IRODUKU: The World in Colors
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 13 of
IRODUKU: The World in Colors ?
This episode concludes Hitomi's journey back in time, and if it didn't end the way I hoped (as time travel stories that aren't in the romance genre seldom do for hopeful romantics), it certainly ended the way it needed to. Hitomi does, in fact, return to her original time, but not before she and Yuito get a moment alone to realize that it wasn't only Hitomi who was living in grayscale – before meeting her, Yuito was too. Their meeting needed to happen, not just so that Hitomi could reclaim her life and her magic from the trauma and self-blame of her mother's departure, but also so that Yuito could write and illustrate the one picture book that she saw in color as a child. Yuito's book made Hitomi yearn for colors in the first place, and she made him want to write and draw it. Them falling for each other was just a happy side effect.
That almost makes me wonder if we truly needed the romance subplot at all. Yes, it added some tension between Yuito and Sho and Hitomi and Asagi, but strictly speaking, Yuito and Hitomi just needed to come to care about each other. In that respect, their romance was almost a cruel tease, and it would have perhaps been better to focus on Sho and Asagi or Kohaku and the bookstore guy who I suspected would become Hitomi's grandfather. (Wasn't that shot of them at the end cute?) All Hitomi strictly needed to realize and understand was the power of love, romantic or otherwise, and how it makes up part of the colorful spectrum of emotions. In fact, I would argue that it would have made more sense for Hitomi to learn the importance of non-romantic love, since it was her mother's lack thereof (in her perspective) that caused Hitomi to lose her ability to see colors in the first place. Perhaps that is what she and Yuito felt for each other, but the need to frame it as a romantic narrative undercuts that potential message.
It doesn't make the fact that we see Hitomi crying at a grave at the very end any less of a stab to the heart, however. While it could be her mother's grave and I wrongly assumed that she had simply wandered off and was alive somewhere, the easier supposition is that Yuito has died in the last sixty years and it is his grave she's visiting. It's awful either way, but if it is his gravestone, it returns us to the symbolism earlier implied by the continued use of Alison Uttley's 1939 novel A Traveler in Time - in that book, the heroine goes back in time and befriends Mary Queen of Scots, who, despite having her life changed for the better, still dies in the end, as history decrees. With so many references to Uttley's novel within the series, I'm inclined to believe that this scene is simply another piece of someone's homage to a favorite childhood novel. (And sad or not, I'd still recommend Uttley's book over modern elementary school death books. Looking at you, Bridge to Terabithia.)
What's truly important here, though, is that Hitomi comes out of the series stronger than when she started it. This was truly her story, and for it to be successful, she needed to become someone who not only can love herself, but can accept herself and all of her flaws and strengths. That's something she was unable to do thirteen episodes ago. As we see when she goes back to school in her own time, she's done a lot of growing, not so much in a coming-of-age sense as in the feeling that she's grown into herself – and that “Hitomi” is a person she can bear living with now.
So whether you cried this week or not (and I definitely teared up), there's a feeling of completion to this show's journey. It wasn't perfect and certainly dragged its pacing at times, but issues with the romance plot aside, it really has been a beautiful journey – and as the saying goes, sometimes the object is not to get to the top, but rather to enjoy the climb along the way.
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