White Album 2 – 13 [END]

The plain truth

The plain truth, regrets and all

spring13-highwAt 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

Getting together

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

at the scene

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.

explanation

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

Setsuna can't let go

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.

header-spr13-highway

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.

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Proving that you don't have to be young to love anime, I enjoy all genres and styles of shows. If it's not hurting anyone else, you should never be ashamed of what you like!
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19 Responses to “White Album 2 – 13 [END]”

  1. zztop says:

    There’s more to the game’s story? Are they direct continuations or timeskips?

    • Highway says:

      I don’t know, I haven’t played them (although I might, but I’m super slow at Japanese VN’s, as in I’ve only made it through about an hour of one, although I’m faster now than I was before. It’s just tiring doing the translation). I do know that this is considered to be no more than about 1/3 of the content of the franchise of White Album 2.

      According to Wikipedia, “Closing Chapter” takes place starting 3 years after the end of “Introductory Chapter” which is what we have seen.

  2. MgMaster says:

    So when I first saw a preview for White Album 2,two things popped in my head:

    1 – Oh boy,here we go again…Even if it’s not a sequel to the first White Album it’ll probably be something similar.I’ll probably watch it with the “it’s a trainwreck” mentality.

    2 – That one still HAD potential to be a good romance although it failed utterly but maybe,just maybe this one will do it right.

    After the first episode I was already getting hyped as it was better than anything the other White Album offered but was trying to not get my hopes up,as the first few episodes of that one showed promise -albeit not as much- too.Week after week,WA2 continued to exceed my expectations and putting the though in my head: “Could this be the romance anime I’ve been unintentionally waiting for a few years now? One of ef: A tale of Memories & Melodies and True Tears’s caliber?”(by the way,I really recommend the two “ef” series to you and any fan of romance) Lo and behold,it was.What it lacked in animation compared to those,it made up with it’s three main characters which were,IMHO,better fleshed out & developed.

    I won’t beat around the bush,this is definitely my favorite anime of 2013 as well as one of my favorite romance animes of all time,right up there with the three I mentioned above.

    I’m now personally content in the romance department enough to last for a while.Not to say I wouldn’t watch & enjoy another romance of WA2’s caliber but I won’t be craving for one that much for now.It goes without saying that I’m really,really hoping they animate CC & CODA though,and that it won’t take forever.I guess it’s not much of a long shot of getting it next year.

    Last but certainly not least,thanks Highway for your coverage of this excellent yet underwatched show(it’s that “2” in the tittle I tell ya,WA2’s biggest obstacle).

    Now I need someting manly/silly/funny to make my wait for a 2nd season easier.SPACE DANDY,I’M LOOKING AT YOU!

    • Highway says:

      It’s been a struggle from the very beginning with this show because of the reputation that White Album has. I’ve been telling people “It’s not related at all” since the winter preview. And it proved that it’s not related quality wise as well. I was hooked pretty much from the first episode of it, with such well-written characters and good music.

      I’ve seen True Tears, and really liked it (after putting it off for a loooong time because I was afraid it would be a lot sadder than it was), but haven’t ever pulled the trigger on ef. I’ve never really known too much about it, and wasn’t sure it wasn’t sad (if you can’t tell, I’m not a huge fan of sad stories).

      This is one of my favorite Romance partial stories. Because of the way it ends, I don’t know if I could consider it a complete romance story, and knowing that there’s other material for it reinforces that. I like stories that end up with couples, not broken hearts (one of my favorites is Hoshizora e kakaru hashi, partly because of the great ending. If you haven’t seen it, and don’t mind a more silly romance and kind of harem show, I’d recommend it).

      You’re very welcome, and thanks for becoming a regular visitor and commenter here on Metanorn!

      • MgMaster says:

        Haha,tell me about it.I’ve kept telling people that WA2 has nothing to do with the first one on a few occasions as well.

        A lot of my favorite animes are actually pretty sad but I’d REALLY want a happy ending for them,it just rarely happens.I usually end up in a love-hate relationship with the endings for most of them because they’re well-written and the journey is very enjoyable too but that’s exactly what makes it depressing.A wild & crazy show like Valvrave is nothing,because even in it’s most serious moments it’s not that hard to remember that one should watch it with the whole “it’s a glorious train-wreck” mentality.

        It’s when a show is really good and you get invested in it when things get rough.Gen Urobuchi’s shows are the real deal when it comes to trully depressing shows,Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom being the best example I could think of right now.The guy puts his characters through hell,makes you care about them because he’s really a great writer,makes sure there’s a thread of hope to keep both them & the viewers hang on it and then destroys most of it by the end.

        One of his more recent works,Psycho-Pass is another example which I hear has a confirmed 2nd season where I JUST KNOW he’ll be killing off my favourite character,the awesome protagonist Kougami,by the end after making him go to all the way to hell & back.Most of his characters are ones that you really want to have a happy ending because they work so hard for it but they never really get it.Cruel,isn’t he?:P Yet I can’t help but love his shows.

        Okay,I went a bit off track here as those shows aren’t exactly romances so about the two efs: Memories isn’t any sadder than True Tears but it’s sequel,Melodies however can be a bit depressing.

        And I’ve seen Hoshizora,fun stuff but I found it kind of mediocre.Mashiro Iro Symphony is a pretty light-hearted romance/slice-of-life that is overall quite dignified.I think it’d be right up your alley if you haven’t seen it already.

        • Highway says:

          I’m not really a fan of glorious train wrecks. I would much rather see people ‘win’.

          I think people give Gen Urobochi a bit more of a reputation than he deserves, both for meanness to characters and his great situational writing (I personally thought Psycho Pass was great, until the big reveal, which I thought threw away any interesting analysis of the human condition and made it simply be about monstrous people).

          I’ve seen both Mashiroiro Symphony as well, right about the same time as Hoshizora, and of the two I still like Hoshizora better, even if it’s more jokey and not as serious. The MC is better, his treatment of all the girls is more respectful, and while it still shows their pain at losing out, it doesn’t particularly revel in it like I feel Mashifony does. I like that they all take a run at him, put their feelings there, and accept the consequences. Show ▼

          • MgMaster says:

            I think people give Gen Urobochi a bit more of a reputation than he deserves, both for meanness to characters and his great situational writing (I personally thought Psycho Pass was great, until the big reveal, which I thought threw away any interesting analysis of the human condition and made it simply be about monstrous people).

            Oh,don’t get me wrong I completely agree on that.Even though I’m a big fan of his work,his endings and reveals aren’t exactly his strong point.I tend to get a bit overhyped about his shows though,hence why I’m quite enthusiastic when talking about them,heh.

            And damn me for mentioning his name in a White Album 2 post.It may have jinxed the possible 2nd season!

            • Sumairii says:

              The ending of Requiem for the Phantom was also rather “huhhh”, if I remember correctly. But it certainly was a great show, albeit with a few hiccups here and there.

        • Mentar says:

          MgMaster: Play the visual novel (there is actually an official English-translated DVD version that I highly recommend, and which is dirt cheap). There, you get proper “happy” endings for all heroines (along with many “bad” ones, of course).

          For me, Phantom of Inferno is THE best visual novel I ever played, out of many many many. Being able to reach the good endings for the characters, after all the torture they were put through, is paramount for maximum enjoyment, IMHO. I’m still mad that they didn’t go for the true Cal ending in the anime, since it’s the most ‘complete’ one, albeit still bittersweet.

  3. BlackBriar says:

    Wow, the start really took things to a new level but that, personally, in turn, made the separation and inevitable final confrontation that much harder for all of them.

    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.

    It’s a tactic that makes the user believe the reward is worth the risk and sometimes it is. Hell, even on the last episode of Valvrave, Saki was monologuing that she was kind of content with idea of Haruto losing his memories because that way she’d be on equal footing with Shoko to win him over. In a contest, no one wants to lose so Setsuna can’t really be blamed as everyone would most likely fall in the same situation.

    This kind of end, no matter how depressing it seems, is rather acceptable and believable. It would be unrealistic if every love story had a happy ending because that isn’t always the case. I do feel bad for Setsuna being left out despite she’s still there to comfort Haruki however she can. The consequences of a love triangle and all. The best thing to do is hope their lives improve along the way because I have a feeling they’ll eventually meet up again, even if it takes a few years.

    Overall, White Album 2 was a great show in my opinion (A higher notch than Golden Time if you ask me) though I haven’t seen the VN. It was nicely done nonetheless. And like you said, Highway, the OP and ED were terrific. They really blend in with the story which feels very open ended. So if there’s another season, I’m inclined to see it.

    • Highway says:

      I like White Album 2 and Golden Time for different reasons. An important difference is that in Golden Time Banri does love Kouko more than Linda, and has made that clear. It’s that meddling Ghost Banri that has been trying to screw things up. So I see Golden Time as a show where they’re depicting people all doing the right things. Yes, they make mistakes, but they don’t do them out of malice. Alternatively, White Album 2 is a show where they don’t really do the right things, but they do the honest things, and the problem is that it took them too long to be honest.

      I think in the long run, I’ll probably like Golden Time more, but it’s got a long way to go.

  4. skylion says:

    Thanks for the heads up on this one back at Autumn’s beginning, HWY. I would have avoided it otherwise.

    They got the ending they got. Once you go down certain paths, the ways back to other branches close off, and you have nothing but the outcome of your choices to look forward to. Life it a bit messier than that. And I enjoyed how the show achieved a verisimilitude to that.

    I can only fault any of them so much, and like you remind, it’s about experience. Haruki is having a hard time understanding that Setsuna may be more manipulative than she lets on. Wake up to that, son.

    Thanks for the reviews, it’s been a good ride.

  5. Sumairii says:

    Without a doubt, this has been my top romance-drama of the year. In fact, it might just be the best one I’ve seen in a long time. The mistakes that the trio make and the clumsy actions that they take weave a very painful yet compelling tale of three young adults who just don’t know how to deal with their love.

    I believe it’s very, very likely we’ll see at least a second one-cour of White Album 2, so we should have more of this excellent work to look forward to.

  6. amado says:

    romance expert here, this has been one of the best romance series ive had since a long while. something new and fresh, instead of the usual generic harem or melodramatic/dramatic romance.
    one of the few rare romance anime that actually did it right, creating good drama without overblowing it, being able to bring drama to the little things.

    id say white album 2 is what happens when all 3 members of a love triangle are too good for each other, which is a very rare thing to happen. most others screw it up, where 1 character ends up being the focal point for dislike, or one where 2 ships are battling it out.
    in this one, a lot of shippers ive seen have admitted that they really pity the other side, meaning this was successful. ive also met some who end up disliking all of them for their mistakes, but eh thats a valid reaction since it is capitalizing mistakes, I just hope they realize that these characters are human and mistakes happen.

    all in all id give white album 2 10/10, even if its not complete yet. it really made a unique way of breaking the romantic sides yet there’s also the small feeling its not completely broken, or at least there’s no anger with the characters.
    some say animation and production was bad at certain points, but what matters if the show managed to deliver its message with a good ride, which WA 2 has for me.

    eagerly awaiting the sequel. come on please OTAKUS, notice this one!

    • BlackBriar says:

      I like your insight on the subject and I agree with it. It’s good to have a certified professional around. :)

  7. Highway says:

    One thing I find myself wishing for: A version of Todokanai Koi with the instrumentation from the ’13 version, but with Madoka Yonezawa singing it. I love the guitar tone from the ’13 version, a lot more than Haruki’s version, and the bass and drum drive is a lot more forceful and rock in the ’13 version. Just overall a much better mix and version, but with Setsuna’s singing would be nice to hear.

  8. Kai says:

    It’s been a while since I last watched a romance anime and White Album 2’s great! Oddly, even after Setsuna’s revelations, I don’t find myself hating her as well, as much as I do pity her.

    Speaking of which, White Album 1 has two cours, and if this is only the introductory part of the VN, I have a feeling there will also be 2nd cour for White Album 2.

    • Highway says:

      Yeah, this is the first VN, named “Introductory Chapter”, and from what I can find, it’s more of a ‘click-through story’, where there’s not really any choices to make. So what we got here was pretty much exactly the same story.

      I definitely hope for another cour for this series.

  9. Foshizzel says:

    Well I am quite happy that I finally gave this series a shot! Damn what an addictive ride, but also a very painful one with the last episode and yeah p much NOBODY is happy at the end.

    The music was excellent and yeah it really did feel like the piano was in the room with us.

    9/10 for me! Easily in my top five of the fall season <3

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