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BanG Dream! Film Live: 2nd Stage (2021) is much like its progenitor BD! Film Live (2019), an hour and change of the BanG Dream! girl bands in concert .... just BIGGER!!!!!! And BETTER!!!!! When laid side to side, 2nd Stage has more bands, more amps, better resolution, grander CGI use, and more energy than plain as day Film Live. And Film Live was a good piece of anime. First, Film Live took place at an outdoor auditorium, beginning in the afternoon ending in the wee hours of the night. The encore seemed off the cuff, the girls deciding to send out Roselia and Poppin' Party to supply the extra tunes. 2nd Stage takes place in an arena, involving multiple stages, indicating that the BanG Dream! bands have hit the big time. As performances jump from stage to stage, the finale involves Poppin' Party at center stage. It was a much more polished performance, with CGI sweeps of the stage as scenes jump to band, to individuals, to lighting, to those multi-colored lights swinging in rhythm. This, and an incredible synchronization of musician to music, instrument to sounds produced. Much better than Film Live. The order of performance reminds one of the original Bandori game-concept of lesser bands leading up to the elite acts, even though the general thought that all bands were equally accomplished. Going first as warm-ups is Poppin' Party (upbeat songs) followed by Morifonica (symphonic rock; Rui Yashio's violin arpeggios rush the effect of powerful pop music) followed by Hello! Happy World (high energy songs guaranteed to make you happy) followed by Afterglow (ballad rock) followed by Pastel Palettes (hard core idol band) followed by Raise a Suilen (heavy metal) winding up with Roselia (gothic aura). Then Poppin' Party returns to conclude with a final set, the last one involving all bands. The arena allows the girl bands antics not possible in Film Live. Hello! Happy World descends to their stage by balloons. Pastel Palettes get lost in the fog machine’s effects. Roselia's lead singer Yukina Minato is carried by lift to soar above the crowds. Only two things seemed odd. Poppin' Party takes the final center stage in a place where you'd swear that was recently used for general admission. And while 2nd Stage makes more time for stage movement in performance, they added time for audience inter-actions and jokes (some good, some bad, some ugly). The music for the most part were originals for this movie, except Poppin' Party added tunes which made up theme songs for all three seasons (the rendition of 'Mirai Train' particularly well honed). This makes 2nd Stage a salute to the three seasons of BanG Dream! (2017, 2019, 2020). In short, a powerful performance that pushed Sanzigen's unique CGI talents to the max. You only wonder if BanG Dream! will take us to the 3rd Degree.
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