It’s rare that I come across a show that really hits me hard, but I seem to be stumbling on those more and more this past year. Maybe it’s true what all the anime bloggers and youtubers are saying, that 2018 was one of the best if not the best year of anime to date. We had some really hard-hitting series this year, from Violet Evergarden to Banana Fish to name a few. I’d like to make the case that Iroduku should fall into this list too, and not just because it got me to cry like a baby. Studio PA Works did an amazing job on the animation, character designs, music, and backgrounds. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with this series and I absolutely loved how this story weaved magical realism, time travel, and regular high school romance into something truly engaging.
Iroduku: the World in Colors follows a girl names Hitomi who lives in the year 2078 and comes from a family of witches. From early childhood, Hitomi has not been able to see color and has lost all passion or love for magic. In an effort to help her granddaughter be happy again, Kohaku sends Hitomi 60 years into the past to meet her teenage self. Back in 2018, Hitomi winds up joining the Photography and Arts Club and focuses on learning how to take black and white photos. It’s here that she meets Yuito, the only person she’s met whose drawing appear in color for her.
***Some Spoilers Ahead for the Ending***
The first episode of the series really struck me as stunning in its presentation. PA Works went all out in their animation of the world, both magical and mundane. The start of the episode sees us thrown into the year 2078 as Hitomi heads to a firework festival. In the world we can see all sorts of interesting, futuristic gadgets and machines: ear pieces that contain a voice-activated computer, digital signs, and vehicles that float over the water. But it seems one thing is consistent between our time and hers: people’s love of fireworks. Each scene seems to be constructed with a lot of care, from the candied apples sitting in their stands to the water balloons floating in the buckets of water. Everything is pretty stunningly beautiful, and it contrasts nicely with what Hitomi sees (or can’t see).
This contrast between color and black & white has both stylistic and thematic meaning. Stylistically speaking, the black and white scenes provide contrast to the otherwise colorful world that Hitomi is missing. And when she first meets Yuito in the park in the first episode, we get to see just how important and stunning color is to her who has been devoid of it for most of her life. It creates a tie between her and Yuito that progresses throughout the series. But even then, the black and white moments of the series are nice to look at as well. Sure, the scenes are awesome when they are in color, but greyscale has its charm as well as we see later when Hitomi learns to take black and white photos.
Thematically speaking, the contrast points to the character of Hitomi and is a great representation of her struggles with depression. Though some could say that a colorless outlook on the world is an overused method of displaying depression, but I do think it works really well here especially when you pair it with magical realism. We come to find out that Hitomi can’t see color because she’s cast a form of unconscious magic on herself which could only be broken by her experiencing happiness and love for the first time. It’s a good representation of how our brains and minds work on depression and how a depressive outlook influences how we perceive and take in the world around us. Hitomi’s thoughts turn self-deprecating and she tells herself over and over again that she is better off alone even though she feels lonely, hoping one day it’ll become true. Her love of magic has shriveled because she saw her mother feeling out of place as a magicless daughter in a magical family until she finally left. It’s only through the support of her new friends that she’s able to get that joy back.
It really is a great story about growing up, making new relationships, and overcoming past trauma to become a more mature person. We really see Hitomi grow throughout the series especially through her relationship to the rest of the cast and Yuito in particular. In the beginning, she’s a quiet and reserved person who seems to hold herself back from joining in with people. But the Photography and Arts club really takes her in and sort of forces her in a way to open up. It also helps that Yuito possesses something so tantalizing to Hitomi that she just can’t stay away: his art.
Yuito also provides a great deal of a push for her to grow as well as some supportive advice. His views of art and specifically color starts to change Hitomi’s outlook on life and her own situation. I think his line in episode 4 that goes something like: the absence of color allows us to perceive the world differently and notice things we otherwise wouldn’t have. It allows Hitomi to see her situation in a new light and from someone else’s perspective. It’s also from his insistence that she begins taking monochromatic pictures which become a sort of therapy for her, allowing her to focus in and realize new and exciting things about the world.
It helps that most of the cast is like this too: supportive and generally interesting characters. I found myself falling in love with not only Hitomi and Yutio but with Kohaku and Asagi. They’re great characters with a lot of heart to them and really form the backbone of the series. Through the course of the series, we see their relationships grow and solidify, especially between Yuito and Hitomi, but there is always her return to the future hovering over all of them. This makes what is for a long while a charming and warm series become tinged with bittersweet feelings.
I knew it was coming in the end, but part of me wanted to believe that it wouldn’t end the way that it actually did. I think we all crave happy endings especially for the characters that we have grown attached to. I really enjoyed how Yuito and Hitomi’s relationship progressed, how they both helped each other see the value in the skills they possessed, and how they both worked up the courage to confess their true feelings. But that ending really hit me hard even though she was going back to her own time a happier and more mature person. The bittersweet ending really leaves a bad aftertaste in your mouth, or more truthfully left me crying like a baby. But that definitely didn’t stop me from loving the series, and I will continue to recommend it as one of my favorite romances of last season and one of my top favorite animes from last season overall.
Let me know your thoughts on the series down below!
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