What’s it about? The year 2078 holds a gleaming future full of bright colors and joy, but teenager Hitomi Tsukishiro can’t see any of that. She lost her ability to see color as a child, and now she views an isolated world in dull blacks and grays. Her grandmother decides to send her back in time 60 years, to April 2018, for reasons she refuses to explain. In the past, Hitomi meets a group of energetic photography club members, her great-great-grandmother, and a young man whose art may just have the power to cure her.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a young woman suffering from a disorder that’s a metaphor for mental illness makes friends including one very special young man and learns that people really do care about her and is fixed by that knowledge.
I. Am. So. Tired.
IRODUKU: The World in Colors comes from P.A. Works, a studio known for breathtaking backgrounds (thanks in part to the studios they collaborate with) and breaking the “cute girls doing cute things” mold. Shirobako and Sakura Quest depicted adult women with rich inner lives finding their place in the world; so despite the rather generic premise, I hoped Iroduku would offer something of value.
It. Did. Not.
Despite the light fantastical trappings—Hitomi comes from a mage family, and seeks out her ancestors’ magic shop not long after arriving in the past—it’s a generic “special sad girl is magically cured by love” story to its core. And, considering the accessibility of mental health care and the stigma around seeking it in Japan as well as in much of the United States, this kind of story reinforces the idea that people struggling with depression and anxiety really just need to learn how to cheer up and relax. Maybe meet a cute boy and fall in love. Or move to a small town and learn to appreciate the little things in life. You know, anything but actually seek professional treatment and maybe explore medication options.
It makes sense that Hitomi ends up the subject of gossip—for some reason, her grandmother has her end up in a boy’s bedroom, which she of course had to sneak out of. And whenever an anime has a photography club, they’re basically paparazzi who use their cameras to spread rumors like wildfire. Her feeling awkward and uncomfortable with the sudden attention because she’s just so beautiful is written as if it comes from her social isolation, but pretty much anyone would feel uncomfortable and overwhelmed in her situation.
But it’s OKAY because she meets a BOY and his ART makes her see COLORS and he will heal her POOR BROKEN HEART.
Never mind that she’s been cursed to live in an era where she doesn’t really understand what’s going on, or know anyone. Or have anywhere to sleep. Or possesses legal identification. Without any say in the matter. Because—I can only assume—Grandma knows there’s a stable time loop to create.
Isn’t Grandma basically the same as the Weeping Angels in Doctor Who? You know, the horrific monsters who send people back in time?
The show isn’t without its charms. Hitomi’s confusion at everyday things that apparently aren’t needed anymore in 2078—things like cash and band-aids—can be pretty cute. And the staff animated the hell out of it, even if it’s a little glowy for my taste.
IRODUKU: The World in Colors isn’t offensively terrible. It’s just boring and bland and thoughtlessly retreads the same insidious tropes as everyone else.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Minor updates were made after publication to more accurately describe the show’s production elements.]