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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BanG Dream Is Better Than Love Live! – A 20 Question BanG Dream Review

A 20 Question Anime Review for BanG Dream! And why it’s better than Love Live! School Idol Project

What’s the show? BanG Dream!

“BanG Dream!” huh? Is… is this a porn? I wish. It’s a music anime, as in cute high-school girls forming a band and writing music and trying to get successful, etcetera.

Okay, fair enough. I’m just so used to you reviewing perverted things, it’s a reflex so sue me. Tch.

So what got you watching a music anime, last time I checked you weren’t the biggest fan of Love Live! School Idol Project? Okay, first of all Love Live is fine, it’s good even, don’t pretend like I don’t like it. It’s just kind of forgettable and repetitive and predictable, but it’s still cute and fun and why are we talking about Love Live in a BanG Dream review?

Sorry, I was just trying to ascertain your state of mind when going into this show. Okay fine, so I already mentioned this in my Love Live season 1 review I was in Japan—specifically Akihabara—and Love Live merch was EVERYWHERE, like literally there were trucks blaring Love Live songs rolling through the streets it was so damn ubiquitous. And as I was perusing the shelves of various anime stores, wading through the plethora of Love Live merch there was by the side the ~occasional~ piece of merch for a show called BanG Dream, a show with much cuter girls who actually play instruments!

Oh no you didn’t! Yeah yeah I know it’s lame to like a musical act over another one (especially a fictional, animated band) because they actually play instruments but I’m an old man and I still inherently respect anyone that bothers to learn play music.

So wait, what does there being a lot of Love Live merch in Akihabara got to do with you starting to watch BanG Dream? I just wanted to see what this other show was like. It’s like going to a store and seeing a whole bunch of Coca Cola on the shelf with big displays and promotions. And then seeing a can of Tab Cola or RC Cola relegated to the side, sometimes you just want to see what the less popular alternative is like.

Right. So all that out of the way, all the external stuff, how is the show? Yeah it’s good.

Just… “good”? So here’s the thing, I really really like the characters here and I actually love that these characters spend this whole series going from mediocre amateurs to kind-of-okay amateurs, rather than going from the bottom to the top with little to no interference. I love that they have performance anxiety and self doubt and family troubles and history with other bands, it’s all a rich tapestry but…

But? But it’s still kinda boring, actually no that’s not fair… it’s kind of ~minimalistic~, if there’s generally a plot point that an episode wants to cover it does so and does little else. It’s very laid back with regard to narrative progression and not in a ‘Laid Back Camp’ way. But… it’s still better than Love Live…

You keep bringing it up. Why don’t you make this a comparison piece? Like ‘BanG Dream is better than Love Live’. Isn’t it a bit late for that we’re halfway through the review—though I guess I have spent a lot of it mentioning Love Live already so it’s not entirely out of the blue… okay, I’ll do it!

So what about BanG Dream is similar to Love Live that it deserves to be compared to it? They’re both about high-school girls who want to enter a super competitive musical field, both shows are about them training to be better and both shows centre around a school/hobby balance, also both shows put an emphasis on friendship.

Right and so it doesn’t seem like you’re just bashing the show what does Love Live do better than BanG Dream? It’s characterisation is more immediate and distinctive and it’s arguably more easy to binge-watch. I had trouble watching more than 2 episodes of BanG Dream on any one week.

And what does BanG Dream do better than Love Live? There’s more of a sense of how hard it is to become even semi-professional, these girls work so hard and by their final audition (after 2 failed ones) they still kind of sound pretty average and the show isn’t afraid to make them sound like this, their singing is raw and unpolished and their instrumentation is amateurish. And they get upset when they fail, they cry and get angry with themselves, there’s a real sense of passion in their craft. Plus I feel like this show is a lot more realistic, it could be argued of course that Love Live isn’t trying to be realistic but I appreciated the more low-key approach to this kind of story. It might be a small thing but the fact that their outfits for their first ‘big performance’ look hand-made and kind of cheap looking was very endearing, especially compared to the other bands.

Other bands? Mmhmm, the plot of the first season is the girls of Poppin’ Party (that’s the name of their band) want to perform at an all female music venue called ‘Space’, except they have to impress the Owner before that’s going to happen. But throughout the series we get to see a bunch of different girl bands and they’re all unique and interesting and it’s just another thing that helps set this show aside from Love Live, these other bands offer variety to the music and aesthetics.

But there’s obviously a pacing problem if you can’t watch more than 2 episodes in a row without getting restless. Undoubtedly, the whole ‘it’s hard work, there’s lots of training involved’ shtick isn’t relegated to brief montages, it’s whole episodes, it’s the whole damn series and so the fact that there is little improvement from where they start to where the season ends is a double edged sword—It’s realistic, it’s honest, it’s surprising but it’s not exactly the most riveting thing in the world.

Kind of like this review… kind of like this revi—hey!

If the point of these music anime is to sell singles and albums but they aren’t especially good. Isn’t that a bit of a problem? They are good though, the OP and ED song by the band is polished, professional and catchy as heck, but i think the way we’re supposed to look at that is that those songs are of the band when they make their professional debut some years from now. This first season is but a small part of a planned franchise. (Seasons 2 and 3) were recently announced for a 2019 air date.

Fair enough. Anything else you wanted to add before we wrap this review up? Rimi is best girl! Oh and I never want to hear “twinkle twinkle little star” ever again…

Right. So final score and recommendation for BanG Dream!? The aesthetic differences between this and Love Live are all a matter of opinion, whether you prefer one show’s characters or songs to the others is entirely down to the individual. Critically speaking however, I found myself more invested in the story and character development in BanG Dream as it wasn’t nearly as predictable as the aforementioned idol show. Both shows are far from perfect, but I found just the entire experience of watching BanG Dream more pleasant, fulfilling and rewarding—even if it suffers from serious pacing problems. This is one dream I look forward to having again, 79 out of 100.

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