Review: BanG Dream! Episode of Roselia I : Promise

BanG Dream! Episode of Roselia I: Promise is the first of two new movie entries in the BanG Dream! franchise and illustrates the origin of Roselia, a symphonic metal/rock band with gothic-style aesthetics, as they strive to be the best.

Our panel of reviewers includes a full spectrum of BanG Dream! enthusiasts to provide a wide range of perspectives. Jack is an established fan who has played the mobile game, Girls Band Party!, for years and watched the anime series. Mehdi has finished the anime and follows the real bands, but has yet to touch the mobile game. Last but not least, James is a more recent fan who had not been exposed to much of the franchise prior to watching this movie.

So, what did you two think of the film?

I wasn’t too sure what to expect, but I rather enjoyed it. Lisa got a lot of spotlight, which is always a plus for me.

Lisa really was the star of the show, and I gushed every time Sayo and Lisa interacted, since they’re my favorite Roselia members. The cookies conversation and Sayo appearing out of nowhere to freak her out? Perfect.

Yeah, Sayo and the rest of the cast didn’t slack either. While I’ve always appreciated Lisa, this movie definitely boosted my appreciation for every other Roselia member.

I came into this film knowing basically nothing about anyone, but I ended the film with a character tier list.

The Anime Trending mindset of character rankings really has gotten to us, huh. As much as we enjoyed the characters, though, what else stood out to you?

This felt very much like movie 2 of 3.

The first 20 minutes should have been its own film and expand on the band members individually, especially since the idea of individuals versus the group as a whole is a big theme of the movie. I will let the Blues Brothers get away with making the whole film about “getting the band back together,” but not BanG Dream!.

I agree that the setup felt rushed, and there were several bits of info I could tell I was missing, even though I’ve watched the TV anime. 

As soon as the story found its footing, it ended a bit abruptly and made it very clear that it was going on intermission before Episode II. That in itself is fine, but your impression that it was the middle of a trilogy, rather than part 1 of 2, is indicative of a pacing problem.

The game does do this much better — you spend time learning more about the characters and their dynamics at a reasonable pace, between the event stories, post-song conversations, card episodes, and so on.

I’m honestly not sure who this film is for. The pacing issues mean it’s not really for newcomers to the franchise, but the lack of music video-style scenes mean it’s also not really for established fans who want cool performances. 

If it is just a feature-length version of the game story, then why not just play the game as Jack says to?

My inner BanG Dream! fan says, “This was a ton of fun because I know the Roselia backstory and enjoy the character interactions.” But you’re right — if we’re talking from a purely narrative perspective, I couldn’t tell who this was marketed to.

Personally, I almost always prefer watching anime content to reading a game story, so in that sense I should have been the target audience. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I had the background knowledge from the game, though, so it wasn’t an entirely sufficient replacement. In fact, I would have assumed the story only tied into the anime, had Jack not pointed out all the game references to me.

The film was a pretty close one-to-one adaptation of events from the game, and that made the scenes feel flat. The visual novel-style writing didn’t translate well into the movie’s cinematography. When they’re arguing, they’re just standing around in the scene, and it doesn’t feel dynamic.

Right. I wouldn’t mind if the camera cut to different angles, but when it’s a slow pan, and the characters are standing with their hands in fists and hanging at their sides, it feels like someone just left the models in their default pose.

I’m not sure if this was the fault of the film itself or just the online streaming platform, but I was a little disappointed by the audio mixing, too. The background OST always felt distinctly quieter than the dialogue, and that also softened the impact of some big scenes.

Well, I still loved all of the callbacks and references to the game. Some moments were direct references to card art, many characters had little cameos, and even Ran’s “Same as always” catchphrase made it in. Tomoe got some screen time too! Be still, my heart.

Yeah, still a ton of positives to commend! I won’t lie — my favorite parts of the movie were whichever scenes showed Poppin’Party on screen. There were a few other cameos for fans, including a more subtle one near the end that got the most hype out of me.

For me, the dialogue and relationship dynamics reminded me why I love the BanG Dream! franchise — the characters and voice acting make the experience a ton of fun. 

And I know it’s a Roselia movie, but we got a teensy taste of Popipa’s music. Give me some Afterglow music, please.

Speaking of music, I expected more performances in this film about a band.

Right. The new opening and ending songs were great, and I look forward to their full versions. All the more reason why it’s a shame there weren’t more insert songs, as that is the main appeal of BanG Dream! in the first place.

Exactly! The little snippets of music made me want to listen to the full versions of the song — Yukina singing that a capella version of “Promise”? Absolutely awesome.

I specifically enjoyed the unique and natural sound of the many rehearsal scenes, in contrast to the studio-recording audio used for concert scenes.

The one full performance towards the end was very pretty looking. I wish there were more.

Yeah, the performances had awesome visuals, and I wanted more, too. On visuals, Lisa’s galaxy brain revelation at the end was probably my favorite sequence of the whole movie.

Credit where it’s due — Studio SANZIGEN’s 3D animation has maintained its great quality since BanG Dream! Season 3 and D4DJ First Mix, and the style stayed rather consistent throughout the film.

So, does this movie make us feel like devoting ourselves to Roselia?

No. This was a neat watch, but as someone who isn’t already invested in the franchise, I’m not sold on it yet.

I already liked Roselia before going into this movie, and the film gave me an animated version of their backstory and character development. 

Sure, the execution was rough at times, but I had a ton of fun and I think that BanG Dream! fans will still enjoy this one. It’s just not a good entry point for new fans.

Despite our grievances, I had a good time with the film. It wasn’t as exciting as the TV anime, but I found it satisfying as a spin-off or side story. Like I said at the start, I was left with an increased appreciation for every character in Roselia, and that’s a success in my book. I look forward to Episode II in a few months.

Bushiroad describes Episode of Roselia I: Promise as:

“Are you prepared to fully devote yourselves to Roselia?”

To reach the stage of “FES.”, Yukina Minato decides to form a band. Each holding their own convictions, the members of the band come together. The five girls now begin their journey to the top as Roselia…

This is the story of their “promise” made to each other, from the start of the band to their challenge towards FUTURE WORLD FES!

Disclaimer: Anime Trending received a free screening to Episode of Roselia I: Promise, courtesy of Bushiroad.

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