The plain truth, regrets and all
At last we come to the final episode of White Album 2. What’s going to come after Haruki and Kazusa finally admitted their feelings to each other in the snowy street?
It’s Business Time
Heck of a first time
Ok, that’s pretty crass, but I wasn’t expecting the location transition for Kazusa and Haruki. Semi-unfortunately, they also invited Shadow-kun along for a threesome and he just wouldn’t get out of the way. But really, this show isn’t about the nudity, and it’s enough to know that Kazusa and Haruki go a lot farther than I would have thought after just confessing to each other. But they also have unspoken time pressure and a feeling of desperation, since both know that Kazusa is leaving tomorrow. In any case, they take their relationship to a level that we haven’t seen from Setsuna and Haruki, although I don’t think it’s too far-reaching to think that it’s what Setsuna had planned for her birthday present. And when she leaves, Kazusa takes not just his second button (that’s second from the bottom, for those who have been confused like me), but both buttons from Haruki’s jacket. I wonder why, if that was to keep him from giving Setsuna the other one, or if it’s just Kazusa wanting more than just his heart. But it’s also fairly clear she thinks she’s walking out of his life, although considering they’re just graduated high school, that’s awfully final for people who have a lot of their lives ahead of them.
It’s Reckoning Time
Setsuna had to know what went on
Of course, we have to go to this, and it’s not surprising that Setsuna comes to Haruki’s apartment. I really don’t think Setsuna is being cruel here, even though some women would do things close to what she does in the interest of making Haruki twist in the wind. But it’s pretty clear that Setsuna blames herself, and in my opinion it’s much more than she should. And it also seems, through their whole conversation on the train, that she’s trying to give the impression that she didn’t really love Haruki and was manipulating the situation to keep them all as friends. But to me, that analysis falls flat. If Setsuna really didn’t love Haruki, then he and Kazusa dating wouldn’t have driven them apart. In fact, that would have been much easier. And thankfully, Setsuna admits she’s lying to herself (and the audience), as she watches Kazusa and Haruki kiss.
A painful train ride
So where do we end up? Nobody’s happy. Love can turn out that way, especially between friends. And while this is the most painful thing any of these three have ever been through, it will pass. And we know that this story continues, since this was just the Introductory Chapter of the VN. Life goes on, and feelings can change. That’s the best advice I could give to these three kids.
Some Closing Thoughts
I don’t know who hurts more
White Album 2 really was a great show. A season long favorite, it portrayed love, pain, and all the feelings that go with them tremendously authentically. And through this portrayal, really made us feel and identify with the three main characters. And more than just being authentic, I think it made every character be a good person, trying their best. Haruki, torn in two directions, could have handled some things better, but that ability only comes with experience. Kazusa could have been more honest with herself earlier, and admitted that she wanted to be with Haruki. And really with Setsuna, the only thing I think she could have done differently would have been wrong: to deny her true feelings. That she got hurt being true to herself is just what happens sometime. And personally, I’d have to say that I feel worst for Setsuna. I don’t know if I can say that anyone ‘should’ have won, but it just seems to me that of people making choices to actualize their feelings, she did the most, and just ended up losing anyway. I know that there are quite a few people who dislike Setsuna, for whatever reason, but for me, she didn’t do anything to deserve dislike.
The music of this show is the big technical standout. The OP, EDs, and Insert songs all are terrific songs, evocatively played and well-written. It even got to the point that I had to skip the ED songs because they were just too heartbreaking after what had happened in the show. And in addition to the songs, the recording of the incidental music, especially Kazusa’s piano playing, was very well done, some of the best instrument recording I’ve experienced, making it feel like the piano was in the room with me. Visually, the show was good enough. Not spectacular, but with good character design and art, and while a bit male-gazey at times, I’m certainly not going to complain that it was overly done.
I don’t know how much replay value White Album 2 has, given that it’s an incomplete story, and that it ends with so many people hurting. I don’t know if it’s a show I’d want to watch for the payoff, more a show that you watch for the journey. I do hope that we can continue that journey, and see more of this story in future seasons, and given the popularity of the property and the reception that the anime got, I think that’s at least an even chance. There wasn’t anything here to turn off the people who liked the VN, and it pulled in a lot more viewers than the VN had. Sales of the first volume just started on Christmas, so we don’t have a report of them yet, but the buzz for the show was pretty good, in the top 6 discussed on 2chan through mid-season. So I think we can be somewhat hopeful for that continuation in the future.