“Once, when I was little, I heard the rhythm of the “star beat”! That sparkling, heart-pounding sound…I want to find it again!”
In a season which features such highly-anticipated titles as the second season to the smash-hit comedy KonoSuba, the long-anticipated television adaptation of Trigger animated shorts Little Witch Academia, and the sequel to the popular action anime Blue Exorcist, a little show like BanG Dream! from To LOVE-Ru and Keijo producer Xebec might fly under the radar. But, what it offers is a charming little music anime sure to fill the void for rabid music-moe fans looking to get their fix of cute girls making music together. Bang Dream! is the newest product of Japanese marketing giant Bushiroad, responsible in part for the Love Live! franchise. I, for one, have had a lot of my “Love Liver” friends hyping this one up, so it’s definitely one of the titles for this season I was more looking forward to.
What we have of a story from the opening episode is slim, but it sets itself up to proceed along a well-trodden line of music anime. New high-school student Kasumi Toyama is beginning her first days at Hanasakigawa Girls’ Academy. When she was young, Toyama heard the aforementioned “star beat” one evening on an adventure with her younger sister, Asuka or “Aa-chan”. The sound captivated her and since her childhood, she has longed to find that mystical, enchanting sound once more. This dream of hers’ leads her eventually to a small thrift shop, after following a trail of small paper stars, where she finds a star-shaped guitar, which she is quick to claim as her own, much to the dismay of the shopkeeper, eventually leading her to a live house performance by another group, Glitter*Green (featuring the main cast and voice actors of Bushiroad’s Milky Holmes franchise).
The story is slim, so for the first episode, we get a lot of introduction to the main cast. Kasumi Toyama is our brown-haired protagonist and we follow her throughout most of the episode. She is very standard as far as moe-music protagonists come, bright-eyed and excited about everything with a passion for what she does. While she doesn’t really break the mold set by earlier franchises, such as Love Live! and The iDOLM@STER, she fills the role of eager, bright-eyed main character quite well and has a few charming moments throughout the episode. While most of the episode’s focus was on Kasumi herself, we did get a small introduction to other characters, including classmate Saaya Yamabuki and the girl at the thrift store, Arisa Ichigaya. While I can’t say much for either of the two yet, I did enjoy my first impression of Arisa. She reminded me of some other characters from music anime I’ve been drawn to, with a snarky, sort of stand-offish demeanor.
Aesthetics (Animation and Music)
The animation, as I stated before, is done by Studio Xebec, who are known primarily for the To-LOVE-Ru franchise and the cult hit of last season, Keijo!!!!!!!!. For the most part, the animation in the episode was nothing too special, but did its job nicely. The character designs are all very nicely done and very appealing to the eye, but it didn’t really feel like there was a big “hook” scene animation-wise. The night-time flashback scene with Kasumi and Asuka was nice, but there was something about the transition from ground to sky that bothered me, particularly when it shifted from Kasumi and Asuka’s backshots to the night-sky shot. Something about the transition felt a bit clunky to me, akin to on Google Earth when you shift the camera in street-view from straight forward to overhead personally. It was a bit jarring for me and didn’t help what otherwise would have been a great scene.
As for the sound, the OST was solid. I didn’t really have too many complaints about the show’s general choice of soundtrack pieces. In fact, I rather liked the piece used for the flashback scene. But, for the most part, there weren’t really any stand-out pieces from the first episode as far as the OST is concerned. However, where I feel the first episode of BanG Dream really shines is in its first insert song, “Don’t be afraid”, performed by Glitter*Green (the Milky Holmes cast group). Suzuko Mimori delivers a strong vocal performance that rings close to some of her best solo songs and brings her standard of quality to the show, with a strong instrumental track to back her. I wasn’t a huge fan of the first glimpse of the OP, but I’ll give it time to grow on me.
Should You Watch It?
I’ll be honest. Chances are, if you’re reading this, you probably should watch it. If stuff like K-On! and Love Live! are your kind of thing, and if you just like watching cute girls make music, BanG Dream! looks to be a fun ride throughout. We haven’t even really been introduced to half the main group, with multiple other groups waiting to get their moment in the spotlight. With a variety of different groups, it looks to offer a lot of cuteness, a lot of fun, bouncy music, and music shows always tend to come with a bit of drama. If it’s the kind of thing you’re looking for, BanG Dream! should do a great job to satiate that sweet mix of fun musical performances and cute girls doing cute things.
BanG Dream! is available for viewing through The Anime Network in 720p, with no delay for free members