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Anime Secret Santa Review: White Album 2

White Album 2 cover imageI have a confession to make. (No, not that kind of confession.) When I wrote last week stating that I wasn’t able to finish my Secret Santa review on time, that may have been stretching the truth a little bit. I probably could have used one of my (very infrequent) Mental Powerups (or at the very least chugged a bottle of MORNING RESCUE!!!!) and sat down and hammered out a review; I might have even been able to get it posted before midnight on Christmas Day. But I chose not to, mainly because, in spite of the haphazard way I run this blog and podcast, I prefer to not leave anything halfway done (or done half-assedly) and I wanted to take the time and really think about what I had just finished watching before writing. But I did have one little ulterior motive: I wanted to watch my chosen Secret Santa anime, White Album 2, again. This is unusual for me because I usually prefer to wait a little while after finishing an anime before rewatching it. Also, in general, when considering which anime to watch next, I generally don’t go for the romance genre. It’s not that I actively hate this type of anime; it’s just not the first thing I think of when looking for something new to watch. Even so, some notable titles in this genre have ended up becoming some of my all-time favorites. Maybe that makes me a closet romantic; I dunno. So for me to want to rewatch White Album 2 so soon after finishing it is, in a word, unusual, and shows that it most definitely made an impact on me. So I have one more anime to add to my list of “Anime That I Really Wouldn’t Have Considered But Ended Up Watching And Really Liking.”

White Album 2 tells the story of high school senior Haruki Kitahara and his fellow light music club member Takeya who’ve got a big problem — all of the other club members have suddenly left the club, mere weeks before the school festival, where they had wanted to perform! Being an all-around nice guy, Haruki tries desperately to find replacements, but isn’t meeting with very much luck. Until one day, while practicing his guitar in the music room, he starts playing the chords to an old but popular song, White Album, only to be suddenly joined by a mysterious pianist and vocalist — and they sound really good together. Who are these mysterious players, and can he get them to join the band? Of course there’s much, much more to the anime, but you’ll have to watch it yourself if you’re curious, I’m not gonna spoil it for you!

(By the way, in case you’re wondering if there is a White Album 1, yes there is, but, although both it and White Album 2 take place in the same universe, they are completely different stories. They are only linked by the songs “WHITE ALBUM” and “SOUND OF DESTINY,” which were written and/or performed by the main heroines of White Album and figure prominently in White Album 2. And now you know.)

Anyway, you can probably guess by now how this review will go, but since you’re here anyway, why not stick around and continue on with my review?

Story & Characters:

This is a classic love triangle story, plain and simple. However, it is executed in such a beautiful manner that it really stands out among its peers. The three main characters, while mostly falling into the typical stereotypes, have just enough nuance to them so as to make them stand out from the stereotype. Haruki Kitahara is your average “nice guy” but has become (through various circumstances) the sort of “go-to guy” of the school, called in whenever a particularly tricky situation needs mediating, and it is through one of these that he meets Sestina Ogiso, the most popular girl on campus. Perhaps because of the kindness and consideration he showed in solving her problem, Setsuna soon begins to develop feelings for Haruki. But, for some inexplicable reason, he seems more in tune (pun intended) with the cold and distant Kazusa Touma, who is the obvious tsundere of the bunch. (And, I might as well get it out of the way right here and now, yes, she bears a slight physical resemblance to a certain character in another musical-themed anime.) However, as we come to find out later, she’s not just tsundere because it’s cool and/or sexy. I normally am not the biggest fan of this type of character, but at the end, I was really feeling for her. There are a few additional characters (mostly friends and classmates) but they’re present just enough to keep the story going without getting in the way of things, which is perfect.

As far as pacing goes, being a romance, you aren’t going to have any pulse-pounding action sequences, things blowing up, etc. The pace is slow but steady, although there are a few points where the tension builds to a crescendo (you see what I did there?). Overall I think the pacing was perfect, it didn’t really feel like it dragged in any particular place, and its 13-episode run was just long enough to tell its story without getting bogged down or boring. This anime was also refreshingly free of weird or incongruous scenes that would detract from the story. It is also refreshingly void of fan service — really, any sort of ecchi — except for one mildly suggestive scene at the beginning of episode 13.

(By the way, although the story is mostly told linearly, it does jump around a few times, revealing some major plot points/character interactions as flashbacks later on in the show. So if you’re confused as to why a character is doing/acting a certain way, you’ll probably find out later and go “Oh yeah… now I get it!” So stick with it.)


This anime really stands out in the visuals department. The scenes and characters are detailed, especially in characters’ facial expressions and body language, which is important for a story of this type. The color palette is vibrant without being gaudy, and the animation is smooth. It also doesn’t have that obviously-computer-generated look that you see on some titles.


Since music is key (ha! I’m on a roll!) to this anime, you would expect that the soundtrack would play a prominent role, and this anime does not disappoint. The opening and ending themes, as well as the two songs that figure prominently in the story (“WHITE ALBUM” and “SOUND OF DESTINY”) are catchy as hell, and the incidental music does a great job in highlighting the characters’ moods as well as the general tone of the story. (By the way, the songs aren’t there just to fill dead air, in this anime especially, they really do help to give voice to the characters’ frame of mind, their thoughts, feelings, etc. so I highly recommend that you go find the translated lyrics to these songs.)


Yes, it’s a tried and true formulaic story, but it is well executed, and paired with interesting, likable characters with deeply intertwined emotions, some surprising plot twists, and beautiful animation and a superb soundtrack, you end up with a very compelling, enjoyable show, and its 13-episode run is just the right length for it to tell its tale effectively without a lot of distracting filler. Even if you don’t really consider yourself that much into romances, I think it’s worth giving White Album 2 a look. You will get to know these characters and will get to like them, and really feel for them as they go through their trials. While not quite as much of an emotional roller coaster ride as some of the other titles in this genre that I’ve watched, you’ll nevertheless experience quite a few highs and lows, and you’ll definitely want to keep a box of tissues handy.

My Verdict: Watch It! Fortunately, that’s really easy to do since it’s streaming on Crunchyroll. (And by the way, have you gotten your Crunchyroll Premium Membership yet? 😉 )

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