BanG Dream! is pretty much every music anime that is made to capitalize on the Love Live craze. That’s not meant as an insult but it is a fact. Looking through my notes for the show it almost looks like my notes for Love Live Sunshine (minus the RIP Kanan parts) which I really enjoyed. Was this good enough to justify comparing them or was it another shameless cash grab chasing after something that’s popular.
The story follows Kasumi Toyama who is entering high school without much thought of what she wants to do in the future. One day on her way home she finds star stickers places in a path and decides to follow them which leads her to Arisa Ichigaya’s and she spots a red guitar with more stars on it. This eventually leads Kasumi into making a band to perform at the local music club “Space”. The band members are Kasumi Toyama the singer and lead guitar who is pretty much K-On!’s Yui Hirasawa, Arisa Ichigaya, the keyboardist and a tsundere, Tae Hanazono, another guitarist and someone with a hard to describe personality I’ll get into later, Rimi Ushigome the bassist and younger sister of the popular band Glitter*Green. She’s the little shy character, and the drummer Saya Yamabuki who is the more knowledgeable one of the group.
The characters are fairly weak with only Kasumi getting much development. Some do change like Saya and Rimi although they’re more “oh their arc/episode is over they’re like this now!”, Arisa never really changes and it feels like Tae is basically a different character whenever the writers needed someone they didn’t have. In her debut episode she seemed a lot more knowledgeable like the role Saya fills and we see that sometimes but for the most part she’s just goofing off.
The story in general wasn’t very enjoyable until the last arc either. Every one of these shows needs a character who is hard to get to join and says they’ll never join (despite being in all the artwork and the OP/ED) and while I have liked this a couple times in the past because of character development here when Saya joins it doesn’t feel like anything really changed in her situation to make her decide to join the band. The rest of the plot wasn’t very inspired either with most points being easily linked with Love Live or any other property and often done better there. Some of the times the show tried “original” ideas were among the worst points in the show such as episode 3 basically being “how many times can we sing/play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star before it gets annoying?”. Episode 8 and 9 also ended with the exact same cliffhanger which felt really lazy.
I wish BanG Dream had done something like say Wake Up Girls where there’s a movie showing how they form then the series is showing problems/drama from the already formed group or The IdolM@STER where the first couple episodes are setting them up then it progresses again to issues of an already formed group. Watching a struggling band try and get the recognition they deserve is one of the reasons I like the later part of Fuuka’s manga so much and it would have been much more unique than another “let’s form a music group and our friend doesn’t want to join but we’ll force her in anyway!”
The music is a really big reason to watch a music show but aside from the ED and Chispa’s song in the finale I found it really weak. It’s weird because I’ve listened to songs from the entire franchise (including the main band Poppin’ Party) and I like quite a bit of it so they probably just ended up with weak tracks here (playing Twinkle Twinkle Little Stars more times than I’ve ever hit the “E” key in my life in a single episode didn’t help). I did like when all of Poppin’ Party sang together for their audition but it sounded like Arisa’s actor was trying too hard to keep the voice and sing. The voice acting in general was pretty good.
Visually I don’t have much complaints either. The show looked pretty nice and even the CG used for the performances looked good. The character designs were pretty good although Tae (sorry for picking on her so much!) did look a little generic.
Despite all the ragging I did on the show I did enjoy my time with it. I just feel like there’s such an interesting concept they had with a struggling band and threw it away for the drama and plot points we see in everything now. If there’s ever a season 2 I’m sure it will be much better as they don’t have to form the band again but this season didn’t take the chance it had.