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.
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.
White Album 2 is set after 10 years of the events that occurred in the original White Album. Despite the title being White Album 2, the story isn't a sequel but is pretty much a standalone or what you could say an alternate setting which has minimal relevance to its predecessor. The only apparent connection are the songs which were sung in the first anime and the people who wrote them, and that it is set in the same world. In simple words, you don't need to watch the first anime to understand this and
I would not recommend in doing so since I find the first one to be the complete opposite of what this is - a true masterpiece.
The story of White Album 2 is pretty straightforward.
The entire story revolves around the three main characters namely Kitahara, Touma, and Ogisa. These three are so relatable that I'm pretty sure some of us could even picture themselves living and experiencing the different social dillemmas each character is facing - they're as real as it gets. At first they might look common, typical or plain but later on as the characters reveal more and more of their personalities and problems, they'll also grow on you. With the intent of being good friends, a simple admiration turned into something more but the intrusion of another led to a love triangle conflict without even realizing it. The story grows beyond from here but as much as I would like to tell more, I would rather have you watch it as it would only spoil all the fun.
People tend to do crazy things when in love.
As far as beyond what logic could measure, humans would do anything when it comes to love. Love is such an extraordinary phenomenon that people would do something they normally won't do. Trust, betrayal, and even sacrificing one's good for the sake of another - as long as love is present, there is so much an ordinary person could do yet there's so much to lose. That's what I find so great in this anime; it depicts real human emotions at its finest, and at its worst.
For a mature and a serious drama/romance anime, the animation is as fitting as it should be. The characters and the backgrounds are very well drawn, the movements are fluid, and the shadings too are very well applied. Not only is the animation good on its own but it also compliments the feel to its amazing music.
As one would expect from a musical anime, the music is really good. In fact the soundtracks are absolutely breathtaking from the first episode and it never did go any less up to the last. The lyrics of the songs completely fit the atmosphere adding up to the emotional feeling of the scenario they were on. The voice actors too did their roles very well, might it be just a simple conversation or was it through singing; you can really feel the emotions flowing.
At its shining moments, the drama intensifies and the confrontations would make your heart skip a beat. You'd even start to wonder why is it so wrong when it's supposed to feel right, or the opposite. But if you were a person in love, you would know why. After all has been said and done, I could understand why some would feel a bitter aftertaste but let's face it - because even in real life, not everything goes the way we want it to.
White Album 2 is such an emotional rollercoaster. At times you'll find yourself smiling along with the characters, and at some you'll find yourself crying. You'll be totally engrossed that you'll find yourself glued onto the screen wondering what would they do next then asking yourself if you would have done the same thing. But by then you won't have even realized that you're already teary-eyed because of how you care and sympathize for the characters that have already grown on you. It is just that good.
I'll be honest. I enjoyed every single bit of this anime. But I guess "enjoyed" is an understatement since I pretty much fell in love with this anime. And know what, people do crazy things when they're in love just like what White Album 2 made me do - to once again write a review in which I swore I would never ever do.
White Album 2 is one of those series many people tend to overlook these days because for a variety of obvious reasons. Some of them might be prior experience with other “White Album” franchise anime that left with mediocre impressions. Then, there’s also a belief that anime series based off of visual novel tends to be the inferior brand. Finally, maybe it could just be the synopsis or premise of the show. It looks simple, tends to be simple, and it is simple. But what you might be surprised at is that White Album 2 is not what it appears to be. Rather than going
through a bunch of stereotypical ideas wrapped in a loop of cliches, White Album 2 actually jumps out of that zone on various occasions.
Take first note that White Album 2 is not a sequel of the original series. The characters from White Album do not make appearance nor their story connect in any way. Instead, the show stands out as a standalone series based off the visual novel of the same name developed by Leaf. The series chronicles the lives of three young individuals as they become a trio of close friends during their last semester of high school. It’s their final chances to make some memories they won’t forget and chances don’t come easily.
The series takes place in high school but focuses it at its ending stages or rather, the final semester. There’s a pressure of futuristic opportunities and decisions to make often during these times. Think of it this way: when you were in high school, have you ever thought what you wanted to be or what you wanted to do after you graduate? For Haruki Kitahara, he can be described as one of those individuals without an exact goal in mind. What he does have in mind though is his ambition to play at the annual school festival. The problem? They need members for the light music club to accomplish this task. This is where our two heroines comes in from the story.
First, there’s Setsuna Ogiso, a popular girl at school known well for her beauty and talent in singing. It’s easy for people to make friends with Setsuna because of her bright personality. In fact, many of the times we see her throughout the series is where she is compassionate towards others. Setsuna also possesses the talents of a singer especially after Haruki discovers her on the rooftop one faithful day. The way she sings is majestic, beautiful, and those moments defines her character. On the other hand, there’s Kazusa Touma. Unlike Setsuna, she is usually cold, aloof, and distant towards others. This is evidenced by her hobby of skipping classes and falling asleep that often results in scolding from her professors. But if there’s one thing she does care is music. Music, a word that has transformed words into a form of art and revolutionized entertainment, is what Touma holds dearly to her life. With a common idea in mind, these three characters are the core of the show that define White Album 2.
Characterization plays an imperative role throughout the show so it’s important to pay attention to them. Haruki seems to be your typical high school student without much to stand out. He is friendly towards others, honest, accepting, loving, generous, and determined. He might not be a celebrity but Haruki isn’t just a guy that looks around to goof off at school or hit on girls. Instead, he truly cares about his friends and be there when they need the most. On another scale, Setsuna is like a walking billboard of radiance that attracts others. But if we look at her carefully, there’s a sense of insecurity coming out from her character. The smile she wears sometimes seems to formulate a mask that hides her true emotions. It’s not that Setsuna wants to be selfish but some of her decisions tends to be an act based on herself and what she believes in. Finally, Touma is like a stone of hieroglyphics that is hard to decipher. No one really knows what she’s thinking because of her cold personality. It is evidenced that her childhood can be defined as lonely and solitary so that could be part of the reason that made her whom she is today. Luckily, Touma’s love for music defines her character in another way, as a girl that embraces the art and tries to perfect it as a passion. White Album 2’s main characters all get their spotlights and screen time that examines their personalities, lives, and development as they finish their finish year at high school.
The story of White Album 2 might take a while to get used to. I’m referring to the rather slow pacing especially in the beginning as we get to know our main protagonists. Taking place in a high school life setting also places the story in a way that is relatable because of the focus on future, struggles at school, and relationships. The story doesn’t drive off with odd plot holes. Instead, it is quite straight forward that is easily comprehensible. It also offers anime-only viewers a way of predicting future events as each episodes unfolds itself. The series also defines itself as a romance show so it’s interesting to theorize who Haruki will choose as his partner for an everlasting relationship. It can be perturbing at some instances but can also create excitement especially for our main characters at the apex of their school lives. Yes, what I’m referring to here is their dreams and ambitions.
It’s obvious that Touma is passionate about music. Thanks to her skills with the piano, electric guitar, and other instruments, she stands out as a prominent star of the series. The core of their school life doesn’t come easily as there’s an old saying that goes ‘practice makes perfect’. This concept generally applies to Haruki as he lacks the skills of a child prodigy. What he does have though is a determined heart and spirit to tackle any obstacle through. His dedication fortifies a will that seems to spread like an inspiration to others such as Touma. Setsuna’s skills of singing also becomes the voice of White Album 2. This only defines half the story however as White Album 2 later on takes on a route of that brings forth more emotional impact. It chronicles the relationships of our main characters that is a mixed bag of love, loyalty, respect, and sorrow.
While White Album 2 remains refreshing, relatable, and realistic, the show suffers some problems as well. There’s a lack of focus on supporting characters as most of them fades behind the scenes. Most of them plays little roles other than being introduced that becomes part of the cast only on some occasions. The story itself also becomes a bit predictable on various occasions. There’s also some fan service that can be distracting and forceful. Haruki also seems to be portrayed as Mr. Nice Guy with nothing special in particular. I also find a few of his decisions to be irrational and seemingly absurd. Some events also comes as abrupt and hard to sympathize with in terms of development especially involving relationships. There’s also a problem with narrative as the show focuses on three characters but none of them goes through the story by their point of view.
Artwork wise, White Album 2 is realistic and designed to look as well as feel like a slice of life. The character designs fits most of their roles well. The outfit designs during the light music club’s debut are fashionable and artistic. (Although more embarrassing in some ways for Touma) But taken on a technical perspective, the artwork is realistic enough that camera angles focuses on each movement of the club when they play music. Examples of this include Touma’s finger movements on the piano, Haruki’s flow with his guitar, or the way Setsuna sings her heart out at her fans. There’s no doubt that realism is strong in the artwork department with a peculiar sense of normalcy.
The music of White Album 2 is an embodiment that defines our main characters’ passion and unites them as a group. The OST is calm and pleasant throughout the series but it’s the songs that truly shines. Songs such as White Album, Sayonara no Koto, and the OP song Todokanai Koi '13' defines the show’s style at its finest form. It feels like a juggernaut of feelings poured into the lyrics that makes the show stands out. Voice acting wise, I give praise to Hitomi Nabatame (Strawberry Panic: Shizuma, Chaos;Head: Aoi, Gantz: Kei Kishimoto) as her role of Kazuma Touma. Her voice fits perfectly with her mature and cold voice that defines the character that Touma is.
So White Album 2 is probably a show that would stand as something a lot of people might overlooked. It could be the fact that the anime didn’t have much expectations based from the synopsis, preview, or experiences from the previous franchise. As a dark horse, White Album 2 is one of those series that realistic with a fusion of music, relationships, and characterization explored in ways that is surprisingly interesting. The story might feel a bit slow and predictable sequences will pop up. However, patience is a key to unlock the satisfaction of this show. And once you open that door, you’ll discover the true essence of White Album 2.
Two's a plenty, three's a crowd. Or so the saying goes.
People like to say friendship lasts forever. They want to believe that things will never change between themselves and the ones closest to their hearts during their teenage years. However, when multiple men and women grow close enough to each other there eventually comes a point where life-changing decisions must be made. And if your social circuit happens to consist of one man and two women... then odds are that someone is going to have to be left out.
White Album 2 is a rare anime in the sense that it is a story about actual
true love in a mature sense. It is also highly realistic and tangible, which is a strangely unusual thing to find in today's anime industry. Above all however... it is simply beautiful.
If you want a short summary of what White Album 2 has to offer then here's a quick rundown of it. Otherwise the full review follows below:
- One of the most faithful visual novel adaptations you'll ever find
- Close to perfect pacing, not a single scene feels needless yet nothing feels like it's missing either
- Very mature and realistic take on romance
- Lots of actual romantic progression and relationship development
- Quite serious emotional drama, this can either result in it being found tear-jerking or a bit cliché depending on who you ask
- No stereotypical anime character tropes are utilized, everyone in White Album 2 feels like a real person
- No moe, ecchi or other fanservice-esque elements
- Very high-level and emotional voice acting
- Heavy emphasis on music: the main characters together make up their high school's light music club and Setsuna's voice actress sing many of the series tracks (beautifully at that I have to say)
- While the ending isn't conclusive since only the first chapter of the visual novel is adapted, it still leaves off on a very satisfying note, and therefore the anime works totally fine as a standalone product even for anime-only viewers
White Album 2 is one of the absolute most critically acclaimed visual novels of all time, currently sitting at #2 on Erogamescape and #5 on VNDB among other things at the time of writing this, and it is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful love stories ever told. This anime does not cover anywhere near the entire story however, but rather solely the ~Introductory Chapter~ which makes up roughly the first 15% of it. Now you may find the notion of an adaptation only covering such a tiny amount disheartening, but that is not really the case here as the first chapter on its own works just as well as a standalone anime. Furthermore, by narrowing down the scope this much, the anime instead manages to nail what little content it covers more or less perfectly, and as a result this is one of the absolute best VN adaptations I have ever seen. Satelight made an outstanding job turning this into an anime.
White Album 2 (henceforth only referring to the anime) is the story of Kitahara Haruki, a diligent student and one of the only two remaining members of the light music club. He dreams of reviving the club after all its other members resigned, and to have them perform at the upcoming school festival as their last event before graduation. In order to do so he manages to get the aid of the cheerful karaoke-loving school idol Ogiso Setsuna, as well as the quiet black-haired beauty Touma Kazusa who is his fellow classmate and a high-level pianist. Together they try to somehow scrape together a performance in what limited time they have left in order to create a final memory before they graduate. That was the only intention.
Or at least, that's what is what supposed to be.
For the three of them however, the bonds they acquire with each other intertwine in a very intricate and complicated web of emotions, resulting in a rather convoluted and tension-filled love triangle. One without any optimal resolution in sight and packed to the brim with conflicting emotions. This results in the anime being somewhat of a tearjerker but an exquisitely written one at that. Of course not everyone appreciates these kinds of stories since it can also be interpreted as somewhat cliché, and while I cannot deny that fact I still think this is easily one of the best series of the genre.
What really cannot be understated with this anime is just how good the pacing is. The ~Introductory Chapter~ of the visual novel is only seven or so hours long, yet the anime is given a full 13 episodes for that alone. It's such a refreshing feeling seeing a story with no holes in it at any point, yet it doesn't ever feel slow or boring for a single second either. Everything in White Album 2 feels like it's actually important and serves as an important piece of the overall story. There are also some neat narrative tricks utilized in the story presentation such as specific camera angles leaving out certain elements intentionally, as well as using flashbacks instead of a totally linear style of story-telling in order to give the show a bigger sense of unpredictability and creativity.
The characters of White Album 2 are not based on generic anime tropes like the vast majority of today's shows are, but rather feel like genuine human beings. The concept of fanservice is more or less non-existent in this anime, and instead it offers a very mature outlook on what youthful love might look like in real life, as well as what responsibilities and consequences comes along with it. Is it right to wish for your own happiness if it comes with the misfortune of others? Is it always justified to follow the calling of your heart? These are some of the questions this anime asks.
These types of intricate questions make the character development of White Album 2 quite spectacular, as you can clearly see how all three of the main characters change drastically over the course of time. This goes both for how they act by themselves and towards the other two. Whether the choices they all make are right or wrong at times is up to interpretation, but I think all of them are perfectly understandable at least. Above all though, it results in something actually HAPPENING. The biggest problem in most romance anime is the lack of actual romantic development but White Album 2 has it aplenty, despite only being 13 episodes long. Furthermore it actually feels sincerely believable for once, yet not completely predictable either.
The presentation is stellar. The animation is very crisp and clean, and fits perfectly for the theme and atmosphere of the series. Above all though, the soundtrack is nothing short of spectacular. It primarily consists of remakes of the OST from the original visual novel, and contains mainly vocal-heavy and instrumental tunes. These tracks are further enhanced by them oftentimes actually being performed live by the characters themselves, albeit merely in practice more often than on stage. The timing of the music is also used excellently, as the key emotional scenes of the story are heavily supported by the background music and the superb voice acting. Really White Album 2 would not have been the same as it is if it wasn't for the audio department. I really cannot praise it enough.
As always with these kinds of series, there will be some heavy shipping wars going on regarding which of the two girls every viewer happens to prefer, but regardless of who you happen to fancy I still think that the overall story progression of White Album 2 should be very satisfactory either way. This is not an anime about which is the #bestgirl, it's much deeper and more touching than that.
Overall, although this anime only covers a tiny portion of the full story of the visual novel, it is without a doubt an outstanding series in and of itself. Ironically despite the majority of the story not being shown in this anime, the ending of it still feels a hell of a lot more conclusive than most romance series out there. If you didn't know there was any more story left to be told, then you'd probably never imagine there was. It really feels that conclusive despite everything.
Fans of mature romance and emotional dramas, as well as people who can appreciate exquisite presentation and directive for what it is.
Not recommended for:
People who are looking for a lighthearted romcom and those who place too much emphasis on their personal favorite coupling coming into fruition. The latter is not what this show is about on a metalevel.
For what it's worth, the amount of emotion and sheer quality White Album 2 manages to squeeze out of a mere 13 episodes is phenomenal. It goes to show just how far you can come with a good source material and some stellar directing.
Now if only all visual novel adaptations could do the same thing...
"As if to match the guitar I play in the afternoon music classroom,
As if to match the piano someone plays in the next room,
The pure singing voice from the rooftop connects the three disconnected melodies.
It all started in such a day in late autumn.
At that time, someone fell in love.
Everyone was doing their best. Everyone pushed on. Everyone was intent and honest...
We formed a bond and obtained a precious moment.
That’s why someone fell in love. A love that was too late, a love that shouldn’t have occurred.
And then comes winter. The falling snow covers all sins.
And spring eventually comes, melting the snow and imposing all
White Album 2 is a brilliantly executed romantic drama that premiered in the Winter 2013 season. This is a show that should not be taken lightly. The first episode does not at all warn the viewer of the emotional rollercoaster that is to follow. WA2 will build you up, break you down, make you laugh, and make you cry. It is filled with realistic characters with the best of intentions; however, acting on emotion instead of logic is the surest recipe for disaster. Perhaps this realism is the reason why I was so drawn to it. It is definitely an anime that will captivate you from its very first frame and linger in your heart long after its last.
This review may include spoilers (particularly the conclusion). You've been warned.
White Album 2 (which will from this point on be referred to as WA2) is a simple love story involving three main characters, who, cruel by the stroke of fate, meet one fall afternoon. The trio become friends, and shortly after, a love triangle soon forms. One of the many reasons why I love the show is its consistency. The very first line in this anime sets the mood of the show, and never does it once falter from it. Going into this show, I didn't know what to expect; I was expecting your generic rom/com with excessive fanservice, nonsensical/nonexistent plot, and characters as flat and one-dimensional as paper. I'm happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised.
At the core of WA2 lies its characters. The first episode portrays each and every character in the most stereotypical, most cliche ways. We meet the geeky honor student, the tsundere, and the school idol. They are portrayed as characters without flaws; characters who always keep their cool and calm demeanor, knowing just what to say in a situation. By the second half of the story, however, this fascade that we (the viewers) have been shown this whole time starts to fall off, and we are met with a very flawed, imperfect, selfish, and greedy cast. Despite all the downright terrible things they do to each other, you can't blame them. As I said earlier in the review, these characters always have the best of intentions, wishing for everyone to be happy; however, acting solely on emotion while disregarding any logical reasoning will always lead to disaster. The character's actions, especially near the end, are always justified. They may be acting thoughtlessly, sometimes even blantly disregarding what happens to anyone around, but to them, their hearts are telling them that they are in the right. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? In almost every romance anime, we see characters fall head over heels for each other; however, rarely do we actually FEEL how much these characters WANT to be with one another. In WA2, I actually felt myself being immersed in these characters' personalities, even empathizing for them, and when everything comes crashing down toward the end (and it does), my heart broke just as our protagonist's and the heroines' hearts did as well.
WA2 was produced by Satelight, a studio known for its most notorious work, Fairy Tail. Needless to say, the studio didn't hold back in terms of sound or animation. The colors, lighting, and character designs fit the mood of the show perfectly, so did its sound. For an anime revolving around music and art, I thought that the OST, particularly the ending song, "After All", was superb. I loved the emotion and score of each and every one of the soundtracks, and to this day, I still listen to them.
Throughout the anime, the viewers are shown time and time again that love is messy. Unlike all the other romance/harems out there, WA2 realistically shows why a love triangle will never work. White Album 2 is a tragic tale revolving around three people who become friends and fall in love for the first time, and how their friendship is tested, strained, and eventually violently ripped apart because of "a love that cannot be."
If you enjoy any form of romance anime, whether it be harem, comedy, psychological, or dramatic, I recommend you give White Album 2 a watch. If you don't end up liking it, I would be very surprised.
Let me go right off the bat and say this anime was disappointing, the first half was fine and looking like it will turn into a decent romance anime but unfortunately for this series where you would expect it to start becoming really good it completely falls down on its fat face. WARNING CONTAINS SPOILS. You have been warned
Story : 6
The story starts off as any romance anime does, introduce the love interests and develop some back story for the characters. The story then revolves around Kazusa Touma, Setsuna Ogiso and Haruki Kitahara getting ready for the school fair which for their act is
putting on a music show. This is the part that looked promising, 3 friends working hard together to achieve a common goal and the bonds that are forged in the process but that all ends after the school fair arc. After the school fair arc Setsuna and Haruki start to date because Haruki (who has feelings for Kazusa, I will get into this in the character section) isn't firm enough with her and on the spur of the moment kisses and subsequently starts to date Setsuna. Setsuna despertly trying to keep the 3 of them together arranges various activities for them to do such as go to a spar. The final part of the anime revolves around the reveal that Touma is moving to europe and Haraki subsequent attempts to get her to stay in japan. This is the part of the story I fucking hate, Haruki lies to Setsuna (on her birthday) that he is sick and goes to visit Touma, a series of events happen that lead to them HAVING SEXUALLY INTERCOURSE, whilst he is still dating Setsuna on her birthday. Touma still decides to leave after all that shit and goes to catch her plain to europe but not before a heart warming last good bye right? WRONG Haruki then proceeds to start making out with Touma in front of Setsuna (who is still his gf btw). Touma then says her feelings in front of setsuna and then leaves for europe leaving Setsuna and Haraki with a broken Relationship.
So with the first half looking like a fun happy anime ends up with every character being sad and depressed. Fuck this story and everything it represents.
Because this show is based on music you would expect it to be good and fortunately this is true. Their isnt' anything noteworthy to be said but the sound track (mostly the same) is good and lives up to the name
For the first half of this anime Haruki is a good guy, he treats people nicely and is overall not an asshole. This all changes however in the second half. As I mentioned before despite having a gf he proceed to have sex with touma, and then at the airport start kissing her in front of said gf. I just find him to such a despicable asshole. He has next no morals and only gives a fuck about what he wants with no consideration for anyone around him. The only other character I can compare him to is the main character from school days as both are assholes but unfortunately for this anime he didn't die in the end.
The only word I can use to describe her with is Crazy. Despite the fact the she knew that Haruki liked Touma he still basically forced him to go out with her which at the point was the downfall for the group she so desperately wanted to keep going. Then after finding out that her bf cheated on her and then kissed touma in front of her leaving her in tear, She still stayed with him. All in all shes a terrible character that probably contributed the most to the fall of the group she loved so much. DUMB BITCH
The whole anime all she did was leave the guy she liked the cold shoulder. All she did was basically be a bitch to him but that didnt stop her from dumping all her feelings on him and having sex with him, despite the fact that she "valued" her relationship with Setsuna. She was the best of the worst in my opinion as till the end she sticked with what she wanted to do and said fuck Haruki im going to Europe, hopefully those two can clean after my mess.
The anime had a strong start but feel off at around the mid point of the show. The characters all betrayed each other and by the end all that was left was 3 very sad people who did it to them selves. To be honest its quite a stretch to gives this anime a 6
If you're an anime fan and you're anything like me, then you're getting a little goddamn tired of high school rom-com slice of life shows. They seem to breed like rabbits, flooding each new season with waves of uninspired crap. Worse than the fact that they're founded on generic, predictable stories is the fact that 95% of them rely on overused tropes, poor attempts at slapstick humor, cliches, terrible dialogue and more anime-isms than one can count. Shows that are airing now like Ore Monogatari get credit just for deviating ever-so-slightly from the formula, and while I do give such shows credit I still cannot
help but feel as though the vast majority of all of these shows are unwatchable crap. This is ANIME, aka, DRAWINGS. You can do ANYTHING. Fantasy, sci-fi, historical pieces, surrealism: the number of possibilities and the the amount of potential is unbelievable. The fact that so much of that is being wasted is a tragedy.
White Album 2, however, is not wasting anything. Yes, it is set at a high-school with a male protagonist. Yes, it has drama. Yes, it has romance. But it's difficult to even compare it to other shows of its genre. White Album 2 has something to say. It doesn't "deconstruct" the genre: that would imply that it uses any of the genre's common elements to begin with. White Album 2 reinvents the high school slice-of-life, showing just what can be done with it if you have a creative mind, an understanding of chemistry, conversation and people, and a goal in mind besides getting two people together. It's a powerful, evocative tale about how complicated emotions and relationships can be, and while it doesn't change my stance on the genre it certainly rises above it. If all high school slice-of-life shows were this good, I would have a vastly different opinion of them.
Allow me to explain why.
The first aspects of the show to grab my attention were the art and the music. This is a bit of an irregular for me, considering I usually place a considerably lower value on aesthetics than I do characters and plot. However, from the very beginning the show's aesthetics struck me not because they're of exceptionally high caliber (though they are extremely impressive) but because they're used creatively and effectively. They work with the story, not only complementing it but also adding to it. Art and music in anime are some of the best ways to achieve show-don't-tell, capable of highlighting character traits, establishing tone, and even telling their own story when subjected to good direction. This is something that should seem obvious, but a lot of shows under-utilize or just straight up ignore this possibility. My go-to example is Fate/Zero, a show with both top-notch animation and music (it seriously looks like it's from 2020) that puts neither to any use past having gorgeous fight scenes.
White Album 2 makes full use of its aesthetics from episode 1. It uses gorgeously drawn sunsets to emphasize feelings of nostalgia and to reflect the feeling of not wanting the status quo to change (the setting sun implying the transition to a new day). It uses shot-framing to demonstrate what characters are focused on, as well as lighting to imply how characters feel (oftentimes characters having a conversation will be lit in different ways even though they are in the same place, showing how each of them view the other). It even makes use of font, using a crystalline and gleaming lettering for its credits and on-screen text that fits in with Touma's cold-feeling yet elegant aura. The music is another story entirely: White Album 2 is a show that revolves around music with several of its characters striving to be musicians of their own and everyone in the show being profoundly affected by music. Several of the songs that the characters listen to/play are repeated across the entirety of the show, both as diegetic sound and as background music, garnering meaning both to the characters and the audience as the show progresses. The song 'White Album', first featured in the beginning of episode 1, both physically brings the characters together and is a reflection of the nature of their relationships. I was constantly impressed by the show's directing and the emotional response it was able to instill using aesthetics alone, and I award it full points in both of these categories for being a gleaming example of how these elements of a show can be used.
However, regardless of how well art and sound are used in a show, they are never single-handedly enough to make it a masterpiece (at least in my opinion). Nisekoi was a striking example of this, showing that even SHAFT can't make everything good. So lets talk about the story. Look, I never thought I'd say this. Even in the best high school slice-of-life shows the story is rarely very interesting, with execution and characters usually carrying the brunt of the burden. This is because after having so many of these goddamn shows and the extreme limitations they are bound by, there's really not much you can do outside of School Days that comes off as original or unique. Even Toradora, one of my long-standing favorites, has a plot that is for the most part generic. I am, however, forced to admit:
White Album 2 has a good plot.
Scratch that, it's outstanding. The underlying cause of this is that, as mentioned before, it has a goal in mind other than getting two characters together, and whilst it is completely unafraid to throw itself whole-heartedly into romance, it's not remotely exclusively about that. It's also about nostalgia (both for the past and the present), fearing the future, mistakes, heartbreak of many kinds, and regret. It weaves a tale that follows multiple characters thoroughly, valuing each of their ENTIRELY different struggles equally, and crafting them all together due to the character's shared bonds. None of the characters overwhelms the show by being viewed as more important or hogging too much of the focus. This allows for a story that is refreshingly original, relies on absolutely no cliches (there is no pool episode. There is no school festival episode. There is no school trip episode. There is no no fucking new years episode.) and follows what is important to the characters rather than what is going on at the goddamn high school. It also understands that high schoolers oftentimes do weird sh*t (in fact, all people do) and manages to embrace that in a way that is surprisingly touching and honest rather than coming off as creepy or "irregular". The show is absolutely void of fan-service: there is sexuality and sexual themes because hormones are a real thing that oftentimes take tangible form (WHO'D A THUNK??) but they're handled in a mature way. For a show a mere 13 episodes long, White Album 2 covers an amazing amount of ground and really makes you feel as though you've only seen a sliver of a long story with more on either end. That's perhaps the plot's strongest aspect: it doesn't feel as though it begins when the camera stars rolling. The show starts then, but the story started long before then and will continue long afterwards. So far I haven't even mentioned the ending, which simultaneously provides an unbelievably satisfying and powerful resolution to the story whilst still leaving the viewer feeling like there's much more to see. I guess that's what happens when you acknowledge that a kiss and a confession aren't the ultimate goal of life and don't result in an end to all struggles?
At this point you should have enough good reasons to go watch this show. Stellar direction, unique, refreshing and impressive story, gorgeous music, outstanding art: that's high praise. I'm pretty picky. But I'm not done yet. There's still something I want to want to give the show credit for.
White Album 2 has two aspects in which it stands above pretty much every other anime I've seen: the combination of characters & writing. I know those are similar, but there is definitely a distinction. For instance, a show like Princess Tutu has amazing characters because the motivations and ideas behind those characters are original and believable, but the show's writing is pretty impressive because the dialogue through which the characters express who they are is bland and repetitive. White Album 2 both has outstanding characters in the sense that the ideas behind them are great and in the sense that their dialogue is crisp, real and refreshing. It is an absolute JOY to just watch people talk to each other in this show because they talk in the same way that, oh, I don't know, people actually converse! There are no rough or awkward transitions in subject matter, there are reasons behind the things that everyone in the show says and sometimes that reason is that people oftentimes talk without thinking. Emotions are expressed realistically and conveyed in ways that are deliciously real. Characters misinterpret each other in believable ways due to phrasing and every word actually counts. White Album 2 understands that people don't directly convey intentions to each other, they convey words and that others often misinterpret intentions through those words.
The characters themselves are amazing. I don't want to get too much into them for the sake of spoilers, but by the end of the show no commonly used archetype could be used to describe any of them. They're all individuals. There are three main characters: Haruki Kitahara, Kazusa Touma and Ogiso Setsuna. Each of them has a distinct relationship with each of the others and they have a group dynamic between the three of them as well. Each of them possesses a wealth of both common and more uncommon personality traits, and the show allows these to play off of each other in the way that makes sense. Kitahara is unyielding self-sacrificing to a fault where he is kind to everyone but not to any one person in particular: no one feels as though they are actually special to him because he white-washes his relationships with his selfless attitude. Touma is reclusive and unmotivated, initially having succumbed to feeling hopeless and numb and expressing that through a cold exterior that is clearly crying for attention, something that she refuses to admit to herself. Ogiso Setsuna- well, Ogiso Setsuna is one of my favorite characters of all time. She craves an idea so badly that once it becomes reality all she can think about is her fear of losing it and does everything in her power to ensure that it will endure. She searches for happiness and validation from the people around her, seeing that other people with close friends are happy and wanting to have that closeness as well without realizing that unless she can accept herself and love herself no amount of compassion from others will make her feel at peace.
Overall, White Album 2 was an absolutely incredible and unexpected experience. It easily made its way into my all-time favorites and I'm currently in the process of rewatching it. If you're tired of repetitive garbage, anime tropes, romance cliches, and slice-of-life bullshit, give this a shot anyways. It wont change your opinion about any of those other shows, but who cares: it's a masterpiece of a show, and at this point it's entirely its own thing.
Love sucks, plain and simple. Of course, that little detail is often lost in the overwhelming sea of romance anime/mangas out there which paints the whole ordeal of falling in love and actually getting into a relationship like it's all sunshine and rainbows. I think I can speak for the majority of us when I say that romance in real life is nothing like Kimi ni Todoke or Clannad. Furthermore, I think it's safe to say that if you've ever been caught in a love triangle in real life as well, it ain't gonna be like a harem comedy. Humans are fucked up creatures and
by the end of it all, nobody comes out of a romantic encounter unscathed. People get hurt, and it fucking sucks. Say what you will about White Album 2, but you know what? It's probably the only anime that truly captures what romance is actually like without treating it like a farcical melodrama.
The only problem I can really see anyone having with this programme is the potential inability to empathise with what's going on and what the characters are going through. I'll say this right now: if you've never been caught in the middle of a love triangle in real life or don't at least make the effort to understand why the characters are doing what they're doing, you'll irrevocably hate this show. I mean, looking at this stuff from the outside-in is fucking frustrating to say the least because everything seems so simple in hindsight. Unfortunately, romance has this nasty habit of making simple things become a Herculean effort. Sure, you can say "that's not always the case" but it's sadly the case for most of us.
I should give a warning to people who expect all their romances to be happy-go-lucky, but the only people who would ever expect ALL romances to be vanilla are mouth-breathing weeaboos with absolutely no social skills with their only romantic experience being masturbating to their high school crushes and being rejected when they tried to ask him/her out. To paraphrase something that Bob Ross once said during an episode of The Joy of Painting: you need some sadness so you know when the good times roll by. It's not like White Album 2 is completely devoid of happy/cute/sweet/heartwarming moments, because that's not the case whatsoever. It's just that we're more prone to remembering the bad shit happening than the good shit.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that WA2 is probably like Oyasumi Punpun because you're never going to get that fairy tale ending where they all live happily ever after because that ain't how it works. As much as we might want Setsuna, Kazusa, and Haruki to end up in a poly relationship so that nobody will get hurt, we all know that shit *rarely* happens in anime, let alone in real life. Someone always gets the short end of the stick and people end up doing some pretty fucked up shit to each other along the way. In many ways, White Album 2 manages to perfectly capture all the feelings that people end up going through in romance: good, bad, and ugly.
With all of that said and done, you might be wondering why I didn't give this programme a 10/10. Well, the biggest reason is that White Album 2 is a visual novel adaptation by the end of it all. The anime only covers the introductory chapter of the VN which takes up around ~10-15% of the story. Whilst the anime is perfectly capable of standing on its own and ends in a manner which provides a sense of closure/resolution, I still want to know what happens to Haruki, Kazusa, and Setsuna after high school. Did I forget to mention that the visual novel is a massive work which covers ~5 years' worth of story (because that's kind of important)? If there's one thing I hate, it's knowing there's more story out there that is unfortunately unavailable (ref: Fruits Basket, Rurouni Kenshin, Berserk, etc). Even then, at least I can read the manga if there is no more anime available but therein lies the problem: the visual novel barring Introductory Chapter is untranslated so it makes me even saltier. Enough about that though, I guess you want my final thoughts.
Ultimately, White Album 2 is the among the best experiences I've ever had with anime in quite some time. While there are some frustrations that I have with the series, they aren't enough to actually affect my recommendation of the show. It's just such a shame that people end up dismissing romance as a genre deeply entrenched in the melodramatic. The biggest strength romance as a genre has is the fact that if done properly, it's something that can make for an incredibly empathetic experience. Unfortunately, the bulk of what passes for romance these days is uninspired drivel that's rife with so many tired-out clichés that it's no wonder people can't stand romantic stories. I'm not making any promises here, but I'm sure if you were to give White Album 2 a shot, you might like it. I guess that's all I can really say at this point so with that, I'm out. Peace.
Walking on the streets of Kobe one late night on the eve of Christmas has showed me wonderful sights: couples holding hands together, wispy white breaths from salarymen rushing past me, swinging leather briefcases and purses, glaring red and green lights, smiles, and the children who sneaked out at night to sing carols in that small corner right over there.
Of all the things that make Christmas what it is, this Kobe street is missing something. Not Santa Claus -- that large man with a huge belly donned in that trademark woolen clothing of his is crying out, "Hohoho~," in the wooden chair. Not Rudolf
the Reindeer -- he's there but not as a living being; he's just a cardboard cutout standing beside him. And definitely not the jingles -- Frosty the Snowman is being played on the speakers.
What this Christmas is lacking is snow.
It is something I look forward to, even if winter is not my favorite season. It's hard to picture Santa Claus in the tropics of Malaysia; even in Kuala Lumpur, his stature is in front of a snowy backdrop. Many people see snow as purifying, romantic, and cleansing. But it can also be harsh and bitter.
I see White Album 2 (both this season and the obviously-going-to-exist next season) as an extension of it. In this show, WA2 dives into a high school love triangle start with humble beginnings. Like all love triangles, it fosters innocently like a child clinging to his mother and then festers like a sore blister. White Album 2 seeks to not only hurt their lovable characters but you the viewer as well.
It is hard for me to remember a show with a cast so likable and hatable at the same time. Kitahara Haruki, the protagonist, is just an average high school honors student. Until he finds himself loving two distinct personalities: Ogiso Setsuna (the idol) and Touma Kazusa (the aloof pianist). Setsuna's a homely, hardworking girl in a family that cries, "We're family alright!" On the other hand, Kazusa's estranged relationship with her mother leaves her in shambles and she practices piano alone in a small music room at school. These three characters, bland when separated, harmonize like those seamless sequences of chords Kazusa plays on her piano. They love each other dearly. A genuinely affectionate relationship between three friends who wanted to play some good music on the school concert.
Without that bond, I don't think the show (or even the VN) will work. One of the strengths of White Album 2 is Setsuna's insistence in that they must be together. At all costs. Even though they know it's not going to end well, the characters in their own quirky ways want to be together.
This is where the drama takes place. The problem with most love triangles is simply this: you care about siding with the so-called "best girl". White Album 2 differs from the typical bunch and moves on a different path: there are no best girls. You want everyone to be together. Is friendship better than love? That's a very good question and you're going to struggle with it as the show moves on. Preserve the status quo or confess that you like him/her? Another good question.
Nobody has the right answers to them. By the end of this season, the characters are in a mess so unsolvable world-class detectives refuse to approach it. All you can do is be a miserable wreck and cry yourself out.
"But," I hear you say, "you gave it a 10/10, so you can't think it all that bad."
Well, no. I don't think it's a bad show, in fact a very good one.
But I still hate it.
Like what the games Spec Ops: The Line and Doki Doki Literature Club are to their respective genres, this is a show that swings a sledge hammer to your face for liking the musical genre.
Story: On the surface, it's a fairly typical high school story about a young guitarist by the name of Haruki Kitahara trying to piece together enough musicians for a
performance at the school festival. He seeks out school idol Setsuna Ogiso and virtuoso pianist Kazusa Touma to join his club.
Two girls, one guy.
The first half of the show is the lead-up to the performance, which was very much a spectacle. However, not all of it is initially shown. Most people watching will recognise the final song played at the end of the anime - and it's a real gut punch despite its familiarity.
The second half of the show depicts what happens once the seeds shown in the first half of the show begin to bloom. And die.
Art and Animation: It did its job. Being a winter-themed show, it goes heavy on blue, grey, white, dark green and other dark colours. The backgrounds seem at times blurred and indistinct, or even bland. I mean that not as a criticism. In fact, it makes the characters stand out more, and contributes to White Album 2 having the delicate feeling of a half-remembered dream. Or nightmare.
Sound and Music: It's a musical anime! Naturally the music (even the background music) was of a high standard. The song "White Album" had me hunting down the sheet music, and the OP and EDs still have me listening to them from time to time.
Characters: It is a romance show, and primarily character driven, with deeply human, flawed characters, that take a wide berth to stereotypes. take Haruki Kitahara is a worker, and has a typical anime protagonist design - messy dark hair. Someone who helps set up events and sticks around afterwards to help pack up. One can readily identify with his desire to help out. Although he has two clear goals in mind, "reform the club" and "perform on stage", he does often lack conviction. Something of a serious flaw in a romance show.
No character is a pure stereotype. All are well written and believable. So much so, that the usually fierce ship rivalries in comment sections could understand the other perspective, a mark of unusually good writing.
Enjoyment: There is something of a tragedy that takes place at the end of the show. Depending on how you look at it, any one of the three characters (or all three) could be said to be the one at fault for what happened. That's what makes this show so good, drawing you in with relatable characters, letting their flaws manifest in a deeply human way.
It's also why I hate it so much.
Not for the downer ending, but because it was the characters own actions, all three of them, that led to them all losing what mattered to them most and in such a way that reason cannot sort who is in the right and who is in the wrong, for all their behaviours can be rationalised, depending on whose perspective you take.
The first half of the show is music preparation, with the performance at the half-way mark. What happens in the final few episodes re-frames your view of the entire show, but it doesn't feel forced. Rather, a natural extension of how we know the characters behave.
I only hate one other anime as much as I do this show, and that's for the crime of wasted potential. There is no wasted potential here, with the show developing its characters and themes to the fullest extent a short single-cour story will allow.
The initial relatability of the main character caused this reviewer to chime with him very closely. This investment is what caused me to hate it so much. Being told "Watch it! If you misstep like that, and we say you might, you will be punished harshly" leaves me, understandably, feeling pretty angry.
It's also why I can't give this show anything less than a 10/10. Objectively, the show captures a piece of objective truth. Truth that can only be touched on in great stories and artworks, the beauty and horror of human nature, and the danger of following your deceitful and desperately wicked heart. It's a horrifying thing to hear, especially from a musical anime so unexpectedly.
It did what it set out to do perfectly.
tl;dr The reviewer dislikes this objectively amazing show.
After being almost forced into it by a friend, who’s basically in love with romantic stories, I’ve decided to watch White Album 2, despite the fact that I’ve had enough of soap operas about unlucky love for some time already. Anyways, I started watching. Before we get to rating and justifying the aforementioned, I have to admit one thing – this anime evokes borderline emotions. Whether positive or negative depends on the personal taste of the viewer, however, you can’t just walk past them indifferently. And because of that, it reminds me a bit of Golden Time (and not only because of that, mind you).
the following review contains a few minor spoilers.
The plot presented in the anime is solid and nothing above that. As it is portrayed in many stories, the school festival is the moment in the lives of the students in which they all enter a state of rut, and therefore, they want to do something about it no matter the cost. Here we have the revival of the Light Music Association. What’s interesting, the climax of the story, namely the festival, happens almost halfway through. Unfortunately, what happens afterwards only impacts negatively on the rating. Stupid behavior, attractions, crying, and tears have been unnecessarily condensed into four-five last episodes, which tires and disgusts very fast. Not going into detail, the plot, although trivial, had potential, however a bit wasted because of the uneven distribution of romantic aspects.
One can bicker about many thing in this anime, but being impartial, one cannot refuse that fact that from an artistic standpoint, the visuals are top notch. I totally don’t know the terminology to define the quality, but I know one thing – it’s pleasant on the eye and looks good.
The first thing what one notices is the music – delicate and subtle rhythms played one some kind of string instrument (a cello?) and the sounds played by the protagonists on the guitar or piano are the best medicine for ears brutally raped by the cacophony of some anime. The singing of one of the heroines is very pleasant for the ear, as well as the other voices are very appropriate, not irritating or distracting one bit. In brief – a good job.
One of the sections that cause the most mixed feelings in me. The MC looks promising, so different from the banality of most of the drama/romanse anime protags (either a total idiot that can’t open his mouth around somebody representing the different sex and getting beet red just from mentioning a woman, or a wuss that can’t decide on anything and always relegating his responsibility to others), but sadly, this changes with each passing episode. On the other hand, Setsuna and Touma are just cookie cutter characters. In the left corner we have an ex-idol dere-dere, and in the right corner we have a tsundere sociopath, one red haired and one black haired. One almost exudes her feelings for the MC in buckets, and the other is the classic case of “why won’t senpai notice me”. The scriptwriter probably tried to save the situation in the last episodes, but he just worsened the whole thing. During that time, the MC sheds more tears than Shinji during the whole course of Evangelion, and the love triangle starts shifting sides like in a kaleidoscope. Reassuming – what looked good in the beginning got screwed up in the end.
I really had a dilemma what rating to give here. The first eight episodes went in like a glass of Stolichnaya with an appetizer, but the next five just started causing a massive hangover. Maybe I don’t stomach love triangles and MC’s so ‘manly’ I’m pondering how deep their vajay goes, and maybe it’s just me who thinks that such behavior and choices are so totally and utterly stupid that my head starts to hurt. That’s why many people won’t probably agree with me, happens. However, in the end, I’ll give a 6. The first few episodes were genuinely fun to watch, pleasant both for the eyes, ears, and for my sense of aesthetics. Unfortunately, the next ones started spoiling my idealized picture of the anime. Despite all the errors and irritating design choices, the anime stand above average in my book.
Everyone that likes such stories can easily add two points to my score, especially if you don’t mind a lead character that couldn’t decide anything and carry on the consequences of his decisions. Be what it may, I encourage you to watch it.
Generic romance anime with generic characters all of whom fill a stereotype. We have a nice guy man-pussy, a popular kawaii-wannabe idol and you run of the mill tsundere. For an anime focused on music the music is surprisingly generic. The ending song is alright I guess, but the rest of the sounds are rather forgettable. The anime picks up after about 10 episodes and the last two episodes are decent. But the journey to get there is slow, ardous and painful and the ending is just too little too late. I almost dropped the show post the 7th episode. Each of three main characters
can be distilled down to a single action they repeat over and over again. Haruki - ever dependable, always present to help others. The definition of a mangina essentially. Setsuna - "I hope we can be like this forever". Repeat that line 10 times each episode and Kazusa - I will be rude to hide that I like Haruki. Whatever "growth" the characters have occurs in the last two episodes and that growth is only for Setsuna and Kazusa. Haruki remains a mangina to the end.
Having seen a bunch of anime now, I have to ask, does Japan have an aversion to normal male characters? Every character I see lately is an effeminate man-pussy who cannot take control of any situation. And ofc said mangina gets all the chicks in the end. Top lel.
Overall an exceedingly bland and generic anime saved from being truly dismal by the above average ending. At the end of the show, I was hard pressed to really be bothered about the characters, story or the music. Not really recommended. 5/10
White Album 2 is, to me, the epitome of human romance in anime.
What do I mean by this? Well, I mean it's a perfect mix of irrational love taking over imperfect human beings and dictating their own actions to a point where those aren't their own anymore, spiced with artistic expression such is music, and with passionately written script.
There are a few flaws in the package of course, like the imprecision (borderline laziness I'd say sometimes) in the graphic department (at some scene, a guitar is being played by itself, without fingers to help create
the notes), or some proportion errors in a few scenes, but you're not really looking for perfection in that department when watching a romance/drama anime, from my humble opinion. Still, it affected the overall score accordingly, just not my personal choice of calling this 13 episode long show my favourite anime.
It certainly isn't an out of the norm plot, romantic triangles are quite abundant in the current romance anime meta, specially when based around a school setting. Still, the way it develops is close to no other, the storyline doesn't feel rushed at all, yet it manages to keep you attached to the screen and to the characters (specially the female ones) up until the last, heartbreaking scene. You may cry in despair, you might be angry at some points, even outraged. You might even laugh, or feel deeply happy at some stages of the story, but in the end the story feels truly human, and it manages to touch you in a rare way that you'll want to cherish forever, and you'll certainly be able to relate to the situations presented on this anime as long as you keep your heart open to it.
It has its moments, as I stated above, but overall the art (which is inspired in the visual novel this anime is adaptation of) is great. It doesn't have extremely outstanding visuals, it's rather austere, nothing like Byousuku 5 Centimeter and other shows with a much higher artistic budget, but it certainly does its job well. The character designs are fitting, and some scenes are truly precious and unforgettable. My wallpaper is one of those scenes, I'll let you guess which one if you're interested~
This. This right here is the brightest star of the anime. The soundtrack level is worthy of Clannad: After Story and the likes. Madoka Yonezawa (Setsuna's seiyuu, relevant to the whole story) and Uehara Rena give voice to some of the most touching melodies ever composed. I honestly believe the music gives the story the extra push it needed to reach the highest place in my favourites list, and even now months after finishing the story I still keep the whole OST in my mp3, and upload entries of it to my blog rather frequently. Just listening some of these songs brings tears to my eyes. They say music is the language the heart speaks, and these songs speak directly to heart of the listener. It doesn't even matter if you don't understand the lyrics at first, they will touch even the remotest corners of your soul with barely a few chords and tones. You can feel their struggles within their melodic landscape. A masterpiece of a soundtrack. 10/10.
I could say a lot of things about the characters, and it would be okay. But I think their most important trait is... they are human. Their actions, their thoughts... they are mirrors of the human nature. You can relate to their suffering and joy, you can feel it's not some kind of fairytale story but rather something that could be happening anywhere else in the world at the moment you're watching it. And that, to me, is one of the most important traits a character can have, specially in a romance/drama story. Being able to identify your own psyche in them... is a priceless feeling, and increases the overall value of the story to a point you start thinking it's a real incident what's through the screen. And certainly a heartfelt one.
The main male character is the weak spot of this segment, but I'll let you judge by yourself about this, since I might be a tad biased after I finished the story.
I actually got all emotional while writing this review, what can I say? It struck right to my heart, and while it might leave you hanging for a few hours or days, I call that enjoyment. It's an unforgettable anime, much like the love stories most of us have gone through. If you only like "happy-go-lucky" anime, well, you won't enjoy this, but if you appreciate a story that will leave you thinking for days about attachment, infatuation and how puppet-like we are under the effect of them... look no further. This will make you angry, sad, happy... but overall, it'll make you feel alive.
Eventhough it's my favourite anime...by no means do I think this is the ultimate anime, or that it's perfect in every way. It's certainly imperfect. Just like us, humans.
And I think that's one extra charm added to it.
I hope you enjoyed my first review, but I wish you'll enjoy the anime as much as I did.
The story is very easy to tell what is going to happen next. On top of that, flashbacks are constantly used and abused. Very poor placement for flashbacks. There was not much unique as well. Generally a very bland love story.
The characters felt really bland until the very end. Even at the end it was very basic development if you could call it that.
I did like the art a tiny bit. At times it was better and at other times it wasn't the greatest.
I just didn't get much feeling or enjoyment out of it. There was not an emotional feel like I should have had.
Overall: Bland 5
It didn't take much to get me interested in this title. I saw "high school" and "music" and I was sucked in. I HAD to watch White Album 2. It wasn't until later that I found out this was also a love triangle anime. White Album 2 is one of those shows that manages to achieve a balance between its multiple elements without losing focus of its main objective. The story and characters of White Album 2 are unrelated to the first White Album anime (which I've heard, by all accounts, is mediocre). The show is based off of the "Introductory Chapter" of the visual
novel. I haven't read the visual novel, but other viewers claim that the anime stays pretty faithful to its source material. There are some fanservice shots, but it's nothing overly gratuitous. There is also a sex scene, but it's brief and most of it isn't seen. There is no explicit nudity.
Story: 8/10 - Kitahara Haruki, an average guitarist, is the last remaining member of the Light Music Club. He's determined to put together a band in time to perform at the school fair, just weeks away. By a stroke of luck, he finds that the "school idol," Ogiso Setsuna, is a talented vocalist, and the quiet, antisocial girl who sits next to him in class, Touma Kazusa, is the daughter of a world-famous pianist and is a musical prodigy herself. Thus, the Light Music Club is reformed and a love triangle begins to take shape. However, preparing for the school fair is not the focus of the entire show--in fact, this only accounts for about half of the episodes. The remaining episodes focus on the drama of the love triangle. In my opinion, this was an excellent screenwriting decision as this allows for both the music and the drama aspects of the show to have their respective time in the limelight. The show feels balanced. Each episode is a logical continuation of the next and thus the storytelling feels almost seamless. This is not a wishy-washy romance story; the characters' actions are decisive. My only complaint about the story is its ending. Although I know that this is just the first part of a larger story, the ending left me feeling incomplete, and I felt there should have been an additional scene to provide more closure. I sincerely hope that the second installment of the visual novel will get an anime adaptation, because I need to see a definitive conclusion to this story.
Art: 7/10 - Perhaps the show's weakest link is its art. Although the character designs are appealing, the animation seems to lack liveliness. This is painfully evident during the musical performances--do not expect Angel Beats-level detail here. Shots avoid detail so the intricacies of the instruments are left unseen. There are way too many shots from the rear, which conveniently obscure the act of playing instruments. Haruki's hands barely move when he's playing the guitar, regardless of whether he's playing chords or a lengthy guitar solo. Even shots of Setsuna singing feel like a bit of a cop-out: repeated shots of her legs and feet are interspersed with quick shots of her face that attempt to give the impression that attention is being given to details. There are far too many uses of stills. Ultimately, the animation doesn't feel nearly as dynamic as it should, which really sucks the life out of the performance scene as well as many others.
Sound: 9/10 - Expectations are high here, being as this is a music anime. And it doesn't disappoint. Being a pianist myself, I especially appreciated the piano tracks, recorded by an actual pianist. Haruki's stumbles while playing the guitar sound genuine, and not just like a missed note on Guitar Hero. The soundtrack is excellent. The titular song, "White Album," is a wonderful tune that I found myself humming hours afterwards. The quality of the sound doesn't fully make up for the lacking animation, but it gets pretty close.
Character: 8/10 - The three main characters are all pretty well fleshed out, thanks to a script that doesn't reduce them to shallow, stereotypical love triangle characters. Haruki is a sincere guy who seems to have realized what his dream is a little too late. Setsuna puts on the image of being a "school idol" in order to avoid her worst fear, being left out. Because of events within her family, Kazusa understandably has issues with authority and cares about, well...nothing. It's enjoyable to watch how these three each change and grow as a result of each others' company. They're all likable, and it's because we like them that the romantic drama hits so hard. We want all of them to be happy, but we know that can never happen. And ironically, that's what makes White Album 2 so enjoyable to watch. We feel their sadness; we feel their frustration as they struggle with their own personal dilemmas. We empathize.
Enjoyment: 8/10 - The art and the ending were definitely detractors for me on this one. But, the most important thing is, first and foremost, having an engaging storyline and characters. White Album 2 has both. Combine that with an excellent soundtrack, and regardless of the art and the incompleteness of the ending, White Album 2 is still an enjoyable watch, although its lacking aspects prevent it from becoming truly great.
Overall: 8/10 - White Album 2 is a good anime. It's emotionally engaging without wandering into the realm of melodrama. It also avoids creating characters that fall into any extreme trope. This is just a story of three teenagers, about to enter the next stage of their life, who play music together and fall in love. And in the end, there's something a little beautiful about it.
White Album 2 did not give me a good impression from first White album. It was not until I realized that White Album 2 is not really connected with White Album. I took it upon myself to try out the anime. What happened exactly? I was Hooked. I enjoyed this entire series in a day and I thought it was pretty amazing overall.
The story is well-paced and pretty well thought out. Its a story with a few kids trying to have a good friendship but at the same time there is a love triangle. This leads on for some drama and some tough
decisions that makes you cling on to your pillow to see what is going to happen next.
The score speaks for itself.
I would expect the sound would be good for an anime that has to do with a small band. The music was really good from the opening, ending, and the scores within the anime.
Everyone has a preference when it comes to who gets the girl in a triangle. However, you will come to like both of these women and the main character. Sometimes people are not what they seem. The development for these characters are amazing as the story progresses.
I enjoyed every second of this anime. A romantic anime that I yearn for, intense drama between characters, and some emotional scenes that make you feel emotional. You will become happy, you will become sad, and you might even get mad.
This is really good anime to watch especially for people who are into romance, drama, or slice of life. This is a good anime for you.
This is a hard anime for me to review, and honestly, I'm not sure that the score that I gave it is really representative of my feelings towards White Album 2. Hopefully, as I'm writing this review, I can get some type of closure and maybe fortify my rating decision. So bear with me a bit.
I have strayed away from the pure romantic drama genre for years now, I thought that I was offered the best that a romantic drama can deliver in Clannad, and the worst that it can offer in School Days. I've also enjoyed shows like True Tears and Ef in the
While starting White Album 2, I immediately got sucked in by the beautiful art work, the excellent pieces of music, and the introductions of these rather well made characters. The main character, Haruki Kitahara, is not depicted as the usual MC. Haruki is a great student, a great leader ( he's shown organizing events, and even helping out clubs that he doesn't belong to), caring and conscious. To me, he was depicted a lot different than the usually dense as a rock main characters of romantic anime. I actually liked him a lot and related to his personality. I've always been the guy every one runs to for advice, and assumes that I got all the answers. And though Haruki was well known around campus, he didn't seem to be super popular, his personality was irritable to some. I think that is a good description of how perfectionists can come off sometimes.
The main two girls were also introduced well. Ogiso Satsuna is your typical popular high school girl, she's pretty and has a sociable personality. You may think you can put her in a box, however, Ogiso is a little deeper than what is shown in the beginning, and has some deep traumas that really affected her and defined her in this anime, for better or worse. Kazusa Touma is the second girl introduced, and she's rather unique. She's the opposite of what Ogiso is, Touma is introverted, quick witted,and cold. Touma was by far my favorite of the two. Their character designs matched their personalities perfectly.
Since I hadn't watched a pure romantic drama in a while, the feelz for me during the first half of the anime were strong. I loved the way the friendship between the main characters formed through the shared goal of performing in the fall festival. There were a lot of training session, but they didn't feel dragging, and the songs that they played were not over-played to the point of annoyance. During those training sessions, it was somewhat eery and foreshadowing getting a glimpse of what was to come in the romantic lives of these characters. It's pretty easy to see who loves who, and I was hypnotized by the intensity matched with the music and bgm during the first seven episodes. The first seven episodes were easily all 10/10s for me, I fell back in love with the romantic genre just through these beginning episodes. Unfortunately, the last six episodes gave me a hard reality check, it reminded me the reason why I left this genre for so long.
During the second half of this anime, the fall festival has ended, and music becomes a less central part of the anime. The drama between the three main characters thicken, and I'm being careful of not revealing spoilers, the invisible wedge between them grows bigger as time advances. It was painfully obvious what was going on, and you knew that one person (or possibly more) were going to get their heart demolished.
In this second half, I started to see elements that I never enjoyed seeing in anime due to personal preference. Elements such as betrayal, lying, cowardice, and jealousy. These emotions are very hard to depict well in an anime, and can sometime come off as either fake, childish, or forced. I can say with supreme confidence that White Album 2 expressed these elements perfectly. Anytime you feel bad for the character that you don't think is the right fit for the MC, or when you show fits of anger as you watch a particular action that a character has done, or when you actually feel the tears of a character longing for the affection of a person that they cannot be with......then you can say for certainty that the emotional elements of this anime was well represented.
There were times during the second half where it took me hours to finish an episode because I would pause it so much. There were a lot of times in which I would face-palm and ask myself why I'm even continuing with this anime. These reactions are usually similar to reactions that you have when you watch really crappy shows, you think that this is so bad and face-palm at the stupidity of it. I think I may have confused, initially, why I was reacting this way. It wasn't because the anime was crappy, but rather the opposite, this anime did a great job depicting the earlier-mentioned elements to their fullest extent.
The characters are experiencing real feelings, and the plot takes dark and unsettling paths. It is very different from other anime, because it doesn't want to leave you with this third party mindstate, it engages you into feeling the guilt, feeling the anguish, and feeling the betrayal. The worst thing is that the anime doesn't care if it leaves you in an ambiguous note, there is no guarantee of a concrete ending. Wow, this part of the anime was just really well done.
All in all, I didn't give this anime a 10/10 because the second half of the anime was just a little bit too overbearing for me. A lot of conversations seemed insignificant, and the anime was starting to run in circles a bit. The ending also left me with a really bad aftertaste. After watching the ending episode, I literally took a shower, mouth-washed, and I still couldn't wash away this unsettling and sour feeling. I guess that's a sign of the quality of this anime.
I do recommend this anime, I think you will enjoy the first half a lot, and the second half will be up to your personal preference. It didn't initally cut it with me but the ending was realistic and well made, so I'm not going to chronically complain about it.
Anyway do check it out, and if you want to discuss the ending with me (since I didn't want to reveal spoilers here) feel free to just comment me about your reaction.
"The last moment the three of us could truly be together."
This quote perfectly describes the situation of the 3 main characters within the story and the problems they face. I'd also say that this anime identically portrays situations that people in reality face, as people are always looking for ways to get what they want without hurting their friends. This anime truly makes it fall in love with you as they portray their characters in a way to relate it to reality by showing that humans truly do not like change, as shown in anime as the 3 main characters wish to stay the way
they are currently living forever.
First of all, to the people who wonder as to whether they should be watching this anime or not, I highly suggest that you don't dismiss this anime based on a preconceived opinion without much reasoning behind it. Although I do understand that people simply dislike the 'love triangle' category because of their own reasons, 'White Album 2' isn't quite the average love triangle anime that displays two boys fighting over a girl. I also want to mention that 'White Album' and 'White Album 2nd Season' are completely irrelative to this anime and are based off of completely different characters. I wouldn't suggest you watch it due to its mediocrity but you're always welcome to do so.
Moving on to the plot, the story revolves around the three best friends who make up the Light Music Club. Haruki Kitahara, who had begun playing the guitar and strived to improve in order to play on stage with his two other friends. Setsuna Ogiso, the school idol whom is adored by many due to her looks and kindness. And her polar opposite, Kazusa Touma, who is known as a rebel who is selfish and only cares about her music, therefore never paying attention to not only students but also teachers. Eventually, the three turn into best friends who adore each other possibly because the situation that they face are so similar in terms of the problems they face and the things they're interested in.
The characters are developed in a way where they believe that the time they spend together is just time spent developing their relationship with the intent of getting to know each other and becoming better friends, but that simple adoration towards each other turns into romantic love where they strive to develop a relationship that goes further than being friends. The way they face their incoming problems and how they react to that is truly something that will make you fall in love with the characters as they continuously still strive to staying as the three best friends who are part of the Light Music Club, but fail to do so as love intrudes their daily lives and prevent them from being the same trio ever again.
People say that they strive to maintain friendly relationships with others, or that they would do anything for loved ones. Humans tend to sacrifice things like trust, destroy relationships, hurt others, or even disregard other emotions just because of one simple fact - that they love another. 'White Album 2' portrays a person's true personality, and the things they would do for a romance. It perfectly singles out how human emotions can affect one's rationality and decision making ability and this similarity between reality and the anime; may or may not, make you fall in love with this anime.
The art of the anime, however, isn't really as special as the story, and is just average, though I still think that the normal-like art perfectly fits this deep romance story and still successfully delivers and shows the watcher how the protagonists of the story are feeling. Whether it be a character blushing, or feeling angered, the art of the anime perfectly delivers visually.
As a musical oriented anime, I would have been seriously surprised if the music and OST were bad and didn't fit with a certain scene, and fortunately, I wasn't disappointed as I really did enjoy the songs they sang during their concert and played with their instruments. The sound of the voice actors were also clear-cut, and the voice actors themselves deserve a clap and truly did an awesome job as well, as they spoke in a way that fit the mood of many scenes and also made me feel really into it. They successfully delivered and spoke in a truly emotional way that made me seriously fall in love with their characters, for example, the end of the anime shows a certain character leaving and another character is truly depressed about it, and the way that character spoke made me feel seriously bad for him.
With the characters, I really do think that all three of the main protagonists are really well developed and the anime chronologically develops them and shows how the romance and guilt from betrayal affects them and eventually changes their thoughts and ideals. The romance between a set of characters is further developed than another set of characters due to scenes that showed they really loved each other and were crucial parts of each others daily lives, however, the peak of development was near the end of the anime where a sex scene is displayed (nothing is really shown) which shows how much these characters had grown as they were now entering their adolescent stages where they had to decide their future.
As someone whose watched the series twice, I thoroughly enjoyed this anime and hope people will watch this anime after reading my review, and as this is my first review, I don't think it turned out as great as I wanted it to be, but in the end, I just want to say that 'White Album 2' is a masterpiece and indeed, the best romance anime I've ever watched, and overall...
Since being done with Ligotti's Conspiracy Against the Human Race, I've been attached to this idea of Zappfe's Four-Way philosophy. Especially interesting is Sublimation because it seems strange that the pessimistic mindset would be conquered by itself in a self-mutilating loop (though maybe its because it feels self-mutilating that it becomes pessimistic, the thing about pessimistic philosophy is that its based entirely around aesthetic and gut feel over anything else). The point I'm making in bringing up one of the big daddies of dark philosophy is that love for dark things is as fundamental a drive as love for romantic idealist things. It's just as
aesthetic to describe life as grand meaningless pestilent Gothic drama as it is to describe it as grand eschatological redemption. We live, especially in these times, in a world where the evils aren't even morally horrific and tragic as they are mere humiliations of the human spirit. Thus what appears to be great movements of the interior human spirit and great passions, especially with regard to our daily romances, comes across as petty and insipid when viewed from cruel reality. I mean we all want to lie on the grass and stare romantically at the stars with a significant Other, or we want to go crazy and shout our love everywhere, or dance on rooftops and drink champagne, but the truth of the matter is that from the view of another there isn't any fleeting transcendence involved in that when outside our own solipsism. Some of it comes across as banal and juvenile, as ridiculous embarrassment. So the true use of Art is to play our own little realities as fully as we possibly can, to make as it truthful to the tragic overtures or the idealistic life-affirmation that we conceive in our heads. Since we aren't romantics anymore though we turn to sickness, degradation, decay and edginess as the last bastion for meaning in our lives (or at least a whole bunch of people but not everyone does. I too am trying for the whole ornamented pessimist Gothic feel that Ligotti was aiming for it writing like this)
"THE culture-heroes of our liberal bourgeois civilization are anti-liberal and anti-bourgeois; they are writers who are repetitive, obsessive, and impolite, who impress by force—not simply by their tone of personal authority and by their intellectual ardor, but by the sense of acute personal and intellectual extremity. The bigots, the hysterics, the destroyers of the self—these are the writers who bear witness to the fearful polite time in which we live. Mostly it is a matter of tone: it is hardly possible to give credence to ideas uttered in the impersonal tones of sanity. There are certain eras which are too complex, too deafened by contradictory historical and intellectual experiences, to hear the voice of sanity. Sanity becomes compromise, evasion, a lie. Ours is an age which consciously pursues health, and yet only believes in the reality of sickness. The truths we respect are those born of affliction. We measure truth in terms of the cost to the writer in suffering—rather than by the standard of an objective truth to which a writer’s words correspond. Each of our truths must have a martyr. (Susan Sontag, Against Interpretation)"
Well okay then what's that gotta do with White Album 2?
"Many books promoted as vehicles of a “dark vision” finish up by lounging in a warm bath of affirmation, often doing a traitorous turnabout in their closing pages or paragraphs.2 As every author, publisher, and carnival owner knows, lurid billing gets a patron in the door. And so we have innumerable books and magazine articles with such inquiring titles as The Misadventure of Consciousness: Are Human Beings a Mistake of Evolution? or “Should We Stop Having Children?” The answer is always “No,” sometimes resounding in its declamation but more often qualified, which is even more vile. Searchers after bleakness would do well, then, to begin at the ending of books and magazine articles with doomful titles or angst-fraught openings if they are not to be chiseled by a bait-and-switch maneuver." (The Conspiracy Against the Human Race)
Pessimism, as defined by Ligotti, is the belief that behind all the normal things of humanity, all our daily struggles and feelings, is monstrosity. If we take a Freudian viewpoint to romance then its less about pure feelings but more about uncontrollable drives. Whatever it is that moves us is horrific and we are constantly teetering on the edge of realizing this and falling into madness or decay. Likewise behind all the high-school nostalgia of White Album 2, behind the romantic tones of the orange evening and the light strum of the guitar, is poison. White Album 2 is relentless in its pursuit of a horrible metaphysical truth. It needed no Lovecraftian monstrosity or Ligottian nightmare to prove this but all it needed was to simply display a tight tapestry of destructive human desires and insecurities. It drags things to their eventual dark conclusions in a way that Ligotti would love (well then again Ligotti is a guy who likes Symbolist Gothic stuff and would probably not even raise a finger to touch slice of life anime).
The thing about White Album 2 is that somewhere deep inside there it can be described as Ligottian, Schopenhauerian, Beckettian, or Kafkaesque but its touch is so subtle that there's hardly a linger of any such undertones. The dialogue is Absurdist in the way language is specifically used to weave elaborate labyrinths of meaning. Setsuna's talk about maintaining the status quo and remembering the school festival is a miniature version of Pinter's constant question dodging and silence in Betrayal. Haruki's heroism seems driven more by some dark puppeteer of insecure desire than anything else until he finally realizes what he wants and breaks down. A good work of art (like Evangelion and Kyousogiga) is when the microcosm is equivalent the macrocosm, which is why Evangelion is the travails of adolescence driven up to an apocalyptic level while Kyousogiga is the hardships of family pushed up to the realm of divinity. White Album 2 is fitting a complete pessimism into a slice of life narrative. It never deviates from its atmosphere the same way NANA or Clannad does (NANA with its mini Shojo comedic moments and Clannad with its light-hearted first arcs. WA2's comedy never causes a shift in its nature because it still is set in the realm of the illusion of high school nostalgia). It feels cohesive and constant in its vision.
Postnote: This idea of formal unity has its roots in the Ancient Greek poetics, especially with Aristotle's unities. Generally the ancient genres were established in order to give poets a framework to work in so that they could focus on the formal content rather than spend time on deriving a complicated and subversive structure. As seen with Shakespeare's problem plays, having a disunity of atmosphere may work, but it can also be extremely jarring. Even though Hamlet is narratively experimental, with plays inside plays and supernatural elements, even in its most comedic moments, especially during the grave digger scene or Hamlet's bouts of madness, it never forgets that its about Death and the existential worry and insignificance attached to human life. White Album 2 never forgets that its a story about the perils of raising a naive ideal above a certain threshold of reality to the point that it becomes a dangerous game of betrayal to maintain the visage of the ideal. Kyousogiga never forgets that its about the awkward development of a group of people into the constructed instituition of Family. Evangelion never forgets that its about miscommunication the ability for humans to hurt each other due to being unable to communicate each others personal realities to one another. I could go on with this all day. Kara no Kyoukai never forgets that its a Buddhist Noir that raises questions about the nature of Time, Identity and Reality in the way Buddhism always likes to do. Madoka Magica never forgets that its a Goethian Fairy-tale dream. 5cm Per Second takes the nostalgic romantic high school perspective, where everything is about love and grasping, to the pinnacle of beauty. Toradora is always about the inconstant light fluttering of the human heart. Whatever it is when a work is grounded into some perspective, dreamview or worldview it always feels more meaningful and whole than when it attaches itself to a plethora of techniques and genre tropes to try to string together a story.