It has been several weeks since the finale of the notable Anime adaptation of the visual novel, Mashiroiro Symphony. Although there were some enjoyable moments while encroaching upon the seemingly magical journey since episode one, there were also parts where I felt that could be room for much improvement. So let’s go back and re-discover the ups and downs of this so-called ‘Pure White Symphony of Love’.
Before the series began airing, the initial details available in regards to the visual novel that the Anime was based upon had given me the impression that it wouldn’t be something out of the extraordinary. You have a school setting with a male protagonist surrounded by various beautiful heroines, one of which eventually becomes his love interest; it’s a typical setting used by a majority of visual novels as well as the Anime adapted from them. Even the promotional artwork presented prior to airing gave us little to no suspicion that the art, character development and the story would be any different from any other visual novel originated Anime adaptation.
So what were the factors that contradicted with the above speculations? Firstly, the illustrations and character designs gave off a ‘fairy tale’-like feel when various elements of the story itself didn’t hint such intention. An example would be the Yuihime Girls’ Private Academy uniform, which, appeared to be a fusion between the traditional formal attire and the sailor uniform. The result in my opinion makes it seem like it was a school for young mages, but the only thing I found that was magical was the strange creature, Panya. Another interesting factor was the way the main cast were entwined by the series’ mascot, Panya. It had been quite a while since I’d witnessed a strange but cute creature used to such effectiveness that produces a warm lasting impression in the finale. In comparison, Clannad, which used a family of dangos as its mascot was only merely mentioned or portrayed in various occasions but never really played a significant impact to the story. Furthermore, the level of fan service used was kept to a minimum while focusing more on the drama between the protagonists. Initially, this leads me to believe that the series may be trying to deviate from the norm. However, as the story progresses, I could not help but arouse suspicions on various issues.
Episode one gave us a rather astounding introduction to Airi, one of the main heroines of the story and was followed by her abrupt antagonism at the episode’s closure. The event instinctively lead me to believe that Airi’s objection to her school’s merger would be the primary focus of the series and the resolution to that issue would likely amount to the protagonist, Shingo ending up with her at the end. The half way mark of the series had proven that my initial gut feeling was not the case. However, I wasn’t disappointed because my prediction was wrong; it was the way how Airi relieved herself from her opposition of the merger, the reason behind it and why she was not chosen as Shingo’s love interest. From observation, it could be interpreted that Airi’s hatred of males waned over time due to repeated interaction with Shingo and the Nuko club members. However, the fact that her opposition was portrayed in such an assertive manner in the beginning had raised my hopes up on this single plot element yielding much better possibilities than the resolution that we actually saw. Thus, that lead me to the conclusion that the resolution we ultimately witnessed wasn’t the intended resolution that the writers had originally planned.
So what exactly did I think was wrong with what we saw? Basically, Airi’s confession to her reason why she was against the merger; the ‘I don’t like sudden changes’ argument, made its root plot element seem as if it had simply been hung out to dry. Surely, there could be many better ways to utilize Airi’s initial opposition to the merger, like having it act as a trigger to other antagonistic events. I believed that anything could be better than to simply allow time to fix the issue, especially in a fictional context where viewers would expect something new and creative. And as for how Airi was not chosen in the end; again it was just simply allowing human nature to take its course. Not long after her antagonism towards Shingo was resolved, Airi was on the most part placed aside. There was no causative sequence of events that led her there other than been just out of the spotlight for natural reasons. Also there was little to no direct indication of how she truly felt towards him during the final episodes besides showing her observing in the shadows at Shingo’s relationships with the other girls. So what does all that mean to me overall? Simply put, the writers just decided to play it safe and stuck to simplicity.
Sana’s abrupt transformation and revelation that she actually hated males was something to be questioned. Prior to her change in attitude, it was never hinted nor reinforced that she was actually hiding something nor was there any indication that she possesses an alter ego of some sort. The event was just thrown to the face without warning, which made it rather awkward and difficult to comprehend at least in an analytical sense.
The poster sabotage event during the Nuko club arc was another example of what I considered as wasted plot element usage. My primary concern in regards to this issue was that the perpetrator that placed the member recruitment posters in the furnace was neither found, hinted nor was the incident explored further. This lead me to believe that the single purpose of this event was to act as a stepping stone for Shingo in advancing further within the zone of Sana and Miu, thus, resulting in the drama between the three during the final episodes. Again, this event had potential to do a lot more if explored further; yet, it was simply employed as a onetime usage and then thrown away. I believe that plot elements of a sinister nature yearns suspicion and could potentially be difficult to overlook, especially for viewers who were more plot oriented.
The Shingo x Miu relationship in my opinion was probably one of the most spectacular and heartwarming events in the series, yet, I found the incidents that led to it rather questionable. The somewhat unorthodox transition from a seemingly sibling-like relationship (with Miu initially acting as an older sister figure) to a romantic relationship was one of my primary concerns on how the unity established. Looking back, I just felt that there could have been stronger linkage of events that suggests that the Shingo x Miu pairing was a possibility. Prior to Shingo’s love confession there had been various scenes which involve the two’s interaction, however, at the same time, there were other things going on, such as the progress of the merger, issues relating to Angeline, Sana’s dilemma to name a few. In addition Sakuno, who was considered one of the heroines had yet to have an entire episode dedicated to her. The numerous simultaneous events and expectations amounted to an uncomfortable degree of uncertainty of where the course of the series was going to take us. As a viewer, I don’t mind surprises, however, I do find it rather frustrating when I’m always forced to guess what will happen. Thus, I was distracted from what had been a solid romantic development.
Another thought worth mentioning was the catchy opening theme song, Authentic Symphony, which well interpreted the meaning behind the Anime’s title. My only concern in regards to that was the usage of the concept ‘the color of love’ was too metaphoric and not that apparent within the actual series. The only indication I could think of was the short monologue by Sakuno at the beginning of the first episode as well as the white color of the school uniform, but that could mean just about anything and may have nothing to do with ‘the color of love’ concept at hand.
So what is my impression of the series overall? Simply put, ‘surprisingly memorable’. Both for its attractive illustrations as well as its unique but awkward composition (made me wonder if there was an internal dispute over the story during production). Would I recommend this to someone? If that someone cares primarily about eye candy, it’d be an extraordinary journey. But for someone who likes to dig deep into the plotline, he/she will probably be scratching their heads here and there while trying to comprehend what they just saw.