Visual Novel / White Album 2

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Happiness is a transient thing, like the falling snow...

White Album 2 (ホワイトアルバム2) is a Japanese Visual Novel produced by Leaf. Although it shares the same name as White Album as well being set in the same world, albeit almost two decades later, it bears little connection to the first game/anime aside from the songs that it reuses from the former: the titular White Album, sung by Yuki Morikawa, and Sound of Destiny sung by Rina Ogata.

It's close to the school festival, and Light Music Club members Haruki Kitahara and his good friend Takeya are in a bit of a pinch. They want to perform for the school festival, however they're pretty much all that's left in the club. They need to find new members, both for the performance as well as ensure the LMC's survival, as with just two members they've fallen well below the numbers needed to be considered an official club. Despite the gravity of the problem, Takeya hands over the responsibility to fill out the club's numbers to Haruki.

Through luck and circumstance, Haruki somehow manages to find the members they need: Setsuna Ogiso, a beauty known for her participation in the school's beauty contests and who Haruki discovers has a wonderful singing voice; and Kazusa Touma, an introverted yet extremely talented pianist, and the mystery performer from the adjacent room that Haruki's been playing along with his guitar for a while now. Though getting the two to agree to help the LMC seemed innocuous at first, Haruki unknowingly set into motion a series of events that would bind the fates of the three of them together for the rest of their lives...

Produced by Satelight, an anime of the same name aired during Fall 2013 Anime Season, and adapts the first part of the series, Introductory Chapter. As of yet, there is no news of whether the second part, Concluding Chapter will be adapted as well.

A fandisc for the series came out, and contains playable After Story-style epilogues for both Setsuna and Kazusa's True ends.

This work provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: Kazusa
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Kazusa falls in love with Haruki because of the fact that he kept being nice to her no matter how much she tried to push him away.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Let it be clear that none of the endings provided by the story can be considered completely happy; someone will always be shortchanged in the end. Indeed, for the three sub-heroine ends for Concluding Chapter, that someone will always be Setsuna. The only way she has to achieve a truly happy ending is to get Haruki. While Setsuna decides to study economics just to stay with him, he later changes departments to keep his distance from her. She tries very hard to romance him for 3 years, which leads to many dramatic moments like when it is revealed it takes her a whole day to call him and she ends up in tears because he ignores the calls each time. She uses everything in her power to get him. A good example would be when she discovers Kazusa placed second in a competition and forces Haruki to talk with her to celebrate her success only to end up monologuing at the end she's sorry she used Kazusa yet again. If Haruki chooses Setsuna an ending appears where they live happily as a couple. She starts singing all the time (even when they kiss) and says she's never been happier in her entire life. If not she gets into a deep depression. The two "True Ends" in Coda are also pretty much this as well. To whit:
    • In Setsuna's True End, which is as close to a traditional Happily Ever After end for the series,Haruki asks Setsuna to look after Kazusa. Kazusa and Setsuna reconcile, and what's more Setsuna finds ways to that Kazusa won't have to be so alone anymore — like helping her make friends with Takeya and Io — and give her a way to stay in Japan via recording an album with her and Haruki to make her more "visible" to even casual music listeners. Everyone becomes friends again in the end, with Kazusa even playing accompaniment for Haruki and Setsuna's wedding reception. However, this glosses over the issue of the condition of Kazusa's mother Ryouko, who's apparently dying of cancer. There's also the implication is that Kazusa will never reach her real potential as a pianist, but hey everyone's happy again right?
      • Still not the best romantic outcome for Touma if we take into account Introductory Chapter and Coda. In introductory chapter after Haruki enters an official relationship with Setsuna, Kazusa pretends to be happy so as not to worry them. Haruki's late confession to Kazusa makes her reveal that having Haruki at hand yet never be able to have him is a nightmare for her. In Coda it is revealed having him is her dream and in this ending before Haruki proposes to Setsuna Kazusa tells him that she loves him, that she will always keep loving him and that she can never fall in love with someone other than Haruki.
    • In Kazusa's True End, despite going steady with Setsuna for more than two years already, when Kazusa returns into his life, Haruki decides that it's about time to stop lying to himself. He breaks up with Setsuna, and runs off to be together with Kazusa, despite the both of them coming to realize that they're terrible people for what they're doing. The two of them alienate everyone in the process (when Haruki leaves, Setsuna actually loses conciousness and has to be rescued by her family) , but it is almost outright stated that it is only when Haruki and Kazusa are finally together that they can reach their full potential — as a performer for Kazusa, while as a person for Haruki. Kazusa tells Haruki that by having him return to her side she has become " the happiest girl in the world" and that even though it is at the cost of turnig Setsuna into the "world's most unfortunate" she still "relishes in it". Two years later, Kazusa is now married to Haruki, and the former is rightfully now an internationally-acclaimed pianist. However the two have cut all ties with Japan, and what's more Haruki tells Kazusa she sometimes has nightmares (it will take them another year to completely get over everything and achieve a super happily ever after for the 2 of them as the epilogue in Mini-after story shows). Then, much to their surprise, one day Haruki checks the email and finds a video message sent by Takeya and Io, with Setsuna in it. Takeya, Io and Tomo had recorded a song played by Setsuna on Haruki's guitar. Not only had she spent those 2 years learnig to play Haruki's guitar but she also sings another song of unrequited love, which makes it seem her love for Haruki hasn't changed much, especially considering she deliberately changes the lyrics of the original powder snow song and turns the chorus of the song into "I still love you" and "I will never forget the warmth of the lips I first touched (kissed)". She ends the video with this line:
      Setsuna: How are you doing? Iím still singing.
    • And let's not even get into the Kazusa Good, aka the Cheating Chapter here, where everyone gets shortchanged by Haruki's indecisiveness. Haruki bounces between Setsuna, and sleeping with Kazusa behind her back. This culminates in Haruki and Kazusa going on a private trip to the inn the three of them visited way back in Introductory Chapter, where the two of them spend a night of passion. Despite this, she declares that it's over between the two of them; only for the winter, as she promised. After her final concert Kazusa leaves without a word, but despite everything Setsuna still forgives Haruki, and lets him back into her life. Kazusa's future however, seems bleak: with the inevitable death of her mother approaching, she's going to be literally left with nothing but her piano skills, and what's more has admitted that she will never be able to love anyone else other than Haruki.
      • Brought somewhat up by the extra episode, which seems to end on a cordial note after a meeting with Setsuna's family. They watch a banner for Kazusa while holding hands in the last scene.
      • The whole situation may be better understood by looking at the almost identical counterpart of this ending in Introductory chapter: After having kissed Haruki the day Setsuna was supposed to celebrate her birthday alone with Haruki the drama starts. Kazusa later tells Haruki she hates betrayals, so she hates herself (not that it keeps her from sleeping with him though). Considering she tells Haruki not to say anything to Setsuna about that can be seen as Kazusa still wanting him to be happy with Setsuna while at the same time running away because of his indecisiveness (even though she knows she's the only one left alone) and Coda She wishes for Haruki's happiness and if because of his acts (mainly cheating, being a jerk, lying and 2-timing both girls) he's going to be have big scars, she chooses to give him to Setsuna so that he can be fine, turning herself into the most unfortunate of the 3: "With me you'd become the most miserable"; "Only she can heal you, I cannot"
  • Book Dumb: Kazusa.
  • Call Back: Setsuna's last line, listed above in the Bittersweet Ending entry, is this to an earlier line spoken to her by Haruki in Concluding Chapter:
    Haruki: The girl that I love most in the world is the Setsuna that sings.
  • Censor Shadow: In full force for episode 13 of the anime, to cover up Haruki and Kazusa's vigorous lovemaking. Ironically, Kazusa was actually dressed (she was still in her school uniform) for most of it.
  • Club Stub: The Light Music Club as of Introductory Chapter.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The famous musician that Haruki was supposed to interview in Europe for his job... turns out to be Kazusa.
  • Demoted to Extra: Surprise, Haruki, in Setsuna's True End. He does this on purpose, as he realizes (rightly for a change!) that intervening directly would just make the situation more difficult than it already is.
  • Deuteragonist: Easily, Setsuna Ogiso. Maybe Kazusa is always on step foward on getting Haruki's heart, but Setsuna is the one who objectively matters in the whole story.
    • Her conflictive and complex ralationship with Haruki is basically the entire plot of the game.
    • She is the only heroine who appears all the routes.
    • She is the central conflict of the game in every single route, even in Kazusa True in Coda, where her role is downplayed and she is still the final obsacle that Haruki must overcome.
    • Due her importance in every route, she is the heroine with most screentime and the character with most POV scenes besides Haruki.
    • The main theme, "White Album", is asociated with her, also the kanjis in her name can be readed as "Yukina", in reference to Yuki Morikawa, the main heroine in the previous game.
    • Out of all the endings you can get, Kazusa True End is the longest and most developed. However, Setsuna is the heroine with most routes in her favor, Setsuna Route in the Closing Chapter and Setsuna True also Kazusa Normal and the 'Extra Episode. The other heroines only have just one ending.
  • Dude Magnet: Setsuna in school and university where she gets many confessions from boys but turns them down every time.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: To reach the true endings of the game, the player (and thus, Haruki) must not tell lies in the choices given to the player. Not a single one. That said he will always end up with a girl in any of the game endings, no matter how much he's cheated or lied
  • Easily Forgiven: Haruki, to a ridiculous degree. No matter what he does, or how much he's been a jerk to her , Setsuna will always welcome him back, no questions asked. Even if he ignores her for years or cheats on her with another woman, as in Kazusa's Good end, she'll still take him back. Indeed, in Kazusa's True End, Setsuna gets angry instead at her own family for ganging up on Haruki, instead of Haruki himself. In Introductory Chapter when Haruki told her he had cheated on her not only does she forgive him immediately but also add she can be the replacement. In Coda when she discovers her boyfriend Haruki has been sleeping with Kazusa she still wants to be with him and fights for that purpose. She's either a saint or, in the opinion of the less charitable players, insane.
    • And in Coda, Kazusa. Kazusa pretty much ruins Setsuna's life by proxy by forcing her fiancee to break up with her, and what's worse, makes himself alienate himself from his oldest friends and Setsuna's family. When Kazusa tries to make amends and show how much she loves Haruki by deliberately crippling her playing hand — and thus ending her career as a pianist forever — Setsuna stops her because, while she hates Kazusa for what she did, she still also loves her as her best friend.
  • Friendless Background: Kazusa. Coda also reveals that she's still friendless five years later. She's just that socially awkward.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Kazusa, to Setsuna. In Coda, she flatly states that she hates how Setsuna seems to have everything needed to survive in the real world, like friends, an understanding family, and (at that point) a significant other — unlike her, who can't cook, can't keep her affairs in order, and has no friends. All she has is her skill with the piano, and nothing else.
  • Hated Hometown: Kazusa, as of Coda, hates Japan. It's because it's the place she left Haruki behind in. That's why her decision to return to the country for a concert surprises even her mother.
  • Idol Singer: Setsuna.
  • If I Can't Have You...: First person comes to mind for this trope is probably Setsuna, but surprising it is Haruki who fits this trope better, In the events of Idol Who Forgot How to Sing, he denounced his friendship with a supporting character because that supporting character confessed his love to Setsuna. Haruki makes the statement that even though he can't be with Setsuna, he doesn't want to see anyone else with her.
  • In Medias Res: The anime starts with the concert at the school festival. The first half of the series focuses on the events that led to that point.
    • Introductory Chapter starts with the aftermath of the airport scene...
  • Lonely at the Top: Kazusa and to an extent Setsuna. One is daughter of famous pianist, one is school idol who rejects all advances.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Setsuna first Setsuna knows full well Kazusa is also in love with Haruki. When she sees Kazusa kiss him while he sleeps she confesses to Haruki even though she had intitially planned to confess a bit later. When Kazusa places second in an international competition Setsuna celebrates it with Haruki to try to date him again. Considering at the end she says she's sorry she used Kazusa yet again suggests this isn't the first time something similar happened. Her saying "Ever since I started dating you, Haruki-kun, I've been gradually becoming a bad girl. If it's for you I can become even more of a bad girl" or her monologue to Haruki in Coda "Everything's all right as long as you choose me in the end" makes it seem she knows full well her love has made her evil and afterwards Haruki and Kazusa. They sleep together behind Setsuna's back when Haruki is already in an offical relationship with Setsuna. In Coda Kazusa shows she would gladly stop playing music (destroying her hand, which would negatively affect her fans and most of all her mother) if it meant having Haruki. Indeed later on, all of them admit to being terrible people due to what they do for love.
  • Love Redeems: Haruki becomes less indecisive and tries to repair his relationship with Setsuna, eventually accepting her feelings and dating her again in the Setsuna end of Concluding Chapter. Also, Setsuna In Setsuna's True End (where she wins over Haruki's heart) she saves Kazusa from emotionally imploding , making it the only ending where Setsuna and Kazusa are able to reconcile. Regarding Haruki, during the 3 years following Introductory Chapter he literally avoids contact with Setsuna, which according to Takeya is making her "cry like there's no tomorrow". Even so, she still tries to romance him every week and tries to stop him from choosing other girls, making it possible for her to date him and be happy again in her own ending.
  • Love Triangle: If it wasn't already obvious. That said it is an unbalanced love triangle and each character will always love someone more. Haruki's first choice will always be Kazusa (with the exception of Setsuna's true route). She was his first love and is usually the person he loves the most. Kazusa's number one dream would be Haruki. As Setsuna says, Kazusa has eyes just for Haruki and is her number 1 dream. Regarding Setsuna, while she says she loves both of them (as boyfriend and best friend) she also referred to Haruki as "the person I love the most" (一番愛してる人) and she doesn't care what happens as long as she gets Haruki in the end (the story Twinkle Snow Reverie written by the author of the game Maruto being an example, where she deliberately destroys the eternal friendship Haruki and Kazusa promise to Setsuna because there's "a millionth" of a chance she can romance Haruki).
  • Multiple Endings: Par for course, due to the visual novel format. There are three endings for the sub-heroines in Concluding Chapter, as well as a good and "true" end for Setsuna. Finishing the latter opens the way to Coda, which adds three more: Setsuna True, Kazusa Good aka the Cheating Chapter, and Kazusa True. However, due to the nature of the story and the characters, none of these ends can be truly considered a "happy" end. See the Bittersweet Ending entry for specifics.
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits!: Setsuna's brother reacts this way towards Haruki after Haruki cheats on her with Kazusa. He even goes as far as punch him when he tries to approach her again.
  • Nice Guy: Haruki. Subverted in that there's more than enough lingering hints that he's being nice because he's got nothing better to do.
  • No Ending: Introductory chapter, despite published on its own, has no ending. The White Album 2 series as a whole does have an ending though.
  • Old Flame: Kazusa, when she runs into Haruki again in Coda. Her return causes a LOT of drama, for sure.
  • Playable Epilogue: The fan disc will become this, for Setsuna's and Kazusa's True Ends.
  • Put on a Bus: Kazusa leaves for Vienna at the end of Introductory Chapter, and as such is absent for most of the events of Concluding Chapter. However...
    • The Bus Came Back: ... A chance run-in with Haruki in Europe brings her completely back into the fold of the plot.
  • The Promise: Kazusa foists one on Haruki as a condition before they set out on what they need to do in her True End: they will not have sex while they are in Japan. They can go at it like bunnies after they leave, but until then, it will serve as a sign of the seriousness of their resolve. This is a big deal, especially since, as Concluding Chapter had shown, physical intimacy was one of the ways Haruki used to blow off his frustration and anger.
    • Besides the promise Haruki made to Setsuna to always be with her, there is another one they made together after they reconciled: they would meet at least once every week after graduating from college, no matter how busy with work they were. For this reason, Setsuna insisted on following Haruki to Strasbourg when he got assigned there to conduct an interview. They were supposed to meet up at the Christmas Mass before midnight; needless to say the promise was broken because of Haruki and Kazusa's reunion. Also, it must be mentioned that Haruki was waiting for Setsuna with the ring prepared.
  • Releasing from the Promise: A heartbreaking example too: In Kazusa's True End, Setsuna realizes that she will never really completely own Haruki's heart — in her own words, she'd just been borrowing it for five years. Now that its true owner Kazusa had returned, all she could do was to give it back. And so, she releases Haruki from the promise he made to her, so he could be with Kazusa again. Just to double the heartbreak factor, all of this happens at the exact same bridge where, two years before, she and Haruki had managed to reconcile. Ouch.
  • Secret Relationship: While hints of this already appeared in the anime, Setsuna's True End confirms that Takeya and Io seem to have been dating the entire time.
  • Sex for Solace: Happens more than you'd think, particularly in Concluding Chapter. Let's just say that Haruki has a whole lot of issues that he's struggling to deal with, and physical intimacy is one of his outlets for his anger and frustation. See how he spends a whole week having sex with Chiaki at his apartment.
  • Shipper on Deck: Takeya and Io, for Setsuna. The huge bulk of Concluding Chapter has the two of them trick, connive, and do everything humanly possible to get Haruki and Setsuna together. It's why the two are positively devastated when Haruki breaks up with Setsuna in Kazusa's True End, which literally ends their friendship with Haruki then and there.
  • Shout-Out: You can spot other songs from the first White Album like "Glass no Hana" (juxtaposed in the karaoke scene) and "Shin Ai" (Setsuna hums the tune for voice practice).
  • Something We Forgot: Haruki realizes that he forgot something, just as he and Kazusa are boarding the plane to leave Japan, forever: his guitar. While at that point he decides to leave it behind, as he from this point on he's not going to need it, it has one more part to play after all. In the video message that Kazusa and Haruki receive from Io and Takeya, it's the instrument that Setsuna has learned to play for two years and the one she uses to accompany her singing of the love song powder snow.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Haruki and Kazusa. Haruki is a normal, if friendly and helpful guy, while Kazusa is a budding pianist with potentially world-class talent. The climax of the anime hammers home the fact that, in any other circumstance, it would still be impossible for them to be together. Which is exactly what happens in the end: Kazusa leaves to further develop her craft in Europe, and leaves Haruki behind in Japan.
  • Story Branch Favoritism: While Maruto and Leaf are quiet at what the "canon" plot is supposed to be, players of the games seem to favor the timeline that leads from Setsuna's route in Concluding Chapter, to Kazusa's True End in Coda. Not only due to the incredibly cathartic nature of the latter, but because its counterpart was just too perfect and involved Haruki being reduced to a supporting role.
  • Time Skip: Done twice. Concluding Chapter starts about three years after Introductory Chapter, with Haruki and Setsuna in college. Coda starts around two years after Concluding Chapter.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Kazusa at the beginning of/before introductory chapter, when she only talked to Haruki.
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: Played for drama rather than comedy as usually is the case. Despite the promise Kazusa drops on him — see The Promise entry for details — Haruki still tries to sleep with Kazusa anyway during Kazusa's True End. It doesn't work, as before he could even start the guilt from what he and Kazusa are about to do to everyone they know and love stops his libido cold.
  • Third-Option Love Interest: Concluding Chapter introduces three: Chiaki, one of Haruki's schoolmates at the university he goes to; Koharu, a high schooler going to Haruki and Setsuna's old school; and Mari, Haruki's boss at the Hirasakura Company, where he works at. All three represent facets of what might help shake off the lethargy he's been living through, which can be summed simply as: looks like Kazusa (Koharu), acts like Kazusa (Mari, albeit more socially-adjusted), and is not like Setsuna (Chiaki, who has no ties to and cares little for Haruki's past).
  • Third Wheel: Despite her best efforts, Setsuna quickly realizes that she's become this to Haruki and Kazusa. It leads to a whole lot of awkward situations.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Haruki, for most of Concluding Chapter and, depending on the player's choices, in Coda as well. Has to be read to be believed.
  • Tsundere: Touma Kazusa.
  • 12-Episode Anime: Supposed to be twelve episodes with episode 13 supposed to be an unaired special, which is why it surprised many when it aired on TV anyway. The final episode adds context to some scenes in the previous episode, like the aftermath of the confession, which led to Haruki and Kazusa spending the whole night before her flight making love, and makes a clearer bridge to the next part of the story, Concluding Chapter, if and when it gets adapted.
  • Yandere: Ogiso Setsuna has a slight tendency of this post the events of Introductory Chapter. Especially in omake short story, The Idol Who Forgot How To Sing, where she is shown to be obsessed with Haruki
  • Your Cheating Heart: In full force during Kazusa's Good End route. Haruki sleeps with Setsuna as normal, but also sleeps with Kazusa almost nightly, and even runs off with her for a secret trip north with just the two of them.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Pretty much the ending of Introductory chapter and the whole point of Concluding Chapter with Haruki, Setsuna, and Kazusa.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Done by both Io and Takeya to Haruki when the latter decides to break up with Setsuna, despite being already engaged and being in a physically intimate relationship with her for almost five years, all just to get back together with Kazusa. This is followed soon after by the same, except done by Setsuna's whole family. Ironically Setsuna herself doesn't call Haruki out on this; instead she avoids and ignores him for as long as humanly possible.
    Setsuna: Nobody likes the persistent type.

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