Amnesia Review

Rating: 3/10

Plot: A girl loses her memory after bumping into a fairy named Orion. She tries to get through her regular activities without alerting anyone, but soon finds out that she has a boyfriend, and hiding the secret from him proves difficult. She spends about a month with him before suffering from an accident which suddenly causes her to appear at the beginning of the same month, in a different world with a different boyfriend. The pattern keeps repeating over and over, reliving the same month with different boyfriends in slightly different worlds suffering from a terrible accident before repeating the pattern again. Will she regain her memory and find her real world?

Breakdown: I was going to review this show, but I FORGOT what I was gonna say! 😀

Oh fine.

Amnesia is simultaneously terrible and perfect.

Not a perfect show – oh god no, I mean a perfect adaptation of an otome game….to a degree.

Amnesia is indeed based on an otome or reverse harem dating sim game of the same name with a very similar plot. Like most dating sims, the player chooses who they end up dating by a series of choices. The story is tailored to your selections. When you do this, you choose a specific ‘route’ in the game and, after a certain point, this route can’t really be changed much.

There’s a severe problem in adapting dating sims to anime. Because the player can freely choose which guy or girl they go after, there’s usually no one you’re ‘supposed’ to be choosing – no specific route you’re ‘meant’ to take. That’s kinda the point. The player chooses who they want based on their own preferences.

Because of this, most dating sim adaptations go down one of two routes; Have the main character, IE The Player, go after all of them equally and turn out to be a cheating douchenozzle because of it (EX: White Album and School Days) or you can force a main relationship, pre-select a mixed ‘route’ if you will, and have the main character get into all sorts of wacky accidental-romantic situations that you won’t care about because you know the person will go with the guy or girl that was obviously selected from the get-go.

This show is ‘perfect’ in a way as an adaptation because they allow the main character to date all of the eligible bachelors without cheating or seeming like a whore. This is achieved through the magic of alternate realities.

The main character – and I know I’m avoiding saying her name, trust me, I’ll get to that in a minute – is bumped into by a fairy named Orion. The contact ends up giving her amnesia of her entire life. She deals with this for a bit and finds out that she’s dating a guy, but after a month goes by she nearly dies and ends up waking up in an entirely new reality, back at the start of the same month, where she’s dating a different guy. Lather, rinse, repeat.

So, it’s not cheating, because she’s living an entirely new life in an alternate reality! Yay space/time continuum!

That being said, this show really is just consecutive ‘routes’ played out and all of them are purely about the guy with a little peppering of how the main character affected their lives. At least until we get to Toma and Ukyo anyway.

On that note, we really have to address the characters and the various ‘routes’, but before we do I need to address the art because I’ll be including pictures.

The art is fairly unique, beautifully detailed and very pretty, but when it comes to the character designs, it’s almost too pretty. The eyes all have this weird thing going on where the colors are glaringly bright, and many characters have gradients in their eyes that make them two completely different (insanely bright) colors. It, in no way, looks natural and it’s incredibly distracting.

Then there’s the little light gradients of colors like pink and purple that usually go into the hair and clothes. I feel like most of these people are made of leaking highlighters.

One thing anime has taught me is tolerance for insanely stupid and illogical clothing choices. While the clothing isn’t too bad a lot of the time, there are some characters here and there that look more suited to be in an MMORPG than a mystery/reverse harem anime. A lot of black, bright neon colors like yellow, lime green and orange, lots of horizontal and vertical black stripes (on top of the neon colors, of course) and checker patterns for whatever reason. One character is quite literally covered in belts from head to toe.

LOOK AT HIM! How long does it take him to get dressed in the morning!? I counted, he has 25 BELTS ON HIS CLOTHES! And that’s not counting the latches on his boots which may or may not be belts as well. And there’s 10 belts merely on his left arm. I think there actually may be more hidden on his back! And this is the character most known for being incredibly logical!

Shin also wears two belts on his neck while one of the female characters wears at least six on her clothes as well.

At least Orion is supernatural, so he has an excuse for looking like a court jester’s LSD chugging nephew, but wow. Did the Joker open a Hot Topic or did the Shuffle Alliance lose their minds?

*cough* On that note, let’s get to the characters.

This is our main character. She starts out–…..Oh sorry hang on.

Uhm, I’m getting word that I put up a picture of a cardboard box instead of the main character. I’m almost certain that’s her….No?….Seriously? You’re right, the box is far more interesting. Sorry.

THIS is our main character. And she…..is the biggest….most obvious Mary Sue….I have ever seen in my entire life. You wanna know how I know that?

She has.…

 

 

 

No.…

 

 

 

 

 

Name.

You heard me. She is never given a name ever in the series. She also doesn’t have any in the game. She’s known only as ‘the heroine’ or ‘Heroine’ to make it more personal. She has a couple of fan names, but not an official one, and over the series she’s either called ‘Senpai’ or a pronoun.

She has quite literally no personality. She’s incredibly quiet and when she does speak she never raises her voice or puts any personality into her words. I get it, she has amnesia. Thus she wouldn’t be able to project as much of her original personality, but that doesn’t mean she should have zero personality whatsoever, and it doesn’t make her anymore enjoyable to watch. It gets unbelievably old really fast.

Watching paint dry on an unsalted cracker narrated by Ben Stein would be far more interesting than watching this chick for more than five minutes. I never thought lack of character would be so irritating, but Heroine pulls it off without a hitch. Bravo.

She has varying personalities and backstories in the different realities. However, the one we see has the same annoying as crap non-personality of barely ever speaking a complete sentence or speaking at all, never changing her tone, never getting angry or emotional, always speaking in such a soft and barely audible voice while hardly ever changing expression.

That very situation is why she gets an out in regards to the question of ‘Why do all of these guys like this completely boring and generic girl?’ It’s simply because they know her as someone who’s supposedly interesting.

I get annoyed by bitchy characters and jerks. I get annoyed by characters who act like idiots and think they’re funny, but I can usually ignore characters who have no personality. The main problem here is that the personality-less person is not usually the main friggin’ character. How can you even give a shit about what’s happening to her or who she really is or what her true memories really are when she doesn’t even seem to really care? How do you care about someone who, by all means, is just nothing? How do you care about her relationships with these guys if she shows no actual interest in any of them? If she just instantly ignores her previous reality’s boyfriend for the next? If she even thinks of anything at all. It is by far the biggest issue in this series.

For a rantier rant on Heroine, see my entry on her for The Salty Anime Challenge.

The guys in the series are based on card suits. In fact, their specific routes are labeled as such; diamond, hearts, spade, clubs/clovers and joker. Why?

The first boyfriend is arguably the most boring with Shin, the heart route. Shin’s somewhat abrasive and a bit closed off, but he’s still a kind person who is childhood friends with Heroine. The Heroine in the hearts reality is apparently a nice girl who joined a band and liked to sing, though apparently she wasn’t good at it and only recently got somewhat decent.

I’d like to point out that the Wiki notes that as her only skill. Something she’s only passable at and only exists in one reality is her character’s only notable skill. Geez, her blandness might be affecting her alter personalities.

Shin’s big backstory is that his dad killed a man when Shin was a kid. Because of that, he was bullied and most kids kept away from him either on their own or because of their parents. Only Heroine and his other childhood friend, Toma, stuck by him. Eventually Heroine and Shin started dating a few months prior to the start of the hearts route.

That’s pretty much it. I honestly don’t know why he’s seen as the most canon choice outside of Ukyo.

The second boyfriend is a little more interesting with Ikki, the spade route. Ikki is the resident bishie god that every girl adores. In fact, one of the few plot lines that runs through most of the stories is Ikki’s batshit insane ‘fan club’ who bully Heroine quite often either because she’s friends with Ikki or because she’s dating him, depending on the route. They do all sorts of awful things to her and she just takes it instead of confronting them or trying to retaliate or telling anyone because that would require her actually doing something.

Ikki’s story is that he wished on a star as a child that girls would love him and he soon found that his wish came true. He could instantly gain the heart of any woman that he wanted if they looked into his eyes. In fact, he wears sunglasses in his route sometimes to combat this ‘condition.’

Because of this ‘power’ he found he couldn’t get close to people either due to his popularity and rabid fangirls or because he figured anyone who did love him would just be under the power of his charms. He eventually just decided to screw it and dated a bunch of different girls, gaining the reputation of a playboy.

The Heroine in this route didn’t fall for his charms, which peaked Ikki’s interest as he’d never been rejected by a girl. He decided he’d do his damnedest to get her to love him. In the visual novel, this is apparently because she had a playboy father and didn’t like that attitude, but this is never stated in the anime.

Ikki’s personality is pretty bland. He’s a nice guy, polite and really calm, but that’s about it.

The third boyfriend is more interesting in terms of their actual relationship, which was a surprise, with Kent, the clubs. Kent is a very intelligent mathematics major who is pretty damn robotic, yet he still has eons more personality than Heroine. That is just amazing.

In my opinion, he’s actually the most interesting and entertaining character in the show.

He’s very logical, blunt and cold, yet is still fairly kind and caring when he wants to be. His relationship with Heroine almost seems to be like a training session for Kent to be more human as he’s slowly learning how to act more normal and warm to people the longer he’s with her.

He is completely clueless when it comes to their relationship, and he frequently does awkward things like constantly text her ‘good night’ and ‘good morning’ by her wishes without ever including any other messages, or sitting in complete silence in his office with Heroine for hours at a time while he studiously works because he noted she wanted to spend more time together. It’s not that he’s an asshole, he just legitimately doesn’t know what to do.

Sometimes this awkwardness is cute and funny, but other times it’s just awkward.

Heroine, in this reality, isn’t really well-explored. What a shock. She’s apparently not very upfront with her wishes in their relationship, and they frequently argued mostly in regards to his awkward and cold nature. Oddly enough, the amnesiac Heroine’s kindness or lack of yelling gives Kent hope that he can have a good relationship with the other Heroine as well when she jumps to another reality.

 

*exasperated sigh*…..Ahhhh…Tomaaaa….

Toma is the fourth ‘boyfriend’ and the prompt of the diamond route. Toma’s a pretty cool character in the few other times you see him in other realities, mostly the heart route, as he’s a pretty easy going and fun loving character. In fact, I was really looking forward to his reality, and he was in the front running for my favorite character. In this route, he’s still basically like that…for a bit.

In this route, Ikki’s fan club is out in full force because they don’t like how nice he is to Heroine. It’s hinted throughout the route that this reality’s Heroine is cheating on Toma with Ikki in secret and his fan club is getting agitated with her. They start pulling a bunch of awful pranks on her like filling her mailbox with garbage everyday and giving out her personal information online to shady people who seem to think she’s an escort or something. Toma has been protecting her from these pranks, but there’s a few issues here.

First of all, he is not really her boyfriend in this reality. Neither is Ikki. She just assumed Toma was her boyfriend here because she’s gotten used to the shtick and Toma rolled with it because he was in love with her, subsequently taking advantage of her amnesia. The Heroine in this reality is again childhood friends with Shin and Toma but liked Toma more because of how much he cared for her. In fact, she’d cry on purpose to get Toma to pay attention to her. However, she didn’t like the fact that he always seemed to like her as a friend or sister and never saw her as a woman, so she was asking Ikki in secret for advice on the matter.

Second, Toma becomes completely obsessed with ‘protecting’ her and keeping her away from Ikki.

How obsessed? Well, let’s see – he steals her cell phone and makes her believe that she broke it, takes advantage of her amnesia to pretend that they’re boyfriend and girlfriend, practically needs to be where she is at all times, makes several comments in a rapey vein about how, since he’s a man, he can’t control himself around her, practically demands that they be together 24/7, drugs her regularly to make her sleep so she’ll stay with him, oh and there’s that little thing about KEEPING HER IN A DAMN CAGE AGAINST HER WILL FOR DAYS! An actual cage! Look!

EMOTE, YOU REACTIONLESS SACK OF BRAN FLAKES!

This just….what the hell?! Oh and if that’s not bad enough, in addition to Heroine being so stupid that she hears Orion warning her about Toma drugging her and not to eat or drink anything he gives her and just decides to do it anyway without a thought, because she’s a massive dumbass, her response to all of this is just ‘aw, but he just wants to protect me. I’ll forgive him for everything even though he probably would’ve imprisoned me forever and maybe raped me if he never found the diary.’

He actually says lines like this:

“If I take all of you by force, will you see nothing but me? Or will you break?

If I can’t protect you, should I break you?”

But of course little miss ‘dumb as a brick with about as much personality’ doesn’t get angry at this at all. She doesn’t even seem scared. She has the same reaction that she does to everyfuckingthing. ‘Well, this is happening now.’

And you wanna know something else? Something really creepy? Toma is a fan favorite character….BECAUSE OF THIS. I thought it was in spite of this, but no, you can find all sorts of ‘Toma: The Obsessed’ fan stuff out there. What is wrong with you people!? I liked Toma a lot too, but that was before all of this stuff. Seek help!

I just realized that hat makes him look like a taxi driver.

WARNING: We’re touching upon stuff that actually matters to the plot now. While everything else is completely inconsequential to the overall story, this one actually does tie into everything. Spoilers, is what I’m getting at.

Ukyo is the final boyfriend and supposedly her original and ‘real’ world lover. He’s also the Joker of the suits. Ukyo is another string in all of the realities because he approaches the Heroine in all of them seemingly knowing that she’s jumping between realities. The final route takes place in his reality where he is dating her, but there’s a catch.

The reason for the reality jumping was that she was Ukyo’s lover but she died in Ukyo’s world. He wished to see her live past her death on August 26th, and his wish was granted by a passing god named Neil.

It’s really not entirely clear, but apparently she hops from world to world and lives out the month of August in another reality. Ukyo is allowed to jump as well with Neil’s help to watch her for that month, which grants his wish.

The problem here is that she still ‘dies’ in every reality…as does he? I honestly don’t get it. The point it is that they can’t coincide in the same reality. If they’re in a reality where Ukyo doesn’t belong, the world kills him and if they’re in Ukyo’s world, where Heroine doesn’t belong, the world tries to kill her….I think.

He spends the entire month warning her of the various dangers in his reality because he’s seen her die in those ways. He wants to keep her alive past midnight on August 26th because she’ll stop being killed by the world, but since she doesn’t belong there, Ukyo has to die and…he does, but he also lives past midnight and he dies and turns into light and that stops the jumping and–

Ukyo has another problem. Because of the jumping between realities and being killed so many times as well as seeing Heroine get killed over and over, he’s developed two personalities – the good or normal one and a murderous psychopath.

Ukyo’s pretty likable but it’s disappointing that the guy who is supposed to be Heroine’s actual lover in her original reality doesn’t get explored much. Ukyo’s a very kind and gentle person, who has a bit of Heroine fever in that he frequently frowns and apologizes a lot.

Because the Heroine does jack squat in terms of everything, our main plot doesn’t move in the least until episode 11, and we don’t get much information on what’s really going on until the huge exposition dump that is episode 12. And let me remind you of how useless she is by pointing out that she spends at least a month with each guy in each reality. Meaning a good four months go by and she still does absolutely nothing to regain her memories, figure out what’s causing the jumps or anything at all. She is the most benign, stagnant main character, or character period, I’ve ever seen.

That’s partially why I’m still so confused. Episode 12 slams you with all sorts of exposition, backstory and trying to tie up as many ends as possible that it’s overwhelming. It’s like they compressed what would’ve been the linear storyline and jammed it into one episode.

If there’s one final character we need to address, it’s Orion.

Orion is a fairy or spirit who bumped into Heroine, causing her to lose her memories. While he does his best to help her out in terms of regaining her memories and dealing with the various worlds that she visits, he spends much of the show being absent because he keeps being forced out of the worlds for reasons never revealed.

Orion’s a pretty likable kid, and he has to practically babysit Heroine in the various worlds because, again, she’s useless….and stupid. And as stupid as the outfits in this show are, I really like Orion’s for some reason. It’s just fun.

Art and animation: While the colors are bizarre to say the least and the clothes are just baffling, they are extremely well detailed and stylized. The backgrounds and various set pieces are also very well detailed. Practically everything is a pleasure to look at. The animation is good, but given that there’s little movement needed, it’s hard to see it really tested.

Music: The music was pretty good. While not horribly memorable, it was still nice to listen to and there are some BG tracks that are memorable.

Voice Acting: Japanese – Heroine’s VA got on my nerves because of how light and breathy she was probably directed to sound like the entire time. It’s not an awful voice, it’s how it’s presented. Everyone else was pretty good, especially Ukyo’s VA who bounces quite well between his two personalities.

Bottomline: Have no question, this is just pure indulgence for anyone who likes anime guy eye candy and wants an experience of a dating sim without that pesky game to get in the way. The plot itself is interesting but they do nothing with it until the very end. The majority of the show is just getting to know the stories of the various guys and sometimes it will touch upon the Heroine’s personality in that reality.

However, it’s not like that even really matters. It’s established that the characters are somewhat or drastically different between the realities so even if we know the various Heroines, they’re still not her in her reality and neither are the other guys. I guess, in a way, that’s good because that means Toma might not be a rapey dungeon lord, but that means that most of the episodes are completely pointless besides pasting your picture on Mary Sue McPaperpersonality and imagining you’re the one all these guys are pining after.

In the end, the story still doesn’t make much sense to me either way because of the horrific pacing with the actual plot.

Heroine makes this show a massive chore to watch. She is downright infuriating with how zero dimensional she is. And I swear if I see that dumb expression that she wears 99% of the time again, the only memory she’ll need to worry about is remembering the number for emergency services when I beat her in the face with a rock…..A rock that probably also has more personality and is much more interesting than her.

Guilty as charged, if it wasn’t for the eye candy I would’ve dropped it purely because of her.

Additional Information and Notes: Amnesia was directed by Yoshimitsu Ohashi, who barely does any directorial work, but directed some episodes of Code Geass R2, Trigun and the entirety of Witchblade.

It was written by Touko Machida, who also wrote Allison and Lillia, Boku wa Imouto—wha, really?! I can’t escape that damn show. Boku wa Imouto ni Koi wo Suru, and Lucky Star.

Animation was produced by Brain’s Base, and it is currently licensed in the US by Sentai Filmworks.

Episodes: 12

Year: 2013

Recommended Audience: There’s some self-harm and one instance of suicide, some kinda dark moments, but no nudity, no sex though there are allusions to it, no real swearing, some minor violence. 10+

White Album 2 Review

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Rating: 9/10

Plot: Haruki’s light music club is dwindling in numbers, but he has a dream of playing guitar in the school festival. While he’s not very good, he practices every day in Music Room 1 while a mysterious pianist plays in the locked Music Room 2, meant for music school students.

When he starts trying to play “White Album,” the mysterious pianist from the other room starts playing with him. It becomes a regular practice session for the two while Haruki remains in the dark about who the pianist is.

Another person joins in the song, a vocalist, and Haruki discovers that the vocalist is the school idol, Setsuna Ogiso, while the pianist is his friend, Kazusa Touma. He gets them to join the light music club to quickly prepare for the festival in mere weeks, but unrequited love and blooming love are entangling the three in web with no easy way out.

Breakdown: WARNING – SPOILERS

I was dreading the hell out of this show. If you follow my reviews, you know I don’t much care for White Album. There were way too many girls given focus, their characters were all mostly ruined, Touya was an unlikable cheating asshole and no man on the show barring Frankie was likeable at all by the end of season two.

But I wanted to give this show a chance as it takes place years after White Album and no characters from that show make the slightest cameo. Rina and Yuki are mentioned and their faces are shown on posters, but that’s it.

I’m glad I did give this show a chance because it’s a hell of a lot better than the first White Album. Haruki, for starters, is very likable. He’s a little uptight, but that’s fine. His heart’s in the right place and he’s a very kind person. While he does make some mistakes, he’s human and actually feels stuff like shame and regret for them. He even feels remorse for feeling things he should be feeling for another person while with someone else. That sure is amazing, huh, Touya?

Setsuna…..got a little creepy, I will admit. The whole petting his hair while he’s sleeping even though he hasn’t taken a shower thing and her clingyness got a bit much for me, but that was very short lived and it wasn’t that terrible. I’ve seen worse, and she’s a very kindhearted character as well. The ending in particular made me see this character in a very bright light.

Touma as a character is a little grating in earlier episodes as she’s very blunt and not very friendly, but when she warms up to the group and you get to know her, you start to like her more and more as a character.

The story as a whole is entirely about these three. Unlike a lot of other visual novel anime, Haruki’s only in a love triangle.

There are two other ‘prominent’ girls in the series, one being his friend Io and another a snotty bitch who used to be the vocalist for the group, but they, like most of the other side characters, don’t do much. They’re there for support and such when needed, but nothing really focuses on them. While that is fine seeing as how that keeps the focus in the show on the three, I’d really like to get to know them a little better.

That’s another thing, I was really worried Takeya would be the signature pervert best friend who is meant to be worse than the main character to make him look better. But, surprisingly, he’s actually very likeable. He keeps Haruki grounded and is a very good friend to him whenever he needs him. He is a playboy, apparently, but he’s not sleazy or anything. I really wish we had gotten to see more of him.

As for the main story, both Touma and Setsuna eventually start liking Haruki. Setsuna admits this to Touma, but she’s too proud to admit that she likes him too despite the fact that Setsuna tells her that she knows she likes him, but they’ll be rivals for his affection.

Haruki’s pretty vague on who he really likes in the beginning as they almost leaned it towards Setsuna for a good chunk while consistently making you root for Touma. That’s the difficult thing in this anime. Unlike a lot of love triangles, I didn’t hate anyone here. I was rooting for one over another, but I wasn’t wishing for the other’s suffering. I was just wishing more for the happiness of the first.

That’s how love triangle stories should be. Why even bother telling a story about a love triangle when one character is clearly more likable than another? You should like all of the characters to enjoy their relationships and really think about who loves who most or who seems better with whom. It’s an odd fact, but deciding who you want to root for should be a somewhat sad feeling that takes actual thought and consideration because it means that another nice character suffers. If you clearly hate one character in the love triangle, it makes it difficult to root for that pairing, and makes the final outcome incredibly predictable.

After the school festival, Setsuna confesses to Haruki and he becomes her boyfriend. They maintain a fairly nice relationship, but it quickly becomes clear that Haruki really likes Touma and vice versa and that Setsuna knows this deep down.

Touma starts becoming colder and colder to Haruki until she basically starts being mean to him to further their distance, but this just prompts Haruki to pursue her even further to figure out why she’s acting as such. His determination even leads him to lying to Setsuna on her birthday (while she’s all alone – ouch) so that he can find Touma instead of going to her party.

This is what I mean about liking all of the characters in order for love triangle stories to work. If I hated Setsuna, I probably wouldn’t give a rat’s ass about this, but I do so I felt really bad for her. And yes, this is one example of Haruki kinda being an asshole, but he didn’t realize she was alone on her birthday. Her family left on a trip for some reason. In addition, one of the reasons Haruki pursued Touma that day was to get her to go to Setsuna’s party.

When he finds her, she reveals that she’s loved him since before she even joined the light music club. He was the only one who treated her as a regular person and not with contempt or special treatment because of her mother’s fame (she’s a famous pianist). He took an interest in her, in her life and her well-being. He was kind to her and he legitimately cared.

Haruki, admitting that he also liked Touma, starts kissing her and she kisses back, but Touma quickly pushes him away and slaps him. She then doesn’t want to do anything with him since he’s with Setsuna and she’s her best friend.

That’s another note about this show. In addition to the characters all being likable, Touma and Setsuna quickly become best friends after meeting in the light music club, which just makes this situation even more heartbreaking. You not only have to take into account that one of them is going to suffer, but then there’s the lingering feeling like both of them will feel like they’re betraying the other if they do end up with Haruki.

I mused that this would be one show were I would actually root for a threesome ending. Haruki loves Touma and Touma loves Haruki, Setsuna loves Haruki and there were actually several times when Setsuna and Touma humored the thought that they would actually be great together if Touma were a guy. It could work. I’m just sayin’….

Touma states that she’s going to be living with her mother to master piano in Vienna after her graduation. Her mother went to Europe a few years ago to continue her career as a concert pianist and didn’t take Touma with her, which caused a huge strife in their relationship. After Touma proved her prowess at a recital, her mother decided to allow her to come to Vienna with her to find a better piano teacher to master her craft.

Also, Touma doesn’t have the grades to get into any actual college, so this seems like her best shot at a career.

Touma does her best to avoid the two after that, but places a note in Setsuna’s desk at graduation, leaving Haruki to abandon Setsuna to find her.

He doesn’t, but Touma calls him later, the day before she’s set to leave, to talk to him one last time. It builds up to Haruki eventually confessing his love for her and Touma talking about how it essentially can’t work, but she’ll always remember him. Haruki finds her as she was ‘hiding’ in the park outside his apartment building in hopes that she could see him one last time. They finally spill all the beans and happily start kissing in the snow.

Now we get to the final episode.

The ending makes or breaks practically any show. This is especially true in VN anime as the whole show is about the relationship(s) and the final episode is basically how we’re left to perceive how they ended up.

The episode starts off with a super censored sex scene between Touma and Haruki. And when I say super censored, I mean when the scene is on them, the screen is 50-80% black. While I’m not rooting for hardcore porn, there are ways of tastefully doing a sex scene without blacking out the entire screen. This is fine, but a bit distracting is all. I should also mention that Setsuna calls him right before they do it, but surprisingly Touma prompts him to not answer it.

Touma leaves in the morning, taking Haruki’s jacket buttons, which is tradition for people you like in Japan after graduation.

Haruki’s crushed, but Setsuna goes to him in the morning to try to catch Touma at the airport before her plane leaves. (Cliche warning at critical levels) Haruki wants to finally talk to Setsuna about everything, but she says she won’t listen until they’re on the train to see Touma.

On the train, Haruki has told Sesuna everything, yet she’s not getting upset. Haruki asks why and she says that she never liked Haruki as much as she made off. She only got together with him to give the three of them a better chance of being together forever.

While I know the actual reason why she’s saying this, this makes no sense. Starting a romantic relationship with one member of a three person friendship is basically lethal to any friendship as the remaining person will always feel like a third wheel. If she meant getting together with him in hopes that Touma would feel more determined to fight for him, then that also leads the same problem as before. And it causes undue strife in the relationship.

Anyway, it’s actually a really good scene as it shows that Haruki’s very shameful of what he did, though he has been showing regret the whole time, and at least has the balls to admit it to Setsuna and apologize in a heartfelt fashion. Even if it was after the fact and it would’ve been more responsible to do it while he knew he was in love with Touma, better a little late than never. But unlike in shows where the main character’s a dick, you can understand that this is just because he’s human and didn’t want to hurt Setsuna because he was still her friend as well.

When they get to the airport, Haruki says they shouldn’t look for Touma anymore as it wouldn’t change anything anyway, but Touma finds them instead. Haruki runs to Touma in a somewhat cheesy fashion and, despite not wanting to make Setsuna upset, she apologizes and starts kissing Haruki.

As they’re kissing, we get an audio flashback of Setsuna’s speech from the train and clips of her and Haruki together. When it ends, she says of course it wasn’t true and that she truly loved Haruki, but she knew that Touma and Haruki loved each other and Haruki didn’t feel as strongly for her as he did for Touma.

She knew they liked each other from basically the first time that she met them, yet came between them anyway because she legitimately liked and later fell in love with Haruki.

This is one of the most mature things I’ve ever seen in a VN anime. A character did something selfish, yes, but not only did they own up to it, they willingly stepped aside for the happiness of the other two people instead of continuing to be selfish. You can tell that it seriously hurt Setsuna, but she sacrificed her feelings for the happiness of Touma and Haruki. Kinda like in Rumbling Hearts only not stupid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then Touma leaves.

…..Oh what? Expecting her to stay and actually give this story a happy ending? Nope. She leaves because, as the title of the episode states, Touma and Haruki’s relationship is ‘a love that cannot be.’

Now, as you can probably surmise, I was quite pissed at this ending and was all too prepared to rant about it here. But now that I’ve had a bit of time to cool off and really think about it….I understand why she left.

Besides Haruki, she has no reason to stay in Japan. She can’t go to any college while Setsuna and Haruki are. She has nothing to do there. Vienna offers not only a big chance to reconnect with her mother, but she’ll also be learning how to play piano professionally.

I understand how, no matter how much I may want it, it’s actually more realistic (not to mention not ungodly cliché like the alternative) that Touma left instead of stayed because of a guy.

I have my own petty reasons for getting a little mad at the end considering I really wanted Touma and Haruki together, but I don’t feel I can say it’s a bad ending in the slightest.

Throughout this entire show, I can say that, given some leeway with the fanservice in the obligatory hot springs episode and the drama, this show has been realistic if anything in the way that it handles practically everything….except the guitar stuff. I don’t believe anyone can learn how to play that well after two weeks of practice. Especially not three different songs.

I can’t fault it entirely too much for the ending as everything else was just handled so well. Much better than practically every other VN anime I’ve ever seen, rivaling the quality of the Ef series. And unlike a lot of other endings that flat out ruin even good shows, like H2O, I can’t in good conscience even say that it ruins anything.

Not everything turns out the way we’d want it to is all.

A Sequel?

People in the comments kept saying something like this only follows a portion of the games and maybe there will be a next season chronicling what happens after. Supposedly this series only follows the Introductory Chapter of the game, but there’s another section called Closing Chapter which takes place three years after the events of the IC.

I haven’t read much on the story of CC, but apparently it involved Haruki being pretty severely affected by Touma’s departure to the point where he won’t date and avoids the topic of Touma and intimate contact as much as possible. But the game opens up more to allow Haruki to pursue other girls in order to get over this trauma whereas in the first part it was just Touma and Setsuna. Meaning it’s more like your traditional visual novel anime.

Setsuna and Kazusa can be selected near the end (how Kazusa shows up, I don’t know, but Setsuna has remained his friend through the years) There’s also an option to reject both of them and ‘be unfaithful,’ whatever that means.

This seems like a really interesting set up for a continuation, but then again they’re possibly adding a harem aspect to the mix. If they handle it as well as they’ve handled this series, however, I welcome a second season if they’re interested in making it.

Art and Animation: The art and animation are beautifully done. Both the character models and the backgrounds are very nice to look at. Nothing quite as nice as Ef, but still very nice.

Music: “White Album” was really starting to piss me off as that song was constantly played in the first half of the show. However, they lighten up on it later and it eventually disappears so it’s fine. The other music is very memorable and nice to listen to. Both the OP and ED are good songs as well.

Bottomline: Lingering feelings of the final episode aside, this is a very good love-triangle anime that makes you want to root for every character when you know you cannot (Threesome ending! Who’s with me? :D)

Even if you’re a Setsuna fan, you’d likely understand her situation as well to the point where you’d also accept the ending as a spoonful of medicine. It’s not like it makes her look like a bad character or anything despite how some blowhards will be quick to jump on calling any other person in a love-triangle a bitch.

The story itself is an emotional roller coaster ride, but I enjoyed the hell out of nearly every minute of it. It clawed its way out of the sewage of White Album and made something really great. Kudos. Give it a watch if you like romance anime, drama and can take a sad ending (sad on all accounts actually as Haruki and Setsuna break up AND Touma leaves them both behind.)

Additional Information and Notes: White Album 2 was based on an adult visual novel of the same name. The anime adaptation was directed by Masaomi Ando, who also did directorial work on 07-Ghost, Fairy Tail and Vampire Knight. It was written by Fumiaki Maruto, produced by Satelight, and it is not currently licensed in the US.

Episodes: 13

Year: 2013

Recommended Audience: Pretty heavy make out scenes, one insanely censored sex scene, no swearing, no real nudity but minor fanservice, no gore, obviously. Heavy drama and whatnot. 14+

White Album Season 2 Review

Rating: 3.5/10

Plot: Same as the first season, only with more sex and drama.

Breakdown: (Spoiler alert: Also, this is not to be confused with White Album 2)

Nihon rater, I apologize. You had perfect reason to name Touya on the same level as Makoto. He didn’t leave a pregnant girl on her own so he could bang other girls, but I can see why you’d put them on the same level.

Touya’s upped the assholery 1000 fold in this season. The first one only had him cheating on Yuki with Yayoi. He seemed to feel guilty about it, he kept pretending Yayoi was Yuki because he missed her. Okay, somewhat understandable, I suppose. Cheating’s still a major dick move, but it is slightly understandable here. Understandable, not excusable. He also kissed Misaki and proclaimed his love for her….okay that’s much less understandable. Especially if his one ‘love’ is Yuki.

In this season he continues to sleep with Yayoi until about three episodes from the end, sleeps with Haruka, makes out with Misaki (again), has sex with Misaki, almost has sex with Menou, makes out with Rina, goes out on a date with another woman (whom he later ditches from said date to go with Yayoi for no reason whatsoever. And when I say “ditch” I mean he said he needed to go to the bathroom and never intended on coming back. She was a nice pretty girl and Touya just ditches her in the middle of a date for no reason. What’s worse is that the final shot they show of her is her waiting in the restaurant saying she’ll never date again. Touya, you’re a dick. At least say something came up and you needed to leave. Don’t act like you’ll be right back and then ditch her. What’s even worse is that he strung her along first by calling her a savior goddess. Jeez.) and strings along Mana.

All without remorse and eventually even becoming blase about his relationship with Yuki – the one he still won’t friggin’ end.

This season also brings up a lot of confusing and pointless moments. Like, though I don’t mind the thought, why did Akira get hit by a car? It added nothing, he suffered no actual injuries besides a scratch on the head and he was back to work days later. I’ll tell ya why. It got you to watch the next episode because that was a cliffhanger moment. So useful!

I could’ve done with White Album if they left it as it was in season one, but no…

Characters

Touya: You can basically understand my thoughts on his character already. He turns into a super-ultra ass in this season, yet still holds his relationship with Yuki for no reason. Did you know they barely ever have screentime together? Ever.

How can you root for a couple that we hardly ever see together? We see him with the other girls a lot more than Yuki. Again, I honestly don’t understand why he never dumped her. Why pretend you guys are in love when you barely even like each other by this point?

In addition, in the scene where Akira gets hit by the car, all he’s worried about when he gets to the hospital is how he’ll handle it if Haruka’s upset with it. Nice. Some friend you are. He’s completely unlikable, boring when he’s not being an ass and I wish HE had been hit by a car at some point.

Akira: Like Touya, he’s upped the assholery quite a bit this season. He’s still an angry jackass, only now he’s a sex hound. He tries to sleep with Misaki in Touya’s father’s house (right after he came home from having a heart attack!) and then gets pissed because she doesn’t want to do it, justifying it by that they’ve been dating for a month (a whole MONTH! Wow, why aren’t you married yet?) and it’s time that they did. Feh.

Also, he states that if she ever had tea with Touya, he’d dump her in a heartbeat. True love right here, folks. I mean, I wouldn’t trust Touya to be alone with my shoes, but that’s a complete lack of trust in Misaki as well. He also seems barely bothered after she broke up with him. He was even on a date with Haruka smiling a few days later…

Eiji:
Eiji didn’t have that much of an impact on the first season, but he was a jerk there and he’s still one here. Also, he’s out of his damned mind. I’m dead serious. The reason he’s a jerk is that he basically treats his sister, Rina, as an object. He believes Rina has overstayed her welcome in the music world and keeps trying to replace her with his new star, Yuki, despite the fact that Rina is still a huge sensation.

The reason he’s insane is because he’s completely obsessed with this painting he saw when he was a musician. It was so amazing that he was moved to tears whenever he saw it. He was so obsessed with it that he tried to obtain the painting for years, but kept getting ‘copies.’ However, he was just under the delusion that they were all copies of the same painting, when, in reality, the paintings were all drastically different and he was just imagining that they looked exactly the same.

He has a mental breakdown and it’s revealed that he doesn’t even remember what the painting looked like. So impacting that he doesn’t even remember what it looked like….just that it had a girl and a lily. Wow.

Yuki: Yuki’s even more of a doormat in this season. She actually finds out that Touya has been cheating on her and lying to her along with a bunch of other people, yet she still doesn’t dump him or even confront him about it.

Yuki wants the best of both worlds by trying to maintain her relationship with Touya and staying as a pop idol, but she makes little to no effort to see him or make time for him. The most conversations they have is by phone tag – just leaving messages for each other on the answering machine.

It’s obvious that she cares more about her career than him, yet she still won’t let him go. I questioned many times whether or not Yuki actually loved Touya at all during this season. Their relationship has the emotional depth of a sippy cup. Why are they the main couple?

Oh and, get this, she won’t make an iota of effort to see Touya because she doesn’t want to hinder her career, but she says she’ll quit her career because Rina said she was leaving the record label. LOGIC.

Also, when she finds out that Touya’s a lying ass, she bites into her hand so hard that she creates a puddle of blood on the ground….Ya know what? Maybe they deserve each other…

Rina: Rina was the one character who I still pretty much liked in the end. However, she does make out with Touya. She owns up to it with Yuki immediately, though. And she still shows that she’s a strong character and a good friend.

Misaki: Misaki turned horrible in this season. She makes out with Touya, later sleeps with him (granted, he was grieving, but still.) takes a job from an old boyfriend who apparently got her pregnant and wouldn’t support the baby. Then he became a huge dick to her and tried to stab her later.

By the way, I have no clue what happened to the baby, if there was one. She willingly creates a trashy article for him as well. It’s a side plot that seems unfinished and sloppy. She’s also not being fair to Akira by being with him. It’s obvious she went with him because he loved her and she couldn’t have Touya. She dumps him, which is more than I can say for Yuki, but geez.

Haruka: Haruka also lost her likability in this season. Not terribly much, but she ends up practically throwing her(naked)self at Touya and then sleeps with him. Also, we have no clue what happened to her brother, nor why she stopped playing tennis because of it. In addition, I really got sick of her monotone personality….

Yayoi: Still a whore. Next.

Menou: Not much comes out of the new character of Menou. We find out that she’s Mana’s older sister that their mother uses as a singing icon, she was Touya’s first savior goddess and…she’s pretty…what’s the word….sleazy? I don’t know.

Mana: Mana’s still a brat in this season, but she never kisses or makes out/sleeps with Touya. Her affection, what she chooses to show of it, remains stilted and one-sided. However, she does have a complete and utter flip out mid-season. Destroys her entire room for very little reason.

Misc. Issues

There’s no couple that you really want to root for…in this romance anime. There are three main guys in this series, Touya, Akira and Eiji. I’ve already explained why they’re either assholes or jerks plus insanity. Most of the girls also become very unlikable.

If you root for any pairing, you will definitely find a reason to not want them together. At the beginning, I wanted Touya to go with Haruka, but seeing what an ass he was to her this whole series, I believe he didn’t deserve her and she didn’t deserve to be with an ass. Later on, I rooted for Rina and Touya, but again I liked her too much to encourage her to go with Touya. So I figured, screw it, let him go with Yayoi. They’re perfect for each other. Both heartless sex fiends.

If anything, the best pairing in this series is Rina and Yuki. They have a really great relationship where both would gladly sacrifice everything for the happiness of the other and they get along really well. I usually don’t purposely make yaoi/yuri pairings in shows unless the characters themselves are solidified as being gay, but tell me this relationship wouldn’t work.

In a show that is based off of a dating sim, especially when you go the extra mile to try and explore every avenue, you have to have at least one pairing that you can root for. Even if it’s not the main pairing.

School days even had me rooting for Kotonoha and Makoto to some extent, even if he was major assholedickjackass who didn’t deserve her and likely would’ve kept up his cheating ways—okay I’m starting to regret this one now. Rumbling Hearts had me rooting for Haruka. I rooted for no one in the end of this. I hope he ended up alone and so did Yuki….

Let me try to explain the actual ending. Touya flashes back to when he really first met Yuki. Apparently he saved Haruka and Yuki from bullies by pissing his pants, putting it on his hands and chasing the bullies away by showing them his hands.

“If only a boy with piss on his hands wasn’t here” Wow writing staff, did you write that as a serious line? Like, really?

Afterward, Yuki is prompted by Touya’s father to encourage him or whatever so she gives him a medal made out of a piece of wood. He throws it into the woods. His father yells at him to retrieve it, but he never does. The emotional trauma from that string of events (that’s actually how they describe it) made him seal off his memories………..Does anyone need to fertilize about 300 gardens because that is a massive pile of bullshit.

Also, the reason he never found it was because Haruka took it and hid it. Don’t ask. I don’t care and they barely explain why.

The end is a big mystery. Rina and Yuki sing together on stage and apparently become a duo act now being handled by Frankie. Someone (either Rina or Yuki) writes a goodbye note to Touya on the mirror of the dressing room. Yuki leaves Touya a note that doesn’t say anything. Then Touya waves to someone as we fade out for the last time and hear all the girls (and guys, because…..I dunno) say Touya’s name. Basically, though the writers seem to want to point to one couple the entire series and this episode, the ending is left ambiguous to please any fan of any other pairing. Or please none of them. Take your pick.

Art and Animation: Same quality level of the last season.

Voice Acting: Same.

Music: Didn’t like the music as much in this season. The final song was fairly nice, though.

Bottomline: If you, for any reason, liked the first season, leave it at that. This season will make you hate almost everyone. In addition, if you do root for any pairing, there’s no real satisfying ending to any pairing. Even his relationship with Yuki amounts to little to nothing. I guarantee that you won’t find happiness over the horizon.

If you do like it, stop at the end of season one. Still no happiness over the horizon, but it’ll likely save you from hating practically every character and pairing.

Additional Information and Notes: White Album season 2 was produced by Seven Arcs. The second season was directed by Taizō Yoshida. It was written by Hiroaki Sato.

Episodes: 13

Year: 2009

Recommended Audience: More sexual situations and fanservice shots than the last season. Also more mature themes. 15+?

White Album Season 1 Review

Rating: 6/10

Plot: Touya Fujii has been dating Yuki Morikawa since they were in high school. However, when Yuki wants to pursue her dream of becoming a singer, she puts her relationship with Touya on hold because she can’t balance her career and dating him. This leads Touya through a tough time trying to continue at least keeping in contact with Yuki, but failing numerous times. Luckily, he has plenty of ‘goddesses’ to keep him company and help him through his troubles one way or another.

Breakdown: (Spoiler warning) I haven’t had such a love/hate relationship with an anime since Fushigi Yugi.

Let me get the ‘goddess’ thing out of the way. Touya basically lists one woman a day as his ‘goddess of the day.’ Criteria for this is being female and seeing him on a day. Yuki is supposed to be special because she was his ‘everyday.’ This doesn’t matter. At all. But the show keeps pointing it out, so there ya go.

One of the reasons I was so interested in this show was that I read on Nihon anime reviews that Touya was seen as being more despicable than Makoto of School Days. Not as hated, but more despicable. That’s a pretty bold statement seeing as how Makoto was complete garbage.

I haven’t seen season two as of this initial writing, but from what I gather of season one….he’s not as bad as Makoto by a long shot. Makoto was a heartless sex fiend who cheated on about five different girls, one claiming she was pregnant, without any remorse or caring whatsoever. The only time he ever showed an iota of caring is when he got caught doing something bad and even then it wasn’t much.

Touya….is an ass. I won’t deny that. He’s an ass to Hakura for no reason even though she is nothing but nice to him, he admits his love for Misaki even though he knows his best friend likes her and he’s supposedly in love with Yuki, he makes out with and sleeps with Yayoi, Yuki’s manager, as a replacement for Yuki (even though Yayoi’s one of the main things keeping them apart) and he’s incredibly difficult to like as a main character.

However, unlike Makoto, he actually shows remorse for cheating.

….Sometimes.

He doesn’t use the girls he knows for sex beyond Yayoi. In fact, he only kisses one other girl besides Yayoi and Yuki for the entire show. And, being partially fair, Touya actually has somewhat of a reason to cheat (even though I think cheating is horrible no matter what reason, and I find it damn near impossible to forgive, personally, at least Touya had a reason beyond Makoto’s ‘I WANT SEX!’ reason.)

The anime pulls you into so many directions that it’s exhausting at times. Why? Because this anime is based off of a visual novel. More to the point – a dating sim. He has six, count ’em, six different girls to choose from. However, unlike a lot of visual novel based anime (Like Rumbling Hearts or even School Days) this anime wants to travel down every romance path possible. It wants you to root for way too many pairings. Focus on Yuki, Rina or Haruka, some mixture of those. We didn’t need Yayoi, Mana or Misaki’s relationships with him muddling it up.

In addition, their relationship is so flimsy that they should’ve just fully broken up with she became a singer. If you still want her to remain as a romantic interest, make them miss each other. Try to get back together. Keeping them together only highlights what an ass Touya is and what an idiot Yuki is. None of this would’ve happened otherwise, and I was never really rooting for him and Yuki to begin with.

Characters

Touya: He’s in love with Yuki, but is willing to cheat on her and declare his love to other women. He never seems to try very hard to see her or do stuff with her etc. He’s also a doormat. Besides Haruka, he does what everyone tells him to do with little fight.

Speaking of Haruka, I’d really like a reason as to why he’s so cold to her. She does tons of things for him, and he barely acknowledges her existence, which is odd, considering they’re supposed to be childhood friends.

Yuki: Yuki’s not terribly likable either. Her personality is fine, but she chose her career over her boyfriend, which would be fine if she actually fully chose one of the other. Things don’t always work out, and they could’ve had a very civil break. But she still tried to string him along without really trying that hard to be with him.

Lots of singers and actresses can still live their lives and have relationships. What makes Yuki so special that she can’t date Touya anymore?

Akira: He’s the token ‘best friend’ but he’s almost as annoying as Touya. He’s always angry, hardly ever smiles and his only real character point is that he likes Misaki for no given reason whatsoever.

I love this scene where he and Misaki spot Touya in a library. Touya’s just staring out the window, he sees Akira and Misaki together so he quickly waves and goes back to staring. Akira says with a snarl “What does HE want?” I think he wants to look out the window and mind his own damn business, Akira.

Even after he gets together with Misaki, he’s an angry whelp. He’s constantly making unprovoked comments about being jealous of Touya, and it’s obvious, even when he’s with Misaki, that he’s being treated as runner-up.

Rina: Rina is Yuki’s mentor and best friend. She is also a pop idol who has taken Yuki under her wing to help her career. I really liked Rina, especially towards the end, but before the actual end.

She finds out Touya’s cheating on Yuki, so she does the logical thing and asks if she can date him too….Right. I will never understand that logic. Rina doesn’t seem like the kind of person who would be in it for the sex, so why try to build a relationship with a guy who nonchalantly admitted he was bonking his girlfriend’s manager behind her back? However, she is likable, and I liked watching most of her scenes.

Haruka: Haruka is Touya’s childhood friend and is treated like crap by him. According to a line of dialogue in episode one, she had some sort of accident in tennis and we never hear of it again. Haruka is extremely quiet and softspoken, but she enjoys biking and going for walks. She frequently asks Touya to go with her, but Touya almost never goes with her. Haruka obviously likes Touya, but claims she just likes him as brother. Oh and as a final “screw you, Haruka” before the second season, Akira runs over her bike…

Misaki: Misaki is good friend of Touya because they relate to each other with books and poetry. There’s not much else to say about her besides she’s in love with Touya, but knows she can never be with him because he ‘loves’ Yuki. She knows Akira loves her, but ignores his feelings. Misaki’s likable but boring.

Yayoi: Yuki’s manager, Yayoi has an amazing character design. Seriously the colors, the design, the eyes, they’re all great. The art’s great in this show, but her character design is very well-made. I guess that’s to ensure that she’s a good seductress.

Yayoi’s a whore, essentially. She does everything in her power to keep Touya away from Yuki and vice versa because she doesn’t want anything distracting Yuki from her singing. She knows this hurts Touya, so she jumps him every chance she gets to be a replacement for Yuki. It should be noted that he does fight this at first, but not much and not for long. She hardly ever cracks a smile and she’s not likable at all.

Mana: A girl Touya happened upon at a train station, then came to be her tutor. Mana just started following Touya, even though she seemingly hated him from first sight. She started screaming “MOLESTER! PERVERT!” just because he bumped into her. She does this twice and each time she’s by a security guard or cop and each time she has her mouth covered by Touya who promptly drags her away….Good job cops. You hear and see that and don’t move a muscle. Nice.

Mana’s annoying. She’s a brat who also has a thing for Touya (School Days effect will kill you in this series.) She’s also on a crusade to find who ‘Yuki’ really is because she believes he’s simply under the delusion that he’s dating Yuki and knows Rina. Every girl he sees her with she accuses of being Yuki. It stopped being cute the first time she did it.

Art and Animation: The art and animation are really great. Nothing spectacular, but still high quality.

Voice Acting: Japanese – The voices are very well done, and none of them got on my nerves or seemed flat.

Music: Being rooted in a lot of pop idol culture, there’s obviously a focus on music in this series. The music is okay, I guess. The vocal songs in the series are forgettable except “White Album” itself. The opening and ending are bland, but fairly memorable. The background music is bland and forgettable.

Bottomline: Focusing on just season 1, it’s a confusing mess at it’s worst, keeps your attention at best. By the end of the series, you’ll feel like you went through a blender. I had no clue who I was supposed to be rooting for, and to make things worse, the season ends on a cliffhanger. There was hardly a happy moment throughout the entire show, and, when there was, it was almost always followed up by a dark cloud.

If you like a lot of possible pairings, this is a decent anime to go to. The technical quality is good, but don’t expect great things from this.

Additional Information and Notes: White Album season 1 was produced by Seven Arcs. The first season was directed by Akira Yoshimura, who also did episode directorial work on Witch Hunter Robin, Gundam 00, Rurouni Kenshin (TV) and Zegapain. It was written by Hiroaki Sato who also wrote the screenplay for….Fushigi Yugi: Eikoden….That…explains…a lot.

Episodes: 13

Year: 2009

Recommended Audience: There’s sexual situations, but no nudity. That’s about it for questionable material. However, considering the tone of this show, I’d recommend 14+

Ef: A Tale of Melodies Review

Plot: An extension to the series, Ef: A Tale of Memories, Melodies is a look into the lives of two couples, Yuu Himura and Yuko Amamiya, and Mizuki Hayama and Shuichi Kuze. Melodies is seen as darker and more tragic than Memories, but there is light within the darkness.

Rating: 9/10

Breakdown: It really breaks my heart that there aren’t more episodes of the Ef series….This has to be my favorite romantic drama anime ever. The biggest problem I had with Memories was that, despite having a wonderful pairing and story with Renji and Chihiro, the love square with Hirono, Miyako, Kei and Kyousuke was annoying and dragged the show down. Luckily, there’s none of that bull in this series.

It is a lot darker than Memories, though, dealing with rape (perhaps pedophilia depending on the ages of the characters when it started) self-harm, suicide, mental instability, abuse, impending death of a main character and more. However, that’s not to say that it’s a total depression-fest. There are plenty of romantic, funny and light-hearted moments to brighten things up. And yes, we also get semi-frequent cameos from the Memories characters. However, you might not be as familiar with these characters, even though they were in Memories, so let me bring you up to speed.

Yuu Himura:
Yuu’s role in Memories was probably the most significant out of the Melodies main cast. He is Chihiro’s caretaker through Memories and frequently spoke with Renji about his relationship to Chihiro.

In Melodies, most of his story takes place in the past as we learn of his backstory and his connection with the mysterious girl, Yuko. Yuu’s a bit of a rough character, but he has plenty of likable traits.

Yuko Amamiya: Yuko’s role in Memories is mysterious. She frequently popped in and out of the story to give advice to the characters when they needed to talk. Throughout Memories you don’t know who or what she really is, nor why she is speaking with these kids.

In Melodies we learn that she used to go to the same orphanage as Yuu and always wanted to refer to him as her big brother. They go several years without seeing each other, but then suddenly meet again in high school where Yuko seems to have picked right back up with her affection for him. Yuko’s story gets incredibly dark and you can somewhat predict what’s going to happen to her if you pay close attention, but she’s a bright and hopeful character for the most part.

Shuichi Kuze: Kuze is a violinist and a good friend to Yuko, Yuu and Nagi in high school. He eventually becomes a famous violinist, but gives it up due to a severe illness that has little in terms of hope for survival. Throughout Memories, he’s mostly comic relief. He’s a womanizer who has a thing for girls in costumes.

In Melodies, however, his stance drastically changes. His illness and thoughts of his impending death make him into a dark almost cold character. He creates a relationship with Renji’s cousin, Mizuki.

Mizuki Hayama: Mizuki’s role in Memories was rather small. She is Renji’s cousin and a good friend of Kei’s. She mostly just plays the part of a best friend through the series and is shown to be a big fan of Hirono’s manga.

In Melodies, she develops a relationship with Kuze. Despite the age difference, they get along rather well and eventually fall in love. However, Kuze’s illness and his change of outlook due to his impending fate greatly impacts their relationship. She is eventually shown to have a link to Yuu and Yuko’s past. Mizuki is a lot more likable in Melodies than she is in memories, which is basically the polar opposite of the way Kuze’s character went.

Nagi Hirono: Nagi’s role in Memories was really small. She’s Hirono’s older sister and a fellow artist just like her little brother.

In Melodies, her role is also not entirely significant. She’s a good friend to Yuu, Yuko and Kuze and used to be in love with Yuu. She mostly has a mentor role in Melodies, however there is one plot point with her that has a decent impact. Nagi’s a cool character.

What of the Memories Crew?

I really thought at the beginning that Melodies would build more on the lives of the main characters from Memories, but their stories really were ended in Memories, so it’s understandable that they don’t have a big role in this series. We do learn some interesting things about them, though, and there are a few plot points that get revealed about them.

WARNING: I’M GOING TO BE SPOILING SOMEWHAT SIGNIFICANT PLOT POINTS HERE. NOTHING TOO MAJOR, ESPECIALLY SINCE THEY’RE SIDE CHARACTERS IN THIS SERIES, BUT JUST IN CASE.

Chihiro: Chihiro has gone to Australia with Renji, his family and Yuu. In fact, a lot of Melodies takes place in Australia. Chihiro is still in love with Renji and eventually gives a key to the school roof to Mizuki as a good luck charm.

The major plot point about Chihiro, other than the one with Kei, is that it’s revealed that she was the granddaughter of Yuu and Yuko’s landlord. However, the one thing that really bugs me is that we never learn why Yuu became Chihiro’s caretaker after her accident. It was a passing mention that Kei and Chihiro were the granddaughters of their landlord, yet somehow that jumped to being close enough to take care of her after her accident. Also, it seems that Chihiro’s memory, while still continuously getting lost, is improving.

Renji: Renji has gone to Australia with his family and Mizuki. Not much develops with Renji in Melodies. All we know is that Renji still loves Chihiro.

Kei: I complained about Kei and her relationship with Chihiro in Memories. I said it seemed cold that Kei decided to spend her time obsessing over Hiro and acting like a jealous bitch than taking care of or spending time with Chihiro, especially since she was essentially the cause of Chihiro’s accident.

Well, in Melodies this is actually addressed. She wasn’t staying away from Chihiro because she wanted to – they were being kept apart by their family and Yuu. Every time that they’d see each other, they’d burst out crying while Kei would blame herself for what happened to Chihiro, and they’d have a constant back and forth about the guilt.

Since Chihiro forgets everything after 13 hours, they’d keep going through that day after day when they saw each other. As a result, their family separated them and they contacted each other by phone only. In Melodies, since they’ve gotten their lives together, Kei travels to Australia and they do the same thing again, only this time they both realize that the guilt is in the past and that they need to move to the future. Kei’s also eons more likable here since she has a new guy now and she’s not frothing at the mouth over Hiro. She also gives her key to Mizuki as a good luck charm.

Hiro: Hiro probably has the second to least amount of screentime in Melodies. That’s not very surprising, to be honest. He was dull in Memories, he’s duller in Melodies. About 99% of Hiro’s scenes just show him for a few seconds as he’s working on his manga. That’s about it.

Miyako: Miyako’s role is even smaller. She hardly appears at all. She’s shown to actually not be living with Hiro, but she does visit him every day.

Kyousuke: His role in Melodies is also incredibly small, but it is confirmed that Kei and Kyousuke are dating now. Despite never kissing on screen, there is a sketch of Kyousuke kissing her on the cheek in the last ending credits.

END OF SPOILERS

These two series, especially Melodies, were treats to sit through. I wish all romantic drama anime that I watch were this good. Usually they’re too boggled down in fanservice or stupidity.

If there’s anything bad that I can say about this series, it’s that the first few episodes are a bit slow. Also, the darker tone might try on people’s nerves. Don’t worry. It has a fairly happy ending. 🙂

Voice acting:
English – The voices are great, but I have some issues. First, it only happens in one or two episodes, but Yuu’s kid voice sounds too much like an adult emulating a child. In addition, Yuko sounds so weird in the final episode. She sounds so much different than she does in the rest of the series. I have no clue what happened there. Other than that, the voices are fitting and the acting is great. Oh yeah and, if it matters to you, they still say -chan, -san, -kun etc. in the English dub. It doesn’t bother me as much anymore, but still.

Music: The music had to grow on me, but indeed it did. In fact, I’d say I like this soundtrack better than Memories‘, which isn’t entirely surprising considering its namesake. The opener sounds a lot like the opener to Memories, but I like it a little more. However, it does have weird lyrics in broken Engrish. The weirdest line being “I wish I could see your insides.” I’m guessing that’s supposed to be metaphoric (ya know, like the person wants to see your soul or something) but it really sounds like something a serial killer would say.

Art: The art and animation are even better than in Memories. Some of artsy shots may get on people’s nerves and the design on the eyes seems off to me, but I found it beautiful.

Bottomline: If you liked Memories, you’ll love Melodies. If you like romantic dramas, check it out too. There are many likable characters (There was only one character that I despised, but you’re supposed to hate him.) wonderful music, great art and animation, wonderful story and nice mixture of dark drama with hope and happiness. I honestly can’t find much to say that’s bad about it.

Additional Information and Notes: Ef: A Tale of Melodies was based on adult visual novel games called Ef: The First Tale and Ef: The Latter Tale. The games are combined with several different different stories taken from different characters’ perspectives and their own specific stories that are separated into chapters.

Melodies is comprised of the prologues of both games and Chapter 4 from The Latter Tale.

Melodies is produced by Shaft, producers of other notably stylized series such as the Monogatari franchise, Dance in the Vampire Bund, the Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei franchise and Madoka Magica.

The series was directed by Shin Onuma who is also the directing force behind C3, Bakemonogatari, Princess Tutu, Pani Poni Dash! and Silent Mobius.

Episodes: 12

Year: 2008

Recommended Audience: Surprisingly, even though this series deals with the older characters from Memories, there’s no sex scenes or real nudity. Which is odd, seeing as how there are two sex scenes (albeit brief and non-graphic) in Memories and all of them were underage. There is some nudity, but it’s nonsexual and it’s only because Nagi has this weird thing about painting her portrait while nude in the art room. You don’t see much, though. There’s no real fanservice, no swearing, however the very heavy themes are enough to deter younger audiences. Around episode, err 6 or 7 is where it really hits the fan. 15 or 16+

School Days Review



Rating: 2/10

Plot: Makoto is a high-school boy who has a crush on a girl named Kotonoha. In an effort to become her boyfriend, he seeks the advice of her best friend, a girl named Sekai, who also has a thing for Makoto. She begins ‘training’ him to be Kotonoha’s boyfriend through anything from talking to her to sex. Eventually, Makoto evolved into the worst protagonist I’ve ever seen, barring Mayo from FY:E and I can’t believe I was so lenient on this show in the past.

Breakdown:
School Days was one of the first anime that I ever reviewed. I gave this show a fairly decent score before. A 2.5/5 to a 4.5/5. A medium score to an almost perfect score? Was I high? God.

I was pretty new as a reviewer when I wrote that, so hopefully everyone can forgive me. I believe the only reason I gave that show such a high score was simply because of the ending.

School days, in a nutshell, is a mean-spirited slice-of-life anime drama that was based off an H-game. Now, before anyone goes ahead and says it’s acceptable that it sucks because of the h-game origins, let me introduce you to Rumbling Hearts, the Ef series and White Album 2.

School days has been noted as being a realistic anime drama, but what kind of school did you go to where this is realistic? It starts out realistic enough – guy falls for girl he sees on a train, asks her best friend to help him woo her, they end up dating, that’s okay.

The best friend falling for the boy and slowly sneaking into his pants through the ‘training sessions’? Okay, I can buy that. We all fall prey to our hormones and whatnot.

Every girl in the goddamn school falling for Makoto and wanting to get into his pants? Sounds more like a guy’s wet dream more than realism. It’s so bad, I have taken to calling this ‘The School Days effect’ – Any scenario where the main lead is constantly having anyone of the opposite sex (and sometimes the same sex) falling for them. I can barely think of any female in this series who didn’t want to jump Makoto’s bones, and from reading about the H-games (School Days, Summer Days and Cross Days) it seems he has actually hooked up with every single female character and then some.

This series just spirals out of control after that.

Him sleeping with most of the female cast and not one of them caring that he’s cheating on all of them with practically every girl in the school? What?

Having a school festival where tons of people have sex in a backroom where a group of deranged students film it and watches it to laugh at the people in the room? What the hell is wrong with these people!?

The best friend getting pregnant after rendezvous with main lead? Okay, back to believable.

Oh, she was just faking being pregnant so she could have him all to herself. A little crazy, but I guess believable.

Girl stabs boy to death to prevent him from leaving her.……….

Girlfriend chops off dead boy’s head, keeps it in a duffel bag, shows it to best friend before stabbing her to death and carving her open like a Christmas turkey to prove she wasn’t really pregnant then sailing away with her Makoto head in the ocean on a homemade raft to inevitably die of dehydration or drown? What exactly do you say to something like that?

Seriously, I have no qualms with stabbing that bastard to death or even slicing his head off – he was an evil son of a bitch. And, no, I wouldn’t condone that in real life, but this is fiction, so stabbity stabbers. I just have to know how we went from typical high-school drama to Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni?

The characters don’t help the storyline at all. I’ve never hated so many characters in an anime before. From Makoto himself to his rapist best friend from Sekai to the field of whores that are 98% of the female student body – most everyone is deplorable and unlikable. The only exceptions are Sekai’s loli-esque best friend and Kotonoha…Poor, poor Kotonoha.

And you could even say their characters are slightly ruined given that, despite being nice and likable, they still love a heartless man-whore, but I can’t hate them too much for that.

Characters

Makoto – Makoto is probably the worst male protagonist I’ve ever seen in an anime. He sleeps with anything that moves and doesn’t give a damn about anyone but himself. He doesn’t care that he’s cheating on like seven girls, he doesn’t care that he got Sekai pregnant and even cheats on her after she tells him she’s pregnant, he seems to allude to telling Sekai to get an abortion, he makes out with Kotonoha right in front of pregnant Sekai after basically telling her to get out of his life, and he’s just all around despicable. Why so many girls want to sleep with him is one of the biggest mysteries in anime.

Sekai
– Sekai is a horrible best friend to Kotonoha. I’m almost positive she went into this whole ‘training’ thing with Makoto with full intentions of getting into his pants. She sleeps with Makoto behind Kotonoha’s back and pretended to be pregnant in order to keep him away from her and every other girl he sleeps with. She only gains points for stabbity stab.

Kotonoha – Poor Kotonoha is one of two likable characters in this series, and she is treated like garbage. She gets cheated numerous times, dumped like a rock, becomes emotionally shattered, gets raped while in her emotionally shattered state (by her slimy boyfriend’s best friend for god’s sake), gets her boyfriend back for a few minutes only for him to die a couple days later, and then she spends her final days on a rickety raft in the ocean clutching the severed head of her boyfriend.

Wow.

The good thing is at least she didn’t sleep with Makoto – an irony I will never get over. His entire incentive to going with Sekai was to get with Kotonoha, but over the course of the entire series, he never sleeps with her.

Setsuna
– Setsuna is the aforementioned loli-best friend of Sekai. She is the second likable character in this series, but not very much. The only reason she is likable  is because she knows that her liking Makoto is wrong because Sekai loves him and she *gasp* feels BAD for liking him and kissing him. Why it’s almost as if being romantically involved with someone who is already with someone is wrong or something. SCIENTIFIC BREAKTHROUGH.

Taisuke
– Taisuke is pretty bland and forgettable, just being a pervert throughout most of the series…Until he rapes Kotonoha in her emotionally shattered state. Yeah that happens.

The rest of the characters/most of the female student body – The rest of the girls just serve as heartless whores for Makoto to bang when he not emotionally or physically screwing Sekai or Kotonoha. They’re downright despicable in their own rights, not caring if Makoto is cheating on them with tons of girls as long as they get to be with him too. Some of them don’t even give a crap that they’re sleeping with him after they learn that Makoto got Sekai pregnant (Then they scold him while still naked in bed that he’s not doing anything about it. *facepalm*)

So the characters are more or less hate targets, the story’s not believable and it’s mean-spirited. What about the technical aspects?

The music’s downright forgettable, the art’s pretty decent with nice, though pretty bland, character designs and the animation’s pretty lazy, looking more like one of those animated comics you see online sometimes over actual animation. This being a slice-of-life already means that there’s little animation going on, but that’s not a big excuse.

Bottomline: I think I understand why I liked this show so much back in the day. It’s because there is so much hate fodder in this show. I love to rant, I love go off the handle, the ongoing hatred of things in this show kept me hooked, and when it topped it off with killing that womanizing bastard, I hit the roof. Now that I have my head out of ass and can actually fairly review stuff without bringing in my own personal weirdness to cloud my judgment, I see this show for what this really is.

I will be completely honest and say I gave it that extra point purely because I still like to see Makoto dying, but I don’t think that’s my being biased. I’m pretty sure anyone who has the fortitude to sit through this series and stomach Makoto would give it at least one point for killing off Makoto.

Don’t make us hate someone without giving them proper comeuppance….which in this case would be every girl in the series turning their backs on him and him living a lonely existence with only hookers and a bottle of jack, but turning Makoto into a horror movie victim here in fiction-land is also A-Okay.

Additional Notes and Information: School Days was based on a series of hard hentai visual novels. It was directed by Keitaro Motonaga who also directed Getbackers, Ah, My Buddha and the Kikaider OVA.

It was written by Makoto Uezu who also wrote Ah, My Buddha, Danganronpa the Animation, Akame ga Kill and Seikon no Qwaser.

The show was produced by TNK, producer of anime such as Itsudatte My Santa, Highschool DxD, I, My, Me Strawberry Eggs and Papa to Kiss in the Dark.

That is a trifecta of a mixed bag if I ever saw one.

This series has two OVAs, Magical Heart Kokoro-Chan, and Valentines Days.

I should mention that there’s an odd instance of censorship in one version of the show. When the final episode (IE Slasher theatre) was first set to air, a 16 year old girl killed her father with an axe in Kyoto, spurring the episode to get pulled because of similar violent content.

In its place was a thirty minute slideshow that later spawned a somewhat popular meme ‘Nice Boat’ which would later be referenced in the School Days OVA, Magical Heart Kokoro-Chan.

When the episode was finally allowed to air, they were forced to censor the death scene, but nothing is actually cut out of it. Instead, they turned the blood black. Yeah, I don’t really get how that’s better, really just makes me think maybe Makoto is part squid, but there ya go. An uncensored version, one with red blood, was released later on, but the black blood version is still widely known and quite infamous.

Episodes: 12

Year: 2007

Recommended Audience:
There is a lot of fanservice and adult themes. There is plenty of implied sex scenes, dark moments, murder, rape, psychoness as well as being overall dark and unpleasant. 16+

30DAC – Day 20: Anime Character that Gets on Your Nerves

Fun fact: I had basically an entire entry written out for this in advance because I knew exactly, EX-ACT-LY who I was going to pick for this, and to few people’s surprise, it was going to be Mayo from Fushigi Yuugi Eikoden. By all means, she is incredibly irritating, but I think that, for this prompt, the answer should be somewhat different. Mayo’s aggravating because she’s an evil bitch that we’re meant to sympathize with because the writers say so. No matter what awful things she did, we’re meant to forgive her because reasons.

However….I think that, to some degree, Mayo was meant to make viewers mad. There’s no way you do the various things she did in such a bitchy manner as she did them without the intent of having the audience be angered. I just can’t believe any writer would be that stupid. I believe they’d be stupid enough to take a character like that, turn around and say ‘like her now’ but I can’t believe a character would be written in that way without the intent of making the audience mad for some reason.

I recently watched a show that showed me the light on what makes a true character that gets on my nerves. It was called Amnesia and ♪ I’ve been through this prompt on a character with no name. ♪

Her ‘name’ is Heroine. Yes, she has no legit canon name, so she’s simply known by the fanbase as ‘Heroine’. And she’s usually addressed in the anime as ‘you’.

Let’s give a short synopsis of the show first. Amnesia is a show about a girl who suddenly loses her memory of her entire life after being bumped into by a fairy/spirit named Orion. She tries to live her life without drawing attention to the fact that she’s amnesiac, but soon discovers that she has a boyfriend. After getting to know him for a bit, she jumps into another reality that is basically the same as the one she was in, only she’s dating a new guy. And the cycle continues until they run out of guys. How’d you know this was based on a dating sim?

What makes this character so annoying? She is basically a non-character in her own friggin’ show. She does nothing. She barely ever shows any emotion. She never tries to get her memories back and only does investigating into the world around her when prompted by Orion. I would say she’s a reactive character instead of a proactive one, but she barely ever RE-acts either. All she does is stand there with that blank expression and maybe once in a while she’ll chime into a conversation with her annoying breathy voice to say ‘s-sorry’ or ‘it’s nothing’ Even when awful things are happening to her, she barely reacts and does nothing. You could replace her part with a mop and it would probably be more tolerable.

This kiss bores me….
Oh I’m drowning now? *sighs*
Being trapped in a cage by a crazy person disinterests me so….

Oh but every guy is nuts about her despite this. They do have good reason, though. The various Heroines throughout the realities actually supposedly have some sort of personality. We just never see the personality because the Heroine in their reality is replaced by plywood.

And I’m not buying for a second that her amnesia is an excuse for this. A little bit, sure. If she doesn’t remember who she is, she can’t act as she would. But that doesn’t mean she’d have zero personality, it just means she’d have a different one. The different personality could be completely void of personality, but that’s an awful choice in terms of writing.

This does, however, solidify her status as the most blatant Mary Sue character ever. I mean, if you’re watching this show just to imagine yourself dating one or all of the eligible bachelors, then you’ll likely have a ball with this because it’s never been easier to copy/paste yourself onto a character. Since she’s made of cardboard, paste works very well. For those of us watching for actual plot, she essentially ruins what little there is because it’s incredibly difficult to care even a little bit about this non-existent main character, and she is the first ever character I’ve seen to ever infuriate me because of how little there is to them. Usually this just means they’re forgettable and bland, but she’s enragingly forgettable and bland, and she really deserves this spot.