AimiBanG DreamYuka OzakiAyasa Ito
BanG Dream! season 1
Episode 1 also reviewed here: Anime 1st episodes 2017: B
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2017
Director: Atsushi Ootsuki
Writer: Yuniko Ayana, Ko Nakamura
Actor: Aimi, Ayaka Ohashi, Ayasa Ito, Izumi Kitta, Mami Koyama, Mikoi Sasaki, Rimi Nishimoto, Sae Ootsuka, Sora Tokui, Suzuko Mimori, Yuka Ozaki, Yuko Gibu
Keywords: BanG Dream, anime
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 13 episodes + a 14th OVA
Website category: Anime 2017
Review date: 1 August 2018
bang dream
It's about schoolgirls who form a band! Is it K-On!? Is it Love Live!? Well, nearly. Imagine the latter, but with the subject matter of the former. They're bands, not idols, which is an improvement. Band members have to play instruments and write their own music. (Well, they do if they're anime schoolgirls, anyway.)
The show's pretty good. I liked it. I have no problem with the announcedment of two sequel series, plus a third "mini" one. (The sequels will draw on the tie-in game and include other bands, as well as the original one from this series.)
Our heroine is Kasumi Toyama, who's a loopy happiness machine. She never slows down or makes much contact with reality. She's great. She might go out of her tiny mind and go on stage to perform the world's worst-chosen song. She gets a guitar and starts a band even though she can't play it. She doesn't seem to think that's a prerequisite. During class discussions of the school culture festival in ep.6, Kasumi gets so excited that she needs a translator. She drives the show and I loved her. In fact she's capable of getting hurt as much as anyone else, but you've got to whack her hard to do that and she tends to hide it under general bubbliness anyway.
(She's not even this show's biggest loon, which is a permanently hyper motormouth in another band, Glitter Green. "Apparently I'll ruin our image if I speak.")
The title sequence is a massive spoiler, telling us from the start that Kasumi will assemble a five-girl band and who'll be in it. The narrative, though, doesn't take recruitment for granted. On the contrary, Kasumi has to work hard for that and in some cases her target's decision is a major story arc. It'll take eight episodes to assemble everyone. Arisa (keyboards) is endearingly grumpy and hostile, never admitting that she's lonely and wants friends. She made me laugh. Rimi (bass) is gentle and meek. Tae (guitar) gets unfairly called the Second Kasumi, while Saaya has personal stuff going on. She's still friendly with the last girl band she walked out on.
There's nothing too surprising in the storyline, but it's well done. The story beats are dramatically meaningful, although not heavy. (This is a happy show.) The cast are taken seriously. The owner of the Live House Space has given her life to music and single-handedly created the local music scene, but she's also intimidating, bad at positive reinforcement and potentially hurtful. The show's scale is also credible, with our heroines' highest target being a local club audition. (The band includes Kasumi, so that's more than enough challenge.)
Is there anything here I dislike? Well, the CGI animation is regrettable in the stage performances. Those should have been the show's dramatic highlights, but unfortunately you're being distracted by doll-like movement and budget-saving frame pans.
There are some amusing names. Our heroines call their band Poppin' Party and never wonder if this might suggest drug references. As for the show's title... well, many teenagers have Bang Dreams, but I don't think that was intended. The game it's based on also has a band called Afterglow.
It's a fun, happy show. You could call it another dispensable anime about cute girls doing cute things, which it is... but it's doing it well and it has a storyline. It's not just slice-of-life. People are capable of being insensitive and hurting each other, although it's never malicious. It's merely good rather than awesome (i.e. it's not Show by Rock!!), but I think it does what it does well and I've got a lot of time for it.