Detail in Anime – Guitars in White Album 2

playing guitar

I was reading this post on OTAKU LOUNGE, and I noticed a few people recommending the anime White Album 2. I picked it up a week ago and so far, I’m enjoying it. Besides the romance, it’s also got a large musical aspect. So in this post, I’ll be doing something a bit different from my usual reviews, and I’ll take a look at some of the (in)attention to musical details, particularly of guitars, in the show.

Very minor spoilers for White Album 2 follow. Like, really, really minor.

The main character, Haruki Kitahara, is an amateur guitarist who’s been playing for around six months. So far, the anime has featured a large amount of his guitar playing. What immediately stood out to me is the sound of his guitar. It didn’t sound like a polished studio recording; instead, it sounded like someone who hadn’t been playing for long. For example, when practising White Album, his timing wasn’t perfect, and neither was his technique (episode 1, 19:35). The way he screwed up the Sound of Destiny guitar solo while rehearsing seemed realistic as well (episode 5, 00:10). I appreciate these details. The guitar-work was representative of Haruki’s skill, and this added credibility to the scenes. Also (while I won’t be discussing them) both Setsuna and Kazusa’s musical abilities were portrayed accurately. I could believe Setsuna was a self-taught vocalist with some natural talent, and Kazusa’s piano… yeah. Awesome.

Let’s get back to Haruki. An element which both pleased and displeased me was his improvement on guitar. After many hours of intensive practice, he was able to master the chords of the song White Album. I’ve taken a look at the chords, and although I don’t know the song very well, from the quick strum I had they sounded accurate. Apart from D13, the rest of the chords aren’t too hard (if you can do bar chords), so it’s reasonable that he could learn it in the short amount of time he had. What I’m not happy about is how quickly he learned that guitar solo (I say with rampant jealousy rushing through my veins). Putting it plainly, learning a tricky solo in a few days is absolute rubbish. It’s important for musicians to practise, and practising will give improvement, but practising ten hours a day for a few days won’t magically make you a good guitarist. I played guitar for five years and practised half an hour a day. It took me three or four years to get to that level. This is something that irked me. Maybe if he had started as a more skilful player, learning the solo would have been more realistic. But then there wouldn’t be the challenge of learning White Album. Problems problems…

Continuing my grump, the musical practices and performances were poorly animated in general. Now, these things probably eat into the animation budget (which is probably why they have so many shots from behind), but it’s a music-themed show, so they might as well do it properly, right? During the guitar solo in episode 6 (9:58), it’s clear that the notes being played are up the neck. So why do they have his left hand near the head of the guitar? This simply exudes laziness. Since they had someone play all the music parts anyway, couldn’t they film them and base their animation on that? It was better in the concert’s guitar solo, though. Mostly.

Dude, your finger's not on the right string for that bend (episode 7, 12:22).

Dude, your finger’s not on the right string for that bend (episode 7, 12:22).

Apart from that though, the fingering was well-animated, especially the part directly after that bend. Okay, there were only two parts where his playing was shown, the beginning and the end of the song, but how the guitar moved on the final notes, the finger positions and the finish of the song looked solid. Well done to the animators there.

In the end, these things aren’t going to influence my opinion of the anime nearly as much as the character interactions that drive the story. But I think attention to detail shows care, makes the anime feel realistic, and indicates higher quality. How do you feel about details in anime? Can they make or break a show? Are they just extra toppings on the pizza? Or do they not make a difference?



04 coooooooooooooooooooooool

The saxophone clearly made White Album a thousand times better than it was before. Confirmed Best Girl for dem skillz.

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11 Responses to Detail in Anime – Guitars in White Album 2

  1. froggykun says:

    I haven’t watched White Album 2, but I have to say in general anime usually doesn’t portray instrument-playing very well at all. I think Sakamichi no Apollon looked really accurate, though, because I think they rotoscoped the music scenes.

    As for Haruki’s improvement with the guitar, oh man that would piss me right off too! I remember watching La Corda d’oro and ragequitting it one episode in precisely because the chick got a magical violin that lets her play the notes perfectly. I was like “wtf! RAAAAR! WARGABBLE!” I know it was justified by the plot, but ugh 😦

    • 123 says:

      I haven’t seen Sakamichi no Apollon, but I plan on doing so. Looking forward to the accuracy then!

      And yup, it pissed me off. I think because of this, I missed the point in some of the scenes – instead of seeing how hard Haruki was trying or getting swept up in the concert, instead I was raging about how he shouldn’t be able to play the solo.

      And also, now I appreciate all you and other ani-bloggers even more, how you guys put out pieces like this regularly. Mine isn’t even that long, I’m still unhappy with parts, and it took me ages to write and draft.

  2. Turtle Master says:

    So I am not the only one thinking Haruki learning that solo is weird. He could possibly be the next Jim Hendrix with those learning skills xD Wish he could share them with me…

    Anyway, the show made me interested in the OST so I got into this frenzy trying to note down the chords.

  3. Nikkikomori says:

    I don’t know the anime, but as a hobby musician myself I always found it charming how most anime totally depict instruments in a wrong way. I have to say though, that modern anime are much better in this than late 90s and early 2000 anime.

    • 123 says:

      That’s an interesting way of looking at it! Guess I’m just obsessive with details about things I care about. I actually haven’t watched many older anime, you mean old anime depict instruments worse?

      • Nikkikomori says:

        “You mean old anime depict instruments worse?”

        – Exactly ! Especially Studio Deen’s shows are creepy if it comes to instruments. Try to watch Gravitation. Great and funny BoysLove-story and catchy music, yet the musical aspect in this show is veryyyyyyyyyy lazy animated. I also second the statement with Sakamichi no Apollon, the depiction was really impressive in there 😀

  4. Nikkikomori says:

    Also want to say, that pretty much like plot-holes, such glitches or lazy mistakes in animation are just minor flaws to me and never diminished my enjoyment of the show !

    • 123 says:

      Hmmm, 2 Sakamichi recommendations, I’ll bump it up my to-watch list a bit. I don’t really plan on watching Gravitation though, I read a bit of the manga but yeah BL isn’t really my thing ^^

      I agree with you that glitches and lazy mistakes are just minor flaws. To me, they do diminish my enjoyment somewhat, but don’t majorly affect my opinion of an anime. Not so sure about plot holes though. Small plot holes, I could probably let slip past. Big ones… if they affect an important part of the story, especially the climax, I can get pretty annoyed.

  5. Ben says:

    Hello All, I found this site pretty late but I got a question as a noob to guitars, What type of guitar is he playing?

    • Alex says:

      As in, model? I’m not sure, to be honest (not that I’m an super knowledgeable on guitar types). The shape resembles that of a Stratocaster, but the combination of pick-ups doesn’t seem right for that particular model. I don’t think you can tell from the anime… it’s just a generic looking electric guitar.

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