The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

White Album

Title: White Album
Genre: Romance/Drama
Company: Seven Arcs
Format: 26 episodes
Dates: 9 Jan 2009 – 28 Mar 2009 and 2 Oct 2009 – 25 Dec 2009

Synopsis: After 20 years of life, Fuji Touya finds himself in his second year of college, dating an up-and-coming idol singer named Morikawa Yuki, estranged from his father, and surrounded by “Goddesses”. These “Goddesses” are women that Touya has met throughout his life, who have all helped him in some way when he needed it. Unlike most other people, Touya has a hard time letting go of these special women, and his kindness to them has created some confusing and frustrating relationships. These bonds, especially with his beloved Yuki, are starting to become dramatic and strained, and eventually something is going to have to give…

The Highlights
Characters: Some are fascinating, others are underdeveloped.
Voice acting: A strong cast delivers some very good performances.
Animation: Quality at times, sub-par the rest of the time.
Music: Above average.
Format: Two split seasons really killed the momentum.

A few commentators pointed out that during the early episodes, White Album was a polarizing anime amongst the fan base. I know that this is true because I, myself, felt polarized by White Album at almost every turn. There were times when I really liked it and there were times when I thought I was watching the most convoluted piece of crap ever shown on television. Just to make a point, I didn’t even know the time period of White Album was the mid 1980s until several episodes in. At first, it seemed like a good drama as it set up a stream of events that had a logical conclusion. Then it got confused, or maybe I got confused, because White Album took several alternate routes along the way, making it feel disjointed and leaving me disoriented. Worse, because it was formatted as two separate seasons broken by seven months, what had happened in the first series did not leave enough of a lasting impression going forward.

I realize that anime based on visual novels, because of the multiple “routes” that exist in the gameplay, are going to have various arcs that focus upon one character or another. White Album could have done without them. I know fans of the original visual novel wanted to see Misaki’s story, or Haruka’s, or Yayoi’s, or the stuff with Touya’s father, but I really didn’t. To me, White Album was about three characters: Touya, Yuki, and Ogata Rina. As long as the show focused on those three characters, it had great momentum and kept focus. Yuki and Rina, in particular, have a honest and caring relationship with each other that I found to be incredible at times. The only other character that I was interested in was Ogata Eiji, and that is both because he was such an eccentric person and because I was fully expecting him to be the wild card in all this. Thrust into the mix was a grouping of side characters, sudden imports, and would-be antagonists who were so forced they might as well have come with crowbars.

I do have to talk about Touya himself, as I don’t think I’ve seen a more loathsome male lead in an anime, ever. Ito Makoto, from School Days(1,2,3), might be more hated, but Touya is definitely more despicable. He lies to everybody, even himself, and keeps stringing along every female he’s ever met, sometimes even without sexual gratification. Hell, if he were always getting laid, at least that I could understand! Ikari Shinji, of Evangelion fame, is frustrating, but not half as bad as Touya allowing himself to get absorbed by the situations he puts himself into. Touya refuses to say no, not because he “mustn’t run away”, but because he believes he’s forced into some semblance of altruistic kindness to females. This puts his relationship with Yuki at needless risk countless times. In the final episode, we get to learn what his “problem” was when it comes to women. No, it doesn’t make up for twenty-five episodes of being a jackass, but at least it gave us something.

As for the show’s technical aspects, the animation is unimpressive. The quality comes and goes, as is typical of most television shows. It doesn’t get distracting enough to take anything away from the story itself, but I was expecting more from such a highly anticipated title. Mizuki Nana (Ogata Rina) and the ever popular Hirano Aya (Morikawa Yuki) do a wonderful job of acting and singing. Mizuki gives Rina an air of professionalism without being haughty while allowing moments of femininity to creep in when needed. Hirano shows a wider range of vocal talents as she gives Yuki a much more passive and girly voice than she did to Suzumiya Haruhi (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya(1,2)) or Konata Izumi (Lucky Star). The songs are only decent, which is a bad thing when you have an anime about idol singers. If music is going to be a focal point, make sure the songs are good ones! The duet to “Powder Snow”, played in episode twenty-six, is one of the best songs featured here, and I am looking forward to finding it for my collection.

The Rating: 6

Reviewed by: TypicalIdiotFan

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