Now that Kasumi and the rest of Poppin’Party are taking charge of their own show, the sky’s the limit for their rockin’ musical ambitions and dreams of stardom. But they’ll have to contend with other bands looking for their big break, and their friendship will be put to the ultimate test as they rock their way to the top of the charts!
Source: Sentai Filmworks
With the coming of the third season, we finally understand the significance of the title of the series, BanG Dream. It is not the name of an up-and-coming group, nor the over-riding theme of the franchise (though this would be close). It is the name given to a nation-wide competition for over 200 girl bands, the best two groups meeting in a head-to-head concert at the greatest musical venue in Japan, the Budokan. Strong anime displays compelling themes, and the best expression of what BanG Dream drives for centers on the distinction of the beauty of music versus the shoddy veneer we often give the field of performance. Or, better, what is mere image, what is solid substance. The catalyst that drives the story comes from the band RAISE A SUILEN (RAS). If you remember the cliff-hanger ending to season two, RAS had virtually threatened to mash all girl bands that stand in her way as her ultimate revolution in the world of girl band-dom sweeps all away. Okay, not so much RAS as their producer/DJ, Chiyu Tamade. Overly aggressive and assertive in promoting her group. I actually had Chiyu on my “I hate” list for a couple weeks, until I got to see what motivates her. The only daughter of virtuosi parents, she has immense skill but unappreciated talent in the world of competitive music. She flops as a concert pianist, but Chiyu has a drive to demonstrate her skills as organizer, lyricist, promoter … she wants the world to see that she has talent. I can respect that. But her methods are questionable. She gives her band members an iconic name, PAREO, LAYER, MASKING, LOCK, and herself as CHU2. She arranges a rigged contest with Roselia to allow her fans, her venue, and her rules to determine whether RAS or Roselia is the best band. She develops an awesome, professional music video with all the gimmicks and gizmo-ry to give RAS an aura of superstar status. She even goes so far as to attempt a ‘no fraternizing’ policy with the other bands … a decision which almost destroys RAS. If RAS is the catalyst, Poppin’ Party is the touchstone. And this is seen in the lead singer Kasumi Toyama. She is the embodiment of Dokidoki, what we call excitement, exuberance, tingly feelings, the rapture of the rapidly-beating heart. Originally seen as an airhead with no sense of direction (keyboardist Arisa thought so from the first), her drive to take on the excitement of the new experience inspires all of her PoPiPa mates. We learn of her fascination with the night sky and how it motivates her creative nature. PoPiPa also creates a music video which becomes a montage of bits and pieces of memories the girls gained as they worked with all the other girl bands to develop their style, memories which have driven them together and will keep them together. Even excited when placing 241<sup>st</sup>, PoPiPa drives to get into 66<sup>th</sup> place. But it is the pragmatist in the group, Arisa, who tells her four idealistic partners the full-bore commitment towards their Budokan-dream which pushes PoPiPa to sixth place, with only a week to go in the competition. Characters push the series to an excellent mixture of diversity which moves to the same goal. Rokka Asahi is a shy girl with crazy ‘J. Hendricks meets J. Joplin’ guitar skills and scouted by Chiyu to be RAS’s lead guitar. But she does not share Chiyu’s vicious loathing for other girl bands. Ako Udagawa is Roselia’s drummer, a girl whose gothic-style always loses out to her cuteness. Rimi Ushigome is PoPiPa’s bass player, a shy girl who dreads the Budokan-experience as PoPiPa’s last. Yukina Minato, lead singer of Roselia, whose stoic nature does not allow her to smile … until she does. PAREO, RAS’s keyboardist, whose normal-life Reona Nyubara is a study in two differing characters. But the topper is the animation. The CGI imaging is spectacular throughout the thirteen episodes, but the animators upped their CG-game for the Budokan concert. And the winner of the BanG Dream contest? I don’t do spoilers, but the biggest spoiler would be to skip the first dozen and watch the final episode. So much in the first twelve, with plot twists, origin and back stories up to the last episodes, retrospection over all that has happened in all three seasons. To take in the whole 39-episode experience is a phenomenon in the making. And what is next for BanG Dream? Well, welcome to Argonavis, a new group that is the ultimate no-no in shojo … if you catch my drift. New directions … new people … more music.
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