Aired: January 2017 – April 2017
Also Known As: バンドリ！
Summary: Ever since she was a young girl, Toyama Kasumi has always been looking for the “Star Beat”, a sparkling sound she once heard while staring up at the night sky. Just after entering high school, Kasumi comes across a “star-shaped guitar” in the storage area of an old pawn shop. Feeling a rush of excitement she has never felt before, Kasumi teams up with four other girls in order to shine.
(Source: Official site)
Review: BanG Dream! appeals to yuri shippers and fans who are starved for music anime (it’s been a while since a good one came out), but the series falls short in many other categories. If aspects of an anime are considered be well done when they surpass expections and excel, then I can only consider BanG Dream! to be largely half-baked.
As stated above, the strong points of this show is the yuri shiptease. It’s what happens when the main character is a highschool girl who is prone to demonstrating affection with physical contact. Kasumi and O-Tae, the other guitarist in the band (which is called Poppin’ Party or PoPiPa for short) who shares a similar mindset in regards to touching other girls, are the aggressors in this show. Arisa, the drummist, is the tsundere maiden while Saaya and Rimi-rin are just versatile. And that’s just the most prominent characters! The other bands had their fair share of yuri shiptease, too. In short, this series was probably the gayest show in Winter 2017 and I spent most of every episode shipping girls with other girls.
That being said, the characters as a whole are…unengaging. They all at least had a little quirk or trait that kept them from being walking tropes but that was about it. Arisa, for instance, is a tsundre who sucks at socializing and is rather clingy around Kasumi. O-Tae is a goofy girl while Rimi-rin is the typical shy wallflower. Sorry, I lied. They’re basically as tropetastic as characters get. I did really, really like O-Tae, though, so who says these kind of characters are always bad?
Meanwhile Kasumi is the walking ball of sunshine that’s required in these kind of shows where a new club or band or group is formed. How else would the other characters join the main character if she wasn’t enthusiastic? The only kind of redemption in the character department would be Saaya, who is multi-faceted and is refreshingly different from the other girls who all join within an episode or two of their formal introduction since she has her own issues that take a while to resolve.
And yet Saaya’s own arc drags on for an excessively long time. It’s a prominent problem for the series as a whole, to be honest. Because after 13 episodes, PoPiPa doesn’t seem to accomplish much. Watching the show could be compared to a guy with a low T-count masturbating. Sure, it probably feels good at the time, but there’s very little payout when it all comes to an end. It’s probably to be expected given that the main character didn’t even know how to play guitar for a few episodes, but it still feels disappointing. I will say that the series does a solid job conveying the pressure that comes with performing on-stage, however.
Here’s the part when the fans of BanG Dream! will rise up and try to justify the anime’s shortcomings by saying that this show is just part of a larger franchise and that the tales of PoPiPa’s exploits continue past what was shown in the show. Yes, I am aware of that. This is a common occurance since many anime series are adaptations of a larger franchise. However, that actually changes nothing because this series review, and the episode reviews, only deals with the anime. Maybe if I were more versed with BanG Dream! I could throw in references that happen in the game or in other media, but such content is largely irrelevant to the aforementioned posts in my opinion.
Despite the series being about five girls coming together (not like that) in order to jam and make rockin’ music, the insert songs just weren’t that memorable. Idol Jihen was like that, too. Maybe shows like Macross Delta or Love Live have affected my standards in a significant way. At least the OP and ED are quite catchy and lovely to listen to. I found myself humming along to the OP every week, actually.
As for the animation, it varied between being barely passable to being quite bad. This was probably the shakiest aspect of the show. It sees like the studio was trying to cut corners whenever possible since so many off-model character faces would pop up. Even the ED looks a little suspect for most of its duration.
For a music anime, BanG Dream! had some rather forgettable insert songs (which are supposed to be the selling point of such a genre). The fact that series is also plagued with the poor animation and bland characters makes me hesistant to recommend BanG Dream! to anyone other than hardcore yuri shippers or people who are invested in the franchise.
I personally would recommend watching Love Live! instead if you’re in the mood for an anime that features yuri shiptease and quality, catchy, sparkling insert songs. While the concept of schoolgirl idols is admittedly less realistic, they get a lot more done than PoPiPa. As a result, the viewer is not left wondering why he or she bothered watching said series, which is more than what could be said of BanG Dream!