The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games and life converge

Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara (The World in Colours): Review and Reflection at the ¾ mark

“Pain’s an old friend.” —Steven Strange, Doctor Strange

Hitomi’s ability to see in colour is short-lived, and her world reverts to a monochromatic one. Kurumi begins preparations for her entrance exams into post-secondary, and with both her and Shō graduating, the Magic-Photography-Arts Club begin transitioning to a new leader. Asagi is selected for this role and is tasked with organising the club’s summer camp event. While studying at the park, Kurumi’s older sister comes to pick her up and encourages Karumi to choose the future she desires. During the summer camp, the Magic-Photography-Arts Club’s members partake in photography, and Chigusa expresses a want to take a melancholy image from the Megami Bridge. Kurumi shares with Hitomi her doubts for the future, saying that she isn’t particularly passionate about anything in particular. Later in the evening, the club misses the last ferry, but are treated with a beautiful nightscape of Nagasaki. When Hitomi reveals to Kohaku that her colour vision briefly manifested, Kohaku begins to wonder if there’s something about Yuito that could help her out. After conducting a series of experiments, Kohaku is unsuccessful and also begins delving into time magic, feeling that she’ll need to master it if she is to send Hitomi back sixty years later. She is able to briefly bring a rose back to life and restore Asagi’s camera, but her magic’s effects are short-lived. However, as Hitomi begins settling into life at the Magic-Photography-Arts Club, Kohaku wonders if it’s a good idea to send her back into the future, now that Hitomi’s made friends she can confide in. In particular, Shō has developed feelings for Hitomi, and asks her to join him in a photography session. He later attempts to make his feelings known to her, but Hitomi panics and runs off. After advice from both Kohaku and Asagi, Hitomi expresses that she does not see Shō in a romantic manner. Meanwhile, Asagi is devastated to learn that Shō’s eyes have been on someone else after all this time.

Although everyday life remains at the forefront of The World in Colours, it was only a matter of time before lingering matters of magic and romance would begin making their presence felt. With Hitomi now much more expressive and comfortable around her friends, a new status quo has been established. Because nothing lasts indefinitely, and all moments, both good and bad, are finite, The World in Colours begins to explore the topics that have naturally and gradually begun to appear in The World in Colours. The matter of sending Hitomi back into the future is the first of these elements; as a forward-thinking mage, Kohaku is always seeking to expand and better her craft. Time magic proves immensely complex, and while she takes up studying it to help Hitomi, her resolve is diminished when she sees how close Hitomi’s become with everyone, coming to understand that magic cannot bring about happiness per se, but rather, the intent and circumstance of its application. Kohaku realises that she cannot simply use magic to create fabrications. However, even the things that arise naturally can be disrupted: as a result of their time together, Shō begins to connect with Hitomi and develops feelings for her. Although there is nothing forcible about his approach, things nonetheless fail simply because Hitomi does not view Shō in a romantic light. Magic or not, this is the reality of things, and in the aftermath of his unsuccessful kokuhaku, there will be a bit of a distance amongst the Magic-Photography-Arts Club’s members that even Kohaku and her magic will be hard-pressed to solve: Kohaku understands that magic is not the end all, and will likely be conflicted in choosing whether or not she can apply it as a solution to help her friends.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Like Tari Tari, questions of the future are never too far from the forefront of the characters’ thoughts. While a well-tread path for any work concerning youth, to the point of exhaustion for some, coming-of-age stories continue to endure because they remind us of the halcyon days of our youth, when our concerns primarily focused around our studies and relationships. While without the same freedoms of adulthood, youth entails a different sort of freedom, as they needn’t deal with matters such as looking after bills and dependents.

  • For me, the joy of these coming-of-age stories stem from seeing the different journeys everyone takes towards their own futures. This forms the basis for my interest in slice-of-life stories, and seeing how folks deal with problems in fiction is to gain insight into what authors themselves have experienced, or else what the authors feel is an appropriate approach towards handling the challenges in life.

  • A pâtissier, Kurumi’s older sister deviated against their parents’ wishes, but with application of effort and perseverance, has come to make considerable in her career. A major part of growing up is to ascertain precisely what one would do with their life, and at Kurumi’s age, I remained undecided. I ended up doing a health sciences degree that was essentially a double major in biological sciences and computer science. I’m still not sure whether or not my indecision as a high school student has any sort of impact on my current career choices and skill set, but I can say that with enough effort, one could make their decisions work out in a reasonable manner.

  • On the day of their camping trip, the skies are pleasant, and under Asagi’s direction, camp is off to a fine start. Kurumi and Chigusa share a conversation here about her future plans; the two are often seen teasing one another, and here, Kurumi decides to ask Chigusa to help with the cooking because he’s proficient with it. The course of their conversation shows that Kurumi feels as though she’s living in her sister’s shadow.

  • I’ve lost count of how many shows I’ve seen that featured grilled meats and vegetables now: pre-made skewers can be found at the local supermarket and would only require a grill to prepare fully. The weather around my side of the world is only really conducive for barbecue for a few short months of the year, with the remainder being too cold and snowy for such activities, but I’ve long learned to figure out ways of keeping warm and also, to enjoy what is around me. Today, I volunteered to be a judge at my dōjō‘s kata tournament, watching younger students showcase their kata, and it was a remarkably fun learning experience for me, as I sought to look for the details that I count a part of a good kata.

  • While the circumstances are indubitably different, I relate to Kurumi’s situation: she feels left behind by her friends, each of whom have become very focused about their futures. Of my friends, I often feel that I am floundering about, lacking the drive to take charge and improve my situation. In the past two months, I realised that I needed a job change. Because of my unusual background, my data structures and algorithm skills were weaker, so I returned to my books and implemented common data structures like binary search trees and hash tables in Swift, all the while touching up on design patterns and interviewing essentials.

  • This is why my posting for the last month has dropped off: I’ve been consumed with the job search process. We’ve now entered December, and I’ll be starting a new position in a week. What this means for this blog is that I will continue to write as I have (i.e. whenever I find the time to do so, when there are things to talk about). The reason why I relate this story is because life is filled with unknowns, and with this in mind, one cannot begrudge Kurumi for being a little uncertain about her future.

  • Kohaku, on the other hand, is confident about her future. The World in Colours presents mages as being a profession that, despite seemingly being far removed from other occupations, is one that requires an inquisitive mindset and entrepreneurial skills. Kohaku certainly has enough of both attributes to spare, and here, she remarks that she’d love to be able to capture the feelings of this moment and then relive it again in the future.

  • Realising the hour is late, and the ferry is approaching, Chigusa and the others run out onto Megami Bridge, a cable-stayed bridge that was finished in 2005 and has a span of 280 metres. They miss the ferry, and Chigusa’s efforts to capture a melancholy image of a girl looking over the harbour is lost. However, the Magic-Photography-Art Club share yet another memorable moment together, and gazing out over the harbour, everyone is treated to another spectacular view of Nagasaki.

  • In contrast with the view from the school rooftop, this particular cityscape is more colourful and has a richer palette. In particular, the inclusion of purples, oranges and yellows create a warmer colour that could signify Hitomi’s increasing closeness to everyone else in the Magic-Photography-Art Club. Fewer stars are visible in this sky, as well. Despite only seeing a monochromatic view here, Hitomi is curious to learn of what everyone else thinks of the cityscape here.

  • Questions of who Hitomi’s grandfather (and therefore, Kohaku’s husband) is have long troubled discussions of The World in Colours, with some speculating that the clerk at this bookstore might be the individual in question. That Kohaku never seems to be concerned about things indicates to me that who she meets is not of great relevance to The World in Colours in the same way that causality and paradoxes arising from time travel are not particularly important to The World in Colours.

  • Back at the clubroom, images from their photo shoots are collected and digitally enhanced. In particular, Hitomi’s photography has begun improving, as she is finding ways to use lighting and subjects to create a more compelling shot. These improvements impress Shō, who begins developing feelings for Hitomi upon seeing her seize the initiative. Besides having an easygoing demeanour and serious aspiration for a career in professional photography, not much about Shō is known.

  • When Kohaku learns that Hitomi’s colour vision faded, she’s intrigued to learn what might’ve brought it back, and that given Hitomi’s unconscious use of magic, believes that Hitomi might have experienced something strong enough for her to begin fighting the effects of this spell. Once Hitomi mentions Yuito as being present when her colour vision returned, Kohaku decides to use this as the starting point to see if Yuito himself might be sufficient to instigate a response from Hitomi.

  • All of Kohaku’s experiments end up being inconclusive – Shō and Kurumi walk in on Yuito and Hitomi amidst one of Kohaku’s tests. Par the course for a club activity, the Magic-Photography-Art Club’s activities are set after classes, late in the day when the sky grows a golden colour and shadows lengthen. Sunset in Nagasaki is around 17:14 JST during the winter and 19:32 JST by summer: ideally placed to coincide with the club activities, the colours of sunrise create a melancholy feeling of ending as the light fades away.

  • I’ve not been to a library with a decent selection of books for upwards of a decade: with the rise of tablets and e-Readers, physical books have been on the decline in my area. Commonly used as study spaces for their quiet, the one thing about libraries that have not changed is the presence of students who capitalise on their environment to study, and here, Kohaku decides to setup a situation designed to increase Hitomi’s heart rate, in the hopes of seeing Hitomi’s colour vision come back. Despite her use of magic to accelerate the process, Kohaku only succeeds in irritating Hitomi.

  • Kohaku believes that she’ll need to be able to send Hitomi back into the future and also, must learn time magic if she is able to send Hitomi back in the first place. She begins practising time magic, using it in a limited capacity to bring a wilted rose back to life and reverse the flow of sand grains in a timer. Time magic is seen in Harry Potter with the Time-Turners, and their usage is restricted to prevent temporal paradoxes. Similarly, when the Time Stone was first introduced in Doctor Strange, it is explained that Agamotto, the first wielder of the stone, forbade Masters of the Mystic Arts from using the Time Stone directly for fear that it would disrupt the natural order.

  • Owing to the casual nature of magic in The World in Colours, no such equivalents exist, and moreover, it would appear that Kohaku is breaking into new grounds with her magic. In between her experiments, Kohaku spends time with the club, who are out on another outing around the area. In particular, Hitomi has really come to appreciate the time she’s spending with the others and has begun expanding the range of subjects for her photography, desiring to capture these memories forever.

  • After Shō overhears Hitomi and Kohaku discussing Hitomi’s eventual need to return to the future, he becomes more worried about being able to be with her, and quite separately, Asagi is not certain whether or not she can overcome her doubts to make her feelings known to Shō. Before anything can occur, Kohaku uses magic to bring a group of cats together for the club’s photography.

  • Much as how the Time Stone can be used to locally revert time, Kohaku uses her magic to restore Asagi’s camera. Her magic is still unlearned at this point in time, and she cannot use magic as effectively as Dr. Strange or Thanos, with the latter utilising the Time Stone to reassemble the Mind Stone after Wanda Maximoff destroyed it at Vision’s request. However, Kohaku is initially unaware of this, and only learns that her skill with time magic is limited when she gets home, when her grandmother remarks that the rose is wilted again.

  • While running across an overpass, a bit of the scenery in Nagasaki can be seen. The World in Colours definitely captures Nagasaki’s reputation as having one of the best night views in all of Japan, standing alongside Kobe and Hakodate. Occasionally venturing into the realm of photorealism, P.A. Works’ series are always a visual treat to watch; if I were to roll this part of The World in Colours a few frames back, one would not immediately be able to tell whether or not this was a photograph or not.

  • Kohaku is normally confident and forward, but when her magic fails, she becomes taken aback. Realising that Asagi’s camera may have suffered the same fate as the rose, she rushes out into the night to confirm that this is indeed the case: Kohaku’s greatest fear is letting people down with her magic. Kohaku and Dr. Strange therefore share similar perspectives, looking out for others and constantly striving to learn more about the magic that they respectively possess.

  • While sharing their photographs from the previous day, and seeing that Hitomi’s found herself at home among the Magic-Photography-Art Club, Kohaku feels that using her magic alone might not be sufficient to bring happiness to others: while she’d been working on time magic, she suddenly finds herself at a juncture. Seeing a more pensive Kohaku shows that even the most confident of individuals may occasionally have their doubts, improving her plausibility as a character.

  • Hitomi’s dislike for magic appears to have diminished over time, and she’s seen helping around the shop without much resistance. The ninth episode predominantly deals with the impact she’s had on the Magic-Photography-Art Club, especially on Shō, who’d found himself drawn to Hitomi’s persistence and mystique. When hearing about Hitomi’s plans, Kohaku is supportive, but also surprised, having long felt that Yuito would be the person Hitomi would find to be most interesting.

  • Shō decides to take Hitomi out for a photography session, something that is a date in all but name. Taking her around more scenic spots in Nagasaki, Chigusa and Kurumi run into Shō and Hitomi from a distance and decide not to meet them. Although they don’t feel the two spending time together to be a date, Kurumi feels it’s better if news of this did not reach Asagi’s ears. A love triangle has developed in The World in Colours, one involving multiple actors, and while I’m curious to see how things will turn out, others have been more hasty to conclude that this turn of events is “bland”.

  • I never take anyone who uses the word “bland” seriously, primarily because it’s a stock term indicative of a lazy thought process. In the case of The World in Colours, I further counter-argue that the unique presence of magic in conjunction with a love triangle could have some interesting implications on the story, especially with respect to how the challenges are resolved. Magic cannot be wantonly used to rectify things, but it could also lead to the development of a more stable solution in the long-term if used correctly. In addition, The World in Colours remains very concrete about what it intends to present to audiences: there is no need for the unlearned to step in and convince others of an untrue theme as some had done for Glasslip.

  • Shō’s kokuhaku is timed at the end of the day; having spent it building things up, he decides now is the time to see if Hitomi will reciprocate his feelings. Taken aback, Hitomi runs off into the night, leaving Shō uncertain as to what just occurred. The outcome of this particular love confession is not particularly surprising, and is what motivates the page quote: rejections and their attendant pain are familiar to me, and so, I know precisely how Shō feels here. In my case, I was not afforded the pleasantries of a direct and courteous rejection as Shō was.

  • The next day, Hitomi is thoroughly depressed, feeling that with her circumstances, she isn’t someone who could deserve a relationship. Kohaku’s first recommendation is to discuss things elsewhere, having drawn the attention of their fellow classmates, including a few guys who immediately burst into tears after learning Hitomi might not be the most eligible bachelorette anymore.

  • When Hitomi asks Kohaku about her situation, Kohaku remarks she’s unsure as to what to do here, having never dealt with a kokuhaku before. While Kohaku is my favourite character of everyone, it’s not difficult to see her as being unapproachable, given her boisterous and outgoing manner. The choice to deliberately present Kohaku as a free spirit who is not committed to or concerned with relationships at this stage in her life is deliberate, so as not to create any expectations for who is to eventually become her husband and Hitomi’s grandfather.

  • Hitomi seeks Asagi’s counsel, and ultimately resolves to at least give Shō a truthful answer. However, Hitomi unwittingly has a picture of a special spot on her camera, revealing to Asagi that Shō’s got feelings for Hitomi. Putting two and two together, Asagi is devastated. Relationships are a desperately tricky topic, and I find that the most mature perspectives on relationships are from those who take a more open-minded approach to things, who accept that there are pluses and minuses, winners and losers.

  • When Hitomi turns Shō down, he takes it stoically and expresses a desire to remain friends. After Hitomi leaves, he allows frustration to flow through him and vents on the rooftops, to the surprise of a woodwinds and brass club practising. Moving into The World in Colours‘ final quarter, much needs to be resolved as things pick up. I’m looking forwards to this: depending on how The World in Colours unfolds, I will have at least one, and at most two more posts about this series. These posts are still a ways off, and now that we’re into December, a few things need to be clarified. First, my schedule is still a little hectic, but as it will stablise, my resolve to write for this blog has returned. I have a few posts planned out between now and when The World in Colours‘ finale airs, including a revisitation of K-On! The MovieCLANNAD ~After Story~ and a pair of posts on Little Forest.

Life is turbulent and chaotic, and as Kohaku has come to accept, there are no magic bullets that can singularly act as the solution to all of the challenges that one encounters in life. Instead, the answer to the problems in life must come by a different road. With this in mind, I am looking forwards to seeing the impacts of Shō’s kokuhaku and how the dynamics among the Magic-Photography-Arts Club shifts with the events from these past few episodes. Traditionally, conflict in fiction leaves the characters far stronger than when they were previously, and it is likely that what happens next will set in motion the occurrences that help Hitomi recover her colour vision. In addition, Kohaku will also likely need to deal with her own conflicts in order to help Hitomi out, as well as affirm her abilities with magic. Nine episodes into The World in Colours, I am optimistic that this series will remain focused and not delve into the realm of abstract, unexplained phenomenon: now that we are three-quarters of the way into The World in Colours, it is with conviction that I can say that this series is Tari Tari with a stronger emphasis on romance and a touch of supernatural to explore the aspects of love more viscerally, as well as to indicate that problems people encountered are not so easily solved with short cuts. The journey to the end is therefore an exciting one, and for having compelled me to sit down and watch it each and every week so far, The World in Colours has been solid insofar: I’m very much hoping The World in Colours will stick its landing in this final quarter to show that magic and everyday life can co-exist with youth who are working their hardest to figure out their place in the sun.

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