“Death is what gives life meaning. To know your days are numbered and your time is short.” —The Ancient One, Doctor Strange
Feeling that Asagi’s become distant, Hitomi tries to speak with her, and the two come to terms with one another, deciding that the blame lies with Shō for being quite unaware of the feelings of those around him. With the culture festival coming up, the Magic-Photography-Arts Club decide to do an exhibit that combines all three club’s specialities together: Kohaku and Hitomi will bring one of Yuito’s drawings to life and allow visitors to explore the world within. Kohaku trains Hitomi in the magic required to make this possible, and she is able to take the Magic-Photography-Arts Club on a successful test run. During this trial, Yuito encounters a younger Hitomi, and later learns that Hitomi’s mother left her after discovering Hitomi had latent magical abilities. Devastated, Hitomi developed a dislike for magic; in the present, she feels that sharing the story with Yuito was helpful. As the culture festival draws near, Hitomi begins vanishing from the world, prompting a worried Kohaku to expedite sending Hitomi back to her original time before she is lost. Because the endeavour requires more power than anything she’d done previously, Kohaku asks her friends to help her, as well. Meanwhile, Hitomi rushes out into the night to meet Yuito, fearing that her time with him is limited now that she’s heading back into the future. When the culture festival finally arrives, all fo the club members put on a solid showing to impress their visitors. Hitomi prepares herself to return to the future, and on the final day of the culture festival, uses her magic alongside Kohaku’s to put on a stunning fireworks display. For a brief moment, Hitomi is able to resolve colours again and cries tears of joy for the memories she’s made alongside Kohaku and the others. They return to the park and prepare to perform the tricky bit of magic that will send Hitomi sixty years forward in time.
The World in Colours rapidly consigns the love triangle to history, swiftly resolving it and pushes ahead to the lingering question of getting Hitomi back into her time before the manifesting adverse effects, in the form of disappearing momentarily, can worsen. In choosing to utilise the limitation of time magic as a plot device, The World in Colours cleverly displays to audiences the nature and limitations of magic in their world, as well as provides a sense of urgency in bringing Hitomi back that further forces Hitomi to treasure her experiences in Kohaku’s time. Culminating with a culture festival, Hitomi has evidently become an integral part of the Magic-Photography-Arts Club, helping out with a range of activities and even developing the confidence to use her magic again. Because of this, Hitomi is very close to each member in the Magic-Photography-Arts Club. Consequently, she finds it difficult to part ways, but with the risk of flickering out of existence, Hitomi has no choice but to return to her own time. This hangs over her head, and once her disappearances slow down, she becomes determined to make the most of her time left in this period, helping out everyone as best as she can and also giving them thanks. With the culture festival past, Hitomi discovers her happiness: although she has yet to put it into words, what makes her happy is to be able to bring others happiness with her magic. This is why her colour vision was impaired: it is not the act of falling in love, but being at peace with who she is, that will bring back her colour vision. In the episodes leading up to the finale, The World in Colours shows that, even more so than companionship and support, the fear of losing this will compel individuals to live life to the fullest and come to understand their own desires more strongly than before.
Screenshots and Commentary
- As it turns out, Asagi and Hitomi’s conflict regarding Shō is resolved quickly, leaving The World in Colour‘s final quarter to prioritise the narrative over unnecessary drama. It’s a solid decision, and it typifies The World in Colour‘s ability to incorporate a wide range of matters into its story without having any secondary aspect dominate the story. This post has the usual thirty screenshots, but I remark that it took a considerable amount of effort to trim down the number.
- The entire Magic-Photography-Arts Club look to Yuito to produce a drawing worthy of exploration. While the Yuito of old may have declined, he has also opened up with the passage of time as Hitomi did. Character growth in The World in Colours is very subtle, but tangible — the gradual development of characters feels very natural, and so, when I say that The World in Colours is similar to Tari Tari, this is a compliment.
- Ahead of the actual event, Hitomi practises her magic to bring objects into a drawing and then retrieve them some time later. While her magic is not as overt as Kohaku’s, Hitomi nonetheless is exhibiting superior control over her magic than before. As she develops increasing confidence and mastery of the techniques required, Kohaku decides to give things a test run, sending the Magic-Photography-Arts Club into the drawing.
- After entering the drawing, the students disperse into groups and begin exploring. Hitomi and Yuito visit an underwater village reminiscent of Nagi no Asukara‘s Shioshishio. Readers may have noticed that I’ve written about my share of P.A. Works’ titles, and for my extensive coverage, I’ve never written anything for Angel Beats! or Nagi no Asukara. Both series were superbly enjoyable and merit writing about, but I’ve not found the time to write about them as of yet. There will come a point in the future where I will be writing about both.
- After Yuito ventures into a part of the drawing with a younger Hitomi drawing grim-looking images, he attempts to help the doppelgänger open up. Once they exit the drawing, Hitomi explains her past to Yuito, clarifying to viewers why she came to despise magic: her experiences led her to conclude that magic drives people apart, and she distanced herself from it, hoping to avoid further pain. While Hitomi shares this with Yuito, they do so under curiously faded skies, which convey to audiences that the moment is a difficult one for Hitomi.
- While Yuito apologises for prying, Hitomi feels glad to have shared this with him, explaining that it was a good release for her. This is mirrored in the saturation returning to normal shortly afterwards. Seeing Hitomi open up to Yuito was quite telling: even though the two do not interact directly with a great frequency, there is an interesting connection between the two. When Hitomi and Yuito do interact, it is in pivotal moments that bring the two closer together.
- Watching The World in Colours weekly has been a superb experience; for me, things proceeded very naturally and fluidly, never feeling forced anywhere. I know that elsewhere, opinions of The World in Colours have been less-than-forgiving, and to this, I remark that I am actively and deliberately looking for the things I am enjoying from this series. Because my impressions are that The World in Colours intended to present a similar coming-of-age story as did Tari Tari while integrating magic into things, my long-standing expectation for The World in Colours is primarily to see if the series could use that magic effectively.
- Tari Tari continues to endure as one of the most memorable titles from P.A. Works for me because I watched it the same summer I took the MCAT. Watching Wakana, Konatsu and the others persist with their goals of making their final year of high school meaningful, experiencing a plethora of things in the process, was something that invigorated me. If the K-On! movie helped me relax, then Tari Tari provided me the motivation to push on through, and seeing the cast succeed, as I did with my MCAT, was very rewarding.
- The fellow here is the owner of a used book store and while not exhibiting any magical talents himself, appears to be knowledgeable about magical resources, in addition to being well-connected to other magic wielders. He is able to connect Kohaku with the people who can create a special apparatus for time magic, when Kohaku begins to wonder more about time magic itself. The difficulties of time magic have been foreshadowed with Kohaku’s earlier experiments with the rose, and the consequences of this magic make a return as the final quarter progresses.
- Disturbances to the natural order, as they are called in Doctor Stange, begin occurring in The World in Colours as Hitomi vanishes from existence for short periods of time. She seemingly disappears in front of Asagi’s eyes, but initially, this is chalked up to a fluke. The others brush it off, but Kohaku is more worried. I am still of the mind that it is quite unnecessary to attempt any sort of analysis on how exactly things work in The World in Colours: there are natural forces at play to prevent disruptions to causality that work sufficiently well within the context of the anime, similar to how the Time Stone is used in Doctor Strange – improperly wielded, the Time Stone can trap a user in a time loop or wipe them from existence.
- I’ve long had a liking for the room Hitomi that lodges in during her stay with Kohaku and her family. The lack of artificial lighting in this scene, in conjunction with the soft lights from the moon and the star sand, gives the space a gentle tranquility. It’s a very cozy space, and since Hitomi only spends time with Kohaku here, it’s also representative of Hitomi’s private world, a place far removed from the energy that her friends bring to the table.
- The disappearance phenomenon manifests again when Yuito is walking with Hitomi after classes on a rainy day: she suddenly vanishes without a trace, leaving her umbrella behind. While preparations for the culture festival are under way, a typhoon enters the area and prompts the staff to send students home for safety. Rain storms in P.A. Works’ series have always been beautifully rendered, and like Tari Tari, The World in Colours takes the effort to show the reflection of surroundings on the wet surfaces. Here, the movement of objects are also reflected, a subtle improvement from even the effects of Tari Tari.
- After a frantic search around the school grounds, the club deduces that Hitomi is likely still where she was last seen, and sure enough, she’s found sleeping in a flower bed. Flickering in and out of existence takes its toll on Hitomi, and she takes a few days away from classes to recuperate and rest up.
- Time magic is now evidently something that Kohaku has little confidence in: presented as someone superbly assured in her own magical abilities at the beginning of The World in Colours, Kohaku’s credibility as a character is established with her doubts about time magic. With a tangible weakness, Kohaku is made to rely on her friends when her own resourcefulness falls short, and this makes her much more relatable.
- Being pushed up against a time limit, Hitomi decides to make her feelings known to Yuito, using a series of paper airplanes to convey her messages to him. This is an unexpectedly romantic way to communicate: even though it is 2018 in The World in Colours, with modern tools like Facebook, SMS, iMessage, Line and WhatsApp available, that the two choose to use these old-fashioned tricks gives their interactions a nostalgic sense.
- Hitomi’s magic on her last paper airplane begins fading with time, and she rushes out into the night, hoping that Yuito will receive it. It’s the boldest we’ve seen Hitomi all season, and for good reason – the prospect of departure and separation will drive people out of the comfort zone in pursuit of something new. I say this with confidence because this is precisely what happened with me some years back; the individual I held feelings for was set to study abroad for a semester, and circumstance precluded our meeting in person. With summer running out, and the window closing, I threw caution to the wind.
- Hence, in The World in Colours, seeing Hitomi pushed to do something she would otherwise not do with more time is a very plausible outcome. She and Yuito meet in a spot overlooking Nagasaki, and a single street lamp provides a warm glow on an otherwise cool-looking night. There is no dialogue here, but the message is abundantly clear with the embrace the two share: they have grown very close to one another, and the prospect of Hitomi leaving is one that pains both.
- The page quote for this The World in Colours review is, again, sourced from Doctor Strange: it is quite curious that so many of the themes and concepts in Doctor Strange can apply to The World in Colours so well, even if their contexts and stakes are completely different. I felt this line from the Ancient One to describe what one might reasonably say to Hitomi: it is precisely because treasured things are finite that make them precious. Having fallen in love with Yuito, Hitomi does not want to go back.
- Hitomi is excited for the culture festival and admires the MSB shirt Kurumi has ordered for everyone. Standing for the Mahou Sashin Bijutsu Club (Magic-Photography-Arts), the shirt has a deliberately tacky feel to it. It is a fantastic coincidence that both Japanese (魔法) and English forms of magic begin with the character ‘m’, making the abbreviation work out with its first character. The root “魔” (literally “Devil” in Chinese: this character has 鬼 within, which is Chinese for “ghost”) in Cantonese is also read as jyutping mo1. Translated word-per-word in Chinese, 魔法 is “Devil Arts”, likely a consequence of the Chinese viewing magic as being unnatural. Following the English term magic back to the Old Persian word maguš, wherein magu has roots to “being able to” in Proto-Indo-European. The roots are vastly different, hence my remarks about the coincidence being a curious one.
- Asagi summons up the courage to sell her rabbit photographs to visitors and is successful. She becomes quite animated afterwards, displaying pure joy that others like her photographs. For me, I am now inclined to say that rabbits are likely the pet of choice for me should I ever choose to get a pet: rabbits have a long life and can live upwards of twelve years, are very clean and are adorable beyond words: despite my interest in shooters and military history, I love small, soft animals.
- The particle effects used when Hitomi and Kohaku send their guests into the drawing are identical to those used in Glasslip whenever Tōko peered through glass beads and gazed into the future to see the things that could come to pass. The commonalities here are likely a consequence of P.A. Works reusing an existing asset to convey magic, but for me, it’s also a sign that The World in Colours is Glasslip as it should have been. That magic creates a glow implies the emission of photons, which occurs when an electron moves from a high energy orbit to a low energy orbit, with the energy difference manifesting as electromagnetic radiation. Magic in The World in Colours, then, is probably drawn from control of energy, similar to the magic of Harry Potter, even if the effects are quite different.
- The first day of the culture festival ended up being a great success, and I’m particularly fond of this still, which really captures the Magic-Photography-Arts Club in its full glory. It is great to see everyone together as friends now: while they were once the Photography club who accepted Yuito to make their numbers work, the club is now a lively, full-fledged group able to explore the realms of photography, drawing and magic together. Like Tari Tari‘s Choir-and-sometimes-Badminton Club, having a bit of everything enriches everyone’s experiences far more than a dedicated club could.
- P.A. Works’ use of these multi-disciplinary clubs is meant to show that youth is about exploration. Other anime (e.g. K-On! and Yuru Camp△) have succeeded by focusing on a particular area, such as music or camping, so the clubs of The World in Colours and Tari Tari can seem indecisive on paper. In practise, things work very neatly and allow these series to explore a spectrum of topics. Here, Hitomi and Kohaku hold hands walking back home; my intuition tells me that with the time phenomenon and Hitomi’s eventual return back to her time, Kohaku does not want to see her go.
- On the eve of departure, Kohaku’s family treats everyone to a spectacular dinner. Today is Christmas Eve, and I’m publishing this post ahead of heading to work because once I come back, I likely won’t remember to do so. A fantastic dinner awaits, and I foresee that going to the gym will become more important as I eat more exquisitely than I normally do. On Friday, prior to a Christmas party, I enjoyed a sirlion steak sandwich with caramelised onions and a peppercorn-mushroom sauce at a pub downtown that was converted from a bank, taking a short stroll around the downtown and took in the sights by nightfall before making my way to said party. Then, on Saturday, to celebrate the Chinese Winter Solstice, I went out for dinner with family, where lobster with crispy noodles and a creamy butter sauce was the centerpiece. Then yesterday, I went for breakfast with a friend who was back in town at an inviting breakfast place nearby, where we caught up in the company of an excellent breakfast skillet of involving a scramble of bacon, ham, sausages, frankfurters, bologna, spinach, green onions, tomatoes, onions, red and green peppers, mushrooms and Cheddar cheese, topped with a fried egg, plus a side of toast and fresh fruits.
- With Hitomi’s departure imminent, the Magic-Photography-Arts Club decide to give Yuito and Hitomi some time together. While both appear to reciprocate the others’ feelings, their impending separation means that neither are willing to really get any closer for fear of getting hurt. One of my biggest doubts, attesting to how captivating the story in The World in Colours for me was, was worrying that Hitomi would vanish again mid-festival.
- With the second day drawing to an end, Kohaku’s parents and grandmother swing by for a visit, as well, saying farewell to Hitomi. The students assemble on the grounds for a finale show: bonfires have traditionally been a major part of culture festivals, but in The World in Colours, the presence of magic allows for a magic-powered fireworks display. At this point in time, Hitomi’s magic has seen enough improvement to the point where she can cast spells alongside Kohaku, and on the school rooftop, they ready their finale.
- With nothing but sky above, tears well in Hitomi’s eyes as she watches the fireworks: far more beautiful than any fireworks she’d previously seen in life, she feels a sense of warmth and realises that the fireworks are in colour. With the sum of everything that’s happened in The World in Colours so far, I am inclined to say that Hitomi’s ability to discern colour is impacted by her happiness in the long term, rather than anything to do with relationships. Yuito’s drawings made her happy, so she could see colours in them, and similarly, when he promises to show her his works, having something to look forwards to also gave her happiness.
- The fireworks display seen in The World in Colours rivals even the likes of Gandalf’s fireworks in terms of grandeur and scale: Kohaku and Hitomi do not have Narya, the Ring of Fire, which enhanced Gandalf’s willpower and control over fire. Instead, it is the strength of their feelings for classmates, friends and one another that drive their magic. The fireworks that fill the sky represent both Hitomi and Kohaku’s gratefulness for everything that has happened over the course of The World in Colours.
- It is no coincidence that Hitomi is set to return on a New Moon following a fireworks display, the same circumstances that had been present prior to Kohaku sending her back sixty years later. In a quiet park far removed from the school, the club prepare to help Kohaku send Hitomi back. Kohaku produces the same device she used to send Hitomi back, and the others ready themselves for a difficult goodbye with a cherished friend. Hitomi herself does not wish to return, but has little choice in the matter.
- The finale is to be titled “The World in Colours”, and Hitomi will be regaining her ability to see in colours once more. I have little doubt that the magic sending her back will succeed, and in particular, the preview indicates that Hitomi will make it back no problem. In this case, the finale will largely focus on the dénouement to illustrate that the sum of her experiences has a tangible, long term impact on her, allowing Hitomi to open up with and spend time with those around her as she did with the Magic-Photography-Arts Club.
As we enter the finale, set to air in a few days, The World in Colours has delivered a consistently enjoyable series whose strong suit is a cast of characters audiences can empathise with. However, not all of the problems that members in the Magic-Photography-Arts Club face are overwhelming or insurmountable: smaller issues and doubts are promptly sorted out, leaving no lingering negative impact on the rhythm and flow in The World in Colours‘ story. Asagi’s jealousy of Hitomi is maturely addressed, and this leaves the story to focus on magic, as well as the feelings associated with an imminent departure and the attendant desire to not depart. Hitomi has clearly made the most of her time in The World in Colours‘ final few episodes, having come out of Kohaku’s time transformed. More confident, optimistic and above all, accepting of her magic, Hitomi’s come a long way since her quiet, reserved self during the series’ beginning. I am impressed with how The World in Colours handled everyday life, romance and magic; the series strikes a balance that allows all three elements to shine, giving the anime a very multi-layered sense that brings Hitomi’s world to life. Looking ahead, I am curious to see what impediments await the process of sending Hitomi back, and also how Hitomi will interact with those around her once she returns to the future; the finale is set for release at the end of the week. With the end of the year rapidly approaching, I cannot guarantee that I will be on time with my posts, given that there are various Christmas festivities to partake in and enjoy. Having said this, I will be coming back to write about The World in Colours one last time for the finale: this is a series that has captivated me from episode one.