BanG Dream! is a Japanese multimedia franchise about girls who play in bands. I hadn't been expecting much from Season 1 in 2017, but I ended up quite enjoying it and I'll be watching Season 2. This is a spin-off, starring five girls from a band I've never heard of, called Pastel Palettes. Apparently they're from a smartphone game, BanG Dream! Girls Band Party!, and these characters will be appearing in BanG Dream! Season 2. (Other bands include Poppin'Party, Afterglow, Roselia, Hello, Happy World!, RAISE A SUILEN and good grief, they're never-ending.)
I'll probably rewatch these six mini-episodes after I finish BanG Dream! Season 2, although that's not to say that they have hidden depths. They don't. It's just that this kind of character-based fluff is generally more meaningful when you already know the cast from seeing them elsewhere.
It's a bunch of Flash-animated slice-of-life mini-episodes. You might assume it's a series of DVD extras, although in fact it's not and it was broadcast on TV. There's absolutely no need to watch it and you'll have probably forgotten what happened in any given episode almost before you've turned off the television. That said, though, it's also a bit less throwaway than usual for this kind of three-minute nonsense. That's faint praise, I know, but it's true. It's not just cutesy banter, but instead is quite often making efforts to tell a little character-based story. I actually feel I know which one's Maya, for instance, which is pretty good for chibi-style idol girls in a brutally short screen time. Ep.4 made me laugh, while ep.5 is amusing too.
EPISODE 1 - gives a bad first impression of the series. Aya and Chisato go shopping outside, but will they be recognised by their fans? It's hard to care, but Chisato being nice to Aya at the end while gently censoring reality could be taken as either corny or rather nice.
EPISODE 2 - Maya the drummer is about to make her acting debut. The others give her genuinely helpful, practical advice, but their main objective is to try to improve Maya's self-awareness. She hasn't realised that she'll basically be playing herself.
This is a perfectly decent episode, but I'm sure it'll be funnier when I rewatch it after seeing BanG Dream! Season 2. If you've never met Pastel Palettes before, then this will basically feel like a series about generic idol girl-blobs. This episode works, up to a point. We understand that Maya has a thing for her sister. We can follow the scene. However we're having to take her characterisation on trust, which is weaker than being able to recognise someone you already know.
EPISODE 3 - it's a complete little story. It's got a situation, a puzzle, detective work and a resolution. This is where I started noticing how much this show was doing in three minutes. Chisato has a dog.
EPISODE 4 - my favourite, because it's funny. Maya likes squeezing herself into gaps, e.g. behind the studio amp or underneath the sofa. This takes her away from "generic girl idol" and into the land of "bizarre freakazoid", which makes for an amusing three minutes.
EPISODE 5 - involves tickling. I liked this too. Again, it has characterisation, e.g. the girl who laughs at Aya's face even though everyone else is trying to be supportive and diplomatic.
EPISODE 6 - a bit less interesting, because it's idols on stage. It's still okay, though.
After watching ep.1, I assumed that this series was vapid nonsense. It's still not far above that level, to be honest, but I think it's interesting and has enough character that I'm not just keeping the episodes. I'm planning to rewatch them. I'm also quite looking forward to another mini-anime, BanG Dream! Girls Band Party! PICO. All six episodes of this are available on the official BanG Dream! YouTube channel, incidentally.