Synonyms: WHITE ALBUM2, WA2
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Oct 6, 2013 to Dec 29, 2013
23 min. per episode
PG-13 - Teens 13 or older
L represents licensing company
Score: 8.061 (scored by 15555 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
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SynopsisFall, when graduation is only half a year away.
Haruki Kitahara, the final member of the light music club that dissolved, plays his guitar by the window after school in preparation for the school festival. It was the one and only adventure of a good student who spent two diligent years on his studies.
But when a flowing piano melody and a voice as a clear as bell harmonize with his guitar… He goes from being alone, to being two, then three in the light music club, as the semester he dreamed of, no, hoped for, began.
Related AnimeAdaptation: White Album 2: Yuki ga Tsumugu Senritsu, White Album 2
Other: White Album
Characters & Voice Actors
Visual novel adaptations have always had a notorious reputation in anime communities. Whether it be issues with pacing, narration, or some nonlinear route structure, these adaptations suffer from a variety of heated complaints from fans of the original source material, sometimes even as to have their very existence denied.
Thankfully, White Album 2 is not one of those adaptations.
Adapted from the ~introductory chapter~ segment of the bestselling Leaf visual novel of the same name, White Album 2 (henceforth referred to as “WA2”) manages to retain a lot of the strengths of the source material while approaching it in a different, but appropriate, fashion. It is important to note that, despite the title, WA2 is not a direct sequel to the first White Album, related only by setting and a number of references, so viewing of the first series is not required.
With that said, WA2 is, simply put, a romance. To be more specific, it is a love triangle. It begins with a student named Kitahara Haruki trying to revive his high school’s light music club. In doing so, he eventually finds himself involved with the two girls who join the club: Ogiso Setsuna and Touma Kazusa. Certainly, this is a fairly basic set-up for the genre. WA2’s romance is played out in a straight and down-to-earth manner, and its strengths lie with the subdued execution of that romance. In a genre filled with stories that often resort to predictable archetypes and tropes to drive themselves forward, WA2 avoids the pitfalls of many other titles by doing away with the excessive melodrama and roundabout confessions. It does not strive beyond the boundaries of its genre, and thus certainly cannot be compared to shows that feature Titans being screamed at.
Consider the very beginning of the show, which reveals some key events that will occur at the end of the anime. In this brief sequence, viewers will be made aware of the kind of road that WA2 is set on. Both readers familiar with the source material and newcomers may initially find this to be a questionable directorial decision. However, in the grand scheme of things, WA2 is not focused on the fact that these events occur, but on how the characters and their relationships caused these events. After all, there are only so many ways a romance can turn out without treading on the grounds of bizarre or convoluted narratives. In general, the genre should focus on the chemistry between the characters and how they deal with the emotions of love.
And the characters are undoubtedly central to the romance in WA2. The characters are not dolls made to fulfill a given role, but believable people with distinct personalities. In particular, the main lead Haruki seems like an excellent student, yet so obviously flawed. His altruistic personality leads him into making many unintentional mistakes, and he is unable to avoid the problems he is causing despite being aware of them. And just like Haruki, Setsuna and Kazusa also try to avoid the problems in their own way, but inevitably end up hurting the others in the process. These characters make sensibly human mistakes that some viewers will resonate strongly with, while others may find themselves incredibly frustrated. The notion that viewers opt for a favorite heroine need not apply when the characters can be both endearing and detestable. The alleged title of “best girl” might as well be given to Haruki.
Of course, much of the characterization is owned to the wonderful script written by Fumiaki Maruto, the original scenario writer for WA2. The characters and their interactions are brought to life through clear and purposeful dialogue. The lines illustrate the chemistry between the characters and the gradual build-up of romantic tension as the show progresses. As an adaptation, the script is very much condensed to serve time constraints in the animated form, and Haruki’s insightful narration is lost. Thankfully, this is substituted by visual expressions and gestures used by the characters to show certain emotions rather than tell them. Setsuna’s physical distancing during some conversations in the earlier episodes, for example, indicate her perceptions toward Kazusa. In many cases, this use of storytelling adds to the scenes, improving upon the original. On the other hand, some lines in the script are altered, perhaps changing the nuance of the original scenes. A particular example of this is with the scene that introduces Kazusa, in which she speaks with an angry tone as opposed to a confused one.
Despite the show’s use of visual storytelling, the technical aspects of the animation suffer from a number of problems, particularly due to the production by Satelight. While the character designs themselves are arguably an improvement over the original's, quality mishaps are abound regarding the anatomy of the characters in some shots. There is also a general lack of “liveliness” in the animation, resulting in dull movements and stills. A notable offender of this is when the concert scene occurs in the story, and repetitive shots of the school’s scenery are seen as music is playing. Moreover, a few other important scenes feature questionable fanservice shots and odd angles, intruding on the mood of these scenes.
Fortunately, the aural aspects of WA2 make up for the mishaps in the animation. The soundtrack, featuring tracks that are played by an actual pianist, really complement the nature of the show, more so due to the focus on music. Dramatic sequences are accentuated with powerful yet delicate melodies, such as the instrumental of the aptly-named ending theme, “Sayonara no Koto”. Vocal songs are also prominent, reinforcing the show’s themes through their lyrics. Ultimately, the music is an integral part of the experience in WA2.
And the experience is certainly something else. Despite being only a prologue to a larger story, the anime adaptation of WA2 offers a sense of completeness that most adaptations, and anime series in general, should strive for. It is faithful as an adaptation, yet carries its own unique charm. It has a fairly simple premise, yet goes much deeper than that with its characters. The season of White Album has gracefully passed us by, but it won’t be forgotten so easily. read more
Music Room 2. It's the most unassuming of the three that populate Houjou High. Music Room 3 in the building across has the benefit of being bigger and newer, and the adjacent Music Room 1's been sectioned for everyone save those enlisted in the musical curriculum. Nevertheless, it's where Haruki Kitahara spends his time practicing “White Album” by Yuki Morikawa on his guitar. And out of nowhere, from the adjacent room, from the rooftop, a sound has him spellbound. A piano so soothing, a voice so transfixing, plays, sings to the song's melody. And here is where the story of White Album 2 takes off, where he has to know who.
An adaptation of a Leaf and Aquaplus visual novel White Album 2: Introductory Chapter, White Album 2 itself was produced by Satelight, directed by relative dark horse Masaomi Ando, and scripted by Fumiaki Maruto, who was also the original scenario writer for the source material. A qualification before going any further is that outside sharing the same universe, using the same name, and borrowing a few of the same songs, this show is completely unrelated to its predecessor, White Album. Do not expect the same characters or story from then, which I've heard from general consensus is less than favorable, to be present here.
Another qualification since this particular plot device's the bane of a number of viewers: this show is driven under the auspices of a love triangle. Feel free to refrain from watching if you absolutely can't stand them. This love triangle, however, does something somewhat different from the usual one male, two female dynamic. Haruki Kitahara, Setsuna Ogiso, and Kazusa Touma are friends. The best of friends. Friends of the dearest kind. The viewer's left with rather maddening issues, monogamy withstanding. How can the guy pursue one girl and avoid hurting the other? How can one girl pursue the guy and leave the other unscathed? How can we all remain close? Each main character wants to have their cake and eat it too, yet the show makes the reality clear: You can't. The heart wants what it wants when it's found it, despite any one party's attempts toward the contrary, and to deny it that when it's within grasp, combined with each character's own baggage, is tantamount to torture, agony of the most existential kind.
The agony's even more poignant when they're written as more than just fictional characters. For the female leads, it wouldn't be incorrect to group them under a certain personality, a certain archetype, the warm, popular school idol and the cold, aloof musical prodigy. And yet, they're more than that, never relegated to the distinction of mere stereotypes. They may be extroverts or introverts, but no one girl's one absolute. No one girl's simply the life of the party, just as no one girl's simply a shut-in. Neither is unconditionally anti-social, and both are, by their own past experiences, insecure. Loneliness is an issue for all, manifesting as much in a crowded class as in an empty room. Not one girl is perfect, their masks, their mischief, their indecisiveness, cowardice, impulsiveness, selfishness... they all show, despite themselves and their counterintuitive efforts to preserve the status quo. More than just characters, they're people, female, adolescent, and flawed through and through. And for the male lead? Outside of his sex, he's no exception, especially towards the second half.
If what you seek out of this show is your idealistic conception of what a romance should entail, then read well: that's not going to happen here. The ordeals are messy, frustrating, not because they're emotionally manipulative, but because they're real, because the characters, being who they are, are complex, conflicted, and real themselves. It's what would happen in this unextractable web of complexities and contradictions of “I wills,” “I won'ts,” and “It hurts,” where cutting one thread leads to the mangling of another.
Then there are those little touches, subtle, never exaggerated, that give these characters sincerity as well as charm. Overly sweetened coffee black, for instance, to match my craving for black milk tea in the morning for every morning.
And the show exploits these touches and others, subtleties of all kinds and layers, scattered, embedded, and incorporated into the narrative to outstanding degrees. Barring the first episode, this show's direction and script is all about subtly, about inference, of “show” and not simply “tell.” Where the camera pans, zooms, cuts, and lingers. When the facades of facial expressions slip into distress and recover to overcompensate, the eyes, the lips, the bangs. The deliberate tones in lighting, or the selective shades of lack thereof, complemented by the beautiful looking set pieces. The conversations, highly nuanced, roundabout, indirect, and, when it's called for, blistering. The use of flashbacks before the show's start, combined with the retracing of new and carefully omitted ground within past scenes at the most heart-wrenching of moments, the foreshadowing, and even the character of the character designs and clothes. Barring Episode 1, with masterful strokes of minimalist direction, interwoven seamlessly and purposefully with the music, whether bgm or insert, no one direction is ever oversold. They perfectly illustrate the personalities and emotional states of the cast at any given moment, whether they are bubbling underneath the surface or blasting corkscrew out of it. The best part, and perhaps the most refreshing part, is that it takes its time to do all of this, so that every form of direction feels natural.
The last of three qualifications, this show has a sex scene, one without shots of anything particularly precious, but it's easy to infer what's happening. That being said, it's completely within taste, substantially enhances the narrative, and subscribes to a rather waning view that sex is emotional consummation rather than just physical titillation. Also, adolescent intercourse does happen in the real world, and I personally congratulate the staff for including it in, but if you happen to be allergic to sex scenes regardless, then you're going to have trouble fully enjoying the show.
Music's, unsurprisingly, a strong element in this series. Outside of tackling the technicalities or philosophies behind notes, though practice does make perfect, the series does everything else in exploiting the medium to create meaning in the music. Outside noise fillers and mood setters, they express powerful sentiments that put the thoughts and actions of characters within context, especially with Touma, whose feelings unseen and unspoken, given her reserved nature, bleeds into her piano pieces. It adds another layer of “show” through melodies and harmonies, and even the lyrics of the songs that have them are loaded with meaning in hindsight.
And then there's the OP, “A Love That Cannot Be.” Known in romaji as “Todokanai Koi 13” by Rena Uehara in one track and Madoka Yonezawa, Ogiso's seiyuu, in another, its vocals, combined with electronic keyboard, electric guitar, and a synthetic backtrack, rocks and croons of a passionate nostalgia, of happier times in younger days past caked in a film of melancholy. The visual detail's not quite Kyoto Animation or P.A. Works standards, but it's still really good, and the visual content corresponds excellently with the music, blurs, glare, overlays, and the waning light from sunsets. It also features visually vague moments that occur in the show that contribute to this aesthetic, but aren't really spoilers since they're only fully significant in, once again, hindsight. It's best thought as a bittersweet reminisce by an adult of his or her turbulent youth. White Album 2 is winter-themed, and snow can be beautiful, if chilling. In addition, the transitions are handled with a quiet, yet powerful mix of grace and dignity. It also attempts to do this interesting thing with omitting Touma's face until Episode 3 to reflect a certain in-show direction, which would have been clever had it not been compromised by something in Episode 1.
The ED for Episodes 3-6 and 8-10 (Episode 7 doesn't have an ED), “Sayonara no Koto,” or “Goodbye” also by Uehara, flows in the same thematic vein, with recaps of scenes of the episode now past, an evolution from a delicate, yet noble instrumental chorus of electric synthetics, keyboard, classic guitar, violin, then vocals, then electric bass, then drumset, then electric guitar, before it reaches a climax with a vigorous and progressive rock beat, and, finally, settling back down to its quiet origins. Episodes 2, 11, and 12 have their own Uehara EDs, “closing 13,” “After All ~Tsuzuru Omoi~,” or “After All ~Writing Down My Feelings~” and “Twinkle Snow 13” respectively are also great in their own ways but, for the sake of brevity, I'll refrain from their music other than saying they accompany rather significant moments with a certain someone. And after all, they're better enjoyed in context than not. That goes double for the insert concert songs, "White Album," "Sound of Destiny," and the OP, since, outside of singing, they contain some really nice surprises involving solos.
Episode 1. It's not a bad episode, all in all; in fact, I think its conclusion was very well choreographed. Still, compared to its successive sisters, this episode has a couple of things that stick out like a sore thumb. There's a questionable amount of exposition within it that I think was a bit superfluous. A few carefully chosen words especially towards the end, coupled with the music, would have been better for the mood, but by far the biggest concern I have was the beginning, where the show previewed portions of the concert from Episode 7. I suspect it was supposed to be kind of a hook, but, returning to an earlier instance of direction which could have been clever, the omission of Touma's facial features seemed to be intended as a means for suspense that also worked in character, given her cold, aloof exterior. While it may have been no surprise that she would play one of the center role, what she looked like would, had it not been spoiled earlier by that flash forward.
He has to know, climbing the stairs to the roof, treading the outer walls of the school from stories high to get into the adjacent room's open window. The rest is history.
It's been an unparalleled experience to have watched this show and I sincerely hope after reading this review, everyone who's interested watch it as well. It is one of the most finely told romantic dramas I have ever had the pleasure to see, and while the ending was conclusive, since this is only the Introductory Chapter, the story's not even over yet.
I give White Album 2 a 10 out of 10. read more
What do you get when two girls fall in live with the same guy? School Days is fairly similar to White Album 2 with the only major difference being that the main characters of WA2 prefers running away from their problems. But WA2 does not take it too extreme like what School Days did.
Both of these series are VN adaptations.
They both feel like utsuge, where the main aspect is to get (somewhat) attached to the characters before you're enraged and trolled to shit with upsetting love triangle drama.
White Album 2 is better written and has comparatively more likable characters, though.
Dramatic high school love triangles with deceit, mixed feelings, and running from problems. School Days is much more mature with less emphasis on friendship and more on sexual relationships than WA2.
White Album 2 is basically school days had it been made with a decent budget/ the main character not be a complete cheating asshole/ and the two heroines not be completely bat shit insane. They both deal with love triangles WA2 being more realistic
Series the contain love triangle relationship between the male lead and main female characters. The two shows are strikingly similar in their mature portrayal of relationship development. Characters make decisions in a realistic way, even though these decisions may seem despicable and may end up hurting other people.
They're both heavy on the drama/romance, with very limited comedy, which gives a nice breath of fresh air from all the romcoms out there. The situations and emotions feel quite real, and nothing feels forced.
The way drama and romance are played out in these two shows are similar. There are even some plot similarities between a story arc in Ef and White Album 2. Other similarities between the two shows are the maturity of the relationships between the characters, and the intense feelings both shows invoke. Lastly, both shows have love triangles and show the tough decisions that have to be made in the end, and the lengths people will go to follow their heart. Often love triangles can get a little out of hand and the relationships become unrealistic (example: School Days); however, both these shows manage to have love triangles while maintaining great characters and a compelling story. In conclusion both shows will tell stories that will leave a lasting impression and I highly recommend them.
WA2 and Ef both contains a very narrative story that begins with a group of friends meeting one another, wanting to help eachother, fall in love, and reach a conclusion that avoids breaking their relationship as the same group of friends up. These two animes will bring you pain, will make you understand, will make you rage at their actions, and will satisfy you with whatever the conclusion is given.
Opening Theme"Todokanai Koi '13' (届かない 恋 '13')" by Rena Uehara
Ending Theme#1: "White Album (ホワイトアルバム)" by Madoka Yonezawa (ep 1)
#2: "closing '13" by Uehara Rena (ep 2)
#3: "Sayonara no Koto (さよならのこと)" by Rena Uehara (eps 3-6, 8-10)
#4: "After All ～Tsuzuru Omoi～ '13 (After All ～綴る想い～ '13)" by Rena Uehara (ep 11)
#5: "Twinkle Snow '13" by Akari Tsuda (ep 12)
#6: "Todokanai Koi (届かない恋)" by Madoka Yonezawa (ep 13)more
Which fansubbers do you like the best? Click + to approve of their subs for this show. Click - if you don't think they did such a great job.
AnimeYO! [AnimeYO!] (Brazilian Portuguese)
HayaiSUB [Hayaisubs] (Brazilian Portuguese)
Related ClubsYuuki Kaji Fans., Romantic-Love Club, Slice of Life Club, Mahvilyze[Hiatus], Romantic Comedy Anime (RCA<3), All Ecchi Romance, White album 2, SweetKotomi's Cute Girls: Island Paradise, Izanagi's Club - A Peaceful Mansion
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