A few months back, I shared my thoughts about Kidani Takaaki believing that idol boom will die and the band boom will happen. Of course, that never really went into fruition since girl band shows are not too different from idol anime.
Regardless, Bushiroad, the company behind the Love Live School Idol Festival mobile game decided to take gamble. They created a new franchise called BanG Dream focused on girl bands. They created an anime series to jump-start this trend. You might be asking yourself, did the anime succeeded in that goal? Not so much.
The story focuses on a normal high school girl, Toyama Kasumi. She wants to find something that she is passionate about. When she comes over to Ichigaya Arisa’s house, she finds a guitar. After Arisa takes Kasumi to a live house performance, Kasumi finally decides what she wants to play music in a band. She forms a band called Poppin’ Party as she recruits Arisa, Tae, Saaya and Rimi. They practiced hard in order to pass an audition so they can perform at the Space live house. Will they make it?
While I enjoyed this show, I felt the story felt too much like Love Live School Idol Project. Sure, there are noticeable differences since this show focus on girls playing instruments. However, the story felt too similar. Some examples are how Kasumi recruit’s members to the band, Kasumi feeling depressed after failing the audition two times and the CG performance scenes.
Sure, the live house shuts down in the end since the owner already decided its fate, I felt the story is unoriginal. I gave the same criticism for Love Live Sunshine, but I let this go since it’s an idol anime. Since Bushiroad marketed this show that will start the girl band boom, it simply doesn’t live up to the hype.
To me, Bang Dream feels uninspired since it follows Love Live’s playbook too much. They simply replaced idols with girl bands playing idol-inspired music. This is like putting lip-stick on a pig to market it as something else. At the end of the day, it’s still a pig.
While I have problems with the premise of BanG Dream, it’s not bad at all. Although I find Kasumi somewhat annoying, I enjoy the rest of the cast. Arisa is of course my favorite since she is 100% tsundere, but still cares about her friends. Also, I felt that the character development is good, especially with Saya overcoming her fears of her mother collapsing. She eventually gains the courage to pursue her dreams instead of sacrificing it to help her mother. Tae is also a fun character as she helps Kasumi with the guitar and Rimi of course, is adorable but shy.
In short, BanG Dream is a mixed bag for me at least. While the animation looks nice and the characters for the most part are enjoyable, the show feels generic. This show felt too similar to idol shows instead of developing into something unique. I think Kidani Takaaki’s remarks and the late airing killed the potential this show had. It’s apparent with the lackluster merchandise sales although disc sales went well in the end. Despite the generic premise and plot, there is still a lot to enjoy from this show such as the characters, comedy, drama and music.