IRODUKU: The World in Colors
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 5 of
IRODUKU: The World in Colors ?
There's one detail in this week's episode that makes me worry. When Kohaku is shopping for magic books, we get a very clear shot of the clerk reading a copy of A Traveler in Time by Alison Uttley. This 1939 children's book is about a young girl named Penelope who travels back in time to the Elizabethan era and tries to help her ancestors save Mary, Queen of Scots. The operative word here is “tries” – alongside Jean Slaughter Doty's Can I Get There by Candlelight?, this is one of the first books I can remember that made me quietly sad. I bring both of them up because like Uttley's novel, Doty's 1980 book is a time travel story about someone who goes back in time in an effort to save someone's life. In both novels, they fail. While this certainly doesn't have to be indicative of what's going to happen in this show, the use of Uttley's novel, which despite still being in print doesn't have the name recognition of other mid-twentieth century children's classics, feels just specific enough that its inclusion and the clear, lingering shot of it must be on purpose. What that could mean for Hitomi and her new friends is a little alarming.
On the plus side, it definitely shows that there's a lot of thought going into this production. That's been relatively obvious from episode one, but this one feels as if it's making that even more evident. Alongside the Uttley book, there's also a fun (and much more hopeful) moment with Asagi and her potential romantic future. As her first act as the sole member of the magic club, Kohaku offers love fortunes, and Asagi can't resist going. Kohaku tells her that she'll definitely have luck in love with a rabbit, trying to hide the fact that her crush, Sho, is at risk of falling for someone who has just shown up. (Because we totally needed that confirmation that he's crushing on Hitomi.) Immediately thereafter, we see Sho entertaining a little kid having their portrait taken – a stuffed bunny puppet on his hand. Granted, Hitomi is far more interested in Yuito than Sho, but it's a nice bit of reassurance, especially since Asagi's openness this week makes her a particularly likable character. It feels much more important that she's able to admit aloud that at first she was only nice to Hitomi because she thought it would look good than the fact that she did so – and since she genuinely likes her now, even with the suspicion that she's the rival, her self-awareness adds a dimension to Asagi's character.
Asagi's not the only one cluing in to Sho's burgeoning crush, although it doesn't seem as if Yuito quite knows what to do with his observation. He does look conflicted when he sees Sho jump in to help Hitomi use the vending machine at school (not as great as trying to “turn on” her desk, but still a good past versus future moment), but he seems to hide it behind his general mask of pleasantness. As the series goes on, it really does feel like Yuito's putting on an act for most people, whether it's his mom or his friends at school. I hesitate to say that he lifts it with Hitomi either, although that would be the narrative expectation. She definitely unbalances him, but he holds himself so tightly that it's difficult to say what he might really be thinking. At this point, I almost suspect him of slightly resenting Hitomi for managing to get under his skin even a little bit.
That really may change after this episode. Hitomi has cooked up her first (working) batch of star sand in an effort to help Yuito get over his drawing block, and when he uses it before bed, not only do we see that she's achieved the planetarium effect she was going for earlier in the darkroom, but she's also somehow managed to incorporate the goldfish she's been seeing swimming through Yuito's works. That floors him – not only that the fish he drew pops out of her magic as a shooting star, but that it then dives into his drawing tablet. How he'll react when he stops to think about it will likely determine, or at least offer us a clue about, how he feels where Hitomi is concerned. It's jarring enough to him that he may not be able to keep it under wraps, and it should be worth paying attention to the moment next week when he either does or does not mention it to her.
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