Bushiroad Founder Explains BanG Dream!'s Success in Struggling Anime Industry
posted on by Kim Morrissy
Bushiroad founder Takaaki Kidani spoke to Oricon on Sunday about the BanG Dream! franchise's success, from the qualities inherent to BanG Dream! to the industry situation around to it.
The idea for BanG Dream! first came up in March 2014, and at the time "there were no examples of making a band out of voice actors" as opposed to an idol unit. "Everyone thought it was impossible." Kidani spoke about the hard work that went into making the Poppin' Party band successful live performers.
"On some days, the members would spend up to 10 hours a day rehearsing," he revealed. He also mentioned that Poppin' Party was created as an "orthodox" girl band, and that although there are plenty of cases in music-oriented shows where the main characters are upstaged by the other groups, he believes that this hard work was what allowed Poppin' Party to gain popularity in their own right.
When asked how he thought BanG Dream! would maintain its popularity in the future, Kidani said that there were two possible paths: one would be to make the characters age as time passes in real life, and the other would be to keep the characters as high school girls forever. He personally favored the latter option. "I want the real life bands to continue for as long as possible, but I don't think there's any need to think about the reality right now. All I can say right now is that as BanG Dream! matures, I expect that new characters and new bands will show up. I think that by adding in new members, the fanbase can expand further."
Kidani was not so optimistic about the anime industry as a whole, however, declaring that "without a doubt, the number of anime will decrease." He explained: "As the cost of production goes up, Chinese businesses are buying less anime. BanG Dream! is going well in terms of merchandise and concert sales, but there's still a lot to improve in that area."
Kidani also addressed conventional industry wisdom that anime functions as an advertisement for other works in a media mix franchise, saying that in recent days it has been getting more difficult to get people to watch the anime. "Now you have to advertise the anime, so the priorities are getting mixed up."
Kidani pointed out that one of the strengths of Bushiroad works is their emphasis on live entertainment. "Men don't tend to watch stage performances, but with things like projection mapping, we can create 20 to 30 scenes with a single stage, and we go the extra mile with makeup and costumes." On the flip side, however, he noted that anime and games are basically digital products, and that while fans these days are coming to enjoy live events more, the value of digital media is dropping.
This does not mean that BanG Dream! is moving away from anime, as Kidani indicated at the end of the interview. One of the biggest hassles in live performances is setting up the venue, but that isn't a requirement for anime. "We can make things happen in digital media that are impossible to do in real life." Kidani said that he would like to do a cycle where a real-life event happens, followed by the launch of digital media, and so on.
Bushiroad launched the BanG Dream! multimedia project in January 2015, and the company formed the Poppin' Party band for the project in February 2015. The BanG Dream! Girls Band Party! smartphone game launched in Japan in March 2017, and an English version launched in April. The BanG Dream! television anime's first 13-episode season premiered in January 2017. The second season debuted on January 3 this year, and the third season will premiere in January 2020. The BanG Dream! FILM LIVE film will open in Japan on September 13.