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by Christopher Farris,

BanG Dream! It's MyGo!!!!!

Episodes 1-13 Streaming Review

BanG Dream! It's MyGo!!!!! Anime Series Review
Back in middle school, the girls' band CRYCHIC suffered a brutal breakup. Now, in high school, its former members are still struggling to pick up the pieces. Transfer student Anon Chihaya, seeking to form a band for herself, recruits several of the girls. Still, all the lingering grudges and complications make maintaining the group as tricky as pulling off any successful live performance. With competing manipulations inside and outside the new band, will the girls be able to come together, or are they all fated to remain lost?

Even if you're unfamiliar with the broader BanG Dream! franchise, new-generation spin-off It's MyGO will still probably stick out from the jump. The series stands apart from the broader sea of musical multimedia project anime from the beginning, with its rain-soaked opening moments wherein we watch a fledgling band of schoolgirls break up as several remark on how miserable the experience has made them. This is not a K-ON or a Bocchi the Rock!, and as it goes on, It's MyGO proves to be utterly itself as much as it is a very impressive fresh restart for BanG Dream! overall.

It's MyGO need not be compared to its franchise forebears for the entire length of this review, but it's still a worthwhile point to touch on. Least of all because this new anime still comes to us courtesy of series writer Yuniko Ayana and director Koudai Kakimoto, who have chartered the majority of the BanG Dream! anime so far. Thus, the wildly different tone and approach of It's MyGO doesn't signal a franchise bringing in some different creators to shake things up with some completely new vision, but rather the primary shepherds of the story using their established grounds to keep stretching and experimenting with what they can do. It's MyGO feels like and succeeds as a story on its own instead of being a simple testbed. But a few elements mark it as such an experiment by the time it's over, albeit a wildly successful one.

It's also challenging to uncouple evaluating It's MyGO from the overall BanG Dream! narrative, especially if you're an established fan familiar with it. Much of the new anime is based on Ayana revisiting concepts going back to the inaugural first season of the show (remember, the one that wasn't CGI animated?) to explore or subvert them. The do-or-die desire to perform in a particular band with friends indicates deeper-seated issues for several characters and perhaps not the healthiest approach to take for something that's supposed to be a fun hobby. But by focusing on the sheer work that must be put in, not just to hone performances, but to make those relationships between bandmates work, It's MyGO conveys the rewards of succeeding at such ventures in a more visceral, palpable way than any of the BanG Dream! anime before it.

This naturally necessitates It's MyGO being a series of extremes, of thrilling peaks separated by uncompromisingly depressing valleys. While this could prove alienating to anyone preferring a more welcoming package, that's material that's handily been covered by the franchise plenty of times before. This is easily the most wildly ambitious any anime from the BanG Dream! series has ever been, and it mostly succeeds at that ambition to be stronger for it. The prickliness comes part-and-parcel to that complexity, making watching the story and characters an intriguing exercise in uncovering what its actual vibes will be.

We primarily get this by following the characters and learning their true natures and motives. Initial viewpoint character Anon is turned onto joining a girls' band on the spur of the moment, not unlike Kasumi or a couple of other characters entertained throughout the BanG Dream! canon. However, it immediately becomes apparent that Anon's efforts are less out of an earnest interest in playing music or the possibility of genuine connection with new friends in doing so, but instead primarily borne of a desire for personal attention and validation. She strings along potentially useful recruits like Tomori with genre-standard platitudes about trying your best and never giving up in the face of adversity, but this is all only because Anon has convinced herself of her rightful place at the center of such a narrative.

What Anon doesn't realize, and which we are only briefly privy to, is that the people she's been sucked into her orbit experienced one of the worst possible outcomes of holding out for such hopes and dreams. Not only that, but none of them are in a narrative position where they've moved on and can try again; they are still hurting. Drummer Taki has become viciously defensive of herself and vocalist Tomori, whom she feels obligated to protect. Bassist Soyo has turned inwards on her obsession with former bandmate Saki, becoming a manipulative schemer, seeing everyone she knows as mere tools to reconstruct that relationship. Even lead guitarist Rāna, who wasn't involved in the break-up and comes off as the least-developed "comic relief" of the show's main cast, owes her wandering, stray cat status to unfortunate backstory beats spiraling out of events going back to that very first BanG Dream! season. They are all lost girls; it's in the name.

Despite Anon's best efforts, the real person standing at the center of this is Tomori. Though calling her the "lead character" would be a bit of a stretch, as It's MyGO is thoroughly dedicated to being an ensemble piece, Tomori is still the necessary heart of the band, keeping its beat. She is an earnest person, so open and honest about herself that that nature is embodied in her lyrics and performance of them. As a result, she is also hard to talk about without at least acknowledging the clear coding of the character as being some degree of neurodivergent.

While I can't personally speak to judging this in place of the lived experiences of people on that spectrum in real life, Tomori's portrayal feels like it was crafted with plenty of care and respect. Her collecting quirk speaks to the issues that drive her interactions with bandmates past and present, as we can see her inability to let go of anything. Her lyrics originate as mantras written in her voluminous notebooks as she desperately tries to puzzle out her inability to feel in the same way she sees others do. It's raw in a way many of BanG Dream!'s other more cartoony characterizations have never tried to reach. It means that despite things like Anon's shallow spotlight-seeking or Soyo's manipulations, having them allow Tomori to release her heart's screams on stage still rings as triumphant.

Though I acknowledge that the characters' more petty, messy aspects might repel some viewers, they're as much a feature as Tomori's heights. How these characters clash with each other translates to melodrama of the highest order, informing the heightened emotions that make these kinds of fictionalized (and many non-fictionalized) musical indulgences hit so strongly. It's MyGO's plot is woven with glancing asides at its players' circumstances, including the other former members of the earlier band's break-up and several ancillary characters. It rewards repeat episode viewings and opens up the story's world to show how MyGO's narrative still has more to offer.

The series' visuals keep the beat with its new narrative tone. SANZIGEN returned to animate the series, and if you've been following the franchise (and side hustles like D4DJ), you know how far the studio's CGI abilities have come. It's MyGO stands as the next stage in that evolution. The more dramatic direction lets them flex their abilities beyond the upbeat aspects of previous entries, as characters' desperate, dour body language is communicated in all its vicious glory. The studio's ability to render facial expressions has also come out ahead by miles, allowing for ongoing, constantly shifting nuance in the characters. Careful attention is paid to Soyo's calculatedly distant expressions as much as Taki's incredulously baffled anger at them. Tomori's nervous body language is such a part of her performance that it's present in the choreographed opening theme number.

It defines the series so much that, even with the recognizable CGI models and style, you probably won't confuse It's MyGO for the prior BanG Dream! seasons on sight. Befitting the gulfs between the storyline's highs and lows, the bright scenes have had their saturation whacked way up, while the darker shots pitch as shadowy as some of the characters' dispositions. The darks, in particular, can almost get too dark at times. But the results can be showstoppers when these contrasts clash in musical scenes.

One of the best examples of the animation team's attention to detail is the group's first performance in the seventh episode. The band's performance flails with multiple false starts and Tomori mumbling through the entire first verse only to triumphantly roar to life for the rest of the song. Later, in the tenth episode, the band comes together with their new song. Tomori speaks pure poetry on stage with simple musical accompaniment. I must compliment Tomori's voice actress, Hina Yomiya, who covers the character's distinctive range with an endearing, energizing aplomb. But everything else about these parts stands out as the sort of thing you wouldn't expect from a series whose first-season representation of an "awkward" musical performance was a mere impromptu playing of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star."

The sheer triumph of It's MyGO breaking its mold almost makes it a victim of its success. Its intriguing beginning and sledgehammer of a middle means that its casual coast to a finish feels incomplete by the last episode. That's by design. The dynamics of the female cast mean that it would be unbelievable to have them wholly settled by the story's end. That titular group teased in supporting roles throughout this season contributes to the awkwardly abrupt conclusion, even more so than any unresolved character arcs. It's not that it doesn't stick the landing; it hasn't even landed by the time the final credits roll.

But if the most apparent problem with BanG Dream! It's MyGo!!!!! is that there isn't more of it; it can only mean this angsty little experiment turned out pretty damn successful. Yuniko Ayana has demonstrated her ability as a writer for this franchise and the raw range of what she can do in it. Kakimoto and SANZIGEN support her and an eclectic cast of performers in putting out a series that may have slipped by so many viewers this season but deserves to be considered. As a fresh start spin-off and ongoing multimedia tie-in, the MyGO crew has accomplished something remarkable here, crafting an anime that fulfills those obligations while still standing, screaming, on stage as itself.

Overall (sub) : A
Story : A-
Animation : A
Art : A-
Music : A

+ Doubles down on the musical melodrama possibilities of its premise and makes it work, Great use of CGI for character acting and expressions
Nonexistent ending, Some scenes can look too washed-out or too dark

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Production Info:
Director: Koudai Kakimoto
Series Composition: Yuniko Ayana
Yuniko Ayana
Midori Gotou
Tani Kasuga
Hitomi Ogawa
Akiko Waba
Shouko Hayashi
Koudai Kakimoto
Tomomi Umetsu
Original Character Design:
Kazuyuki Ueda
Art Director:
Risa Tsushima
Saho Yamane
Animation Character Design:
Takuya Chanohara
Joseph Shin
Yuka Yamori
Sound Director: Koudai Kakimoto
Director of Photography: Daisuke Okumura

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BanG Dream! It's MyGo!!!!! (TV)

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