami, Maria Kawamura, Chiyoko Kawashima, Tomoko Maruo, Keiichi Nanba, Ken’ichi Ogata, Katsumi Suzuki, Naoki Tatsuta, Kei Tomiyama, Koichi Yamadera, and Yusaku Yara
Run Time: 69 minutes

The film opens in black and white and sees Kyosuke and Madoka going to find out if they made it into the college of their choice. As they head toward the listing, Kyosuke overhears someone talking about the drama club, and then can hear Hikaru asking him to see her in a play she’s in. This transitions us to a flashback, which takes up most of the film, with the ending returning to black and white for Madoka and Kyosuke’s visit to the college campus. I thought it was interesting to see the present being animated in black and white, with the flashback in color. But when you consider that the majority of the film is set in the flashback, it makes more sense for the flashback portion of the film to be in color.

The flashback opens at the beginning of Kyosuke and Madoka’s final year of the high school, and the two of them already thinking ahead to college entrance exams. Madoka convinces Kyosuke to sign up for a summer school designed specifically to get students ready for the entrance exams. Hikaru is going to audition for a play and is excited about it, and not recognizing how Kyosuke and Madoka are trying to prepare for exams. However, she wants to try to help Kyosuke, but she serves as more of a distraction than anything else. At one point, when she goes to see Kyosuke, she kisses him and then tells Madoka about it. This causes Madoka to become distant from Kyosuke and not go to the summer school. This event is what brings about the main conflict that persists throughout most of the film.

This film brings the love triangle between Kyosuke, Madoka, and Hikaru to a head. It gets to a point where Madoka demands Kyosuke tell her who he loves. He says that he’s always been in love with Madoka and wants to be with her. I wasn’t surprised that he said this, because while I watched the anime series, I always thought it was clear that he had feelings for Madoka and saw Hikaru more like a little sister. But for whatever reason, he just couldn’t tell Hikaru that he didn’t feel the same way, thus leading her on for a couple of years. But if there hadn’t been that indecisiveness, there wouldn’t have been a manga series to read or an anime series to watch, since this was the overarching story for these characters.

But when Kyosuke finally tells Hikaru that he’s in love with Madoka, she doesn’t want to believe it and doesn’t take it well, especially when he tells her that they shouldn’t see each other anymore. When Hikaru isn’t working on auditioning for the musical, she tries to find ways to see Kyosuke, such as going to his house and bringing him snacks for when he studies. When he forcefully tells her to stop coming to see him, Hikaru starts calling Kyosuke… a lot. He puts up with it at first, but eventually forcefully tells her not to call him anymore. Of course, Hikaru doesn’t take this well, either, and lashes out. Unfortunately, Hikaru just wasn’t picking up on the idea that the more she kept trying to latch onto Kyosuke, the more it was pushing him away. Honestly, I thought Hikaru was being very obsessive and nearly acting psychotic. While I had found Hikaru to be a bit of an annoying character prior to this movie, her actions in this film made me start to truly dislike her. I also found myself thinking that Kyosuke should have been trying to get a restraining order on her, if such a thing was possible in Japan back at the time this film was written and released.

While it’s never blatantly said or shown, the ending of this film seems to hint that Kyosuke and Madoka did ultimately end up together. While Hikaru didn’t get her happy ending with Kyosuke, at least she did get the lead role in the play she was auditioning for. So it’s not like Hikaru entirely got the short end of the stick here. In some respects, it was a little sad to see this group of three friends fall apart, but I was glad to see Kyosuke finally choosing one of the girls after the amount of time that passed over the course of the series.

Kimagure Orange Road: I Want to Return to That Day was a nice way to end the anime franchise, and I thought it overall provided closure for the three main characters and their overarching story. If a viewer wants to see the Kimagure Orange Road franchise, I would highly recommend that they watch this film in addition to the 48 episodes of the television anime series. The eight OVAs are a nice bonus, but they aren’t truly necessary to understanding the overarching story of the series.

Additional post about Kimagure Orange Road:

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