“What just happened?” White Album

When it started out, White Album is great. It’s the only drama anime that doesn’t beat me over the head with foreshadowing, bad guys revealing their plots to the main characters for no reason whatsoever, and incredibly obvious plot twists. The first season even ended with Rina, my favourite character by far (followed by Yayoi) rocking out two venues with full length insert songs and proving that she’s still the queen. And Mugen was a great ending theme. Touya’s thoughts add a lot of depth to what is usually an incomprehensible, opaque protagonist in most harem leads in other series.

But then the second season happened. The best way to describe the ending is comparing it to an amputated limb. Something foreign (like a “yoku dekimashita” medal) was brought in to cover up the fact that there are tons of severed subplots just hanging out of the severed limb, with a neat fadeout to white. And then I get an incomprehensible duet between Yuki and Rina, whose sudden recovery from drinking poison is so complete and instant that she manages to get from the hospital to the event, dress up, and appear just in time for the song, and sing the song with her impeccable voice. Even though Touya only visited her once, with his crocodile tear glands working full time (as is the norm in the second series). All this from a series that I loved for its subtlety and believability.

She was like "WHAT THE FUCK".

Let’s introduce the characters with Touya. At first, he starts off appearing like a normal guy who just happens to have a girlfriend doing well in showbiz he hasn’t met for a long time. Yayoi starts making moves on him, but you know it’s just because of her job, and Touya scrams out of the taxi as fast as he can. He meets the incredibly hot and aggressive (lovely combination, that) Ogata Rina, whose strong-sounding voice actress (Mizuki Nana) looks more like Yuki’s character to be honest. She asks him for his number, and how can he refuse? She says she will get Yuki and him more time together. Then there’s Misaki, who pours out her weakass resolve to him over the phone. Then there’s Akira, who’s jealous that Misaki always relies on Touya even though he never even makes a single move on Misaki. Have I missed anybody? There’s Eiji, who’s weird. Haruka, whose story arc was definitely given a lower priority along with Mizuki Mana’s and Matsuyama Menou’s.

You realize soon enough that it’s all shams and lies. You know Rina definitely isn’t employing Touya just to get him closer to Yuki, as she is so shocked to find that Touya is shagging Yayoi that she immediately asks him out after she finds out (what kind of girl does that!?). You come to know that Misaki is actually a sly and manipulative girl who wrote her play in such a way that it would drive a psychological wedge between Touya and Yuki, thereby giving her just that little bit more leverage to pull him towards herself, but it all falls apart. And she even uses him to further the production of said manipulative play. And you find that Shinozuka Yayoi actually does, for some reason or another, find Touya irresistible, and she’s just using her job as Yuki’s manager to explain this tryst to everyone else. Akira, despite not making a move on Misaki all this time, somehow thinks he has a reason to get pissed at Touya after Misaki confesses, and then subsequently tries to have a relationship with Misaki, with predictable results. We know Haruka is… well actually, it was obvious from the start that she liked him too, but I can’t see a reason why. Anyway he fucked her eventually (he basically fucked everyone except Mana and her mother), so don’t you worry. You find that Eiji is actively trying to ruin his sister’s career in order to promote Yuki’s, which is just… fucked up, really. Good thing Rina shows some backbone and doesn’t take any more bullshit from Eiji, but it’s an uphill battle for her then. Oh yes, I totally forgot about Yuki. She only exists in order to make all of Touya’s conquests immoral. Really. She’s useless. Weak. Over-dependent on a boyfriend that isn’t there for her. At the start of the series, they call each other all the time and miss each other all the time because Touya doesn’t have an answering machine. Then she gives him an answering machine for Christmas. It feels extremely profound that by the end of the series Yuki has no time to listen to Touya’s lies about what he did with girl X, and Touya has no time to listen to whatever Yuki leaves him on the answering machine because he’s too busy shedding tears in order to fuck other girls. Their messages to each other grow trite and generic, a daily ritual of sorts to keep up this sham of a relationship. It’s because of things like this that White Album is a great series.

But as I said, the ending is like an amputated limb. All these plot threads are left dangling, untied. Please tell me that Yuki finally got enough and sawed Touya’s head off like in School Days. At least tell me they broke up. Can we please have at least one girl fall OUT of love with this guy who’s obviously using his tragedies and tears as an excuse to shag all the chicks in his life (seriously, that scene with Yayoi – or the scene with Misaki in his house). Which girl does he end up with? What happened to Rina, and why does she leave Touya when she got her voice back because of him? Did anything significant happen to any of the girls lives as a result of what happened in the plot? Did Menou have to know Touya when he was little? Was Mana even needed? How would Nagase know how to produce a single? What did Eiji leave the country to do? Can someone tell me how the angst at merely throwing a way a fake medal some stranger gave you when you were 5 can lock away one’s memories. Why did Touya give up finding tickets to Yuki’s concert so quickly? Why does Touya hate his dad? What really is going through this guy’s head? I have serious doubts about his characterization in the second season, especially that he is convinced that he is a hindrance to Yuki. Why does everybody have to know each other? Did Misaki actually extort money from Tamaru for getting her pregnant? What was the significance of Rina’s manager and fan also being Yayoi’s stalker? What was the point of pairing him up with Tamaru when it did nothing for his significance to the plot? Why wasn’t Touya’s father dead when Misaki found him, considering that he had collapsed about two episodes before? Could his death possibly have served a better purpose other than to give Touya another chance at knocking Misaki? Did Akira really have to get hit by a car? I mean, nobody really gave a fuck, not even Misaki.

I have no doubt that the original visual novel would have much better endings. If it’s in English, I would play it through to see Rina’s ending. The anime though leaves quite a bitter, strange taste in my mouth. At least I got a new favourite anime character, and an appreciation for Rina’s Character Single and the ending theme Mugen out of the deal. I would still recommend it though, to anybody who only has time for the first season.

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