Kasumi Toyama and the members of Poppin'Party—their high school band—are now second-year students, but with the new school year comes their latest set of challenges: student council duties, cram school, and part-time jobs, among other things. Furthermore, they are now separated into different classes, and as a result, their free time together is shortened. Looking back, their joyful times together seem like nothing more than an unachievable fantasy when their members are too occupied to even gather in Arisa Ichigaya's basement for practice sessions. As the band ponders over the situation, an unfamiliar girl suddenly emerges, unknowingly pulling them into the spotlight once more. In this rising era of girl bands, Afterglow, Pastel*Palettes, Roselia, and Hello, Happy World! begin to make their appearance as well. Each band, comprised of musicians with their unique personalities, illuminates the stage with its performances. As Poppin'Party returns to the music scene and encounters new friends, the sparkling, heart-pounding music starts to play once again! [Written by MAL Rewrite]
First, let me get one thing straight: the first season was a goddamn masterpiece. The characters were awesome, the plot was heart-wrenching, and the art/sound design was beautiful in spite of its unfortunately low budget. I love the game too, but I’m only a fan of Popipa after playing for 2 years; the other bands are meh. Biases aside, season 2 is by far one of the worst shows I’ve ever seen. People who are fans of the franchise tend to say they love it, but I can’t. For the most part, it’s unoriginal and lazily produced.
Let’s start with the plot. The show starts off with some vague exposition that doesn’t really go anywhere, and the conflict ends up being dropped for the next 4 episodes or so, where instead the other bands get obligatory (and completely irrelevant) screen time. In the end, Popipa just keeps doing what they’ve been doing as if there wasn’t a problem in the first place. Next arc. Time conflicts happen, questionable choices are made, and then easily avoidable drama occurs. Normally I’d be okay with this, but the motivations behind everything were so lackluster/unsubstantial that I couldn’t possibly buy into any of it. Furthermore, the drama is gravely serious (the betrayal, friendship-ruining kind), yet it’s grossly undermined when all is forgiven in an instant. It’s nonsense.
The characters? Oddly enough, Popipa sort of merged to become a single, incredibly dull character where whenever they have dialogue together, they just blurt out ideas one by one without really responding to each other; there isn’t any sense of five unique individuals having a conversation. In fact, the entire cast can be easily described as gimmicky, soulless, and irrelevant, nothing more. PasuPare is an exception; their episode is a good example of what I expected from this season. As for RAS, they’re rather uncomfortable to watch: we don’t really know how and why its members chose each other to form a band, and they fill some kind of awkward, antagonistic role.
Art-wise? Decent CGI, by anime standards. However, the fact that the show is in full CGI limits its potential for variety. As a result, everyone wears the same crap for every off-day and every performance. I can understand the limitations of creating models, but they could have at least made original costume designs (or even the newer, less exposed designs from the game!). Instead, we’ll have to suffer watching everyone wear the same crap they’ve worn in the game for 2 years. Now, some nitpicking: everyone’s eyes shine so bright that they glow in the dark. I’m not kidding, it’s very unsettling. Also, RAS looks like a freakshow; they really don’t fit with the minimalism that the rest of the designs adhere to.
The sound can’t be bad, right? Doesn’t everyone like Bandori music? Thing is, most of the songs are copy-pasted from the game and onto the performances, and none of it was re-recorded live in a room. Consequently, everyone sounds like they’re faking it; many of the songs aren’t plot-relevant, and they feel obligatory. There are also performances of songs they’ve already performed before; it’s ridiculous. The OPs and EDs are okay, nothing too special. The OST is disappointingly generic/nonexistent; it really lacks being emotionally-driven and thematically-consistent, like in season 1.
Season 2 is really just a crappy game advertisement. Most of it isn’t new, and the content that is new is simply absurd. I can kind of understand why people like it, but I can’t just turn my brain off to something that’s part of a franchise that I love (a lot less now).