Probably the biggest surprise of this year for me, and is one of the only pure romances I could say I enjoyed. White Album 2 goes above and beyond what I expected of it right from the get go.
The plot is fairly simple. Without spoiling too much, Kitahara, Touma and Setsuna(I’m going by what I know them as rather than what they call each other) are involved in the schools light music club. They come together with a common interest in music and wish to perform at the next school festival. It seems simple enough, right? Well, it is. Perhaps it’s the simplicity that’s what made this so special to me, or maybe it’s something far deeper.
The animation gets top notch points all around. I didn’t really notice any bad animation at any point, the cinematography was excellent all around, the art direction was amazing and everything just looked so crisp. The soundtrack is one of the best I’ve ever heard, which is mostly just piano music and some other stuff sprinkled in. OP’s and ED’s were pretty average, though.
What this series excells at are its characters and their relationships with one another. Setsuna and Touma are both multi-layered to the point of being almost equal in terms of likability. Saying too many of their ‘hidden’ character traits would spoil the experience, so it’s best just to go in not knowing what to expect. The only weakness here is Kitahara. Some people may disagree, but I felt like he was there to serve the purpose of being in the love triangle rather than being his own independent character. All he was to me was the simple yet likable guy. Still, the interactions between the three are good enough to easily carry the show.
One thing I need to point out was the actual concert performance. Usually, this performance is supposed to embody everything that the characters worked for over the course of the show. However, White Album 2 really dropped the ball on this. There was nothing special about the concert performance other than a boring studio j-pop set of songs. Comparing this to the final performance of Iwasawa in Angel Beats, for example, is straight up laughable. I appreciate the meaning of the last song they sang, but really, it was just the ED inserted into the show. Where’s the emotion? I would even go as far as saying all three of the concert songs were the worst in the entire show.
Still, despite this, White Album 2 isn’t something that should be missed. With crisp animation, insane characterization, excellent pacing and amazing music – White Album 2 is by far the biggest surprise of the year for me. Anyone a fan of anything heart-wrenching should watch this immediately, as it has convinced me to play the VN(as soon as it’s fully translated).