To The Beat Of My Own Drum – ‘BanG Dream! 2nd Season’ Full Review

To The Beat Of My Own Drum – A Full Season Review of ‘Bang Dream! 2nd Season’


What’s the show? BanG Dream! 2nd Season.

And what’s it about? In a nutshell it’s a slice of life show about five high-school girls who form a band called ‘Poppin’ Party!’ with the goal to end up performing at Budokan one day (Budokan is the largest arena in Tokyo–only the biggest bands can fill a crowd there). But it’s a long road, as evidenced by the fact that the entire first season only got them as far as performing at a local music venue–and only after failing their first audition.


I wish this gif was bigger because I love it.

And so does the second season continue on with their rocky road to stardom? Eh, kinda…?

What does that mean? Well, there’s two big differences between the 1st and 2nd season. First and most obvious is the fact that the show utilises 3D animation for its character models (with mostly 2D backgrounds)–but I’ll get into that more later. The (arguably) bigger change is the fact that ‘Poppin’ Party!’ aren’t the only band to get focus in this season. We’ve got five more bands, each with 5 new characters per band that are featured frequently and throughout the season.

So. Many. Characters!

*starts counting on fingers* But that’s like 25 new characters?! Why would the show do that to its audience? Because, between the first season airing and the second season airing something big happened in the ‘BanG Dream!’ fandom. Namely, a mobile rhythm game called ‘BanG Dream! Girls Band Party!’ and, unlike the first season, it was a runaway success, becoming a massively grossing product for publishing company Bushiroad. And part of the appeal was undoubtedly the four bands that got introduced through the mobile game; ‘Roselia’, ‘Afterglow’, ‘PastelPalettes’ and ‘Hello, Happy World!’ And it was ‘Roselia’ in particular that helped catapult the series, with the goth-rock inspired band constantly topping fan and official polls as the favourite band with the best songs.

‘Roselia’ is the best.

So what does that mean for this second series in particular? It means ‘Roselia’ feature a lot. To the point where they are featured as frequently is as organically possible to the narrative flow of the series and they even have their songs as ‘OP’ and ‘ED’ in three of the episodes an honour ~not~ afforded to any of the other bands in the show. This is what we call blatant pandering and fan service and as a fellow ‘Roselia’ stan I was in heaven every minute of it.

Roselia doing their stuff in the OP.

Well I guess now that you’ve ‘outed’ yourself, you might as well explain your connection to the series… You make it sound so lurid! Basically, I watched ‘BanG Dream!’s first season way back before I even knew there was a mobile game and I really enjoyed it. To the point where I made an impassioned (if slightly under-researched) post on my site about why ‘BanG Dream Is Better Than Love Live!’–fuelling a rivalry that pretty much only exists in my head… It wasn’t until the end of 2018 that I found out about the ‘BanG Dream! Girls Band Party!’ mobile game and I was hooked. Not “spending my life-savings”-hooked, but “playing it every day for an hour or so”-hooked.

Me; every episode.

And how’s that going to skew your overall verdict of this series as far as reviewing it impartially? Right, so imagine a window, this is me throwing impartiality out that window. There will be next to no impartiality here.

Thanks for being honest I suppose… This is a hard show to review for me because on the one hand, the first season of ‘BanG Dream!’ was flawed and occasionally boring–whereas this new season is consistently entertaining and high-quality not to mention smartly constructed. The irlwaifu, who watches most of the seasonal anime with me, was to put it succinctly–not a fan of season 1 she found it dull and boring and took every opportunity to make fun of it. Whereas season 2 made her smile and laugh and sing-a-long and actually look forward to the forthcoming 3rd season–such is the difference between these seasons. For anyone who hasn’t watched or played or been any part of this series it’s hard to recommend a show that has a polarising, first season and make someone sit-through it just so they can get to the awesome goodness of the second season. People drop shows midway through a single episode, can you imagine what kind of critical acrobatics I’d have to go through to convince someone to watch twelve(+) episodes just to get to something they’d find worthwhile?!

Arisa taking Kasumi to town on her lack of responsibility. Arisa best girl!

Okay, I get it. Then who is this review for? I, uh… I don’t know. Myself, I guess? In a way this is just me signal boosting a series I love and showing how much I love it. I mean, in the 3 months since it’s been out I’ve watched it all through twice and some episodes I’ve watched four times. That might not seem like a lot, but I seldom–if ever–watch a series through more than once unless there’s years between viewings.

CHU2 (that’s her name) is the best anime villain.

That good, huh? The characters and songs and animation is just so unbelievably high quality here. And back onto the topic of 3D animation, well I’ve never been a fan of it until I saw what magic they were capable of here! Never once did the animation fall into ‘uncanny valley’ territory and the 3D animation actually improved upon what was previously done in 2D–as evidenced by some recreated flashback scenes to season one! Not only that the attention to detail in the live performances is immaculate with individual fingering noticeable on guitars and keyboards as well as the overall excellent choreography and lighting of these lengthy sequences.

Ako rockin on the drums!

And what about your favourite episode? No doubt, ‘Hello, Happy World’s’ episode stands out as the highlight from the season. I’ve watched the episode five times already and I never get sick of it (you can find more info on it by reading my single episode review of it here).

But it’s not ‘PERFECT’ right? You’ve gotta have some issues with it, yeah? I mean sure, if you want me to nitpick. The ‘PastelPalettes’ episode was a weak-link–as expected. Likewise there’s an overall sense that larger plot points are being intentionally sidelined for the inevitable 3rd season. And for my liking there’s not enough songs featured per episode as I would like, but these are all complaints that come from me being a super-fan, rather than complaints indicative of the product to the average viewer.

Sorry, ‘PastelPalettes’, you’re just kinda boring. But you do have a couple of good songs!

Right, so try as you might I want you to come up with a final recommendation and review for ‘BanG Dream! 2nd Season’–even with all that aforementioned bias. Put simply, the 2nd season of ‘BanG Dream’ not only improves upon everything that came before and caters to both fans of the mobile game and non-fans alike with impressive visuals, catchy songs and an all-round infectious energy. It also delivers a compelling slice of life story, with stellar voice acting and a surprisingly unpredictable narrative despite being a part of an existing product. I’ve had this dream before but it’s all the sweeter now: 93 out of 100.


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True Colours – ‘BanG Dream! 2nd Season’ Episode 5 Review

True Colours – An Anime QandA Review of ‘Bang Dream! 2nd Season’ Episode 5


What’s the show? BanG Dream! 2nd Season, Episode 5.

So how’s this episode? As good as can be expected for an episode focusing on my least favourite band in the series.

This show really captures inner-city Tokyo’s aesthetic really well.

Wow, straight in there with the harsh truths, huh? That’s not to say I don’t like their songs–their songs are great, but I feel like PastelPalettes (who are the focus of this episode) have the weakest vocalists, have the most ordinary aesthetic and are kind of dull characters. This episode didn’t change any of those facts, however it did at the very least endear me to them–specifically Aya and Chisato–who were front and centre with their little ‘arc’.

You go, girl!

Right, and what is their story in this episode? So the band is practising for the big performance at ‘World Idol Festival’ and there’s a bit of nervousness in the air as they failed their first live debut show–they had to lip-sync and then the power cut-out (an idol’s biggest fear!)–hence why they’re learning to play their own instruments now. Meanwhile there’s a particular song that Aya is keen for them to practice and perform at the festival but that Chisato has doubts about (it’s a duet between her and Aya, but Chisato is a bassist and is worried about being able to plan and sing at the same time). But the two get over their concerns and go on to play at the festival (albeit on a smaller stage than they were expecting) and perform the song without a hitch. The end.


And that’s it for the episode? Yes, and compared to the ridiculous, fantastical spectacle we got last week this is practically a different show. But it’s also pretty sweet and charming and has some nice character moments and even a couple of good jokes. Is it the weakest episode so far? Undoubtedly. But is it still enjoyable, with nice characters and great music? Absolutely. So while I still consider PastelPalettes to be the weakest of the 5 bands (currently) in this series, I still enjoyed this enough that I don’t lament their existence.

Happy end.

Previous ‘BanG Dream 2nd Season’ Reviews:

A Whole New Dimension – Episode 1 Review
Offering Support – Episode 2 Review
Rokka And Roll – Episode 3 Review
Flying High – Episode 4 Review

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Flying High – ‘BanG Dream! 2nd Season’ Episode 4 Review

Flying High – An Anime QandA Review of ‘Bang Dream! 2nd Season’ Episode 4


What’s the show? BanG Dream! 2nd Season, Episode 4.

How’s this episode? Every other anime can go home—this was the single best episode of an anime I’ve seen in a long damn time.

Way to oversell it in the first sentence of the review… I’m not, this was genuinely a joyous experience the likes of which I can scarcely believe I’ve witnessed.


Okay, I’m curious, what happened? So Kasumi has her heart set on the 5 of them “flying” during their prospective live show they’re amidst the planning stages of. The other members of Poppin’ Party are less confident about the idea. It’s then when Kokoro–the lead singer of Hello, Happy World–leaps into action with a plan to cheer up the girls and prove that flying is in fact possible. Queue what is perhaps the single most elaborate “concert” performed by Hello, Happy World on a gigantic cruise liner just for the girls from Poppin’ Party to watch.

Well you made me smile so thanks for that much.

And what makes it so elaborate–aside from being set on a gigantic cruise liner. Well first of all because this is Hello, Happy World we’re talking about its very theatrical and begins with Karoru assuming the persona of a masked phantom thief who “steals” Rimi away all the while they’re performing the song ‘Goka! Gokai!? Phantom Thief!’–Poppin’ Party chases the band and Karoru and Rimi all over the ship where there’s various specific “treats” for each of the members of Poppin’ Party to cheer them up. Then if that wasn’t enough Hello, Happy World promises another song and then disappears with the mysterious message “to the sky!” So Poppin’ Party heads to the deck where in the distance they see a giant hot air balloon of ‘Michelle’ floating across the city (Michelle is the giant pink teddy bear who DJ’s for the band–it’s just Misaki in a costume though–not a real bear). And suspended beneath the bear balloon is a carousel with all of Hello, Happy World who begin the performance of the second song ‘Worldwide Treasure!’

Feature film production values from this episode, like seriously.

Wait, stop. First a cruise ship then a giant pink bear balloon with a carousel hanging underneath? How is any of this real?! Through the power of music and friendship! Just kidding, Kokoro is filthy stinkin’ rich and can afford anything.

Right, that old chestnut. So go on then… So then Kokoro equips Michelle with a backpack of sorts and the two of them jump off the carousel–plummeting towards the ocean below–Kokoro being the risktaker she is doesn’t even have a parachute! But it’s okay because it turns out the Michelle bear suit that Misaki wears was evidently designed by Tony Stark as a computer interface within the suit orders her to input a command. After a few failed attempts Misaki eventually gets it right and from the feet of her Michelle suit rocket boosters begin to launch. She catches up to Kokoro, catches her mid freefall and the two fly around the ship.


That’s… ridiculous! And that’s exactly the point. I can understand that people who’ve only watched the anime might feel like this ‘jumped the shark’ or even was a betrayal of the “grounded and down to earth” roots this show had exhibited previously. But I’d argue that, #1 This is an anime; absurd, ridiculous, nonsensical things happening is par for the course for most of them. #2 Nothing that happens in this episode is ~technically~ impossible, sure it’s ridiculous, complicated and improbable if you apply logic to it–but it’s all achievable given enough imagination (and the bankroll to back it up). And #3 Lighten up! This is fiction, this is fun, this is Hello, Happy World in a nutshell!


But aren’t you saying that coming from the perspective of someone who played the mobile game and is familiar with this level of shenanigans from that band? Maybe. But the irlwaifu never played the game and was indifferent by-and-large to the first season but she absolutely loved this. There was a child-like joy on her face as she watched the frivolites unfold and by the end of the episode she said “they are my favourite band now”. And it’s hard to disagree with that, from just playing the game and listening to the music therein Hello, Happy World always ranked Number 4 out of the five bands in the game. But after this episode it’s hard not to be won over by their manic charms–especially Kokoro who is energy incarnate and an enigmatic lead vocalist. As it stands now, Hello, Happy World is my second favourite band and this episode had everything to do with that.

It’s an old meme but it checks out.

So I guess it’s pointless of me to ask if you liked it? I loved every minute of this episode. I think I said in a previous review that Roselia (still my favourite band from this series’) deserved a spin-off, but Hello, Happy World deserves one way more–especially if every episode was effortlessly enjoyable and entertaining as this one.


Previous ‘BanG Dream 2nd Season’ Reviews:

A Whole New Dimension – Episode 1 Review
Offering Support – Episode 2 Review
Rokka And Roll – Episode 3 Review

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Rokka And Roll – ‘BanG Dream! 2nd Season’ Episode 3 Review

Rokka And Roll – An Anime QandA Review of ‘Bang Dream! 2nd Season’ Episode 3


What’s the show? BanG Dream! 2nd Season, Episode 3.

So how’s this episode? So there’s a new character in this show who isn’t in the mobile game nor was she in the previous season and I neglected to mention her the previous two reviews because–well there was too much else to get to–but now we’ve got an episode more-or-less focused on her so now’s a better time as any!

Okay, who is she and what’s she do? That’d be Rokka, an adorable glasses girl and massive Poppin’ Party fan! How much of a Poppin’ Party fan is she? So much so that she basically moved schools and left all her friends in the country behind just so she could be in proximity to the band. Okay maybe that’s oversimplifying but that’s totally the ulterior motive behind her moving.

She’s precious!

Sounds a bit “stalkerish”. It might sound like it but it’s really not, she even panics/jokes about being mistaken for a stalker but all of the girls in Poppin’ Party welcome her into their life as a friend. Btw this episode is just too sweet for words there’s a long scene towards the end of the episode where the girls perform ‘Kirakira datoka yume kirakira ~Sing Girls~’ for her privately in their rehearsal basement while Rokka reminisces about the journey that brought her to this moment and all her hardships and sacrifices and it literally brought a tear to my eye. She’s quickly climbing the best girl ranks!

Naww, look at Rokka watching Poppin’ Party for the first time, adorable!

Right, but what about the rest of the episode? To be honest not a lot happens in this episode but what little does feels significant so I’m not really complaining (though we could always use more music, that’ll be my long-standing complaint all season!). The main other thing that happens is Roselia is approached by a music producer by the name of CHU2 and asks their leader Yukina to come work for her and sing a song she’s produced because she’s convinced that it’ll make them “the next big thing” if they do. But Roselia–or rather specifically Yukina–isn’t about “selling out” to be big, they’re going to becomes stars on their own terms with their own music! And CHU2 is none too pleased about it, kicking over a trash can in anger and swearing that she’ll “destroy their stupid band”. So I guess we’ve got a villain now!

She’s trying to steal their souls!


Wow, okay, that’s sudden. Mmm, I mean it kind of came out of left-field and felt somewhat at odds with the rest of the episode but at the same time I’m not opposed to some ~drama~ in a show like that and it’s always more interesting (at least for me) when it’s ‘professional’ or ‘work related’ drama rather than ‘relationship’ based as there’s more variables with an unknown third party interfering in affairs.

Yes, CHU2 kicks over the trashcan, but then she picks up the trash and puts it upright again. I mean she’s not a complete monster!


Okay fair enough. Overall thoughts on the episode? A necessary slow episode that helped Poppin’ Party as a band realise what they want to do moving forward and that (hopefully) helped Rokka get out of her shell a little more. The stuff with Roselia is 100% in this show because Roselia is by far and away the most popular band with fans (all the popularity polls and sales figures reflect that) but as they’re my favourite band too I’m more than happy for this kind of ‘fan service’. Overall a lot of fun, earnestly endearing and promising for the episodes to come!


Previous ‘BanG Dream 2nd Season’ Reviews:

A Whole New Dimension – Episode 1 Review
Offering Support – Episode 2 Review

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Offering Support – ‘BanG Dream! 2nd Season’ Episode 2 Review

Offering Support – An Anime QandA Review of ‘Bang Dream! 2nd Season’ Episode 2


What’s the show? BanG Dream! 2nd Season, Episode 2.

So how’s this episode? There’s less music in this episode–which is bad. But there’s more character and plot focus–which is good!

Well you can’t expect every episode to have 5 live music performances like episode 1 now can you? Can’t I?

Me, every episode.

I mean… I guess you can, but that’s a bit unrealistic isn’t it? Though to sate my longing for music the show gives us a new opening credit sequence, which looks like it’s going to be the case with every episode–12 different songs with accompanying visuals with beautiful music-video like detail put into them is an a-okay consolation prize! Though I did think ‘Kizuna Music’ (which was Episode 1’s OP song) was pretty perfect as an OP song. This time we’re treated to the gorgeous ‘BRAVE JEWEL’ by Roselia–and this episode is pretty heavily focused around Roselia too which makes me very happy indeed.

Land of the Lustrous?

‘Kay, so what’s the episode about then? Well Poppin’ Party–or rather Arisa, the level headed tsundere of the band–has realised that putting on their own self-sponsored show is probably going to be more work than any of them are truly expecting or ready for. Especially as the two members of Roselia who are on the student council with her, outlay all the things they’ve had to do much to Arisa’s horror. So they obligingly give Poppin’ Party the last remaining spot as an opening act for Roselia’s sponsored show–as a way to show them how it’s supposed to be done. And while I know very little about live music and putting on a concert (I’ve been to a few but that’s about where my experience ends) this episode shows just how much hard work and planning goes into these things!

They broke Arisa.

And how’s it go? Pretty flawlessly, for both bands. Though I do wish they’d shown all of Poppin’ Party’s live performance and not just the brief few seconds of the start and the end but I guess since we saw the song last week I could just go back and watch that… Thankfully we get all of Roselia’s ‘BLACK SHOUT’ another of my favourite songs of theirs and as expected the visuals of the show from lighting and camera angles down to Yukina’s awesome stage presence and Lisa’s legs! Ompf!


All right, settle down there… I don’t think you understand how much I like Roselia, while I doubt I’d go out of my way to see the real band perform (I prefer their 2D look as opposed to them in real life) they are a band I can’t get enough of and so seeing such beautiful live performances (and the music video quality OP) gives me chills! But this is sheer fanboy talk here, I doubt I’d be as complementary to this show if I’d not played the mobile game for so many hours. Don’t get me wrong it’s still perfectly enjoyable but it’s clear this show is made with players in the game in mind–or rather it’s simply just more enjoyable because of the already established connection us game players have.

I wish I had a gif of her hand movements here, it was pretty cool.

Glad to hear it. Anything else you wanted to add? Obviously the other bands will be playing a large supporting part in the show and it’ll be interesting to see how they get integrated. I’m guessing each will end up offering their support to the Poppin’ Party girls in various ways but I do hope we get some more performances at ‘Circle’ throughout the series. Also and this is a small note but I feel like they’ve softened Arisa a bit from the first season–which is good as it shows growth but I’m wondering if it’s in an effort to make her more likeable? Which if so, is working because I certainly do!

Also a small moment but I loved that all the hardcore dressed-up Roselia fans showed up after all the supporting acts had finished.

Overall thoughts? While I talked at length about how much I preferred this show to a certain other idol show, I will admit season 1 had problems, it felt a little shaky and uneven at times–but in a way that was reflected in Poppin’ Party’s growth as a band just starting out. Here in season 2 everything feels more assured and the show is all the better for it! This episode had lots of fun character moments but with enough depth to bring you in to the plot, I keenly look forward to the next episode!


Previous ‘BanG Dream 2nd Season’ Reviews:

A Whole New Dimension – Episode 1 Review

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A Whole New Dimension – ‘BanG Dream! 2nd Season’ Episode 1 Review

A Whole New Dimension – An Anime QandA Review of ‘Bang Dream! 2nd Season’ Episode 1


What’s the show? BanG Dream! 2nd Season, Episode 1.

So how’s this episode? Right so I’m going to get a few ‘biases’ out of the way real quick so you understand exactly where this review is coming from. First of all I really enjoyed the first season of this show, so much so I wrote an impassioned defense of the show where I compared it to (somewhat) similar show ‘Love Live’ and explained all the ways it was better. (You can read that review by clicking this link!) Secondly, I play the ‘BanG Dream! Girls Band Party’ mobile game pretty religiously, though I admit I skip a lot of the story parts in the game as I’m more about the rhythm and gacha parts of the game. But that means not only do I know and like a lot of the characters, but I’ve heard all the songs from the 5 bands in the game approximately a million times each, so suffice to say I’m a fan.

Right, thanks for full disclosure and all that. How does that affect how you approached this anime’s first episode? I was wary, mostly because I was wondering how they’d suddenly introduce 4 new bands into a show since the first whole season focused solely on ‘Poppin’ Party’ the band who comprises the main characters on the show. I worried that it might come off as overkill or confusing or at worst just bloated and messy to introduce twenty characters at once–but remarkably, somehow they completely pull it off. It’s not flawless, but it works.

Pastel Palettes in action.

20 new characters?! Yep, we’ve got ‘Pastel Palettes’, who are introduced right off the bat being watched on television by one of the other characters, so it seems like they are the famous, established girl band of the series. Then the other three bands, who are still playing local venues are: ‘Afterglow’, ‘Hello, Happy World’ and fan favourite ‘Roselia’. We only get a glimpse of each of the band members but they all have a distinct and fun character trait that either compliment or contrast with the image of the band they are in. But before I go into the individual band performances there’s something important that I should have probably addressed earlier as it’ll undoubtedly be the thing that catches most people’s attention–especially those people who only ever watched the first season of the show.

Yeah, and what’s that? The show is in 3D now. That is to say all the characters are 3D anime characters against mostly hand-drawn 2D backdrops.

‘Afterglow’ performing.

Oh? And how do you feel about that. Here’s the thing, I didn’t actually know this was going to be the case… I knew they had a new animation studio behind the 2nd season but I didn’t know they were doing 3D and at first it was jarring, as it often is to see characters in 3D. But the more I watched, and the more I thought about it not only did it make a lot of sense but in some ways it was actually better than the first season’s 2D visuals, and that’s a hard task because at times season 1 looked absolutely gorgeous. But why I think it’s better here is that we have five musical performances in this episode (and that’s not even including the credits) so to animate all these traditionally would have taken a long time and increased the budget exponentially. But with 3D, you get all the fine detail of individual fingers picking guitar strings, or striking keyboard keys and the fast animation of drumming and dancing without having to resort to the usual budget tightening tricks of traditional anime like panning over still images of people performing. Also it’s not that much of a stretch for players of the game to see these characters in 3D as that’s how they are portrayed in the mobile game story scenes, so in a way it makes more sense.

I love that expression on Rinko!

Fair enough, and these performances you mentioned, are they any good, aside from being actively animated? They are probably the best thing about the show so far. Speaking from a biased perspective ‘Roselia’s’ performance was the best, they are a straight up rock band and hearing ‘LOUDER’ (one of their best songs) accompanied with visuals for the first time sent chills down my spine, and the little animation flourishes they put into lead singer Yukina’s performance gave her so much stage presence in a way I haven’t seen since the ‘K-On!’ days with Mio singing the ED songs. What was most surprising however was ‘Hello, Happy World’s’ performance, as they are my least favourite band from the game but seeing how much energy they all had and well their (admittedly gaudy) visual aesthetic matched their rambunctious songs it completely sold me on them and that’s something I never expected to happen.

Yes that’s a pink bear as the DJ, don’t ask questions.

Can you give an unbiased review of this episode, like what you think a person who’s not a fan of the game could come to expect from the show? Actually I can, but it’s not my opinions but those of the irlwaifu, Sharon that I’ll have to relay. See, she didn’t much care for ‘BanG Dream’s’ first season to the point where she kind of made fun of it, which is fine. Nor has she played the mobile game, so her opinions are completely unbiased. But the way she reacted to seeing ‘Roselia’s’ performance was with surprise and delight, and by the end of the episode she was not only happy to have watched the show but even looking forward to the next episode! How’s that for an unbiased review?!

The lighting throughout Roselia’s performance was astounding.

Fair enough, and a summation of your thoughts? How would you go about recommending this considering it is a 2nd season? I think you could conceivably watch this and not be too lost, but I ~am~ basing this off one episode, the call-backs may become too strong to ignore later on. If anything this feels less like a 2nd season and more like an adaptation of the game. Season 1 gave you all the minutiae of ‘Poppin’ Party’s’ formation and the backstory for all the characters but this almost feels like it’s setting up a larger scale ‘battle-of-the-bands’ style series just against a slice of life backdrop. I could be wrong and the show could scale back to how season 1 felt by next episode but I’m hoping we get this type of show week after week. If any of this sounds interesting, you’re interested in more instrument heavy, J-pop/rock or you just want to see some really well put together 3D performances than I’d say give ‘BanG Dream: 2nd season’ a go!


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