OK, I’m in. I was somewhat unsure after last week’s episode, which veered off course a couple of times, but this was another very good one. On balance White Album 2 is one of the better series of the Fall when taking all elements of the production into consideration, and that’s the strongest argument that it’s a show I could not just watch, but cover on the site. It may not offer anything especially revolutionary, but it’s that very fact that accounts for part of its appeal.
It may sound like a strange endorsement, but one of the reasons WA2 works for me is that it has the volume turned way down compared to most of the competition. Frankly most school romances in anime just try too hard. The characters talk too loudly and too much, they do stupid things in order to get other things to happen more quickly for plot convenience, and generally most of the cast behaves in an extreme way in order to be recognizable and marketable examples of their trope. In WA2 that’s all dialed back – no one is an idiot, and things proceed at a remarkably relaxed pace. And that’s a really refreshing change from what I’m used to.
Of course the drama is going to be kicked up when the stakes become clear, and both female leads openly become pursuers of the male lead (“She’s either going to become my best friend in the world or my worst enemy”). The ultimate fate of the series will rest in how it handles that transition, but the early signs are good. I’ll admit Touma is a bit more of an amped-up character than Kitihara and Ogiso, as the daughter of a famous pianist and possessor of the most extreme personality of the main trio. She may be less believable but I don’t find Touma unlikeable – apart from one violent outburst and a tendency to mercilessly dissect Kitihara, she’s basically just somebody who doesn’t like BS and wants to be left alone. But she’s not an anti-social monster, just a bit of a prickly cactus, and the fact that she’s as observant as she is about those around her proves that she does care about other people, in her way.
Setsuna’s approach to the problem was an interesting one – to invite Haruki and Touma over and cook them a meal. The scenes at her house were agreeably unorthodox – sort of an open invitation for conventional anime hijinks that never happened. Instead we got a surprising intervention from her family, starting with younger brother Takahiro (you know who) and mother as they eavesdropped. Presumably their doing so was as a result of Setsuna not having any guests for three years, which she never did get around to explaining. Then Dad showed up and declared that Setsuna couldn’t sing at the culture festival after all, which seems like a broad overreaction – another indication that there are important parts of Setsuna’s backstory that we simply don’t yet know about.
This appears to more or less complete the preamble, with the main story about to begin. We have the cautious and careful boy who’s about to put himself on the line emotionally, the arrogant and dismissive genius about to allow herself to get closer to people, and the school idol who carries a full backpack of neuroses and both literally and figuratively seems likely to be caught in the middle. It’s not completely original but a scenario quite a bit subtler than we usually see in romance anime, and considering how superb the production values are here (I continue to be impressed by the BGM and how naturally it’s integrated into the story) holds a good deal of promise for the rest of the series. If I were in the business of guessing, my inkling is that it’s Touma that Haruki is going to fall for in the end, and Setsuna who’s going to be the third wheel, but it should be interesting to find out.