Sad Nostalgia in Snow

Back before people knew what moe was, there was sad girl in snow. Before there was Xzibit, people were putting cars in cars. So what do you call the thing today? What is this thang anyway?

Is White Album just a story banking on nostalgia (at least, for the 2008 anime)? What about White Album 2? The characters in it clearly has some strong associations with the “outputs” of the first anime, in-universe. When Rina and Yuki were going at it, these kids were, what, 8 years old? 14? I forget how many years it went by–either by anime continuity or game continuity? It’s pretty cool that Setsuna knows all of Rina’s songs, because that means her mom and dad are probably big fans of Rina Ogata in order to put up with that. Or, alternatively, it usually is the work of an older sibling or something, which we know Setsuna probably does not have.

Youtube that sucker

Here’s another visual signal.

Ever go on Youtube and look for old videos of stuff? VHS era stuff? Yeah, this is totally that visual language talking. Like, I half expect every single Himikoden OP rip to have this, because like, DVDs were a thing but it predated that and it was one of those things you probably could Youtube for. Or, I don’t know, stuff that might have finally gotten DVD releases but only after so long, you know? Or, maybe, just cover it? I tried and didn’t find any VHS caps of Himikoden OP; just LD and DVD rips nowadays. But the idea persists if there’s an audience.

Enka is a genre that predates all this stuff, and it’s all this stuff. It’s definitely not what I’d call moe or whatever, but if we transpose the feeling from “a set of circumstances” to an icon, and if that icon happens to be a cute anime girl, then what? How do we manufacture wabi sabi? How can we convey feelings in general, for mass media entertainment?

Which brings me back to music. And White Album 2. I think music as a theme is one of the most powerful and succinct way to convey all of this, if not THE most. I suppose still mileage will vary from person to person. So White Album 2 quotes music from White Album, and that was just a stepping stone for two developing anison idols at the time, as each reach various degrees of fame–one got super famous, the other not so much–as of White Album 2. And in that gap of time, what happened to the people who played the game? Who sang the songs in karaoke? Are they waxing nostalgia watching kids singing their present lives in nostalgia-tinted lenses? Is this how we feel about Ogiso and Touma? That their personalities reminded us of things years ago? What’s actually happening in this show, its theme and atmosphere?

2 Responses to “Sad Nostalgia in Snow”

  • Telliamed

    You can’t bring up 90’s nostalgia without going to the biggest thing to be nostalgic about: The bubble economy. A time when the capital flowed like the champagne that flowed like something that flows a lot. And of course the sweeping commercialization that created the idol phenomenon. White Album is less about the music and more about the business of making music and how it affected the lives of the people involved.

    Just like idol music is less about art and more about marketing. Content is only important to the extent that it is consumer-friendly and can be produced efficiently, like the girl in Samurai Flamenco who writes 70 songs in one week. (Okay, maybe not quite like that.)

    But also how Aquaplus wasn’t satisfied to have a product in their catalog that wasn’t making them money. Would they resurrect an old Leaf title just for the sake of nostalgia? Or because someone had the idea that, because it was a music-themed game, that it could be leveraged to sell audio CDs. It’s no different than Miss Monochrome wanting to be a nenderoid, and Good Smile announcing it on Twitter immediately after the episode airs.

    If I were to look for nostalgia in anime, I’d look at the number of stories set in high school. Sure, the primary target audience for anime and manga is males under 25-years old. But a not insignificant number of readers are closer to middle-age than high school. Where then are the manga about people in the workforce, or facing a mid-life crisis? Is Servant×Service a story about working adults? Or is it just another high school plot draped in different clothes the way Golden Time presents itself as being about college students.

    It can only be nostalgia that draws older readers to these stories. Otherwise, there would be a market for more manga about people getting married, raising families, and navigating careers. Instead we keep thinking back to our own adolescence. When Gen Urobuchi describes himself as chuunibyou, isn’t it because he is nostalgic for that time when he believed there were no limits to what he could?

    And frequently this nostalgia can be overly idealized. Such as a story about a pretty girl in a loving family whose egoism makes it difficult for her to keep friends, and a boy who excels academically but wants to play in a band even though he isn’t very talented, so they meet the lonely daughter of a celebrity and in spite of their envious difficulties are able to have the rose-tinted school life that the rest of us were very far from experiencing at that age. Instead, we voyeuristically watch anime like White Album 2. And buy the CDs, because Aquaplus knows how to do marketing.

    • omo

      I don’t think you understand.

      Let’s start from the top. 90s was when the bubble burst. So I don’t know about 90s nostalgia with pre-bubble extravagance. If anything, it’s all kind of cheap-y-feel-y by today’s standards. It was more depressing? Nostalgia for the kids who are now in their 30s and 40s is more like 80s. Which is why the style of music in White Album is the way it is.

      Maybe 90s nostalgia is more like, Genshiken second season. Like, listening to Haruko Momoi music and you remember when you first bought her stuff. But that’s more like 00s nostalgia. Also, you got the age group right–most hardcore otaku demographics today are in their 30s, which means they were undergrads in the 90s. Or ronin. You know.

      While the bubble burst, glamour kept going as far as perpetrating the proper images and standards of the time via images in mass media. I think WA2 kept up with this correctly.

      As for the abundance of stories taking place in high school, I think this is kind of a difficult topic. I don’t think you are wrong in assuming that people find high school life nostalgic (although you can make a pretty good argument to the contrary for most otaku–I’d say most probably did not enjoy high school, especially this is exam hell country you’re talking about), but the “number of high school settings” is not the right approach. In fact, anyone taking this tack is waving an “i don’t know shit” flag probably.

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