IRODUKU: The World in Colors
Episodes 1-3

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 1 of
IRODUKU: The World in Colors ?

How would you rate episode 2 of
IRODUKU: The World in Colors ?

How would you rate episode 3 of
IRODUKU: The World in Colors ?

Iroduku: The World in Colors is that rare show that both positively drips with symbolism and still manages to tell a story that's emotionally engaging. In large part that's due to the way it blends gentle urban fantasy – magic exists in an otherwise totally familiar world – with good old teen angst, adding a dollop of romance for additional flavor. Hitomi Tsukishiro's inability to see colors could be a form of acquired achromatopsia, but it could just as easily be a metaphor for her depression, which is often symbolized by saying that the colors have gone out of life. It could also be an indication of her worldview; she's so fully entrenched in her belief that she's not good at magic that we could interpret it as a black-and-white way of seeing things. This is borne out by the fact that she cites her inability to see color as the reason why she can't join the art/photography club at school in episode three, with Yuito's rebuttal that Sho takes monochromatic photos indicating that there are ways around her perceived problem that she's never considered. Whatever explanation you favor, these first three episodes of P.A. Works' new original series seem set to explore all possibilities in a story that's gently wrapped in a sweet slice-of-life narrative so far.

The story's time travel conceit is a big part of that. When the show begins, Hitomi is sixty years in the future from the present day, sort of blearily trudging through life. Her grandmother, an accomplished mage and owner of the family's magic shop, offers her an unusual gift. She will send Hitomi sixty years into the past to the time when Granny was a high school second year. When Hitomi arrives (via bus, which is a nice touch that strongly reminds me of the Korean film My Beautiful Girl Mari), she discovers that her grandmother is actually studying abroad – and that there is no known reversal for time travel magic. Since Gran would almost certainly have known this, that indicates that she had a reason to essentially strand Hitomi in the past, which could suggest some problematic time loop issues going forward. (Fortunately ideas that Hitomi is somehow her own grandmother seem less likely after the preview for next week shows Granny coming back.) But despite next week's preview, it also seems worth noting that Granny says that she's sending Hitomi to when she was a second year, not to meet her when she was a second year. That very likely suggests that there's a different reason for this journey.

Of course it's likely that Hitomi's inability to see color is a large part of that, because the boy whose bedroom Granny drops her in draws pictures that provide the only color Hitomi can see. Yuito's understandably freaked out when people show him video of Hitomi climbing out his bedroom window, but he's also able to see past what could be her alarming oddity, and he quickly becomes the only person who understands that there's something else going on. As of episode three, he's also figured out that she's achromatopic, but I get the sense that he's also beginning to see that there's another layer to her that she's trying even harder to hide.

Of course, this introduces some of that love geometry that's de rigueur in such stories. I fully admit that time travel romance is my favorite subgenre of bodice ripper, but I'm also 90% sure that I'm not building castles with no foundations when I see the start of a love triangle between Hitomi, Yuito, and Sho, the president of the photography club. In part this is created by Hitomi's slowly building use of magic – the scene at the end of episode two when Sho sees her standing in the dark school, stars spilling through her fingers, is not only beautiful, but marks a slight change in the way he treats her. That Asagi, another member of the club and the first girl to try and befriend Hitomi, seems to see it as well when she looks at them through her camera's viewfinder adds some credence to the theory. Could Granny have sent Hitomi back in time to meet either Sho or Yuito for those purposes as well? Other similar genre fiction, such as Those Summer Days, would seem to support such a theory.

Regardless, this series is off to a good start. It is a bit slow, and the character relationships are taking their time to grow, which will be a smart move as the story builds, but it could be a turn-off for some viewers right now. Granny's return as a young woman next week stands to shake things up, and Hitomi's increasingly casual comments about “this era” may end up backfiring (Yuito's the only outsider she's told about her time travel, and he's not sure he buys it), but as of episode three, this is both visually gorgeous and narratively interesting. Symbolism, much like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, and even if it does turn out to have been a brain injury that caused Hitomi not to be able to see colors, the myriad interpretations of her issue will remain, making this story worth checking out.

Rating: B+

IRODUKU: The World in Colors is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

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