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Review of White Album 2 ~Closing Chapter~

SubjectWhite Album 2 ~Closing Chapter~
White Album 2 Extended Edition
ByVote: 9.3gholy on 2021-04-13
Review"届かない恋をしていても
映しだす日がくるかな"

White Album 2 is what happens when you take a protagonist who is equal parts indecisive and equal parts scummy and place him in the middle of a love triangle. Honestly, I’m amazed Maruto Fumiaki was able to work with such a premise and turn it into one of the most popular and beloved visual novels.

Plot - White Album 2 is split into 3 parts: Introductory Chapter, Closing Chapter, and Coda. Introductory Chapter explains how Haruki, Setsuna, and Kazusa got stuck in a messy love triangle and the inevitable fallout between the 3 of them. I like how all 3 of them share a portion of the blame for what happens, though more of it can be pinned on Haruki than the other two: Haruki is at fault for being indecisive and accepting Setsuna’s advances despite being in love with Kazusa. Setsuna is to blame for knowingly getting in the way of Haruki and Kazusa. And Kazusa is to blame for stealing Haruki away from Setsuna. This all culminates in the infamous airport scene near the end of the game.

Closing Chapter comes 3 years after the events of Introductory Chapter. It introduces Haruki’s workplace and three new heroines, Mari, Koharu, and Chiaki. Much of Closing Chapter is dedicated to showing Haruki and Setsuna’s emotional scars and trauma from Introductory Chapter. It’s largely buildup for Coda. I honestly found the side heroines to be the weakest part of White Album 2, but even then I understood their purpose, which was to highlight Haruki’s many faults.

Coda is the final section of White Album 2, following Setsuna’s route in Closing Chapter. It is divided up into three main routes: the normal/cheating route, the Setsuna true route, and the Kazusa true route. I highly recommend reading them in that order.

MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW


Normal/Cheating Route - This is the first Coda route I did and it feels like a repeat of Introductory Chapter, and for good reason. Haruki is very indecisive and goes back and forth between Setsuna and Kazusa. Despite being engaged to Setsuna, Haruki and Kazusa have sex countless times behind her back. There’s a really funny scene where Haruki has sex with Setsuna the day after fucking Kazusa silly, and she overhears it in her room and masturbates to it. The cheating route is generally unpleasant because it shows Haruki and Kazusa at their absolute worst. Eventually, Kazusa agrees to return Haruki to Setsuna and leaves the picture after performing at a concert. It’s very much a worst-case scenario ending. Kazusa leaves the picture entirely, and it’s implied that she won’t have a very bright future after her mother passes away. Haruki doesn’t receive any recompense for his sins. Setsuna ends up with the man she loves in the end, but she does so with the knowledge that he cheated on her not once, but *twice*, with Kazusa. Plus, she doesn’t get to fulfill her dream of being together forever with Haruki and Kazusa since Kazusa is no longer around. I really came to appreciate this route in hindsight because it serves as a cautionary tale for what will happen if Haruki continues to be the same person he was in Introductory and Closing Chapter.

Setsuna True - Setsuna’s route is interesting because it gives Haruki less focus than usual. Instead, the focus is on Setsuna trying to make her dream true. Here, she gets a lot of screentime with Kazusa. Initially, the two of them get into a big catfight, but after that they cool off and Setsuna comforts Kazusa over her mother’s cancer diagnosis. With that, the two friends are finally able to reconcile and Setsuna’s dream comes true. This is best shown in the credits where Haruki, Setsuna, and Kazusa perform a wedding song just like old times. However, I felt like this ending was a little too happy and went against some of the previously established themes. While part of me wants to see Setsuna happy after all she goes through, I can’t bring myself to accept this as a true ending when compared to the other true ending, Kazusa’s route.

Kazusa True - Technically speaking both the Kazusa true route and Setsuna true route can function as a “true” route, as both routes get afterstories in Mini-After Story. However, this feels a lot more like a true route than Setsuna’s route since it handles the main themes of the story a lot better than Setsuna’s. Here, despite being engaged with Setsuna, Haruki is in love with Kazusa and the two of them wish to be together. However, instead of cheating on Setsuna behind her back, Haruki does the unthinkable and breaks off the engagement. Everything else in White Album 2 built up to this moment. Haruki finally finds the courage to break up with Setsuna and bring the news to her parents. One scene that really struck out to me was Setsuna’s brother, Takahiro, overhearing Haruki’s conversation with his parents and flying into a violent rage. He screams, sobs, and attacks Haruki over and over, asking him to return the 5 years he spent with Setsuna. Takeya and Io are also outraged, with Takeya declaring that he will never forgive Haruki for calling off the engagement. It’s very painful to watch Haruki lose everyone he grew to love and care for over the years, but it’s something that must be done so he can be together with the woman he truly loves. Two years later after leaving everyone behind to be together with Kazusa in Europe, Haruki receives a message from Takeya and Io. In it, Setsuna performs Powder Snow with Haruki’s old guitar he left behind in Japan. It’s a very heartbreaking scene, seeing Setsuna all broken and still in love with Haruki. If her final line doesn’t make you cry, then I don’t know what else will.


END OF SPOILERS

Characters - White Album 2 centers mainly around Haruki, Setsuna, and Kazusa.

Kitahara Haruki is scum. On the surface, he’s very kind and helpful, and this why he’s well liked in school and why he was able to win over even the ice cold Kazusa. But beneath his apparent kindness, or perhaps even because of it, Haruki is also very indecisive and pretty much everything that goes wrong in White Album 2 could have been prevented if he had a spine. Of course, Haruki also knows he’s scum and he frequently apologies and cries over his actions. Whether this is enough for him to truly repent all depends on the route. While he’s far from the most likable protagonist, I find that he’s still somewhat sympathetic and makes the perfect POV character. It’s fascinating see his character evolve through the game, be it for the better or for the worse.

Ogiso Setsuna is the second most prominent character after the protagonist, Haruki. Even in the side heroine routes in Closing Chapter, she still has a major presence. Setsuna is a very complex and multilayered character. Is she kind and even saintly? Is she manipulative? Or does she just suffer from past trauma? There’s a lot going with Setsuna but I think she mainly suffers from dependency issues and fear of abandonment. She also tends to blame herself a lot. Her main driving force is to always be together with Haruki and Kazusa, and she will put up with *anything* if it means keeping Haruki and Kazusa for herself.

Touma Kazusa is the final member of the trio. She is initially very cold and isolated but warms up to Haruki and Setsuna over the course of Introductory Chapter. Kazusa might seem cold hearted but that’s just because she hides her true feelings. It’s apparent early on that Haruki and Kazusa complement each other very well, both musically and as a potential romance option. She also befriends Setsuna as her one and only friend, but that doesn’t last. Depending on the route, Kazusa and Haruki can bring out either the best in each other or enable each other’s worst traits and vices. Ultimately, I found that she was a much better love interest for Haruki than Setsuna, but I love both of them.

I found that the other characters didn’t have that much depth or characterization but I’m okay with that. Takeya and Io largely exist as a barometer for Haruki’s current state, and they frequently call him out over how he treats Setsuna. The side heroines in Closing Chapter, Mari, Chiaki, and Koharu, were not particularly compelling but they served their roles well enough showing just what kind of man Haruki is 3 years after the events of Introductory Chapter.

Sound - I can’t talk about White Album 2 without bringing up the music, which plays a huge role in-universe. 届かない恋 functions as the main theme of the visual novel, both as the opening for Introductory Chapter and Coda, and the idea of “unreachable love”. During the school festival, Haruki wrote the lyrics as a love song for Kazusa, but when performed live by Setsuna, it turns into her declaration of love for Haruki, and she laments that Haruki only has eyes for Kazusa.

Additionally, the visual novel also references the original White Album and Setsuna is a huge fan of the songs from the first game and even performs some of them. Without spoiling anything, there’s a song in the original White Album that sounds like your typical Christmas pop song. However, it turns into something really depressing in White Album 2 thanks to its usage. The soundtrack in general is very well done and the instrumental versions of the vocal tracks have a lot of power and emotion. No complaints about the voice acting whatsoever. White Album 2 is a love drama, so expect to hear a lot of sobbing and shouting.

Art - I like the character designs for the most part, but I feel like the character sprites have not all aged well. Kazusa’s sprite in particular looks more than a little dated. I don’t know why her sprite in particular got the short end of the stick. Thankfully, the CGs all look gorgeous and have all aged well, unless some of the sprites.

Overall If you like romance dramas or just want something that will make you tear up then you should give this a read. I would go as far as to say that White Album 2 has my favorite depiction of romance in all of Japanese media for Kazusa’s true route alone. It’s beautiful and very bittersweet. However, White Album 2 is not for everyone. It will make you rage, and if you absolutely cannot stomach Haruki’s worst actions (WARNING: CHEATING), then you might not enjoy reading this. If you think you can handle that, then give White Album 2 a read. It’s worth it and a new favorite of mine.

Comments

#1 by flvbycjctnheheh
2021-04-14 at 10:09
< report >I didn't read the game and skipped most of the review to avoid spoilers, but to me, it doesn't seem that the MC is a scum. Rather, he isn't scummy enough and not Chad-like enough, otherwise, he'd just gotten a harem (though I'd say that two girls aren't enough for a proper harem...). He should have just decided if he wants to be a scum or a perfect boyfriend, instead, he didn't follow up with either course of action.

Realistically, how many teenage guys would just give up on one of the options when there're two awesome model-looking girls with whom they developed a deep emotional connection?

In reality, the perfect ideal of "lifetime monogamy, one loyal girl for the rest of your life" that's promoted in most romance stories is just sad. I personally can't imagine how a guy could live without being bothered by the fact that he only slept with one girl throughout his whole life, no matter how awesome she is. Of course, it feels good when you are just reading it in a game... a game where, just after you finished one route of "perfect monogamy", you'll romance another girl without any guilt. xDLast modified on 2021-04-14 at 10:11
#2 by jloyola2006
2021-04-16 at 07:13
< report >gholy <3 :peepohype: