White Album 2 Review

EDIT: For anyone coming into this review, make sure that you read the edit at the end of the post first. It will give you a bit of an update on my more current thoughts on the series before you read through the entire review.

Consider this a sequel to “How Not to Do Endings.” Except, this is much, much worse. Spoilers ahead. Ranking undetermined at this time, as I decide how angry I am. When it’s up, you can find it here.

White Album 2 is based off a visual novel and, while set in the same town and referencing some of the characters from the first White Album, is basically not linked at all. For any hope White Album had of getting a potential watch from me, that’s a good thing.

White Album 2 Poster

White Album 2 follows the love triangle between Haruki Kitahara, Setsuna Ogiso and Kazusa Touma. Like most love triangles, the one in White Album 2 is at times touching, at times devastating and always pulling on your heartstrings. Beginning with Haruki convincing both girls to join his band for the school’s festival, it quickly becomes obvious that Setsuna has feelings for the amateur guitarist, but Touma’s feelings are kept veiled (or at least less explicit) until much later in the series. Ordinarily, this would be a good thing, streamlining the romance and leaving space for resolution. The problem comes in episode seven, when Setsuna and Haruki begin dating, immediately after a decently laid out hint that Haruki and Touma have feelings for each other. Haruki proceeds to make the simultaneously understandable and inexplicable decision to abandon his own feelings and begin to date Setsuna.

As expected, feelings begin to get hurt and revelations start to come faster in the second half of the series (highlighted by the very touching montage showing how Touma and Haruki fell in love). However, in episode 10, things start to go off the tracks. Haruki, up to that point, had been one of my favorite male protagonists in a romance and had shown himself to be a good human being. In a gut-wrenching move, he betrays his current girlfriend and gets rightly slapped for it. At this point, my faith in the anime was a bit shaken, but I still hoped for a good ending.

No such luck.White Album 2 Haruki Phone

Episode 13 destroys everything good about White Album 2. Throw together cheating, a mindless sex scene that comes as a punch in the face, the anime pushing the blame primarily onto Setsuna and the unfeeling kiss scene at the airport and you end up with a depressing end where no one is happy, everyone has been selfish, and the audience is left drained and angry.

If White Album 2 had been, up to this point, anything between a bad and merely decent anime, such an ending would be much more acceptable. However, the black hole that is created by the final episode erases a ton of very well done emotion, a beautiful color palate, gorgeous music and one of the better male leads in any romance. White Album 2 successfully captures a wide range of potent human emotions and desires, including the unitive power of music (particularly meaningful to me with my background in music), the desire to belong and real love. Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, Haruki is a surprisingly human protagonist. Rather than being a generic husk meant only as an excuse to show off a number of girls, he is very well-rounded, being a genuinely nice person, with feelings and faults. He displays regret, confusion and pain many times and is remarkably prone to tears. Thus, his almost out of character missteps in the final episodes are even more painful, despite his recognition of fault in the aftermath.

In short, White Album 2 is wasted potential for a meaningful, uplifting and inspiring story, pulled down at the end by the weight of betrayal without redemption. Forgiveness is not really ever addressed and all the mistakes that were made are left only as a pile of regrets. Honestly, from an objective standpoint, the series is really, really well done. It’s honest, authentic and is stunningly accurate to life. But that can’t redeem the depressing ending. It was so good and just ended up so sour and sad. I hate that. I hate what I’m about to say after this, because I wanted this show to be one of my favorites.

RECOMMENDATION

It pains me to says this, but do not watch White Album 2. Sadly, the ending destroys most of the good aspects of the anime beyond repair. Find something with a happy ending.

White Album 2 Touma Sax

For the record, I was rooting for Touma most of the series & the depiction of her love for Haruki, especially the way she helped him learn the guitar from the piano was the highlight of the series. That is real love: loving when you aren’t seen and aren’t getting anything in return. I hate that it was ruined in a moment of selfishness in the sex scene at the end.

EDIT: (2/8/14)

I am adding in this edit because, while my recommendation for this series has not changed (yet), my feelings on it have become more conflicted. Following the ending of White Album 2, I was angry and felt betrayed by the show. Yet, for a show that caused such powerful negative feelings (feelings which, I might add, I am usually quick to dismiss), White Album 2 has continued to linger in the back of my mind to a startlingly degree. I am somewhat convinced that this is somewhat due to the show’s relentless pursuit of realism. I still feel that the show squandered a chance to promote a powerful, uncontrived message of forgiveness and redemption.

Despite all this, White Album 2 is now a fixture in my re-watch queue. I don’t understand it. But the re-watch will happen, and I’m interested to see how that experience alters (or not) my perceptions of the show.

At this point in time, I still can’t justify recommending such an emotionally devastating anime to anyone. But I no longer feel that this recommendation is set in stone, just like how I was once certain I would never watch a sequel, if it were to come, and now I am absolutely sure that if White Album 2-2? appears, I will be watching it. I honestly don’t know what to do about this anime. I will keep you posted.

6 thoughts on “White Album 2 Review

  1. Dont be Angry. Here some spoiler for you. The Anime is not end yet. So be patience. If we doesnt have any ending its obvious we all fans of this anime get shock by this black hole. But ist already have an ending int he Game. its up to director, So sit tight and enjoy the next show. Cause what well see is both ending is good ending.

    Kazusa True End : Haruki Tells Touma if she can live without him than go pursuit that live. So Touma decide that she will not leave Haruki again like she did in anime and She decide that Haruki is the man she loved. She also want to proof to Sestuna how much she loved him by cripple her arm herself with Broken Glass but Setsuna stop it. So Haruki Breaks the engagement with Setsuna because Touma is already settle her mind with him. And Haruki go to Strassbourg with Touma after Setsuna Family quarell. Setsuna accept it and let go both of them althought maybe she want to do the manipulation again. In the End there was a video that show Setsuna still play music by Haruki guitar and that show she still love him after all that happen. That resembles Todokanai Koi 13 song itself by its mean unreachable love.

    Setsuna True End : Touma mother is Sick and she want to live in Japan until she died. Touma and Setsuna meet each other and settle their problem. In The end Touma let go of Haruki forever by accepting her first love is gone. And Setsuna married Haruki. All Live Happy Ending. Haha many Fans will surely angry with this Ending cause there is no Drama. All is peacefull until the End.

    The Music is good enough but in the Closing Chapter and Coda Game. The music that play in the Anime is the the Best so far. So we will see maybe Opening Chapter : 13 ep – End. Closing Chapter : 9 End. Coda Chapter : 4 End. Or maybe Some Ova. well well see

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  2. Yea you’re missing the point. Haruki was made to be a good person but in actuality it was because he was afraid of change and wanted everyone to be happy that he denied his own selfish true feelings for Touma. Setsuna was insecure and used the nostalgia they had for the school festival as poison to contaminate the slow budding relationship between Haruki and Touma. Touma was too insecure to face up to the fact that she liked Haruki and let herself be swayed around by Setsuna’s advances. The ending didn’t come out of nowhere. It was simply the most logical conclusion to the whole series. I think you just missed all the cues that indicated the deeper rifts in the personalities of the characters. If Haruki and Setsuna and Touma had forgiven each other and decided to live happily again that would have been too jarring to even be a good ending. This was the most perfect ending for a series that I had seen for some time. The best analysis I think is here though http://wrongeverytime.com/2014/01/13/white-album-2-and-the-futility-of-everything/

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    • Heh, don’t worry, I’ve read Bobduh’s piece on White Album 2. I actually think we come to a very similar conclusion about the show, aside from the fact that Bobduh is primarily interested in craft and thematic elements and I have a few other priorities that I consider. I mean, heck, the title of his pice is “The Futility of Everything.” The difference is that he’s okay with a show’s message being futility and I, clearly, am not.

      I don’t think I ever wrote that I thought the ended came out of nowhere. I understand exactly why things ended up the way they did, all the way down to the subcurrents and layers of the characters’ personalities. I never said I had answers or that I wanted an happily ever after ending. I just didn’t like what I was given.

      So, I didn’t miss the point—I understood exactly what the series was trying to do and I just didn’t like it. It’s really as simple as that. I didn’t like the choices the show made. They upset me and made me feel betrayed by the show, even as my brain understood why things happened the way they did.

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      • To each his own, I guess….. The ending felt raw and realistic which fits my worldview, (everything is a shade a grey).

        So how do feel about the anime now?

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        • I actually haven’t had the chance to revisit the show (I’d like to rewatch all of it, eventually), so I really only have the residual memory of how the ending made me feel to base my thoughts on.

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  3. To each their own I guess. I actually loved the fact that there wasn’t a happy ending, and this show left me with a lot to think about. Might also be why I prefer the 2003 FMA.

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