Monthly Archive for January, 2009

Page 2 of 10

[Ascaloth] Trial Run: White Album, Episode 3

Instead of the "move" everyone (including myself) expected that she was about to make last episode, it turns out that Rina-sama seems to be solely interested in helping the current couple make time for each other, for now. Granted, it’s still early enough in the series such that it’s not unbelievable that Rina was truly sincere about wanting to help the couple for now, but it’s also quite obvious that things are going to get complicated soon enough; it’s only a matter of when. It’s not too hard to deduce the direction in which the storyline of White Album is headed, but knowing that, the question is; is it still worth watching anyway?

White Album, Episode 3. Trial period over.

Haruka is simply just a creep at this point; it’s all and fine to inform a good friend about something, but even in 1986, there was such a thing as a telephone. She really has no good reason to come all the way to Touya’s house just to tell him something so simple; stalker behaviour confirmed. Why is Touya even tolerating this kind of thing? No amount of tragedy can possibly justify this.

And frankly, the fact that both Yuki and Touya seem to feel the need to lie to each other even at this stage disturbs me somewhat. White lies they might seem to be on the surface, but while Yuki has the excuse of "being a good girlfriend" for her lie, the only reason I can think of as to why Touya doesn’t want Yuki to know he has been talking to Rina earlier, is that he just has no balls. I mean for goodness sake, it’s just a friend of the girlfriend calling him, and while any guy will occasionally fantasize about being with another woman, there was little need for him to feel so guilty about it. Unless his resolve to sustain the relationship is a lot less than it should be, which from the flashbacks to his call with Rina, certainly seems to be the case.

And the guy foists a task upon someone else, when really it was solely his own lack of time management skills that forced such a dilemma on him in the first place. Granted, Haruka did take the initiative to make the offer to help Touya out, so his taking up the offer later on isn’t exactly bullying her, but still….it makes for such a great contrast to CLANNAD’s Tomoya, who has learned to be responsible enough to insist on making up for his mistakes even if it means standing up his girl. So what kind of man do you guys respect more, the guy who puts responsibility for his own actions above a date, or the guy who shirks all responsibility to honour the date?

Is it just me, or is there something that’s just quaint about Yuki’s outfit?

If there’s one thing that White Album is doing well, it’s that it certainly doesn’t whitewash things when it comes to the politicking within the entertainment industry. It was a morbidly fascinating experience watching two big cats of the industry going at each other with barbs of implied venom behind masks of professional courtesy. Gosh. Is there some way I can enter the adult society without having to deal with any of this shit in the future?

Both Shinozuka Yayoi and Ogata Eiji were marvellous as well, what with the code-speak going on between them and all. It was just as morbidly fascinating to see them make plans through mere implications to remove the "distraction" from Yuki’s career in such a coldly "business-as-usual" tone. Along with Rina-sama, these two have become some of the more interesting characters in the story so far.


Strike!

Rina-sama activating Trans-Am Diva Mode at will was awesome in its own right, as well. It does make one wonder if the "divas" really are that way because of their character, or whether it’s something they have to socialize themselves into in order to survive in the competitive entertainment industry.

Yes, there’s something definitely quaint about Yuki’s outfit; they really look much older than their actual ages, or maybe just old-fashioned; in other words, perhaps what was actually considered fashionable back in the 80s that the series is supposedly set in. The pose they were doing doesn’t really help either. In any case, this seems to be the first and only time so far that we’ve seen them actually act like the couple they’re supposed to be. Criminal neglect on the part of both, or is it just something that can’t be helped?

Osana-najimi relationship confirmed, but it’s interesting how they have different memories of their first meeting, even more so when apparently Yuki has been hiding from Touya that she like him even before they first met in high school, at least according to the latter. There’s definitely going to be more about this later on.

Back then, and even nowadays it seems, the pop idols of Japan have generally been "discouraged" from pursuing a relationship by the industry movers; the reasoning being that being in a relationship would hurt the popularity of an idol. Even today, there still seems to be a misogynistic streak in the culture of Japanese society, and if anything, it’s just as if not even more apparent in the otaku subculture, if the recent hoohaa over the status of a fictional goddess is anything to go by.

Luke Touya….don’t make me think even less of you….

I see that, if anything, Touya is good at putting the moves on women other than the one he’s pursuing a relationship with. Indeed, I’m starting to see why he’s Takayuki- and Makoto- class; he’s not quite there yet, but he’s certainly heading in that direction.

From the words of those in the know, apparently this is just a prelude to Touya adding a loli to his harem. Although we have yet to see the loli in question, chances are that she’s going to be yet another complication in the budding Yuki-Rina dynamic; one can only wonder whether she’s going to shake things up from the get-go, or start off not influencing much like Haruka or Misaki.

Ultimately, how convincing was the first three episodes of White Album with regards to the quality of its storyline? In my opinion, it’s pretty obvious where story is headed; a love triangle of lies and recriminations, much dorama and much tears, excuses for infidelity, not to mention much fodder for shipping….in a way, the buildup of the series reminds me of a Hong Kong drama serial, with the pointlessly overwrought melodrama that such inferior works usually entail. Such a premise may possibly be considered compelling drama about a decade ago, but this is the present day, and such premises have become a dime a dozen, usually bereft of imagination.

That is not to say the classic love-triangle premise is a wholly discredited trope; with a truly sympathetic cast of characters, even the over-melodramatic love triangle could turn out a truly compelling story as long as the audience is able to identify with the characters caught in the snarl. Unfortunately, such a case is as rare as natural diamonds, and unfortunately for White Album, the main cast just doesn’t come up to scratch. The biggest culprit would indeed have to be Touya; passive, spineless and easily swayed, it is near-impossible to figure out a single redeeming quality about the designated male lead of the story, and indeed, just seeing two episodes of his actions is convincing evidence that Touya is just far too flawed as a character to be seriously liked, as opposed to a character who is flawed enough to be convincingly human.

Most of the female characters aren’t much better either; Misaki and Haruka both seem to be holding genre-specific idiot balls, pining for Touya for no good discernable reason, and especially excessively for the latter. As for Yuki, while she was guilty of criminal neglect in the past two episodes, it has to be admitted that she did make up somewhat for it in this one; nevertheless, one can see further neglect leading to the inevitable shitstorm from a mile away. The only truly sympathetic character at this point would have to be Rina-sama, and indeed, she is one of only two reasons I’m going to keep folowing White Album at this point; the other being the mince-no-words portrayal of the politics behind the entertainment industry, which is morbidly fascinating in its own right. Nevertheless, I have quickly lost much of the love I might have had for the rest of the cast, and while I’m willing to tolerate the idiocy they get up to once per week on the first watch-throughs, it will just be torture for me to have to endure it for a second or even third time, which is what is necessary for me to write an episodic article for a series. There is no way I can abide that, therefore the coverage of White Album ends with this episode. I will continue watching and even commenting on it on other blogs, of course, but I have little interest in continuing this anymore.

Verdict, trainwreck imminient. I’m bailing out of this ill-fated locomotive.

Ascaloth of RIUVA, signing out.

[LianYL] LaMBRStick

tjhan wanted a LaMB article from me for the blogging competition. I decided that this was more original and easier.