I enjoyed about a third of it. The season's basically dead air. Season 1 had a direction. Kasumi and her four friends were starting a band.
Here, though, we have six five-girl bands and no clear storyline. Furthermore, everyone's now successfully making music and the show doesn't seem to have any idea of where to go. How about a concert? Can we put on a concert? Yes, we can put on a concert! Would you like to play in my concert? There isn't even any rivalry, since the girls are all friends who support each other and celebrate each other's triumphs. (Except CHU2, who's not a musician and doesn't count.)
The show still has charm, but half of its episodes contain no real dramatic content and what there is often depends on the girls being idiots.
EPISODE FIVE = Chisato is in the band, but she's also acting in a TV drama! Can she fit her rehearsals into her shooting schedule? Does she get real and talk things through? No, she starts practicing solo in secret because she's trying to look perfect even to her bandmates, while refusing to attend joint rehearsals and being rude and hurtful in her rejections when the others try to discuss it. Result: no one can rehearse properly (including Chisato).
This is the kind of plot that only works because someone's vanished up their own arse. It works emotionally and it's all resolved heartwarmingly, but you'll still want to push Chisato off a pier. I disliked this episode.
EPISODE NINE = Tae wants to play in two bands at once! They're both performing live on the same evening! No, that can't possibly go wrong! This is actually one of the season's best episodes, with cool scenes as other bands step in to help and Rock has an awesome personality change. The script has meat. However it's still the entirely predictable consequence of our heroines taking on too much, not laying contingency plans and being in denial about it.
You'll also want to tell the girls that going from band to band isn't an apocalypse. It happens. You don't need to go into bitter shouty denial, or spend nearly a whole episode being depressed and trying so hard to be considerate that you come across as cold. "We want you to think seriously about quitting PoPiPa."
It's a CGI anime. Presumably they did that because of the huge cast and stage performances (which are hard enough to do well that even hand-drawn anime tend to go into CGI for them). They've done it quite well and at least it's cel-shaded... but it's still a minus unless you like plastic faces with a fixed default expression.
Oh, and CHU2 got on my nerves. I think she's supposed to, but her voice (and her American accent) made me want to drown her in a ditch. She's a knee-high producer who might have a Napoleon complex. (Her band is Raise A Suilen, aka. RAS, so when she calls herself "RAS boss" that sounds in Japanese like the "Last Boss" of a computer game.)
That said, though, there's a fair amount I enjoyed here too.
Hello, Happy World! are space cases. I worshipped them, although unfortunately they only get one focus episode. 1. Kokoro is the happiest, bubbliest person ever, but of questionable sanity and with an six-year-old's worldview. She's also as rich as Croesus. 2. Hagumi is nearly as incomprehensible to normals. 3. Kaoru is a massive ham and a parody of either 'tachi' lesbian stereotypes (c.f. 'tachineko') or of Tarazuka musical theatre. 4. Kanon is a wreck who just goes along with the others. 5. Michelle is the only sane girl... and she only ever appears in a giant pink bear costume. (Kanon's the only one to have guessed who's inside it, even though it's obvious, because the other three are loons.)
Ep.4 is their episode, i.e. the mental one. It's awesome. For a while it's sort of normal. It ends with a Michelle-shaped hot air balloon, jetpacks and freefalling without a parachute because Kokoro wasn't joking about her "flying practice".
The girls are nice.
Sometimes, the season succeeds in its anti-dramatic way. Ep.13, for instance, is basically just the girls getting ready to perform, then performing. Every band will get its turn, because otherwise the anime's fans would go berserk. There's not much dramatic content... but it's still a happy, warm, enjoyable episode. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Rock is adorable. Hina is too in ep.7, being such an airhead that she can face down all opposition to her school culture festival plans by not realising when people disagree with her.
There's a lot to like here, but you might still often get bored or exasperated. It feels like a franchise dragging out a story way beyond its natural end. It's fragmented and shapeless. Cast too big. Storyline needs hitting with sticks. It's lost its purpose. However the season often works anyway, almost despite itself. It has a lot of charm, humour and likeable characters. I'm planning to watch the movie and I'm not opposed to watching Season 3, which I hear is an improvement on Season 2.
(LATER: I didn't watch Season 3, though. CHU2 annoyed me too much in ep.1.)