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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  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Monday, Jun 27. 2016 05:42 PM)
    @Bam: There was this bizzaro Joan of arc slide show arthouse erotica anime from the 70s that recently got a re-release, its somewhat tied to Tezuka, really trippy shit, Kanashimi no belladonna.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Monday, Jun 27. 2016 05:35 PM)
    As a book I could see it flowing better. Oshii or Kamiyama could more effectively adapt such density of material to screen.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Monday, Jun 27. 2016 05:32 PM)
    Ultimately I think it got too ambitious and had too much on its plate.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Monday, Jun 27. 2016 05:31 PM)
    I have yet to see genocidal organ, although yes Harmony was pretty below average and that was putting it mildly. I will consider re-evaluating it if it gets dubbed/when the dub comes out.
    Admittedly its a film of big ideas, my problem with it that the movie itself is just so plodding and I found it too overstuffed to properly focus on/fully develop its themes and the exposition was particularly heavy handed.
  • SuperMario
    (Monday, Jun 27. 2016 05:15 PM)
    @Bam: yeah, heard about the Project Itoh, from what I heard they’re not that good thou, with only Empire of Corpses has a slightly favorable reviews. I believe Kaiser watched Harmony alrready and he gave a very negative rating.
  • Bam
    (Monday, Jun 27. 2016 03:55 PM)
    For those who have somehow managed to miss the hype for Harmony:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hC-6U8HCF8c
    The visuals are intriguing, the palette very sharp, and the CGI relatively well integrated. The early reviews been scathing tho, and given my experience with Empire of Corpses I can guess why.
  • Bam
    (Monday, Jun 27. 2016 03:49 PM)
    Each piece of the trilogy is handled by a different cast and company. Empire of Corpses was done by Wit Studio, Harmony by Studio 4°C, and Genocidal Organ by Manglobe (or Geno Studio as they are called now).
  • Bam
    (Monday, Jun 27. 2016 03:43 PM)
    Anybody seen Empie of Corpses? I watched it to get primed for that Harmony feature film anime, which is part of Project Itoh trilogy. Studio Wit went all out here. The animation is great, and the premise has potential, but the delivery was just botched.
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, Jun 27. 2016 01:07 PM)
    @Mario, you were worried that you would be covering too much slice of life style anime this season, at least with this I will likely be taking one off your hands. I don’t want to cover it but hey if the public says so…guess I will have to suffer.
  • SuperMario
    (Monday, Jun 27. 2016 07:15 AM)
    Also it’s nice to see there was heated arguments on EVA even before I start to do any post review. The way I see it thou certain films/ series are classic/ influential for a reason, if they are brilliant I certainly can still see its sparks. Like I can still amazed of Potemkin Battleship on its montahe editing, or It Happens one night fot its influential on romantic comedy. So I really look forward to see how I feel about EVA hahaa

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