Iroduku – the World in Colors, is about a young witch suffering from depression, whose grandmother sends her back in time.
Can witches suffer from clinical depression? Sure, I don’t see why not, but what form would it take? And more importantly, could that become a visually beautiful 13-episode anime television series with a touching, complex story couched in metaphors and a soundtrack worth listening to on its own? Also yes.
Minor spoilers follow
Young Hitomi is a teenaged witch living in Nagasaki in the year 2078. In this world, magic is really quite ordinary; witches run magic shops where regular people can stop in and buy magic to use in their daily lives. It has been her family’s business for generations. But as Hitomi has neared adulthood, her emotions become “stale” and she loses the ability to see color. This is severe, crippling, dangerous depression.
Her grandmother Kohaku is at somewhat of a loss to help Hitomi, and finally sends her sixty years into the past, to her own, happier youth. Seventeen-year-year-old Kohaku will get to be in school with her own granddaughter. Of course, she remembers that this happened!
The trip through time is rough traveling, and awkward hijinks ensue as Hitomi lands in the bedroom of a high school boy just as he returns home (no coincidence, that). She escapes without him noticing, but another student sees her climbing out his window and draws the obvious conclusion.
Hitomi wasn’t given any instructions as to what to do when being unceremoniously dumped six decades in the past. She has to figure it out on her own, and goes to the only place she can think of in this historic version of her familiar city; her family’s home. Hi, uh… my name is Hitomi and, uh… That’s episode one.
As the story progresses Hitomi goes to school, makes friends, joins a photography club, with friends in the magic club and the art club (they end up doing an exposition together), and has brief moments where her depression begins to clear.
If you have suffered from depression, moments when you are not depressed take on a golden value, because they help you imagine a better time. Such moments can literally save your life.
The series moves in a deliberate way – it spends more time with some scenes than action-movie cultivated attention spans would expect. But did I mention how visually gorgeous it is? Or how the cast develops, or how even the subplots seem real? For instance, an artist she meets produces art that looks like it would actually would be in a gallery.
Hitomi cannot stay. Because she is temporally displaced, she begins to have moments when she disappears, falling into a crack in time. These become longer and more frequent. If she does not return to the future, there is a danger she will get stuck in the time gap, and be lost forever. Her friends realize she must return to her own time. But teenage Kohaku has never done magic as powerful as time travel. Can she send Hitomi back?
I found Iroduku beautiful, engaging, metaphorical, uplifting. Here is the intro:
- The entire series is on YouTube! for who knows how long.
- You can also see it in on Amazon Prime.
- For full details see this excellent review from AH Brandon: Iroduku: The World in Colors Anime Review | Tackling Depression in a Beautiful Way
- The photography club part was pretty accurate to what photography is, even to technical details – even specific models of camera were recognizable so I loved it.
- Here’s the soundtrack.
- I don’t know if there’s an English version, the original Japanese voice acting comes with subtitles. Chalk it up as “Wonderful stuff you’d miss if you can’t subtitles”