White Album

whitealbum

Touya Fujii is a college student that is also going out with the up and coming idol Morikawa Yuki. Due to how busy Yuki is, as well as do to how discrete they must be due to her status and other circumstances involved, this turns out to be a very difficult relationship. Furthermore, Touya also has to deal with relationships with a number of other characters, many of which are what he calls his goddesses, women who help him majorly in unexpected ways, and to whom he feels obligated to repay. These include Ogata Rina, one of the top idols who also works at the company that Yuki does and watches over her, who despite apparently being thought of by her brother and company head as having reached the end of her progress, continues to try to rise to greater and greater heights. There’s also Sawakura Misaki, who has long been crushed on by Touya’s friend Nanase Akira, who wants to be a writer, but due to various circumstances with a sketchy peer named Tamaru ends up being put into difficult situations. Another is Touya’s childhood friend Kawashima Haruka, who lost her brother and ended up seeing Touya as a replacement. There’s also Haruka’s eventual friend Mizuki Mana, a girl who is from a rich family with parents that are never home, that ends up getting tutored by Touya. There’s also Shinozuka Yayoi, Yuki’s manager, who seems to see him as a hindrance and wants him to stop seeing Yuki, going to extreme lengths to push him to do so. And lastly, there’s Matsuyama Menou, a very strange girl part of a competing idol unit, that seems to be interested in a number of things very different from being part of the actual unit, and seems to have some sort of relationship with Touya. All of these various characters end up creating a complex web of relationships around Touya, that he ends up caught in, and must navigate his way through.

***

“Can a relationship between a regular college student and an idol singer survive? That is the question that White Album tries to answer.” Wait, what? No it isn’t. I don’t know where that description came from, but that’s not what White Album is about at all. Sure, that serves as part of the backdrop originally, but it quickly becomes obvious that’s just the setting for a plot that is focused on something completely different. White Album is about how relationships are really complicated, and at some level make no sense, often being just as composed of misunderstanding and deceit as actual substance, but they are what they are, and are still worthwhile, even if they are in many ways fake or not really leading anywhere.

White Album has a plot composed of a large number of plot strands, most of them centered around Touya’s relationships with various heroines. These strands cross quite often, weaving a web that gets more and more connected as it goes on, but also becoming more and more complex. Part of the reason they feel so complicated, is that the plot and themes heavily rely on subtleties, with a lot of major plot points, connections, and themes being implied and in the background rather than in events actually happening or being explicitly explained through internal monologues. That gives it somewhat of a unique feeling, but at the same time ultimately requires a lot more attentiveness on the part of the viewer as well as the ability to make long reaching connections in order to completely understand whats going on. It’s almost entirely character focused with the events clearly being more of a motivation in carrying forward characters rather than the plot itself, and it has a number of interesting heroines so that works to some degree. Rina, I especially liked, though all of them are likable enough. The protagonist on the other hand is… awkward. He makes sense eventually, but he’s someone that’s just all around very difficult to figure out, and to some degree even when you do figure him out, he’s not very likable. There’s some level of going towards redemption arc for him towards the end of the anime, but it really doesn’t feel justified, and overall the ending feels quite abrupt and not satisfying at all, in part because key portions are heavily implied, or possibly left open to interpretation, which is something that I think worked fine for most of the anime, but really fell apart at the end because this was an anime that definitely needed a solid ending to wrap everything up, which it didn’t deliver at all. Now, that’s not to say the plot was entirely awful, there was a lot of good surrounding the heroines, their relationships with each other, and their growth, so all in all its a worthwhile ride. But the overall package centered around Touya was heavily lacking.

There’s some decentish comedy in the series, though it absolutely isn’t a focus at all. The setting is certainly interesting, being about the music industry but in a way that isn’t overtly cheery nor overtly sleazy. The time period is also quite important, as the level of communications, which is no cell phones and rare car phones, turns out to be quite important to a large number of plot points. There are three different art styles that seem to be used. One that’s pretty standard anime, which is decently animated and there for the vast majority. One that is like a painting, with often very few frames of animation, which looks quite nice. And lastly there’s something that feels half way between the two, which felt awkward. However, the largest issue is that there seemed to be no tying theme behind when the alternate art styles were used that I could ascertain, with the styles seemingly used wherever the staff thought they would look nice to use I suppose, which is fine in a way I guess, but also quite random. Another stylistic choice they used was at various points using text on screen to show Touya’s thoughts, which I believe was used to much better effect as it added a great amount of emphasis. And another text related choice was to have episode titles that were more like philosophical quotes, which set the tone quite nicely. The general soundtrack was quite strange, using a number of themes that you wouldn’t traditionally think fit what was happening on screen, but did manage to in a way. The insert songs on the other hand were all quite nice, as you should expect from a music focused anime. The first OP and the EDs were decent in terms of audio, though not as good as the inserts, however the first OP was incredibly lazy in terms of visuals, and the EDs were only OK visually. The second OP I quite liked all around though.

A show about relationships with a good supporting cast and really good music, though a terrible protagonist and a weak ending.

7/10

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