The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara (The World in Colours): Review and Reflections At The Halfway Point

“You cannot beat a river into submission; you have to surrender to its current, and use its power as your own.” –The Ancient One, Doctor Strange

Kohaku arrives back in Nagasaki from her travels abroad, and her classmates itch for her to demonstrate her magic. Kohaku asks Hitomi to aid her, creating an illusion resembling the English school she studied at. However, when Hitomi unconsciously injects her own magic into Kohaku’s spell, a steam train passes through and covers the classroom in smoke. While surprised to learn that Hitomi is her granddaughter, Kohaku nonetheless sets out to help Hitomi; she agrees to join the Photography and Arts Club, on the condition that it be rebranded as the Magic-Photograph-and-Arts Club. To give Hitomi a better sense of monochrome photography, the club decides to visit the school at night and photograph the Nagasaki cityscape. Later, Asagi is disappointed to learn that her feelings for Shō are not reciprocated when Kohaku tells her fortune, and when Yuito appears at the magic shop in search of something that might help him overcome a slump, Hitomi struggles to find something suitable. At Kohaku’s suggestion, she decides to craft her own star-sand for him. Later, Magic-Photograph-and-Arts Club gather to celebrate their status as a club, where Hitomi manages to give Yuito her star-sand. The club go on an outing for photography, and here, Hitomi manages to enter one of Yuito’s drawings, being frightened by a black figure attempting to capture the golden fish that she’d previously seen in his drawings. Upon reawakening, Hitomi tries to question Yuito about this, but he storms off. Speaking with her friends, she attempts to muster the courage to talk to him again. Hitomi and Kohaku find Yuito at Sanami Asakawa’s art exhibition. Sanami is Yuito’s senior and Yuito is seeking her counsel. When Hitomi spots Yuito, she runs off, but with encouragement from Kohaku, Yuito gives chase. He catches up to Hitomi and promises to draw something that he’ll show her when finished. Moved, Hitomi begins seeing the world in colour again.

That Hitomi recovers her ability to resolve colour again at The World in Colours‘ halfway point was somewhat unexpected, but is also unsurprising owing to P.A. Works’ propensity for advancing the narrative quickly. At this point in time, the explanation for why Yuito’s drawings alone are unique for Hitomi remain unexplored, and with her colour vision returning in full, audiences are expected to conclude that there is, without any doubt, something special about Yuito and his drawings. That she ended up in his house in the first episode, and sees her first bit of colour in his drawings, are indicators that Yuito is going to be instrumental in helping Hitomi find what she was seeking when returning to the world sixty years previously. At this point in time, however, what Hitomi is seeking has become more open-ended – I imagine that colour vision is ancillary to the root cause of why Hitomi lost her sense of colour to begin with. This root cause will doubtlessly be the underlying aspect of the episodes remaining in The World in Colours. For the time being, Kohaku’s arrival into The World in Colours has certainly given the anime new colour; forward, outgoing and a people-person, Kohaku disrupts the dynamic and creates newfound energy in the series to spur the characters forward. However, it is also shown that Kohaku is someone who is often caught up in the moment and does not stop to consider the consequences of her actions. She is, in short, the perfect foil to the reserved Hitomi, whose personality is dominated by reservation and reluctance. Much as how Kohaku pushes Hitomi out of her comfort zone, Hitomi’s slower approach to things could influence Kohaku to be more considerate before acting. With all of the major players on stage, The World in Colours has taken off, and halfway in, is providing a solid display thus far.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The visual aspect of The World in Colours are doubtlessly impressive, and present a very vivid image of Nagasaki that is as magical as the magic the Witches themselves produce. At its best, P.A. Works have created incredibly detailed worlds and environments that contribute much to the story-telling: like Kyoto Animation, CoMix Wave and Studio Ghibli, subtle details in lighting and colour are masterfully used to augment emotions conveyed by dialogue and sound.

  • Even at the halfway point, I am inclined to dismiss discussions of causality and any disruptions introduced by time travel for the simple fact that The World in Colours is not about time travel, but rather, uses time travel to accommodate the story. The World in Colours treats time travel similarly to H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, which sees the time traveler explore future societies and discover that class conflicts endured, as well as how faith in progress is a hubris present in humanity. How the time machine itself works in The Time Machine is secondary to its use in fleshing out these themes, and because time travel is not used again in The World in Colour, there is little reason to write a treatise on how it works here.

  • Upon returning, Kohaku gifts her classmates tea from her travels abroad, before proceeding to demonstrate some magic. While Kohaku’s magic is very much considered to be bombastic and even destructive, her classmates have an interest in its effects and gather in anticipation. Kohaku is shown to be in control of her magic, being able to use it with proficiency and conviction; this stands in contrast with Hitomi, who has less control and like the children with magical abilities, can produce magic unconsciously.

  • The World in Colours utilises a familiar mechanic to drive Hitomi’s development: while her time with the Photography and Arts Club could have introduced changes in how she approached things, this would have been a very gradual change. Kohaku, on the other hand, has the potential to introduce changes in a shorter time frame: this is an appropriate choice considering that The World in Colours only has thirteen episodes.

  • While Hitomi’s initial adjustments to contemporary society were noticeable, the series places a lesser emphasis on her inexperience with some present-day implements. Matt Groening’s Futurama initially had Phillip Fry doing the same, but the writers knew that the “fish out of water” jokes stemming from Fry’s immersion into a society a thousand years from now were limited. While amusing, Futurama really began excelling once it began exploring the eccentricities of a future world, and in later episodes, utilise the time separation to create very meaningful and moving stories.

  • By evening, the Photography and Arts Club return to the school to photograph the cityscape from the rooftop. Present-day Nagasaki is a lot more reserved and low-key than the portrayal of its cityscape sixty years into the future, creating a gentle, quite backdrop for the club’s activities. In its use of blue lighting, the cityscape that P.A. Works crafts ends up having both a ethereal and cold feeling, creating a sense of detachment and distance. It is both beautiful and wistful.

  • One of the longstanding challenges with night photography is that the lower lighting (and corresponding number of photons impacting the CCD chips in a camera) is that images can turn out to be quite noisy or blurry. The noise comes from the CCD chip: daytime photos do not have this issue because there is enough light coming into the camera so as not to require any amplification, but when it is dark, the chip will amplify the signals, which results in noise. This can be manually tuned in better cameras, and photography guides recommend lowering the ISO and increasing exposure to improve image quality for night photography.

  • Their journey is a simple one, but Kurumi ends up being scared stiff by the prospects of their school being haunted. While the others head up top, she insists on staying behind on the ground, and Chigusa accompanies her until Kohaku uses her magic to create a “ghost” that frightens the pair through the school, allowing everyone to bet together again. The moment is peaceful, and the club activities subsequently go into full swing afterwards.

  • Hitomi manages to cast a magical train into the night sky with her magic, creating a memorable moment for the others. It is apparent in this screenshot that there are a vast number of stars in the sky, and while creating a magical moment, P.A. Works’ choice to do so also comes at the cost to realism: light pollution charts show that on the Bortle Scale, Nagasaki is a 7-8. This corresponds with a grey sky by night, and magnitude 4 stars are the faintest stars that can be seen. In my area, substantial efforts have been made to curb light pollution, and we’ve gone from a Bortle Scale of 6 back to a 5 with the installation of ground-facing LED lights.

  • When Kohaku joins the Photography and Arts Club, she rebrands it the Magic-Photography-and-Arts Club, bringing to mind the Choir-and-sometimes-Badminton Club of Tari Tari. Themes of self-discovery also make a return, and romance is subtly present, being a natural part of the characters rather than occupying the foreground. Here, a variation of Kanagawa-oki nami ura (“The Great Wave off Kanagawa”) can be seen in the clubroom: it’s a famous, immediately-recognisable painting created by Katsushika Hokusai as a part of his Thiry-Six Views of Mt. Fuji.

  • While I’m inclined to place my faith in sciences and the concrete, I admit that there can be a bit of fun in things like fortune-telling. For instance, looking through my Chinese horoscopes for this year, it was interesting to see how much actually holds true (although the real science behind a horoscope is that it’s vague enough so everything is technically true). In The World in Colours, Kohaku tells Asagi’s fortune pertaining romance and finds that Asagi’s luck is roughly equivalent to that of mine.

  • The different varieties of Star Sand look absolutely beautiful, and I would not begrudge anyone for wanting to keep a vial of Star Sand as a gentle light source of sorts. The properties of Star Sand are such that they can capture magic for later use, and depending on what magic is placed into the sand, the effects will vary. Here, Hitomi speaks to Kohaku’s grandmother, and is asked to look after the shop, and later encounters Yuito, who is seeking a Star Sand to motivate his drawing.

  • Ever the go-getter, Kohaku suggests that Hitomi create her own Star Sand. The circular opening in their rooms here is an interesting visual representation of connectivity: Hitomi and Kohaku peek through it from time to time to communicate with one another, and the opening in the wall is meant to signify that for the two, both are always right there for one another if need be.

  • Spurred on, Hitomi ends up giving Kohaku’s suggestion a go, and burns through several batches of Star Sand before succeeding in creating the Star Sand. Hitomi’s grasp of magic and Kohaku’s suggestions to her are mirrored in the page quote: her reluctance now appears to be her biggest limitation, and while Kohaku has not formally mentored Hitomi in magic, I imagine that spending time with Kohaku and the club members will help Hitomi build the confidence she needs to embrace her magic.

  • Looking back on the calendar, I’ve actually only got one other post for November, and we’re very nearly halfway into the month. During the Remembrance Day long weekend, I took advantage of the pleasant weather to take a hike in the nearby Grassi Lakes trail, which branches into an easy and difficult path. The difficult path takes one along a cliffside with a good view of Canmore below, but at this time of year, it’s also more dangerous, since the cold weather and streams create ice patches. However, the hike was worthwhile, and the Grassi Lakes themselves are beautiful.

  • We pushed further on up a rocky area towards Whitemans Pond, and then made the difficult descent back down to the trail-head. Per our usual custom, a Montréal Smoked Meat Poutine with bacon, mushrooms and sautéed onions at 514 Poutine followed: on a cool day after a hike, a hearty and flavourful poutine with a refreshing Spruce Beer is exactly what one needs to unwind after a walk. The remainder of the afternoon was spent doing a much easier walk along the spur line trail at the heart of Canmore, before heading back home and gearing up for a raclette party. Back in The World in Colours, Asagi and Hitomi look at the food Shō has brought, including fried chicken, katsu and fries: he deliberately chose so as a courtesy to Hitomi.

  • Hitomi expresses to Kohaku that she’d like to give Yuito the Star Sand she’d made, and Kohaku creates an opening, sending the two off to pick up drinks. Asagi later speaks with Kohaku about her feelings for Shō, admitting that she wanted to help Hitomi out because it she saw a bit of herself in Hitomi. Worried that a more outgoing Hitomi might captivate Shō, Asagi is conflicted by her friendship with Hitomi and a longing to have Shō see her as more than an ordinary friend.

  • Under a swift sunset, Hitomi gives Yuito the Star Sand, and he promises to give it a go. Hitomi reveals to Yuito that his drawings are special to her, and in this moment, the colours of Nagasaki are faded away, giving the scene a dream-like quality.

  • Asagi’s doubts are reinforced when she hears Shō speak of Hitomi and worrying about her ability to adapt to life sixty years before her time. Insofar, I’ve not seen any indicators that Shō has feelings for Hitomi; his concern and actions stem from worrying about her as a friend, although Asagi’s worries about losing Shō come to the foreground. She later speaks with Kohaku, who reminds her that fortunes are not absolute.

  • For having directed Hitomi towards using the high quality Star Sand, Kohaku lands herself in hot water and is made to clean up the ruined sand, suggesting that the sand itself can reused in some conditions and likely will have a weaker effect than using good quality sand.

  • A quick glance ahead into the future shows that The World in Colours‘ soundtrack will release on February 2, 2019 and retail for 15120 Yen (176 CAD at present exchange rates). The tracklist and number of tracks is not yet known, but the soundtrack is quite compelling and adds depth to an already impressive series. On the other hand, The World in Colours‘ opening and ending songs have been released for quite some time. Haruka to Miyuki’s “17-sai” is the opening song, and Yanagi Nagi performs the ending song, “Mimei no Kimi to Hakumei no Mahō”.

  • As Yuito’s artwork takes on increasing prominence in The World in Colours, some folks are beginning to wonder if artistic symbolism might be necessary to appreciate the anime in full. I would expect that even in the absence of a complete understanding, The World in Colours should remain quite comprehensible to viewers. Hopefully, any “analysis” akin to the sort seen during the days of Glasslip will not manifest: I’m getting to be a little old to be dispelling any untruths about shows of this sort from folks who excel at little more than purple prose.

  • If memory serves, Sakura Quest was as detailed and pleasing to the eyes to watch as The World in Colours, as was Hanasaku IrohaTari Tari, Nagi no Asukara and Angel Beats!. It suddenly strikes me that I’ve never actually done a proper review of Angel Beats! before, and when I stop to consider where this blog is headed for the future, a future that will likely see me rolling back posting frequency, I think it makes sense for me to go back and write about those series that really set the standard for what I’ve come to look for in series that I watch.

  • It was quite fun to see the Magic-Photography-and-Arts Club go on an excursion where they dress up in Victorian-style outfits for the camera. The whole club enjoys their outing, and it’s a chance to simply watch the club amidst their activities. A part of the joy in these clubs with more than one focus is that there’s always something new to be exploring. In my experience, being multidisciplinary means being able to apply problem-solving methodologies from one discipline into another to create novel, and sometimes even more effective solutions. In the case of anime, it means there is never a dull moment.

  • Asagi later returns to her preferred subjects for photography after the group disperses and pursues their own activities. Looking ahead into The World in Colour, I anticipate that while this series will not be quite as sincere as Tari Tari or as relatable as Sakura Quest, it will continue to strike that balance between the fantastical and ordinary, and in doing so, succeed in telling its story. In retrospect, Glasslip‘s limitation was not exploring and making use of the glass beads in a greater capacity: the penultimate episode’s focus on an alternate reality should have been replaced by a full episode dealing with the glass beads much earlier in the season to motivate their significance.

  • Hitomi finds Yuito drawing again, and this time, she manages to enter his drawing: a richly-coloured world that slowly transitions from a fantastical cityscape to a barren desert. Hitomi wonders what the meaning of the black shadow is, and when she recounts her thoughts to Yuito, Yuito grows angry and leaves, feeling that she is intruding into something private. Later that evening, a rainfall covers the area, mirroring the mood that Hitomi is in. I found the visuals to be very impressive. Whether it be the lens flare or reflection of light from wet surfaces, P.A. Works’ rainy scenes are particularly well done, having a photo-realistic quality to them.

  • While Hitomi is now saddened that Yuito is unhappy with her, Kohaku sees it differently; she tells Hitomi that fighting with friends is a natural occurrence and imagines that the two will patch things up in no time at all.  Kohaku astutely likens life to being like a hedgehog: these mammals are covered with defensive spines to prevent predation, and as pets, they can be tricky to care for. Kohaku mentions that they inadvertently hurt those who care for them, but this won’t change the fact that their owners love them.

  • Sanami Asakawa is Yuito’s senior, someone that Yuito looks up to and likely was someone who inspired Yuito to take up drawing. Lacking the inspiration to continue his own drawings, Yuito seeks her help to see what motivates her, and Sanami mentions that she’s nervous about the future, drawing only to stay focused. I know this feeling very well, and remark that some days, it commands one’s full efforts to take things one step at a time because of how uncertain the future is.

  • Upon seeing Hitomi, Yuito takes off after her, promising to draw something to show her. In this instant, Hitomi finally begins resolving the world in colour again. I’ve seen very little discussion on The World in Colours out there, and of those few, at least one has hastily concluded that the return of colour is meant to indicate that Hitomi is falling in love with Yuito. While it is the case that colour is used as a framing device, there is very little to otherwise suggest this is the case for now.

  • While I was doing my utmost to remain optimistic about Glasslip when its halfway point was reached, The World in Colour has had no trouble keeping me engaged and positive. For my readers, who’ve doubtlessly noticed the low post count here, things have been a little rough on my end to be scheduling posts with the same frequency that I once had, so I’m going to roll back my blogging so that I’ll write when I have the time to. With this being said, I am going to be writing about Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms (Sayonara no Asa ni Yakusoku no Hana o Kazarō, “Let’s Decorate the Promised Flowers in the Morning of Farewells” in English and Sayoasa for brevity) in full before November is out.

The World in Colours is another installment in a long line of titles from P.A. Works that inherit elements from its predecessors. In this case, The World in Colours draws from Tari Tari’s focus on the desire to discover oneself during a busy youth, and uses magic in a much more open manner than Glasslip, to accommodate its narrative. Having more visceral magic works to The World in Colours‘ favour – rather than standing in as a sometimes-obscure symbol of various meanings, the magic acts as a tool for influencing the narrative, both providing the unique setup that sent Hitomi back six decades, and also in driving the humour and drama within the series. Magic is regarded as just another discipline in The World in Colours, and so, while the precise nature of what Hitomi seeks might not have been explored yet, I could hazard a guess that The World in Colours is meant to tell a story of discovery and appreciation for one’s background, attained by way of a life-changing adventure with good company. Whether or not this holds true after all thirteen episodes is up for discussion; as more episodes are aired, the directions The World in Colours will take will become clearer. For the present, what is immediately clear is that The World in Colours has put up a top-tier visual and aural performance, adding additional incentive to keep up with and watch what is turning out to be an excellent offering: in more common terms, I showed up for the artwork and stayed for the story.

6 responses to “Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara (The World in Colours): Review and Reflections At The Halfway Point

  1. jsyschan November 12, 2018 at 21:33

    Man…I really gotta watch this show (if it ever comes out for free somewhere, currently not on Crunchyroll). I don’t remember if it was you that said it or some other blog, but this might be PA Works spiritual retelling of Glasslip, like what it was meant to be. It looks really gorgeous, and from what I read, it’s not as confusing as Glasslip, so this makes my ‘must watch eventually’ list, and boy is that list ever growing exponentially.

    Like

    • infinitezenith November 17, 2018 at 23:15

      It’s definitely worth watching if you get the chance. I know I’ve said The World in Colours is what Glasslip should have been back during my “after three episodes” post, but a handful of others have remarked similarly. Because The World in Colours deals with life, it’s not going to be such that everything immediately makes sense, and there are some rough patches, but for me, I tend not to worry about these until I’ve seen the entire series, and six episodes in, The World in Colours is very strong.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. DerekL November 13, 2018 at 11:07

    Night photography with the level of cameras they appear to be using is… challenging to say the least. While their advice and methodology are sound, I wouldn’t have chosen to work at the margins, esp with a newbie (Hitomi) or to produce a photograph for printing and display.

    OTOH, their choices are reflective of their experience levels and what seems to be a fairly casual club. Which reminds me, when I stop faffing about the blogosphere, I need to write and submit my monthly report for my camera club…. Next to the last, as I’m giving up the position when we install new officers in January.

    Like

    • infinitezenith November 17, 2018 at 23:23

      I think Hitomi’s involvement is more so she can be “in the moment”: The World in Colours never struck me as an anime about photography, and so, I’m more forgiving of the reduced technical correctness. I relate the story about night photography because when I was much younger, I would always wonder why cameras had such a difficult time taking good cityscape shots by nightfall. Looking through guides and articles helped me gain an answer, and it was something related to what was happening in The World in Colours.

      I don’t think one would need to worry about inactivity in the anime blogging community too much, especially if there are real-world obligations to deal with first: I’ve been super inactive this month and only have a total of two published posts this month, with a third in the works. For blog posts, quality trumps quantity, every time 🙂

      Like

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