The story of White Album itself is fairly unique, although at its core it's certainly a harem anime. The show opens with Touya waking up late and catching his girlfriend, the rising star Yuki, in a TV interview. We are then introduced to a plethora of women who will each have their influences on Touya and Yuki's relationship as they struggle to make if work throught the strains the music business puts on it.
The story itself is very interesting in that aspect, and it doesn't shy away from trying to be as realistic as it can be (which, for a harem, may not be easy.) Of course, it takes a while to get into the rhythm of effective story telling, as the first few episodes fumble around awkwardly trying to get its stride, picking up certain story elements that don't seem to belong or make any sense. However, as the series progresses it definitely became more engaging to watch and harder to put down. It was certainly a good deconstruction of the Harem genre, but more on that later.
I would dock points for not being concretely ended by episode 13, but that's for season 2 to fix. I wouldn't suggest going into White Album with no intentions of watching the second season.
White Album was a treat to watch. The character designs were gorgeous and animation was smooth. The opening sequence was a bit boring, being just a bunch of (beautifully drawn) designs, but it was apparent in the rest of the show's animation that it was not a meaningless sacrifice. Every now and then the style would switch to a pretty pastel style that I loved, it definitely added to the experience and did not fail at the symbolism it tried to convey.
I didn't care for the OP or the ED, but many other reviews say they're marvelous. It's up to you.
Voice acting was effective, Rina and Yuki sang well, although the difference between Rina's singing voice and speaking voice was a bit jarring.
Being a harem, it contained all the expected characters; the boring male, the ditz, the tsundere, the sempai, etc... Being a deconstruction of te harem genre, it handled these archetypes well by making them all extremely flawed, if not human-like, characters. However, there are some characters which the show just turns into robots with no redeeming qualities whatsoever, which detracts from the realism the show was aiming to achieve.
Another thing that the show screws up with the characters is making them do things or act in ways that just the previous episode they showed no signs of being capable of. At times the characters were so bi-polar it made me wonder if they'd been kidnapped and replaced with a stunt double.
Another problem was something I suspect most harem anime fall victim to. The female characters were generally not that strong and were portrayed as marshmellows.
White Album is a good anime to watch if you like harem series or want to see a semi-realistic take on fame and relationships. White Album tries to show the effects of a harem situation on all the people involved. It falters on characters and pacing, but if drama is what you like you should give it a try.
Just be warned that there are mature themes in the show, so I'd rate it 15+
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