Despite the kaleidoscopic magic ingrained in everyday life, Hitomi Tsukishiro's monochrome world is deprived of emotion and feeling. On a night as black and white as any other, amidst the fireworks spreading across the sky, Hitomi's grandmother Kohaku conjures a spell, for which she has been harnessing the moon's light for 60 years, to send Hitomi back in time to the year 2018 when Kohaku was in high school.
Hitomi's mission seems unclear, but her grandmother assures her that she will know when she gets there. Following a trip through time aboard a train driven by a strange yellow creature, Hitomi finds herself in stoic artist Yuito Aoi's room, and his drawings flood her world with color. What is Hitomi's purpose there, and why do Yuito's drawings return such breathtaking color to her drab world?
Watching Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara (Iroduku) is like a taking a journey into a storybook adventure. But in that adventure, there’s magic, creativity, and feelings that’s hard to be put into words alone. Produced by P.A. Works, I had high expectations for Iroduku considering their recent lineup. Being a powerhouse studio, P.A. Works has always captivated me with their wealth of ideas. From school life dramas to a dark thriller about vampires, this studio continues to establish themselves with their creativity.
To my delight, Iroduku turned out to be yet another show that made me realize how an original anime should be done. Believe me,
this seemed like a hit or miss in the beginning that looked like an average modern teen soap opera. However, I would say not to judge too fast as the premise itself possesses great potential for a storyteller. From the beginning, we are introduced to the city of Nagasaki where magic is also part of normal life. We meet main female protagonist Hitomi Tsukishiro who happens to be a 17 year old descendant from a family of witches. What we know about her early on is that she has a disdain towards magic. It’s because she lost her sense with colors and also became distant with people. The plot involves her grandmother Kohaku who decides to send her 60 years into the past so they can reconnect. To be honest, this show became a modern fantasy about self-discovery even with the time travel gimmick. At the center of it is Hitomi Tsukishiro.
I’ll say right off the bat that the show will test a bit of the audience’s patience. The pacing in the beginning is slow and doesn’t jump over itself to sell its core concepts. But that’s not really a negative of the show. I came to realize that the directors wanted to help the characters grow especially with important relationships. From the first few episodes, it’s shown that Hitomi is not a sociable person and finds it difficult to open herself to others. That soon changes when she meets Yuito Aoi and the photography club. Through their influence, Hitomi begins to climb out of her shell. For some reason, Hitomi is also able to see Yuito’s colors in his drawings. This is important as it enables the both of them to connect on a more personal level.
Indeed, Iroduku shines best when it’s able to capitalize on the character relationship development. Hitomi and Yuito is a prominent example. The show commits to developing their relationship from strangers to close friends. It felt like the creators wanted us to experience both of their character growth alongside them. Significantly enough, Hitomi does develop from a withdrawn witch girl into a more mature woman. This is thanks to the positive influence of Kohaku Tsukishiro, who also joins the Photography Club later on. What I find interesting about Kohaku is her outgoing personality and loyalty to her friends. From the beginning, she seems like the opposite of Hitomi and is easily open to others. At the same time, she’s also a bit of a troublemaker for her experiments with magic at school. While I can’t say she is a flawless character, Kohaku brings in a lot of hope for character development. Hitomi begins to regain her sense of magic but also able to make new friends. It’s a very simple and acceptable way to see her character growth.
Now you may be questioning yourself if this show contains romance as part of its storytelling. While the show itself isn’t adamant on building romance, it does exist in some ways. As the story progresses, it seems Hitomi develops some feelings towards Yuito and vice versa. Their photography club president Shou Yamabuki also begins to show an attraction towards Hitomi. Meanwhile, there’s Asagi Kazeno in the club who has an obvious crush towards Shou. You get the idea. Not to mention, misunderstandings ensue early in the series when Kurumi (vice president of the photography club) took a video of Hitomi coming out of Yuito’s room. Romance angles exist in the show but really doesn’t overshadow the story’s flow. P.A. Works have been known to make anime with romance content that can get be stale and overly sensitive. Thankfully, Iroduku isn’t the case even though it exists.
Still, the big question to ask yourself is what’s the most you can get out of this show? At best, this show works in wonders as a character driven story with a creative modern fantasy atmosphere. Every character in the show brings something to the table for their role. The show’s main push though is Hitomi for her character growth and self-discovery. Whether you like it or not, the story focuses on her growing with more self-confidence and plays a central part in regaining her sense of magic. She even gets on better terms with characters like Asagi after the two understands each other more. Meanwhile, we also get some unique symbolisms. The most prominent one is the golden fish that symbolizes hope. Not only does Hitomi finds her own world now, she also grows to accept magic. This is also thanks to Kohaku’s presence as she wants to make her granddaughter happy. Magic plays a role and she wants Hitomi to experience the best out of it. As you may expect, the show also contains time travels tropes. But really, this isn’t a show about fixing the past but rather about changing a character in a positive way. I’m probably going easy on this show in some ways but everything felt like it flows so well from start to finish. From Hitomi joining the photography club to experiencing cultural festival together with friends, P.A. Works manages to sell this series as a modern coming of age fantasy.
Even if this show isn’t your cup of tea for its drama, the technical content is a feast for the eyes. P.A. Works once again manages to showcase their talent with high level production quality. It’s very well polished that makes the show itself look like a work of art. It’s easy to also accept the show as a modern fantasy with the relaxing setting and lush backgrounds. Magic itself is portrayed in aesthetic style with blending of unique colors. As it’s part of the plot, the show’s visuals manages to capture the essence of that at its finest. My only pet peeve is the character expressions. An easy finger to point at is Hitomi for having the same face for the majority of the show. I get the creators wanted to portray her as a withdrawn girl in the beginning but it’s hard to sometimes feel empathic about her on the surface. This is a contrast to pretty much almost every other character. As you may also expect, this show is very melancholic especially during some of the more emotional episodes. The theme songs reflects that as well along with voice mannerism in those cases.
There’s probably countless ways to accept this show but the simplest way is to embrace the character growth of the main protagonist, Hitomi. My initial impression of the show grew from a story about magic to how characters can change thanks to others’ influence. Character relationships play a big role for its ability to capture the significance of their growth. Once again, P.A. Works shows how valuable their original anime can be. And to me, I can’t help but recommend Iroduku for those who wants to experience more.
I feel that it’s safe to say that all stories in some essence are contrived. I mean these are works of fiction, fake stories concocted by a writer/s imagination. From characters, settings, plot conventions, conveniences, and anything else under the sun, the writer has full control to manipulate them however they wish. Of course this is only looking at a work in a very reductionist point of view. Because even if they are contrived, most don’t give off the air or feel of being one. Due to the fact of the creators embellishing their stories that makes their characters more compelling, the
settings having a sense of place, and for the plot to come off as more “naturel”. Why is all this important? Well because Irozuku seems to be in conflict with two different elements, with one being the tale of self growth as a character and the other being a magical time travel romantic melodrama.
From the start off it’s easy to see that there was a good amount of effort put into the visuals of the show. With a show with the name color in its name, it does make sure to bring it to the screen with a vibrant color pallet being applied to almost everything. However sometimes the vibrancy doesn’t work in it’s favor when it comes to the characters as they come of as glossy making them at time look a bit plastic like. What also doesn’t help for their characters is their designs, at least their faces. While i’m kind of fine with most shows and their minimalist design of the faces this show takes a it a small step more that ends up being to far. With the nose being far to small, and thanks to the glossy look of the show almost non-existent, and that could also play in part with now the eyes looking a bit far apart from the face that they start to look like fish people.
Anyway the main story is about Hitomi, a girl from the future, where magic is commonplace and not the type where technology is advance that it’s like magic, but actual magic. Due to her very strained relationship with her mother, she has lost the color in her life. I don’t mean in a metaphorically melancholic way, but she has honestly become monochromatic colorblind. Then her grandmother comes and has some inkling of how her granddaughter feels and then she just sends her to the past, after which this series of events happen. Hitomi wakes up in some guys empty room, she “secretly” leaves but forgets her earing, she is seen by some people who happen to be the friends of the guy living in the room, she realizes she lost her earring, she finds the guy who lived in that room with her earing, and finally the guys drawing are the only thing that Hitomi can see in color, and mind you that this is just the first episode. It’s not all the small conveniences that are the problem, but how they constantly stack up on one another that makes them so forced and so contrived. Events like these happen every once in a while in the show, and across multiple episodes that it is easy to be taken out of the experience that it is trying to sell.
Now i’m not going to get into the whole time travel thing since that’s a whole beast i don’t care enough to go into it, other than it’s just kind of dumb. The magic i don’t mind as much and i’m fine having it be somewhat ambiguous. However it’s obvious how these are used as plot devices and probably the main vehicle why so many parts of the story just feel so forced.
It just leaves lingering questions of why the creators of this work would go to such lengths to create such extraneous plot lines for a show about personal growth. Sure this is an anime original and it was trying to be original in its premise from other derivative Japanese high school anime. But that’s just how far they went, only the premise. Since outside of the whole magic and time travel thing all that’s left is a dull school romantic melodrama. None of which are bad elements but the show does nothing to make them work in its favor. There’s not much about the romance that makes it really endearing or compelling. Especially with how all the characters are “coupled up” with the main couple, the childhood friends, and the other two. None of them are in actual relationships with each other but the show still makes a point to make it overtly obvious. Even when there’s romantic conflicts which make up most of the melodrama portion. Most of it is just eye rolling and annoying and makes me internally scream, "get on with it already"! These problems probably had more to do with the characters themselves. There’s not really much to them when it goes to characterization and personality since it’s rather basic and on the surface and the few who do have some character development, it’s also rather basic and isn’t really that well done. There’s not much about them that makes them really compelling. Even the main character and her developing from her angst into a better person in end is still a dull character.
Now the whole show isn’t that bad. The theme of self growth is rather consistent across the show and it does have moments that are rather good and touching. It even hits a really good stride during the last two or three episodes, even if it’s undermined by more plot contrivance. The production value is fine even if there are some poor decisions with the directing of the show like when it the POV of Hitomi but from her perspective she can still see color and then a few seconds later it turns to monochrome to make a point that she’s color blind in case it wasn’t obvious enough times.
In the end there’s not much that is worthwhile about this show. With a cast of just boring 2-dimensional characters. A plot that could have gone down a more simpler road while still maintaining it’s core theme, but opted for a more convoluted yet easily convenient one. There’s not much that hides the intrinsic contrivances of the story. Maybe the show should have upped the plastic look of the characters so the writing could have something to match with.
Irozuku is a show that tries to mask its lack of plot and even remotely good characters with nice colors. That's really about it. It's reminiscent of Violet Evergarden as to how it tries to ride off of its art, except Evergarden doesn't have a pathetic cast of characters and a boring plot.
Story (5/10): For some reason, this show isn't listed as a Slice of Life, which is very strange, considering the plot is much more boring than your average Slice of Life. Honestly, there really isn't a story. They're in their club, they take pictures, and something about the main girl
being semi-colorblind. It's basically a Slice of Life without the tag. Then, lo and behold, in the last 3 episodes or so, drama drops out of nowhere straight onto your head, most likely giving you a concussion. Remember guys, drama means sad, and sad means good. That seems to be the golden rule of MAL users. Sad = good. But how am I supposed to feel sad when the characters are as well written as a fourth grader's spelling test?
Characters (1/10): When you've got pretty much no plot for most of the show, you end up focusing on the characters. When your characters have effectively no defining character traits or personalities, well, you've got a problem. I still don't remember half of the characters' names after finishing the show. Well, sure, the characters might be boring, but you still have character development to make things interesting, right? Well, no, you don't. Unless you count "this character likes that character" as conflict/character development, there is literally no character development until the last 3 episodes, where pretty much everything just takes a left turn. Now those plastic bottle characters from the last 10 episodes you watched are in a sad situation, so you have to feel sad. Just try to forget that they literally barely qualified as characters for the past 10 episodes. It's pretty amazing that P.A. Works managed to create a worse cast of characters than that of ChäoS;HEAd. There's 2 even remotely decent characters, and one of them is comic relief. I'll just rate the characters individually on a scale of 0 to 5 below.
Hitomi (0/5): The only feature of her personality is that she can't see colors. Yukiteru Amano probably has more going for him.
Main guy (1/5): Generic edgy loner
Club president (0/5): I don't even know what to put here. He actually just doesn't have any character traits whatsoever. The epitome of a worthless supporting character. Somehow him falling in love with Hitomi was supposed to be a character trait.
Chigusa (2/5): Kinda serves as comic relief sometimes?
Glasses girl (1/5): Really just only there for the same repeated fights with Chigusa, kinda got boring after the first time that happened.
Asagi (1/5): She's cute, and she likes taking pictures of cute things. What a greatly defined character. Oh yeah, she likes the club president guy. There appears to be some sort of trend here, where the characters are defined not by themselves, but by who they like, or by the story.
Kohaku (3/5): Has more personality than pretty much the rest of the cast combined. She's actually not dead inside! Whenever anything remotely interesting happens, it's usually centered around her magic.
Art (9/10): Hey look it's the good part of the show. Everyone knows art is the most important part of a show! Seriously though, the art is beautiful. Amazing color variety/combinations. The scenes where magic is used are absolutely breathtaking. The only reason it doesn't pull a 10/10 is that there are random close-ups of characters' faces in semi-profile views where their nose is just completely off-center. Really bothers me when the whole screen is a character's messed up face. What are their noses doing on their cheeks?
Sound (7/10): Generic OST with nothing outstanding. Above average opening theme. I've never listened to an ending theme in my life. The music is simple, and it works well for the kind of show that it is.
Enjoyment (4/10): The only show that I watched this season where I didn't feel the desire to watch it on the day it airs. Hell, I even watched Tokyo Ghoul every Tuesday, even though :re 2 is an absolute disgrace. I don't hate the show though. Somehow the art makes this somewhat slightly enjoyable if you don't think hard about it.
Overall (4/10): Do you like getting hit over the head with the exact same conflict? Do you have 25 minutes to just completely waste? Do you have some form of ADHD that prevents you from paying attention to what's actually unfolding in front of your eyes? Do you enjoy having a block of drama concrete dropped onto your head? If you answered yes to any 2 out of 4 of these questions, you'll probably enjoy the show. If you didn't, there's plenty of better things to do with your time than watch this.
Alright P.A. Works, what've you got up your sleeve this time? Let's see...can't see colors; she's colorblind, that's kinda interesting. Magic, sent back in time...ok, a time traveling series. Could pose some problems, but I'm sure it won't bite them in the ass. Hopefully. Shinohara Toshiya as the series director. Why does that name sound familiar? Director of...NagiAsu? Oh goddamnit.
In a version of Japan where magic is prominent, Tsukishiro Hitomi watches from afar at fireworks that she used to watch with her mother, only to see black and white. All color is lost in her vision, and the world she lives in exists in an
ashen gray. Her grandmother, Kohaku, comes up to her and really without word or warning, sends her granddaughter back in time to the time when she was a student sixty years in the past. It's here where Hitomi is forced upon an older world in hopes to help her and with the help of her grandmother's younger self, restore color to her granddaughter's world.
The mantra of P.A. Works and the company's main selling point are the original works they manage to pump out each year, hardly doing any actual adaptations of light novels or manga in favor of original stories. Irozuku appears as the latest in the company's lineup with some very mixed results.
The story focuses on Hitomi and her journey to break out of her shell, capitalizing on the themes on how important people are in our lives and that as long as you have someone close to you, you're never alone. A simple plot with enough punch and potential to grant the viewer an emotional and powerful journey when done well. But this is kind of the fault line where Irozuku borders on 'has potential' and 'wasted potential'. The setup with a group of friends of mixed genders almost always has some kind of romantic subplot going in the background, which given the director's history of NagiAsu was assuredly guaranteed.
While Hitomi is certainly at the forefront of the majority of the story, what ends up being a lacking component is how the rest of the characters around her are formulated as characters. The story lumps up every one or two of her friends together for a character arc, showcasing their respective ups and downs in their personalities to Hitomi so that ultimately everyone grows as people. Issue here is how uneventful everything feels. The show never seems to reach a true emotional high point that makes it possible for me to give a damn, instead choosing to have several smaller bumps that little amount to a few shed tears instead of true emotional breakdown, a shame considering the validity of one given some of the cast's problems. This problem ends up bleeding into Hitomi as well since while yes she does have significant change, it feels subtle enough to almost not matter, had it not been for the ending giving us a proper epilogue to the entire story.
Romantic subplots also plague this story (and many other of P.A.'s works), resulting in an expected, yet also very lukewarm result. I don't understand why they thought that having a romance in a story where a girl is sent back 60 years in the past only to assuredly go back by the end was a good idea to begin with. Honestly, the show could've just not made it so that there was any romance between the characters and it would almost assuredly have the same impact. I actually feel like the show was constricting itself with it because it's like "Oh, we HAVE to have this tragic romance where they can't be together for tension" instead of just having the entire group just be really good friends. The fact that it doesn't really go anywhere either does make it a harmless add-in, but also raises the question of what the point of having romance was to begin with.
Story-wise, the show's only true, major upside lies in its ending where everything is wrapped in a neat bow, glorifying the journey as an emotional rollercoaster of emotions. The embellishment is kind of unreal for a good majority of the meandering that happens in the plot, but it serves to give the story a satisfying conclusion that it otherwise wouldn't have given the fact that it puts Hitomi's entire character arc into perspective. It's probably the only aspect of the story that I like, which if nothing else, gives me hope that 'Hey, at least P.A. can do endings now'.
Hitomi herself is a depressing character, moping around for a majority of the plot due to her shy and walled-off nature where she's afraid to inconvenience people, hates her existence as a mage, and bears the burden of the conflict that she had with her mother. Despite a potential breeding ground for growth, ultimately I don't really like Hitomi as a character. It never feels like she's truly at the forefront of the story despite all of the other characters making her so. She definitely has her moments in the spotlight where she does take initiative and acts on her own accord to not only better herself and hone in her qualities as a mage, but the majority of her character just doesn't feel like she does anything meaningful due to her innately shy and soft-spoken nature.
Kohaku is the only other character that I feel has any real moments in the spotlight. As Hitomi's grandmother de-aged sixty years, Kohaku serves as the spunky and outspoken character who loves magic, the complete opposite to her granddaughter. While Kohaku doesn't really get a character arc herself, a lot of what she does serves to make the plot happen, showing us the amount of work she puts in to better herself as a mage and takes responsibility of what her older self has done.
The rest of the cast suffers from honestly, not being all that memorable. Chigusa, Sho, Kurumi, and Asagi all have their moments in the spotlight, but never to the point where their existence is validated enough beyond a part of the whole that is the 'group'. Their respective claims to fame exist for maybe an episode or two at the most, which I feel is a shame considering the potential for this show. The only standout character of 'The Group' is Aoi Yuito, an aspiring artist who while has a character arc in line with Hitomi, also suffers the same problems as her being that his innate character traits restrict the potential that he has. Romantic subplot also makes his growth feel a lot less genuine than it could've been.
If there's at least one thing that I love from P.A. Works, it's just how much they love their artwork. At least for a majority of their projects. Characters are drawn in the signature P.A. style with a bit more care put into them compared to Kuromukuro or Shirobako of projects past, and the background and panning shots rival that of KyoAni's quality. Bright colors, a beautiful shimmer over everything, and impressive effects and utilization of CGI make for a visually stunning show that makes everything look that much nicer, especially with the fact that show has magic.
There're a lot of glitter effects in this show. Shine and typical magical flair are common due to two of the main characters being mages by trade, so what we end up getting is a lot more 'movie magic' put into many scenes in order to add a unique charm to everything.
Both "17 Sai" by Haruka to Miyuki and "Mimei no Kimi to Hakumei no Mahou" by Nagi Yanagi act as somber pieces that exemplify the trapped and emotional feeling of Hitomi's journey. (Or at least its potential) You really get the feeling of growing outwardness with the OP and the somber qualities of Hitomi's lonely personality through these songs. Aesthetics have always felt like P.A.'s strong point, and I'm glad that these tracks came out as good as they did.
I love P.A. Works as a company. I really do. But loving them is a real exercise in frustration because of how much hope I put into their works only for that hope to be slandered by the end result of their newest project. It's gotten to a point that I kind of dread whatever comes next and coined the term 'Doing a P.A. Works' for myself whenever a show with potential ends up floundering at the end cause the execution is just poor. Shinohara Toshiya was also a massive red flag for me considering NagiAsu is one of the biggest examples for how P.A. Works manages to falter its writing and potential towards the tail end of a series, especially due to love triangles and tension within the group because of that.
But Irozuku doesn't manage the same as its predecessors, instead having a new trend of: A story with good potential, floundered middle, and a good end. I don't like this pattern, but it's a new one for the company nonetheless. It feels to me almost like P.A. played it safe this time, choosing to go for what they normally do but tone it back so much that any high impact moments feel like a light tap instead of a punch to the gut that it probably should've been so that they don't screw up so badly by doing something like 'Pull a Charlotte'. The end of that created a lukewarm series that feels like it accomplished sort of what it wanted to do, but did it in a way that made whatever was being show only have a subtle enough impact to insinuate that SOMETHING happened, but maybe not.
Really I stand at a bit of an impasse with P.A. this time cause it's not like they ruined what they made. Quite the opposite really considering I was extremely afraid of the inherent problem of a time traveler who has to go back going back in time and falling in love with someone from the past. It ended exactly how I wanted (and expected) it to despite the romantic subplot, and for that I breathe a sigh of relief. Still, even with the ending being as good if not a little better than what I expected it to be, I still don't find Irozuku to be little more than something that deserved a better execution than what it got.
As such, I can't really recommend this show cause I can't give a proper assessment on account of the fact that it doesn't sit right with me. It's not great, it's not terrible, it's not average cause it has too many problems in its middle portion to just be a 'meh' product, but it's not so bad that it doesn't have its good points. So honestly, make your own judgment on whether or not this is worth a watch. As for me, I hope that we don't get another Shinohara Toshiya for a long while. Irozuku is a lot less heavy-handed and stressful than NagiAsu is to watch, but assessing his works and by extension anything P.A. Works does takes up a lot of time. I blame on the fact that I care about the company too much.