Detours from home: It’s a dark time, so I color

[Editor’s note: Detours from home is a Rappler column where readers can share about the new things they have been doing while in quarantine. In this essay, a copywriter talks about her love for anime and how it brought color to her life. You, too, can share your own Detours from home story.]


For children, it’s a fun pastime that helps them develop fine motor skills and focus. It’s also their first foray into self-expression, allowing them to showcase their individuality through color selection and combination. Plus, it’s a simple activity. They see white spaces, they color.

For adults, it’s therapeutic, sometimes even meditative. It gives us something else to focus on outside the realm of our current reality, and for some people, it even brings a carefree kind of happiness. Plus, it’s a simple activity. We see white spaces, we color.

Ever since the start of the pandemic, I’ve become some sort of an escapist: retreating from reality and transporting myself to the worlds of anime shows. Anime was a huge part of my childhood and teenage years but ever since I started working, I haven’t had the time to really sit down and binge-watch. Quarantine and self-isolation changed that. 

My current favorite anime is Haikyuu, an exhilarating and emotional sports comedy about passionate high school volleyball players. After I watched the latest season, I wanted more out of the show and eventually moved on to reading the manga. I even signed up for a monthly subscription at Shonen Jump just to read the official English translations. But while I was fully engrossed reading chapter after chapter of the sports manga, I couldn’t help but notice all of the white spaces. My fingers began to itch.

Then, came a light bulb moment. 

The next thing I knew, I already had screenshots of my favorite scenes from the manga and was booting up Photoshop – an old friend I hadn’t touched since I graduated college two years ago. Once the application was open, I dragged a screenshot of Kageyama tying his shoelaces, dropped it onto the Photoshop workspace, cracked my knuckles, and let my imagination soar. 

With my mouse and the handy dandy tools on Photoshop, I began darkening the screenshot’s lineart and filling the white spaces with color, breathing life into Kageyama and the world inside his manga panel. 

I’ve never been artistic, but the process was cathartic. I felt like a child again – trying to pick the best colors to suit Kageyama’s skin, his clothes, and the background behind him. I played around with color bases and shading, treating the manga panel like a page of a digital coloring book. I wasn’t focused on anything else but getting the colors right. It was therapeutic, it made me happy, and best of all – it helped me momentarily forget about our current reality. For an hour and thirty minutes, I got to escape.

After coloring that first manga panel, what was supposed to be just a spontaneous activity quickly turned into a mini obsession. Now, at the end of long and tiring workdays, I’d choose a panel, boot up Photoshop, and color. I do it during the weekends, too, when I’m not busy catching up on the rest of my anime shows or I want to take a break from reading fanfics.

I don’t think I’ll ever share or post the manga panels I’ve colored online. After all, manga is black and white in nature, and that’s just how many artists and fans like it – myself included.  When I look at the work I’ve done, I do feel hints of pride but for now, they’ll stay safely tucked in my computer files, and I’ll treat them as a reminder. 

Because in the next few months or years as the world tries to heal, I’ll look back at all these manga pages I’ve treated like a digital coloring book and think to myself: during a dark time, my fandom and colors helped me through. –

Chryss Segovia is a twenty-something who loves ice cream, literature, and East Asian pop culture. She’s a marketing copywriter by profession and an avid fangirl for life. She lives in Makati City.