Posted by psgels on 29 March 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews, White Album



I really wanted to like White Album. It had so many good ideas and concepts for a romance show. It had such a wonderful style and execution, it had the potential to be an incredible series. And yet… I just can’t. Beware: this series is very, very easy to dislike.

White Album is a harem series, but it immediately sets itself apart from the rest of its genre by its execution. The pacing is slow, and instead of focusing on silly comedy, this show is driven by the characters’ emotions, portrayed with a wonderful sense of subtlety. Often, we get small glimpses of what characters are thinking, either through short flashbacks, or their thoughts written on the screen. For a fan of subtlety as myself, this series really started out incredibly promising.

The cast of the series is very daring: Touya himself is far away from your typical paper-bag male lead, and instead he is an incredibly flawed character. Throughout the entire series, you’ll be screaming at him for the things he does. In fact, the rest of the cast is also pretty flawed, and it’s one of the driving forces of the series. Kabitzin wrote an excellent article on that matter, and even though it caused many people to hate this series, I consider it at one of the show’s strengths.

But in the end I just can’t recommend this show. I hate to say it, but it’s just too ambitious for its own good. It wants to do too many things and sacrifices the time it needs to build these up. Characters start crying and weeping way too easily in this show, and in most of the times it just feels too forced and directed. The show also has its share of plotholes here and there that only serve to increase the huge drama, but it never really seems to take control of where the drama goes to.

So in the end, the best parts of the show are the quiet bits, in which the drama subtly unfold without any forced crying or yelling. It’s a bloody shame; this show could have been amazing, but in the end it failed to live up to the expectations. I really appreciate the effort, but not every experiment goes exactly according to plans. I’d love to see a series that takes this series’ formula and does pace it properly, though.

Storytelling: 9/10
Characters: 7/10
Production-Values: 8/10
Setting: 6/10

10 Responses

  1. Mentar says:

    Too early. Since we’re only halfway in the story, and there simply haven’t BEEN many “huge drama” scenes, I can’t agree with you. This story is not about creating big melodrama, way too few scenes for that. I can think of 2 Touya scenes with Yayoi and one with Misaki which would qualify, but that’s all.

    I do agree that it’s better in the subtle parts than in the “dramatic” parts so far, but I’ll withhold judgment until I’ve seen it all.

  2. totoum says:

    A little confused

    At the start you say : “I really wanted to like White Album. (…) And yet… I just can’t.”

    Then you say : “this show could have been amazing, but in the end I can only call it enjoyable”

    Which is it? The first statement seems quite a bit harsher than the second one,and i don’t see how the two can coexist unless you say you enjoyed something you didn’t like.

  3. psgels psgels says:

    Totoum: good point, I corrected that a bit in the review.

    Mentar: I also meant those scenes in which people start crying from out of nowhere. Looking back, they didn’t really make that much sense considering how relatively little build-up they got.

  4. chs says:

    The issue with him boning the manager was resolved a bit too easily, if what he did will actually end their “relationship”.

  5. SageGaiGar says:

    I’m grateful that you’ve stuck with this series so far and hope that you continue with its next half.

    I kind of feel that too many people have given up early on it.

  6. windy says:

    What do you mean by ” it failed to live up to the expectations”? What did you expect the end to be?

  7. mds says:

    well,it’s like you like this series until the last 3 episodes come out.Sounds a little ironic.isn’t it?
    But,yeah,I like White Album.For me ,it was the best romance show of 2009 so far ; it definetely wants to be different than many harems that have ever been used before,like ,the eighties setting, different and varied harem girls,character who aren’t high-schoolers anymore.Add it with its unique animation style (that handrawn one,I mean) ,and little texts that appear beside a character (similar to one in ef) ,and you’re in for a harem that you’ve never seen before.

    Aside for that,what’s the “6” in the setting mean? I really didn’t get it by looking at all uniqueness I have…

  8. Rawr says:

    The show is flat out unrealistic. While I agree that the quiet parts of the series where things aren’t shoved down your throat is nice, I think that you’ve given this show too much credit. It’s pretentious at best.

    Touya is still a typical male lead. He’s the so called alpha male bum with parent problems and the uncanny ability to attract women with problems to him. In the end, while not being at the loser end of the spectrum in terms of male leads, he’s at the other end of typical player harem lead.

    The characters in this show revolve around Touya and the women that can’t seem to live without him for some stupid reason. While that’s the definition of the plot, usually the protagonist is forgiven automatically due to the setting. This however tries to tackle it from a real life perspective, so it’s a lot harder to forgive Touya for being the douchebag that he is.

  9. ritchan says:

    It was this particular review of yours that made me watch White Album. I have to say, the good parts just about make up for the bad parts. I wrote up a big post on my blog about it. I suspect it addresses a lot of concerns you’ve talked about in this post.

  10. ghj says:

    I love White Album! Esp. the opening song

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  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 04:49 AM)
    I’m fairly fond of the artstyle sunrise used back in the 90s also.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 04:46 AM)
    Actually with old artstyles in mind, I watched an old ova called california crisis recently, the character design stood out for me, the ova itself is fairly trashy however, more of a guilty pleasure.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 04:31 AM)
    I still don’t like the art in madoka regardless though.
  • AidanAK47
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 04:29 AM)
    “Even if a series which has detailed backgrounds and a sharp dark tone features moe characters the show would be considered lighthearted and Moe, and any violence will come off as forced or even comical.”
    Madoka says otherwise.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 04:24 AM)
    But still even in terms of cutesy looking female characters, I’m still going to pick the old art over the new usually.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 04:23 AM)
    In general I would prefer character designs fit in with their genre usually. I do however believe that moe, fanservice and those oldskool designs have their place and where they are or aren’t appropriate.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 04:11 AM)
    @Emma: the old Madhouse style was also my favorite. Even tho they were cartoony it was still a much more realistic approach. I think we talked in length about how moe just took over the industry, to the point of making anime synonymous with that specific style.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 04:00 AM)
    Shiki was another example where I could forgive the terrible character designs because I was invested in the plot.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 03:55 AM)
    But where older art styles are concerned, its the character designs found in the likes of ninja scroll, ghost in the shell and wicked city that catch my interest most.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 03:49 AM)
    *some of the older artwork more

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