First Look Fairs: Akikan and White Album

A double feature for today, for two shows that could not be more different from one another.

vlcsnap-00156.png

Akikan

“Girls that are the incarnation of soda cans”: this is a premise that is either bold in its sheer ludicrousness–the thought “they’ve really run out of ideas for harem romances, haven’t they?” crosses the mind–or deliriously delightful in its unbelievability.

Akikan, it turns out, falls somewhere in between. The artwork and character designs seem crude, lacking in detail or smooth movement; I honestly don’t find Melon all that cute. It definitely looks low-budget. The antics between Melon and Daichi are fairly standard stuff, though with the important difference that Daichi is much more upfront about his lechery than most anime romance leads. This seems to be a trend in the most recent anime shows and it’s a welcome change, for the most part, though in this particular case, it also means that most of the nudity in this episode happens to be his. (Shades of Inukami here?) The energy level is high, though the scenarios typical–guy getting beat up by girl for various lustful actions, which in this case are often intended–I can buy this guy being a sixteen year old hormonal male for a change.

So much time is spent on the mechanics of how the soda can girl “works.” Pull a tab to make her a can again; fill her up with the same brand to replenish her life, but watch out that she doesn’t lose her fizz. I sometimes got the feeling that, like Midori Days‘ girlfriend-on-the-hand, that the show’s concept was motivated by a million different double entendre jokes: “drink my juice!” and all that. Yet it’s strangely compelling precisely because it’s novel in its ludicrousness, perhaps akin to moeblobs coming out of the fridge in Potemayo. Who ever thought that a soda can would become the object of lust and romance?

Perhaps a crazy soda marketing executive, that’s who–imagine a slogan for a new soda: “it tastes just like your first kiss.” I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s tons of product placement in this show, though I haven’t seen any prominent examples so far. I mean, she gets mad if you drink any other brand of soda after all: what a way to keep that customer loyalty!

We’ll see if this heads into stranger or more familiar territory.


vlcsnap-00157.png

White Album

This show turned out to be much more unusual than I expected, and not always in a good way.

White Album is best described as a slice-of-life period dramedy, which could have just as easily been titled “I Dated a Pop Idol.” It loosely centers on the college life of the boyfriend of a mid-80s Japanese pop idol, and his unfortunate efforts to spend more time with her over her busy schedule. The goal seems to be to portray both the inner and outer life of the boyfriend, with all the different people he knows and meets.

Some of these comings and goings seemed random and unfocused until I remembered that this is actually based on an eroge by Leaf, the makers of To Heart. In such games you have to have multiple character introductions as starting points for various character “paths.” While that sets the story in some context, it made the pacing and the flow of the episode limp and loose, which would be fine if the characters were better defined and the dialogue sharper. Instead, the interactions feel very “ordinary,” in ways that quickly induce boredom rather than fascination. Good slice-of-life shows draw us into the characters even though there may not be any “plot” per se–see Honey and Clover. Right now, the characters are more bland than anything else.

There are touches that I really want to see fleshed out more. I liked the way thoughts are explained through text; while overtly “arty” or even Anno-ish, it potentially could help maintain the mood in quieter moments. The show also seemed concerned with getting period detail right, and it’ll be interesting to see how today’s anime producers perceive the mid 80s–the height of the economic bubble and a golden age for both anime and pop idols.

My initial prediction/fear that this was going to be a lot like REC weren’t founded, it seems, but so far, the show is getting off to a slow start. I’m curious where they want to take this subject, because it’s being handled in more subdued and low-key way than I thought; it’s definitely got potential but so far, much of it remains unused.

4 thoughts on “First Look Fairs: Akikan and White Album”

  1. I think you can safely drop the -medy for White Album. It’s not a comedy. Think along the lines of True Tears / KimiNozo

  2. Mentar: huh, interesting. Though if it’s as emotionally draining as KimiNozo, I’m not sure I’m going to watch it. That one was good but man, it took a lot out of me. And if I recall True Tears still had some comedy from time to time…

  3. white album will be intersting as it progresses on. drop the comedy part for true tears, mix it with some emotional moments – u get a white album

    as for akikan, i had high expectations of it but the quality turns me off. i guess it it is just me but the way the characters are drawn are really done badly imo

  4. oOgA: Well, I see a lot of positive reviews around the blogosphere for episode 2. I’ll check it out and see whether I like it.

    As for Akikan, I had very low expectations for it. Perhaps that’s why they were exceeded in some respects. I agree that the characters are drawn badly. In fact, in many of the shows I’ve reviewed so far, all the character designs are substandard to my eyes.

Leave a Reply