(This review is for both seasons of White Album, which should be watched together as the second season has the show’s ending. Not to be confused with 2013’s White Album 2.)
It’s probably no surprise that you’ve never heard of this show. This is because frankly, nobody really likes it, and also because it was forgotten very quickly after it aired. The show itself has flaw upon flaw, building exponentially overtime, to which many viewers usually drop it whenever they get tired of the wonderful cast of assholes. To be completely honest, White Album is not a good show.
…So why is it that I enjoy watching it?
Okay, to back up, I really don’t think this is a good anime, I think for a wide crowd this would annoy, insult, bore, and confuse viewers more than it would just present a nice script with equally nice animation. The subject matter is just as alienating, focusing on portraying an aspect of society that generally gathers a lot of hate in a scriptural sense, as well as not even portraying them well.
To put things short, White Album is a show about assholes, how to successfully be an asshole, how to counter assholes, how to deal with assholes, how to avoid assholes, how assholes ruin lives, how assholes get angry at other assholes, how sneaky assholes compete with sneakier assholes, and finally how assholes are actually kind of interesting.
I should probably get around to some sort of plot synopsis by now, so better late than never. White Album centers on a college student called Touya, who at the time is dating a rising idol star named Yuki. The show starts out as a journey of their blossoming relationship, and how to balance a love life with being in the idol industry. What unravels is actually a bit hard to describe while still being extremely familiar with other bad setups for drama. It is stated very early on that Touya possesses his own special little complex in which he singles out women and acknowledges that they have brought him good luck every day, calling them “Goddesses of the Day”. As the show goes on we find that more and more females are being added to the cast roster, and Touya has important interactions with all of them, and since balancing a relationship with a busy busy idol is hard, he tends to go to other girls for refuge. While it may present itself as a serious, realistic characters study for the lead and the other people in the show, the anime is basically set up on the whole as a harem. This is where the major problems arise.
Although the show likes to focus on how all of these women become attached to the lead guy, and although the reasons themselves are written in very genuine ways, I can’t help feel that the majority of them are very forced in order to prove the point that it’s not just the guy who thinks he has a harem complex. Sometimes certain characters felt built up to contend for a solid relationship with Touya, but more times than not had characters throw themselves at him from out of the blue without warning. Sometimes the motivations at least were understandable, but it’s not like we could get behind them since the moves some characters made were just so jarring and contrived. We can understand that Touya is having trouble keeping a solid relationship with Yuki, but we as a reasonable audience can’t exactly justify Touya giving affections to five other girls beyond his back. As a character study, some scenes were actually effective in showing his problem, and they were scenes I particularly liked, but his decisions themselves were the ones that isolated him as a main character. Nobody wants to get behind a man who’s just playing his kind and loving girlfriend in order to get attention from other girls. The show realizes that it’s a problem faced in reality a bit more often than we’d like to believe, but aside from a few moments of introspection and visual exploration, the way it’s executed completely loses his appeal as the character an audience can get attached to.
This was not only apparent in Touya, but with a lot of other characters as well. One examples include the rising Idol Rina Ogata, who is probably the most respectable and well written character in the show (so much so that the anime even led itself to make the entire second OP focus on her). For almost the entire running time of the show, Rina is written as the cool one who has everything in control, the one who knows about everyone’s interpersonal relationships and tries her best to lead everyone to some sort of understanding. Even though she herself can be manipulative and her actions are almost unpredictable, she was very easy to admire and follow because she was using her abilities for a good cause. She wanted Touya to be happy, she wanted Yuki to succeed as an idol, she wanted to use her experience as a person in society and as an idol in the industry to find every problem she could find have a solution. However, by the time the show draws to an end, it’s almost as if the script suddenly remembered that she was a potential candidate for Touya’s harem, and adds in a couple scenes where she confesses love for him that come out of nowhere. It serves no important point in the big picture aside from just another lazy excuse for girls to throw themselves at the lead. However, despite getting shafted in the last part, she proved to be the best character the show had to offer by far. She would have easily been one of my favorite characters if it weren’t for that hiccup nearing the ending.
Yuki, the rising idol, also seems like another character to get behind easily, which is unfortunate when it turns out that the show doesn’t really focus on her a lot of the time. In the writing department she’s actually not written particularly well, and she really doesn’t have a lot of points that make her especially interesting. However, when surrounded by a plethora of assholes who do dickish things all the time, she proves to be very effective because it’s so easy to get behind her in defense of all the bullshit that the other characters end up doing. Even though Rina was also a respectable character, her methods sometimes also came across as being kind of questionable. In contrast to basically everyone else, Yuki doesn’t do anything. In a normal show, this would probably be the worst thing for a character to do, but in here, it really does work. You empathize with her when the actions of others start to effect her, and you feel for her as she slowly begins to drift away from Touya and when she finds out that he’s been doing questionable things while he’s in a relationship. I give her much more credit than other characters because we can easily get behind her and relate to how she feels. Everyone in the world has experienced being pushed around by society or in business or by other assholes, so we can at least relate to her. My only real complaint is that her character arc ends on an ambiguous note…sort of…maybe. I don’t even know, on one hand it’s indicating she ended up one way, but then it says there’s the possibility that she ended up somewhere else, nothing was really set in stone. It basically means the audience gets to decide for themselves where they wanted her to end up, which on the other hand is a tad bit lazy, but if it meant that I got to choose the ending I liked more, I guess I like her in the long run to say the least.
The other characters in the show aren’t exactly as interesting as the ones mentioned previously, but they all had their special problems that proved interesting to me whenever the show decided to focus on them. For the most part, the rest of the main cast are cases of typical high school anime romance arcs, like the one who has been with him her whole school life to the point where he’s all she knows anymore, the one who saw him from afar but by spending a bit more time together she realized she has a chance with him, or the lost childhood friend who turned out to have a big influence on his life and comes back at the most convenient time for the script. Coupled with a few bizarre stories, like Yuki’s manager, who was so paranoid about scandals that she gave herself to Touya in order to prevent him and Yuki from going out. Or a much younger girl who chose Touya as a tutor and begins separate him from his other girlfriend in order to show her affections in a very tsundere way. While a lot of their arcs in regards to building up the lead’s personal harem seemed mostly forced and generic, I’d be lying if there wasn’t a point where the show didn’t take time to really explore why the characters acted like they did. Those were the times where I found myself invested in figuring these guys out, and actually grew attached to some of them. On the whole, even though I won’t spoil the end results of every character arc, I admired that most of them at least ended on solid resolutions. All of them wind up somewhere because of what they went through, and the messages they relay because of that is responsible for another little piece of respect I had for the show.
Aside from the main cast, there were a couple of people who I felt had much more focus than was needed. Even though other story aspects like Eiji’s painting scandal was responsible for a lot of plot points, and a couple of ragtag idols from the industry ended up rising back up after being kicked down again, all of them had one thing in common: they had way more focus than was needed. The focus on the show was mostly where it should be: on Touya’s dilemma and how it affects the other characters and how they affect him in return. This is where the main drive of the show is (even though it’s difficult to get behind), and this is where everything in the show evolves around. While the show did focus on that for the majority of it’s running time, there were points where it explored Eiji’s conflicts or the journey of the struggling idols, even though they didn’t affect the overall show that much. That said, I can’t lie and say I didn’t like that exploration. At least it was interesting to see a couple more characters in the world that didn’t have to be thrown away to cater to Touya’s harem. When the show was over, I remember liking those small parts a bit more than dealing with contrived asshole writing to create drama for Touya and the others.
And that’s where the other big problem lies: the drama. Almost everything regarding romance and conflict in the show feels way too forced. I always found it funny how every time Yuki tried to call Touya, it would be at a specific point when he was just away from the phone at the time, instead of all those other times when he way lying around his house pondering what girl he wanted to run to next. I always found it funny how characters had to be at random places at random times in order to witness some scandalous event in order to get a little more drama out of the situation. I always found it funny how certain situation could be perceived by others as situations that could easily rival relationships, even though in actuality, nothing was wrong and too much was left to assumption. The biggest problem in the show is that it’s too obvious that it’s in a controlled environment. Whenever the show tries to play the dramatic aspects, nothing works because we know it’s the writing trying to force the plot forward or squeeze out as much emotion from a situation that generates very little. This writing takes up about half the show, and consists of contrived situations, convenient coincidences, and some really numbing dialogue. Thankfully, for a good portion of the other show, things felt much more natural when it focused on characters just being with one another in various locations and letting things play out. It was when the writer decided to quickly move things forward when it got extremely rocky. However, the parts that were able to balance these problems out were, again, the scenes that felt more natural, the scenes that explored some of the characters, and scenes from the finale of both halves, which consist of concerts that mirror and amplify the character’s feelings and where the story is in comparison. They were always the most effective scenes while I was watching, so I’m happy they were able to balance out the show a tiny bit more.
The other thing I particularly like about the show is that it knows it’s taking place in the real world. It establishes that this is sort of a study of mindsets from reality, and from the first episode it locks in the real world setting of 1986 and renders it perfectly. I like the winter atmosphere, I like the character designs, I like how the show was just set up to portray people in expressive light with no holds barred. I was fully committed to portraying a “real” world as its setting, without any supernatural elements or common overused anime tropes.
The animation for the show is pretty hit or miss. Seven Arcs at least has the overall mood perfected and the character designs are tended relatively well, producing some interesting bits of animation that blended surprisingly with the overall quality. Even though oftentimes it was clear that production was skimping in a few places, there were moments when it was apparent that it was at least trying some new things. A couple of stylized short scenes complemented with instances of floating text fitted to the backgrounds to display Touya’s inner thoughts were little tidbits that I came to enjoy. For a visual novel adaptation to use this I thought was pretty clever, and it was an effective way for condensing the usual inner monologues of the main protagonist into something that wasn’t jarring or distracting. One minor part that actually made me contemplate dropping the show was the camera direction in the first few episodes (yeah, imagine that, I can deal with a dozen contrived assholes, but not a bad camera). Even though it thankfully disappeared by episode 3, the first 40 minutes of the show are filled with awkward cinematography and a completely unfocused storyboard layout. It became extremely distracting and I can’t help but pat someone on the back for whoever noticed it and got rid of it by episode 3.
Now for another odd surprise, the soundtrack. Even though it’s got a typical share of generic background tracks or boring pieces, some of the music used in the show is some of my favorite music in anime. Certain pieces have exceedingly unique atmosphere and add so much mood and feeling to the show. On it’s own, I can listen to some of these tracks all day. Some of my favorites include a lovely violin piece over a scratchy gramophone, a somber organ and intimidating strings, and an easygoing saxophone with a jazzy drum track. Each of them has their own special flare, and I light up whenever I hear them start up in the show. Bad news is that the sound editor was awful at utilizing them. They’re played in all the right scenes to fit the right moods, but the tracks themselves are sometimes clipped and chopped in certain ways that feels almost as forced as the show’s writing. The various songs used for the show’s idol aspects also hold special places for me, especially the titular song “White Album”. Other various pop songs are effective at the least for a wide audience, but some of them proved to really grab me, perhaps only because they were played in full during those great concert scenes. The anime had a very boring first OP and equally boring EDs. Op number 2 was at least a little bit better, though still not very special, even though the song they used reminded me a bit of Trans-Siberian Orchestra…and I may or may not really like Trans-Siberian Orchestra. So aside from so very surprising soundtrack pieces and solid idol songs, the overall sound for the show was pretty average, even though something special caught me by surprise in this particular department.
Now I somehow have to wrap up this entire review with a single verdict that I haven’t even fully come to terms with yet.
Do I like this show or not?
On one hand, the writing is extremely cluttered and messy with equally scattered characters and plot points with mostly unspecial production values. But then again, some animation was interesting, the music was really likable, and the parts that were effective in the script I thought were very good as well. Standing back for a minute, I still do not think this is a good show. It has more average elements than the sum of all the little gems and writing that would easily turn people away for those looking for a good romance, drama, slice of life, idol, or any other genre of anime. Do I recommend that people watch this show? No.
And yet, after all of this, something inexplicable still needs to be addressed. For whatever reason, I really do like watching all of these assholes spiral into a clusterfuck of messy drama and convoluted romance. For as many faults as I give it, and even though I’m still affected by how they hinder the show, I can’t help but feel a twinge of intrigue whenever I see an episode. Even though it’s presented very slow, at least letting the contrived drama play out, and even though it’s presented very calmly, allowing characters to breathe and for atmosphere to set moods, this show is just so messy overall that I love it for some reason. It’s awfully soothing to watch these characters slowly get through problems with nice ambiance and great music, and it’s surprisingly satisfying that the end result is an absolute mess. I notice all of its problems, I notice all the times where it trips up without end, I notice the inconsistent animation, and I notice how by the end of the day, it really doesn’t know what it’s doing right and wrong. And for some stupid reason, I love every minute of it.
So no, I can’t recommend people to watch this anime, but I can’t exactly say that people shouldn’t either. Some sad sap out there is possible to have the same odd reaction to this show that I did, and I think that there are at least some aspects that make it worth a watch, even though I may be really pushing that. It’s an intriguing case of guilty pleasure that I can’t comprehend myself, and when the show’s all done and I realize that I wasn’t satisfied and I wasn’t impressed and I wasn’t moved and I wasn’t content, some part of me just didn’t care and enjoyed it for what it was.
I give this anime a score of 5.6/10 (3 stars) and a Passive rating, meaning you can watch it if it interests you, or move along if it doesn't without missing much.read more
Amazing...I just finished watching andI can't find another word to describe such a excellent poetic story...Don't watch this if u are hate Drama stuffs there is no happy feeling in this anime so don't judge it wrong for not making u feel right but It doesn't change how amazing is this anime if u can see the right picture in front of you.
It's not about some dull guy cheating over girlfriend(yes it's look like that but it isn't).It's just nobody tries to look in the right direction.Story is about relations about many people and revaling the bonds.In the end it was an excellent drama and an excellent job to write such an complicate story and finishing of with an amazing end.End wasn't predictable and was awesome and I enjoyed every second(not like having fun with sad things but like even it's sad it was amazing).All character has an amazing story itself and whole story is amazing itself.A father who can't open himself to his son.A son who left alone too young.A girl waiting for the boy who himself doesn't remember the right moment....It's an amazing drama(one of the best I ever seen)just the ending part wasn't much clear so I think and I would be happy if there is a 3rd season and the rest is just amazing
Does it need to be said how good it's.It is one of the best I saw and I loved these pastel drawnings sometimes It's excellent.
Sounds was good I think the lyrics especially was just right for the moment.
Like I said up there characters are amazing.Everyone of them is specially designed and have a story to full a novel and every novel of this story is amazing.
If we talk about how to enjoy a drama I think It's a masterpiece whoever can see the picture before them would reconize how wonderful is this series so yes if u wanna watch a drama u won't find better than this.read more
"You live and die by being an adaption of a Harem PC Game"
So no need to tell you any of the story as it continues from Season 1, All i will try to explain is how this season, Missed the mark in my mind.
I got a sense of "Filler" for parts of some episodes, like they had to show even MORE of the work part, which seems to dominate this season, Plus being a Harem, they tried to even out the time you see all the characters and to be honest gave enough time to love the whole cast of the show.
Funny over the 2 seasons, my view on our main character Touya got worse, But this game me a BETTER opinion or view of all the other girls in his "Harem" love circle.
This season did at times felt a little prolonged, I like series that go to a 26 Ep season, It gives you enough time to get across what YOU want, but this might of been better being trimmed and more to the point.
Then the Ending, Wasn't how i wanted it to go and felt a little rushed in the last episode or 2.
But does that make this season bad, No far from it, the whole unique feel from S1 Continues, its wonderfully put together but in a few points i think it could of been even better than it is.
The Ending hurt it for me, I know WHY it happened, I will not spoil it in ANY way, But i wanted more or it rounded off better than it was.
But don't let this stop you watching this season, Overall White Album is ONE of the best series i've seen in many years, Suits watching around Winter as it is now :)
Reasons For Changes From S1 Scores:
Character - I set this higher as you FULLY knew every character by now. every little detail.
Story - I set lower because at points it dragged and them someone it was even more frantic and packed with even more drama than the season 1, Main reason for lowering it was the ending.
Enjoyment - Same as S1, I love both and this series as a whole, but a few points as i've highlighted let it down.read more
While the first season was a failure in my opinion, this season was a huge improvement. With the change of directors, White Album took a different direction with were it went. First of all, they resolved all of the unimportant subplots from the first season quickly (as quick as the show can be..). Then, they replaced it with a few more subplots, which was tied more to the main conflict. Even then, they didn't side track as much as the first season. This was a great choice on part of the production team. The story for this season, was more spread out. It wasn't just about Touya, it gave some other characters screen time as well. As a result, I actually felt invested in the drama involving the other characters. Though, all of this is pulled down by really slow pacing. I seriously thought this season was a tad bit more slower than the first season. I was still asking myself "when is this episode going to be over?", and I wished they could have improved the pacing. Also, the ending also lowered my opinion for the show. While it was satisfying on a certain level, I felt like the twist at the end was out of left field. Maybe it was foreshadowed, and I just couldn't see it. Even then, I think the twist was ridiculous. Plus, it felt anti climatic, it made all of the build up, wasted. So, with all of the let downs, the story of the second season of White Album was mediocre.
This is where things are a big "meh". Well, Touya is still an idiot, but I have to admit. He changes, and sees his flaws as a person, and for that I have to give credit for. Now, why do I still hate him as a character. It's because while he did go through some kind of development in the first season, that was all thrown away. What he "learned" at the end of the first season was lost, and he ends up stumbling and making the same mistakes as before. Which is also why this season got weighted down. Now, as for the rest of the characters. Since they got some decent screen time, I actually cared about few of them. Yuki and Rina both were interesting, at many points. I liked Yuki in the second season, because they showcased her conflict (Somewhat). I felt like her conflict about what was more important in her life something that could be relatable. Though, she has a fair share of times I felt that she needed a slap. Rina, was an already interesting character from the first season, and she keeps on being an interesting character. Though, she also has a few "I want to slap you" moments. Plus, Rina and Yuki had a believable friendship. I really felt for the drama and tension between the two. As for the rest of Touya's whores, they weren't in the show as a romantic interests, but I still found a couple of them as "throw away characters". Though, Mana's little subplot was interesting, and I was surprised to how she was connected to everything else. Overall, a huge improvement, but still lacking in many ways.
Also an improvement, was the animation. While it's only average, there were a few scenes that were animated well enough. The lighting also improved. While in the first season, things were always dark and grey. Seven Arcs actually drew the lights shining on the characters. Well, it's still nothing special. The lip sync during the small music segments, was better than I thought they would be. (Still crappy anime lip sync.) As, I said a few times in this section, it's an improvement, but it's average.
I don't think anything here was changed, I still felt like the ost was
forgettable. The pop songs, while good, aren't seen much. Also, I have to complain about this. I don't think they ever played the song White Album in this season at all. If you aren't going to play the song at all, then why is your show named White Album. As a result the song comes off as an afterthought. I like the use of the song Powder Snow, because it was meaningful to the story, and I like the song. (Though I like the version sung by WA 2's Setsuna more.) Overall, not much change here.
Overall, I feel like this season was pretty decent. It improved in most areas, but it's still brought down some of the same problems from the first season. I don't regret watching this season, but I'm hard press to say you NEED to see this. You would have to sit through the first season to get to this, and I don't think that's worth the time. Though, I would recommend you watch the indirect sequel, White Album 2 over the original. (Not White Album second season. That's the show I've been reviewing.). If you're up for something like this then go ahead. read more