|Overall||Art||Animation||Character Design||Music||Series Story||Episode Story||Reviewer|
White Album is a romance anime focused on our main leads Touya and Yuki trying to keep their relationship together despite Yuki being busy in trying to pursue a successful idol career. The exploration of both their characters make the series a teeter-totter affair with focus on Yuki's struggles to gain fame in her idol career and Touya trying to remain faithful to her. Being based on a dating sim game, Touya does find several girls being drawn to him and he does give into temptation to interact with and date them, leading to plenty of complications in the relationships he establishes with them and a rift in his relationship with Yuki. It looked like the series was trying to play up Toya's predicament as drama, but it portrays him instead as an utter idiot and scumbag for hitting it up with several women at once without trying to halt any interest they have in him. Yuki's story saves the series from being a complete waste as the series believably shows the considerable growth and difficulty she has to go through in the pop idol industry in order to gain relevance and fame, this growth coming to a head in her big performance in the finale of this season to the series. The visuals are nothing too out of the ordinary for a TV anime as it looked rather obvious that the series was running on a limited budget with the plain-looking character designs and animation shortcuts. Considering I have both halves to this series on me, I'll likely be seeing White Album's second half at some point. However beyond seeing more of Yuki's character, I'm not too enthused on what predicaments away for Touya's character.
Last updated Thursday, October 09 2014. Created Thursday, October 09 2014.
Humm, what a very dark and lonely series this is! Based on the adult visual novel ↗White Album, I find myself reminded of the Beatles song: All the lonely people – specifically the reframe….|
All the lonely people, where do they all come from?
All the lonely people, where do they all belong?
The visual novel is described as being a story based on the dialogue between the different characters with certain ‘decision points’ to allow the reader to make a selection in the story, which can lead in different directions with different outcomes. This anime series follows one of the story line threads through its various interactions and consequences.
The Focus is on two main characters, Yuki Morikawa (who looks like one of the characters of REC) and her boyfriend, Tōya Fujii as they struggle to keep their relationship together at a time when Yuki is working hard to become an leading idol singer. If left alone, the two would probably be able work through their difficulties and make their relationship work, but that would not make for a good dramatic story. So the story is mixed up with a number of cute girls and some darkly motivated and troubled male characters.
Toya has a naïve habit of calling the various girls that he comes into contact as his ‘goddesses’, a term use to ‘flag’ his romantic interests in the game. And there are about seven girls – all with different motives and goals. Of course, it doesn’t help that Toya is willing to flirt and ‘date’ with these girls, even while professing his love for his girlfriend. But this is a story about ‘All the lonely people’, and Toya is lonely that Yuki has been drawn away from him due to the demands of being an idol.....
While this title may be called a dramatic romance, it is high on the drama and very low on the romance. But there is always that famous Stephen Stills song that summarizes what Toya’s situation is like… If you can’t be with the one you love, Love the one you’re with.
So while the animation is good and the story interesting, the twists and bends in a number of characters give this story a very dark and unwholesome ↗noir flavor. In short an interesting watch, but just don’t expect to find much joy or any happy endings in this series.
Last updated Monday, December 21 2009. Created Wednesday, December 02 2009.
watching now... 12 eps watched...|
Hmmmm... There were some good things and some very not so good things about the series so far. A good thing I liked was the old-fashioned "silent film" sub captions that would appear on a regular basis. I thought it was great to read what the characters where thinking with the random captions that would appear on screen (like the main lead calling his friend a liar with the captions which had a comedy effect instead of him saying it out loud making it have a low drama to regular effect) and it made me laugh. It was also used as a way to narrate the story so the captions had a "multi-purpose" effect on the show. Good stuff...
Also, I like the "real life" nature of the series. No magic, No fighting, and No sci-fi elements. It was just real people in real life trying to deal with life's many twists and turns. It has your standard (harem potential) set-up with a male lead with his right hand man and a multitude of female characters to deal with. Lots of characters means lots of character development (hopefully) and that means solid story with nearly everyone having something to lose by the end probably. Solid set-up...
Something bad I noticed was the speed of the ep. The writers made this first ep seem like ep 2 and we were familiar with all the characters while knowing most of their backgrouds already. I had to check if I was watching the first ep again because the ep to me seemed like it belonged in the middle of the series instead of the first ep. Bad move...
Ep 2: Things have settled down and now we have the standard nice guy Touya who is slowly losing interest in his current girl and managed to pick up 3 new ones! He didn't intend on it (i'm sure) but this ep showed evidence of each girl being truly happy when dealing with him and one even goes as far as to ask for his phone number! One question remains though. What was the good news that the president made Yuki go all the way to his house to tell her and it made a river flow from her eyes afterwards? Let's just say that this ep is the high-end drama element that will come to fruition later on in the series.
Ep 3: The silent text in this episode was to die for! It represented all the things that Touya wanted to say, whether it be serious or came across as funny. This ep was all over the place with Rina's personality changes (nice one minute and ruthless the next). Yuki got a pleasant surprise with Touya's new job but that didn't last long apparently. Tons of lies were floating about from both Touya and Yuki so neither one of them could look at each other with a straight face, though Yuki claims that her secret is good for some reason. Haruka got the short end of the stick in this ep but it was for Touya so she didn't mind at all (hmmmmmmm...). Regardless how things went, I say the president is cooking something up and it will drive all the characters to suffer eventually. I guess he is the "villain" so to speak, in this title. The ending might spin some heads for sure (I know I was lost for a second there). Either that was a secret door (the ones that turn around from the other side), an elavator (not possible), or this title has some supernatural elements in it which will hurt this titles' overall score if that's the case (let's hope not). Great ep...
Ep 4: Rina lives up to her word and buys the main couple time to be together (thought she plans on sticking her nose where it doesn't belong). She plans on "borrowing" him before his date with Yuki but to her dismay, he gets lost and meets another goddess (random little girl). She helps him search for Yuki but ditches him eventually. It then turns into a giant hide-and-seek game between Yuki and Touya as they scoure the city looking for (and just missing) each other. They finally find each other and after some pleasant words, Yuki finally reveals her secret. She is going to release her debut album! After some reminicing, she tells him that she wants to "feel him so much that she will never forget"! At her place, they "seal the deal" and the ep comes to a close. Nice ep...
Ep 5: Damn! It's like that! Wow! Things just got serious. The whole ep had me cringing at the thought of the woman who offered herself (!) as payment for Touya's cooperation in a "certain matter" regarding Yuki's future. After the forced groping, she later kisses him and tells him to call her whenever he has needs of her "services". Pulling a trick right out of I's Pure's hat, this title tries to force the main couple apart from each other. Now that Touya's situation can't get any more confusing with what to do next, his harem consisting of 5 girls (6 if you count the little school girl), all of a sudden want to be with him now more than ever!
- Misaki is in big trouble and wants him to save her!
- Haruka is desperate to win him over after the night he spent at Yuki's place. She needs to build some points with him quick but he keeps turning her down.
- Yuki wants to be with him, but his "situation" won't allow it and it's killing him inside.
- The new addition to the harem wants to keep him away from Yuki at "any cost".
- Rina is still trying to see him whenever she is free but he doesn't have time for her (thankfully).
Again, the silent text was deafening in this ep as it hit all its intended marks with pinpoint accuracy. I really like how this title implements the silent text and I enjoy reading them whenever they appear. BTW: What in the world did Misaki do to deserve that level of treatment for crying out loud! She is in over her head with no way out! Shocking ep...
Ep 6: Things slow down a bit as Touya finds a way to temporarily stall with the Yuki situation. He helps Misaki with her issues instead. Rina still tries to call him but to no avail. The manager might be having second thoughts about all this, though she "rewards" him for his cooperation so far, and Misaki finds the help she needs in Touya. He helps her with design corrections, and carrying materials back and forth, though a sudden fall reveals that Misaki's past with her sempai may have been much more than just simple harassment). It seems his goddess of the day in ep 4 (the random school girl) might turn out to be the devil in disguise as she spots Touya and Misaki together and assumes the most obvious outcome. Misaki's plans hit a road block but her savior Touya finds another way to handle the situation. Great ep...
Ep 7: The toughest episode yet... Things get chaotic in this ep and it was fairly difficult to keep up with all the things that were happening one after another. Rina, Haruka, Misaki, and his sixth harem all played a role in driving Touya insane (more the viewer, really) in this ep. He is able to find a place for Misaki and saves her from the huge bind she was in. The school girl got him as her new tutor (though she is a genius already) and she tries to confirm his reasons for claiming to be Yuki's boyfriend, as she saw him with another woman (I have a feeling that the radio's ramblings about love will explain Touya's situation in due time). Rina and her brother are like the puppet masters in this title and once again, they string Touya along with more confusion, spying, and sinister networking. Rina's "interruption" gives Misaki the wrong idea and she assumes the most obvious response and storms off leaving behind a "trail of green footsteps" (if you know what I mean). Near the end, we see Haruka at Touya's door (he isn't home as usual) and she finally loses it! She cries and cries and calls out his name again and again and ends it with a word that will surely throw her perspective on the story for a loop. She calls him, "brother"! What in the world could she mean by that? I had to watch this ep again to ensure I understood all the little "secrets" that were hidden! I'm so lost right now that it isn't even funny. Chaotic ep...
Ep 8: The silent text in this ep was as powerful as ever, if I were able to read it that is!!! As if to piss me off, all the text appeared in dark areas and during black screens, making it impossible for my retarded ("contrast-disabled") screen to allow me to see them at all. I was beyond angry! As for the ep itself; there is waaaaaay too many things going on here and Touya should be at his limit for what one person can handle. The six harems strike again:
~Rin gives Touya an informal invitation to see her whenever he wants (she is making another pass at him of course).
~Haruka is nearly raped in the streets but is saved by the school girl.
~Misaki has calmed down and is okay now.
~Yuki is a wreck and can't understand Touya recent behavior. He appears to give Rin a B-day present and Yuki assumes the worst, but his name is cleared by the Ogata duo. Yuki and Touya make a date for Saturday.
~The manager seduces and kisses Touya as punishment for seeing Yuki again.
~The school girl catches (or spies on him to discover) him with Haruka and still can't catch a clue.
Things are getting way out of hand here and keeping track of SIX girls is seriously taking it's tole on Touya. Dramatic and powerful ep...
Ep 9: Damn Misaki! It's like that? What a stupid @&%$#!!! Who would've thought it could end that way? Well, that's one girl down, five more to go. On a side note, the sixth harem (the little school girl) finally presents the evidence that she is in this harem battle as well. Traitorous ep...
Ep 10: What a convoluted episode. Man, that was a tough one indeed. I was lost the entire time and was trying desperately to draw any connections that presented themselves only to no avail. I've never been so thoroughly confused like this. Nothing made sense to me as the writer's focused on far too many new subjects all at once that each requires separate attention. I have no choice but to watch it again and I'll have to pause it with each new topic and take my time to decipher every little "hidden" detail as well as the small clues that will play a bigger role later on. This ep was ridiculous!!!
...and after a page and a half of info slowly deciphered from the ep, I can continue the series. This ep was an uphill battle if I ever saw one. Way too many things were going on and someone is seriously going to get hurt (in every sense of the word). Some things to mention was the fact that we all know that Rina is a glutton for punishment but it seems that Touya isn't as innocent in this matter as he seems anymore. The silent text makes him seem like a glutton for punishment too (as far as this chaotic harem is concerned anyway). He too is throwing himself into Rina and her brother's little death games like he doesn't have enough to worry about with his other harem girls. The guy who black-mailed Misaki wants to have a little "chat" with Touya for ruining his play (the devil himself couldn’t look any angrier then he did). He is also stalking Misaki as well. There were tons of letters being passed around in this ep (it must be middle school again or something). One was destroyed by accident and taped back together by a third party (talk about nosy). More random seduction as well as some threats rounded out the ep. Sounds like a convoluted ep to me. Convoluted ep...
Ep 11: The concert prep begins to take it's toll on all those involved. For the first time, Touya breaks down as his feelings and doubts about Yuki have reached their limit and he doesn't know what to think anymore. I'd like a reminder on why he is so intent on keeping Yuki as a girlfriend in the first place. She is more trouble than it's worth at this point, but that's just my take on the issue. The situation just continues to build and become more "adult" in terms of suggestive themes. I don't know what to say anymore. "Too confused to care anymore" - type of ep...
Ep 12: The beginning of the end. There really is nothing I can say anymore to make sense of this. I don't know what to say anymore...
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Last updated Tuesday, March 24 2009. Created Monday, January 12 2009.
Note: I've chosen to review the entire twenty-six episode series here as even though the two seasons were split up, they weren't given separate series names. All twenty-six episodes were entitled "White Album."
I've seen a number of harem titles (Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-ohki, Love Hina, Ai Yori Aoshi, Hand Maid May, etc.), including a number of titles based on hentai visual novels (Kanon, Air) and one non-hentai visual novel (Clannad (TV)). In all of the harem anime titles I've seen and in all of anime drama's I've watched, I've never felt like I was watching a soap opera. That all changed with White Album.
I've never been a fan of soap operas, though many, many years ago, I did watch one (which one, I could not say because I don't remember). I watched it for a few weeks out of curiosity to see what the appeal of this form of entertainment was. While I still didn't care for this soap opera, I did understand that one of the appeals of the soap is the serial nature of the storytelling (in the 80's, TV shows were still very much tied up in episodic storytelling which only changed in more recent times). However, I would not classify a series that is serial in nature as a soap opera as there are many anime titles which are serial (Fullmetal Alchemist anyone?).
While I may not be able to cleanly define what makes a show a soap opera, by episode two of White Album, I had the same feeling watching this anime that I felt years ago when I watched a soap opera. That feeling stayed with me for most of the episodes throughout this 2-season series, but I do think that is one of its strengths.
White Album is also a harem anime and is based on the hentai bishoujo visual novel of the same title. There are a few cliched elements in White Album -- a single lead male, a male sidekick character, and a bevy of anime babes all interested in the male lead and luckily for them, the lead male is nice enough to help them if they need it. That's where the similarities end.
The lead male this time is Touya, a college student who's dating an up-and-coming idol he's known since high school named Yuki. Sounds normal enough, right? Well, since Yuki's star is on the rise, Yuki's female manager, Yayoi, is determined to make sure nothing gets in the way of Yuki's career and that includes a boyfriend. So what does she do? She ends up offering her "services" to Touya as part of her efforts to keep Touya away from Yuki and what does he do? Why he has sex with Yayoi over and over and over again.
Touya doesn't stop there. While still continuing to say that he's dating Yuki even though he doesn't see her much, Touya ends up sleeping with several other girls in the series. One one hand, he's a nice guy but on the other hand, he's the worst scum bucket out there. If it is pretty and female, Touya is very likely to "hit it" if at all possible. I'd have to say that he's one of the least likable lead characters in all anime and while we may accept someone like a Tenchi having a harem, Touya's having a harem is just downright irritating, even more so when he screws the girl his best friend really likes and managed to date for a time.
The girls in the series are mostly head scratchers when it comes to their interest in Touya. Yuki is somewhat understandable at the start, but her sticking with Touya throughout is more of a mystery. Rina's interest is also understandable at first since she's lonely and he's a safe male (since he's dating Yuki) but after she discovers what a scum bucket Touya is, she's still in love with him. Haruka has been with Touya ever since they were kids but he's always ignored her. She let him "hit it" when he finally saw her as a women, then lets him move along. Ohhhh-kay.
Masaki's interest was never understandable to me other than she must be attracted to the wrong sorts of guys. Mana's interest was confusing in that there are implications that she knew of Touya, picked him on purpose to be her tutor when she didn't need one, yet deluded herself on the realities of Touya dating Yuki. Menou's interest in Touya stem from a single childhood event which even if remembered, how would she recognize the the adult Touya as the child she helped years earlier? Yayoi's interest started with keeping Touya from Yuki, but she too is lonely and horny and Touya helps her in that regard.
The series suffers the way most bishoujo visual novel adaptations do (including Fate/stay night) in that it is very difficult to incorporate so many girls and their storylines in with the main storyline. However, I will say that Seven Arcs using the soap opera method of storytelling to keep things meshed better, though some of the girls can't help but get lost in the mix for periods of time. That lessens the impact of a girl suddenly not being around as the audience gets caught up in the moment of whatever soap opera event is going on.
Another problem with the series, especially early on, is the confusing style of story presentation. There are no proper introduction of characters. For whatever reason, Seven Arcs just threw in characters who then came and went. I suppose the audience was expected to be those who'd been fans of the game since it game out in the 90's, who would already know everyone. Well, I never played the game before and I didn't like trying to figure out who was who.
While the story does get caught up in Touya's issues with women, it also tries to show another side of the idol industry in Japan. Frankly, has Seven Arcs done more of this, I think this anime would have been much better and still retained its soap opera aspects. Instead, we get a taste of different things such as the idol group Sakura-dan abusing Yuki. We see the friendship of two idols that can turn into a rivalry because of changing record labels. We see the ruthlessness with which idols who don't draw in the money are discarded like garbage. We see that some idols are actually much older than they look or claim to be. We see that sometimes an idol won't even sing her own material as it will be dubbed for her by a more talented but less attractive girl.
So as you see, the anime did sample several different things about the idol life but because they didn't go into these issues on any deep level, it felt like a wasted opportunity to me. Then again, Seven Arcs is going to be somewhat constrained by fans of the original visual novel.
The series is supposed to be set in the 80's and depict Yuki's rise to stardom as an idol, through the eyes of Touya. The problem is, I never really felt we were in the 80's. Sure, the anime went out of its way in the first season to point out people using the green payphones that were so commonly used before cell phones became commonplace. However, that didn't really give it enough of an 80's feel because there are still payphones today.
The series also tried to show some electronic equipment to give an 80's feel to it -- boom boxes with no CD player but only a tape player; an answering machine tape player, car phones instead of cell phones, etc. Yet despite this, the show never felt like the 80's. Instead, if felt like a modern-day series where people didn't use cell phones for some reason. The clothing felt modern (except for Haruka's jacket vest), the hair styles felt modern, and just everything felt modern most of the time. I really wish something had been done to make the series feel like it was set in the 80's rather than just using a few props.
I think that the musical choices would have gone a long way to help this. None of the songs Yuki, Rina, or others sing have the sound of the 80's. I don't know if there were songs in the visual novel or not but if not, then there's no excuse for not having music that sounds of the 80's. Trust me, if I were to play some 80's Japanese music, I believe you could identify it as such rather quickly. Sample some 80's anime titles set in then modern day Japan (Kimagure Orange Road (TV) springs to mind, but the OP/ED for titles like Urusei Yatsura or Dirty Pair are good examples as well) and see for yourself.
From an art an animation perspective, at times White Album is very beautiful and highly detailed. At other times, the animation quality drops and the character designs look ugly, especially for more distant shots. At other times, the series did pick up a style of art reminiscent of the "Take on Me" video, only in color. Musically speaking, I already mentioned how the music did not sound like it came from the 80's. Even if this series were not supposed to have been set in the 80's but in modern times, I still wouldn't have cared for the music, but that's just my tastes. It isn't bad music as such per se, but it does nothing for me.I look back over what I've written and while a lot, I find what I wrote to be mostly negative. Yet for the most part, I kept coming back for more, thanks to the soap opera aspects of the series. Not only that, but I was entertained for the most part as I watched this. So in that regard, Seven Arcs have managed to make an anime series that has some unconventional story presentations at times, some confusion about things that are going on at times, several story elements that are presented but never really explored, some plot threads that are dropped or not really resolved, an unlikeable male lead, a harem of females all wanting his junk, and more and somehow turn it into a very watchable series. However, I find its rewatch value to be nil. Therefore, I can only give this a "Rent."
Last updated Thursday, January 21 2010. Created Thursday, January 08 2009.
KGNE with singers.
For Stretch, the reason Yuki is treated bad at work is in the entertainment field, rising stars are VERY competitive and vindictive to each other. The Miss America contest is a perfect example of how badly idols can behave.
Last updated Wednesday, January 07 2009. Created Wednesday, January 07 2009.
(All episodes watched):
I watched the first episode of White Album, and still had no idea whether it would be any good. This show seemed to use an unconventional storytelling technique; not necessarily clever or interesting, just unconventional. The net result was that I was left with a sense of confusion bordering on apathy. I thought Yuki was supposed to be a rising star, yet why was she treated like crap at work? I decided that if this doesn't start making some sense and intriguing me soon, I'd be liable to drop it. As it turned out, White Album didn't hold my attention firmly enough for me to to completely understand or care what was going on, but it seemed worth watching anyhow. If the calendar is correct, this show seems to be taking place back in 1986. One thing I definitely liked was the OP song, especially the way it shifts from one (what's the word) beat/rythmn/tune to another similar yet different one at one point. That's an intriguing musical move which I enjoy; another good example would be in the OP song from Casshern Sins. As of episodes four and five, I actually found myself starting to enjoy White Album and seriously looking forward to new episodes. Clearly the viewer is expected to already be familiar with the dating sim, since little effort is made to introduce new characters. Still, Touya is in an intriguing dilema as he's tempted to give up on his long-time girlfriend Yuki as a number of new contenders appear. It's sort of a more mature version of a harem anime; what would a guy do if somehow he really did have fairly realistic girls all over him? There's Rin, who's already famous, then there's the girl who just shows up outside his apartment door, and now even Yuki's manager is prepared to keep him occupied, so to speak, so that he doesn't interfere with her budding career.
Though I enjoyed White Album, I didn't rewatch episodes and studying every detail of the plot, so I may have missed or misunderstood some thing(s). This is based on a dating sim; it's almost as if elements of more than one play of the game have been intertwined, so we sometimes lose the cause and effect. That is, as if some scenes from a game play in which Touya went after Yuki were mixed with ones from a play where he prefered Rina, and maybe some others as well. There seems to be a definite tendency to leave plot elements poorly explained, as if the viewer is expected to have already played the videogame. The makers clearly knew that a second season had already been approved, because things are as ambiguous as ever as the first one ends. It hardly bothered to do so much as end a plot arc. There's a teaser about something having happened to Touya's father, but we'll have to wait six months to find out what that was. Nevertheless, I did enjoy White Album; the characters had some depth, except perhaps for Touya himself. His irresponsible and incomprehensible choices (or lack of choices) sometimes reminded me of School Days. Maybe the idea was to leave him pretty much a blank slate so that the male viewer could imagine himself in Touya's place; or maybe his character development was just crappy. But this show must have done something right, because I ended up planning to watch the second season.
Last updated Tuesday, December 31 2013. Created Wednesday, January 07 2009.
|Japanese Anime/Game Web Site||http://www.whitealbum-tv.com/|
|TVアニメ「WHITE ALBUM」公式サイト (Japanese)|