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BanG Dream! 2nd Season Anime Cover

Score: 7.72/10

BanG Dream! 2nd Season

JP Title : BanG Dream!(バンドリ!)第2期

Year : 2019

Genre : Music

Season : Winter 2019

Status : Complete

Rating : PG-13 - Teens 13 or older

Episodes : 13/13

Duration : 24 min. per ep.

Studios : SANZIGEN

Synopsis

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).

One thing that I want to note is that you DO NOT have to watch Season 1 of the anime, or have to had played the mobile game (BanG Dream! Girls Band Party!) in order to enjoy this series. But, the full derivation of enjoyment will undeniably be obtained only if you've done the aforementioned. It enables you to treasure the characterization/seiyuu references of the main characters that are scattered throughout the episodes — namely Poppin'Party and a few newly introduced characters. The first few episodes serve as an introduction to the viewers who are unfamiliar with the characters from the mobile game, with the main plot coming in after that. It may feel a little awkward, and even filler-ly if you're a hardcore fan of the franchise. But in order to draw in a larger audience/newcomers, I understand the need to devote the screentime for these introductions. Having to juggle a cast of 30 characters (excluding girls from Glitter*Green, CHiSPA) is no small feat, and this season managed to pull it off well. The CGI used was well drawn and animated, specifically during the live performances. The lighting and movements were amazing and drew me in, replicating the atmosphere of an actual live to a certain extent. Admittedly, I had to watch a few episodes to become fully accustomed to the CGI, and some movements were definitely janky and even robotic. However, they were minor qualms I had, and did not affect my enjoyment of the series whatsoever. As a fervent fan of the franchise, I was pleasantly surprised to hear so many new songs which were first released through these weekly episodes. Bushiroad's been spoiling us fans with this immeasurable amount of content, and I'm grateful for that. The songs themselves are filled with emotion, specifically those of which are tied to the crux of the story. It allows you to understand the joys, hardship, and emotions these girls have toward life's challenges, and the bonds which are intertwined closely between them. It's a beautiful thing to watch and hear. However, one minor gripe I had was that in Season 1, most of the songs were unadulterated; they were pure, and drew realistic vibes from the raw voices of the seiyuus. This was a feature I admired greatly about Season 1 — how they didn't always use the studio versions to present the authenticity of the performances. Season 2 only brought this feature over for a single insert song. But this is more of a personal preference than anything. Here, I would highly recommend everyone to play the mobile game and to watch Season 1 first, before moving on to this. Some actions made by the characters in the series might throw you off, leaving you to wonder why their actions seem illogical/rude at first glance. Getting to know the core of these characters' personalities will boost your appreciation of them, and help you understand the reasons behind their behavior. The characterization runs deep within the cast, but is unfortunately rooted in the other aspects of the franchise. It's up to you to make the effort to unearth and discover more about these lovable characters! Overall, this has been a fantastic season of music and friendship, and I cannot wait for Season 3 which will air on January 2020!

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