Season Aired: Fall 2018
Number of Episodes: 13
Genres: Drama, Magic, Romance
Iroduku or The World in Colors captured my attention from the first episode simply because I’m a sucker for high school romance stories with good visuals. P.A. Works’ latest project follows the story of Hitomi Tsukishiro, a high school girl who suffers from monochromatic vision, an extreme form of color blindness where her world only consists of different shades of gray. She is a lonely and socially awkward girl who has no enjoyment in life and hates her ability to do magic. Instead of the usual route one might take to work through these issues, Hitomi’s grandmother, Kohaku, sends her back sixty years into the past. I’m not going to pick at the logic behind this decision or the details of how time-travel magic works; it’s just easier to accept that the world is infused with some magic. However, what drives most of the changes in the characters is not the magic but the characters’ own choices and actions. Back in the past, Hitomi finds herself in Yuito Aoi’s room, and she manages to escape, only to be seen by his friends who she runs into not long after. Although initially feeling a bit anxious, she winds up with her now teenage grandmother Kohaku’s family magic shop and starts living with them.
This coming of age story focuses on Hitomi’s journey of opening up to other people. Prominent themes include drawing strength from people around us and overcoming past tragedies and trauma. Usually, shows that capitalize on these emotions have the potential to create a huge impact, but Iroduku didn’t take full advantage of this. A compelling aspect of any anime is characterization and particularly in drama/romance/slice-of-life themes, interaction and relationship development between characters is everything. One of the first issues I had was the number of stacked coincidences that Hitomi has with the entire cast, save her teenage grandmother, in just the first episode! Since the show overall is not rushed and nicely paced, more time could have been spent on introductions.
Next, the supporting characters seem to pair up nicely, even without the label of a relationship. Their personal conflicts are disclosed within this coupled dynamic with Hitomi playing a part in resolving their issues. Although the challenges that each character faces is realistic, it could have been more eventful. Even with the love triangle used to create some friction, the story never reached the level of emotional tension I hoped it would. At least in Hitomi’s case, she significantly grows through her relationships and the theme of self-actualization is consistent, right to the end. The story’s ending ties up everything in a satisfactory way, leaving little to the imagination. From the post-time-travel perspective, it’s easy to make sense of Hitomi’s journey and feel that it was ‘real’ as opposed to some of the more unsubstantial parts in the anime. The ending was a sobering moment full of feels for me and quite frankly, that was the only part I really liked.
Hitomi lacks self-esteem and is a melancholic character. A major reason for this is that her mother abandoned her as a child. Unlike Hitomi, her mother was incapable of doing magic. This trauma leads Hitomi to hate magic and consequently hating herself. In stark contrast is Kohaku, Hitomi’s teenage grandmother, who is bright, bold, and loves magic. She plays a crucial role in encouraging and guiding Hitomi in her life and as a magician. While I empathize with Hitomi, I can’t say that I like her. She definitely starts to heal as she takes initiative and becomes braver, but I feel that Kohaku overshadowed Hitomi inadvertently. For being sent back in time and suddenly surrounded by a bunch of other characters as devices to drive the changes, Hitomi’s character development didn’t feel powerful enough.
As for the other members of the cast, their faces were drawn without any memorable features, and none of them were given proper characterization that was independent of Hitomi. For example, Aoi Yuito, an artist who suffers from his own demons, was meant to develop alongside Hitomi with a romantic subplot between them. There was the possibility of genuine growth for Yuito’s character, but even after his inner conflicts were resolved, he and his problems only served as a tool to aid Hitomi’s own character development. The show didn’t need a predictable romance and would have likely had more of an impact if it took the time to deepen the already existing friendships and each individual character.
Art and Sound
P.A. Works always slay with their visuals and can compete with some of the best studios out there. True to its title, The World in Colors did indeed showcase vibrant tones and glossy effects. There was a shimmery glow to everything and I liked the way the colors alternated to show things from Hitomi’s perspective. The sudden switch from gray tones to radiant colors emphasizes how dull Hitomi’s world used to be before she traveled back in time. It was particularly impressive to see the shine that portrayed the magic and it left me starry-eyed (get it?).
I enjoyed the melody of the opening 17 Sai more than the ending Mimei no Kimi no Mahou. Both songs highlighted pain, uncertainty, and the hope of a better future. The lyrics are apt to Hitomi’s situation and are also quality tracks on their own.
Overall, while I like P.A. Works and their efforts to create an original anime, I feel frustrated about Iroduku because it is simply wasted potential. It seems to be my recurring complaint that this studio starts with creative ideas and somehow messes up in its execution. While there are good aspects to the show, the main middle chunk of the story felt about as exciting as Hitomi’s monochrome vision. At the very least, I’m glad that Iroduku accomplished the clear goal that it set out to do: transform Hitomi and strike gold with the ending.
Would I recommend Iroduku? Despite my criticism, this is a show you need to watch for yourself and see if it lends color to your life. If you can resonate with the main character and accept the fantasy, then it may be that other aspects of the show won’t matter to you like it did with me. The series isn’t all bad and definitely has some stunning visuals.
I’m following the same rating system Japanese anime critics use. There are 5 categories, each scored out of 10 and then multiplied by 2.
Voice acting: 6