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Old 2015-10-01, 10:11   Link #1
Triple_R
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White Album 2


White Album 2 is an anime that shows just how good romance drama can be when it truly wants to be, and dares to be. It is a show that I recently finished, but I already suspect it will linger long within my mind, due to a truly memorable ending that manages to be both fitting and surprising. Most importantly, the ending was bold, reflecting how the full story is bold.

Before I continue, I should note that White Album 2 is not a sequel that requires watching the original. There is absolutely no need to watch White Album before watching White Album 2. White Album 2 stands strongly on its own, down to its very core.

At that core are three characters, all featured in the promotional image above. Each of these characters is somewhat reminiscent of certain common character types, but added realism and meticulous development ensures that the note of "generic" would never sound from their voices or the instruments that they play.

While this is a romance drama, there's also a lot of time spent carefully focusing on how these three characters work towards a high school music performance. Music drama makes up a large section of the narrative. It is portrayed with admirable accuracy, as it showcases the real time and effort and sacrifice that is needed if one even hopes to put on a successful showcase of musical talent at a live performance. Whether this hope is realized or not creates excellent suspense throughout the first half of the show, as our three hopeful life performers gradually grow closer to one another. A superbly sublime synchronicity takes hold of the three core characters, and of the plot as a whole, very well-fitting of such a psychologically rich and musically enchanting work.

But while the whole of these three characters is greater than the sum of their parts, each character also becomes very well-defined alone, as an individual. Haruki's practicality and diligence and sense of responsibility consistently comes through clearly, but there's also a strong sense that this feeds into a desire for something more colorful and exciting in his life. It is this desire for the different that draws him to the aloof and mysterious Kazusa, as well as the charming and beautiful family girl Setsuna.

Ah, but just as Haruki has inner desires that are shrouded by exterior calm and orderliness, much the same holds true for Kazusa and Setsuna. Kazusa's aloofness flows sensibly from her personal background, which also speaks to a great inner desire for deeper personal connections. Kazusa is indeed like many a kuudere in this respect, but I would argue that her sharp and sensible dialogue brings her character to life with a great fullness and integrity.

Setsuna may seem the simple-minded sweet sugary girl at first glance, with such a girl being common in anime. But as the narrative moves on, her doubts and insecurities and bold maneuverings gradually come into crystal clarity. Setsuna is actually clever and intuitive, shining light on a wily mind.

All three of these characters have their strengths and weaknesses, admirable traits as well as believable flaws. In their fullness they make the trio feel like real people, with complexities and contradictions that real people tend to have. But these contradictions do not inspire rage or a sense of terrible hypocrisy, but rather a sense of deeply emotional humanity. They have warm caring hearts that sometimes flow with, but other times against, passionate personal desires.

And so the anime has a delightful ebb and flow, avoiding both the weightlessness of a totally lighthearted show, but also the suffocating weight of a drama daily drenched in tears. White Album 2 does have strong emotions with powerful resonance, but they typically come at good points separated by seas of relative calm and amusement.

The supporting cast also does its job well, providing effective backdrops and foils for our main trio. The supporting cast are decent characters in their own right, but they know their role, and never steal the spotlight from the main trio. The cast as a whole is thankfully well-balanced with respect to gender ratios, as there are two male characters of note aside from the male lead Haruki. This is one anime that largely avoids silly harem hijinks, and is much better for it, in my opinion.

Befitting a music drama, the sights and sounds of the anime are frequently pleasant and beautiful to behold, even taken on their own. Used as they frequently are to effectively set mood or tone or atmosphere, they often capture flashes of true artistic brilliance.

All of the above being wrote, White Album 2 is not without its flaws. Impressively careful buildup creates excellent payoffs, but also slow plodding pacing at times. Some character choices and plot points have an air of cute convenience to them, which will likely lead to some events in the anime feeling highly predictable to more experienced anime viewers. Still, even in these areas of weaknesses, I can think of many anime that do it worse than White Album 2.

And in White Album 2's areas of strength, it is among the crème de la crème. So if all of that sounds good to you, then sit down with a cup of hot cocoa, and enjoy this melodic melancholic masterclass work of musical ambitions and romantic drama, featured under softly sentimental snow.
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Last edited by Triple_R; 2015-10-01 at 10:22.
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Old 2015-10-03, 05:44   Link #2
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it's my favorite, but you probably knew that.

a bit of a warning to potential viewers though..

romance genre has the potential to be polarizing, because more often than not, the characters involved are a personification of a certain ideal. And often times the people involved are opposite aspects of each other. When it's like that you can't help that people get emotional or even. gasp ideological.

with White Album 2 it can get messier because the people involved are both almost violent polar opposites in one aspect, yet terribly similar in another.

enjoy your stay
now enjoy the perpetual wait for sequels. which may or may not come.

PS: are you watching Saekano or Classroom☆Crisis next? It has the same writer

Last edited by Key Board; 2015-10-03 at 06:03.
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Old 2015-10-03, 07:50   Link #3
Triple_R
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Key Board View Post
it's my favorite, but you probably knew that.

a bit of a warning to potential viewers though..

romance genre has the potential to be polarizing, because more often than not, the characters involved are a personification of a certain ideal. And often times the people involved are opposite aspects of each other. When it's like that you can't help that people get emotional or even. gasp ideological.

with White Album 2 it can get messier because the people involved are both almost violent polar opposites in one aspect, yet terribly similar in another.
Those are good points. I wrote about how the ending is "bold" because it truly holds nothing back, and it's likely to create strong emotions in viewers, which may include emotions that many would consider negative emotions. Still, whatever one feels about the choices made in the ending, I think most viewers will find the ending impressively memorable and well-executed.


Quote:

PS: are you watching Saekano or Classroom☆Crisis next? It has the same writer
I recently finished Classroom Crisis. CC was a pretty good watch, but is very different from WA2.

I don't think I've seen Saekano - Do you recommend it?
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Old 2015-10-03, 12:00   Link #4
Archon_Wing
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Yea, honestly this is a fine anime. I almost always find myself avoiding this genre because there are so few shows that can even keep my attention but all the characters in this are engaging to really go down their road of uncertainty, wants, and needs. So it's a very much strong part of the human experience it depicts... which can generate some strong reactions either day. =p
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Old 2015-10-03, 17:20   Link #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
I don't think I've seen Saekano - Do you recommend it?
Saekano is a fairly typical but well-executed harem. As an example, the resident childhood friend wears twin-tails (and contacts?) in school, while she lets her hair down at home when she hangs around in glasses and jumpsuit. She's completely comfortable around the harem lead (and the other haremlettes) like that. The show's full of things like that, that give the show an authentic atmosphere that many other harem shows don't have. Don't expect too much authenticity, though - it's still a fairly typical harem story. The first episode (episode 0) is pure fanservice; the show itself isn't like that, but there's a definite tendency of the camera to pan over girl-bodies.

Characters are generally true-to-type but likable. Many people (including myself) have found the harem lead exceptionally annoying, but it's not too big a turn off. The star of the show is pretty unambiguously Kato Megumi, the titular boring girlfriend: a commenter has described her as a mix between the dead-pan snarker and a yamato nadeshiko, which is actually pretty fitting. (I personally think she's the best female character of the year, and she alone makes the anime worth watching.)

There you go, a mini-rewiew in a review thread.
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Old 2015-10-03, 19:23   Link #6
Triple_R
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Archon_Wing View Post
Yea, honestly this is a fine anime. I almost always find myself avoiding this genre...
I find that anime love triangles are often pretty good, but once it goes to harem, that's when it tends to lose something.

Even with love triangles, though, WA2 is definitely very high quality and one of the best. Maybe the best for a love triangle narrative.


Quote:
because there are so few shows that can even keep my attention but all the characters in this are engaging to really go down their road of uncertainty, wants, and needs. So it's a very much strong part of the human experience it depicts... which can generate some strong reactions either day. =p
Agreed.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Dawnstorm View Post

There you go, a mini-rewiew in a review thread.
Thanks.

It was helpful, and encouraging.
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Old 2015-10-04, 07:44   Link #7
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Saekano is different from WA2

If I have to gauge it, I'd say the target audience is younger.

It does certain staples though. His protagonists are.. passionate about things..
The characters have multilayered, sometimes self destructive (imo) traits
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