There’s naturally some trepidation going into BanG Dream! Episode of Roselia II : Song I am. The preceding film was a disjointed collection of stories adapted from the BanG Dream! mobile game, loosely connected in their depiction of the different stages of Roselia‘s journey to Future World Fes. Song I am (like that previous movie,it’s being streamed for the US and Canada on Eventive) being presented as a direct continuation of that is therefore cause for concern, prompting a question of which event plotlines we might see adapted, and how coherently they’ll manage to be tied together. And that ultimately proves to be an unfair preconception to saddle this sequel with; I’m not sure how the approach to writing both films opted to allocate and present all their elements, but whatever reason, this second Roselia feature winds up a significantly better movie than the first one.
Even with that aforementioned uncertainty, the coherent quality of Song I am is apparent pretty much from the start. We’re still firmly in game-story adaptation territory here, but several of those plotlines, surrounding the journeys of multiple characters, are set in motion at once. Things like Sayo and Yukina’s trip to see the autumn leaves with other characters proceed parallel to the focal plotline about Ako’s own internal journey, with elements set up that receive clear mechanical and emotional payoff within this movie’s complete story! Basic stuff, yes, but BanG Dream! has always been one of those franchises that’s at its best when it’s using its established framework to present effectively endearing emotional elements, and less than halfway into this movie, it’s clear that the people behind Song I am remembered that.
It makes Song I am a pleasantly consistent watch aside from any of the jarring situational skips Promise put the audience through. Song I am does feel a bit episodic still in how it’s laid out, notably with the first half focusing on Ako in the run-up to the contest, while the second half reprioritizes for Yukina as Roselia finally puts on their long-awaited Future World Fes performance. But because those stories are interconnected in the journey it takes the whole group on, as well as the consistent thematic elements they embody, it’s hardly a critical issue. Indeed, that strong theming probably does the biggest service to holding this piece together as much as it does. Where the first film was primarily concerned with documenting different stages of the girls’ emotional journeys while in the band, wrapped up in the BanG Dream! franchise‘s fallback theme of “Bands are fun”, Song I am uses its opportunistic placement in Roselia‘s arc to articulate things just a bit more ambitiously.
As glimpsed in the previous movie, this is a franchise where the characters can be shown to grow gradually – and surprisingly realistically – over relatively long periods of time. With that in mind, the girls of Roselia realizing they’re reaching their long-term goal and will need to now consider the future makes for an appreciable hook, especially this far into the cycle of BanG Dream! as an anime. It’s nothing exceptionally heavy, but there are a couple big decisions made by the band that could come as impressive surprises to any new viewers who didn’t already experience this story via the game, and the movie’s overall tighter coherence means these shifts get to land in a way that strengthens the whole package.
That said, being so much more significantly evened out does mean that Song I am can simply feel flat at times. So much of the internal strife between Roselia‘s members as people and as creatives was confronted and overcome in the stories of the previous film, so ramping up any revisitations of that drama could come off as frustratingly redundant. As such, pretty much all of the ‘conflict’ of Song I am is internal, as characters struggle with worries of what to do next, who to let themselves become as the future approaches, only to be resolved with regular reassurances by their now oh-so-perfectly in-synch bandmates. It is heartening to see from a character standpoint, especially if you’ve grown any fondness for these people and their relationships from however you’ve followed the franchise over the years. But it also leaves the film feeling rather lacking in emotional intensity for most of its brisk runtime, getting by instead on introspection (which are admittedly interesting) and simply demonstrating the resolve and devotion that have come to define the characters of Roselia.
That emotional flatness, combined with the same workmanlike animation job as we saw in the previous film, leave this feeling like it’s dangerously lacking in dynamics for much of the movie. As with Promise, the more grounded presentation works with these characters and story, and Sanzigen is absolutely giving everything they’ve got to the material they have to work with. Some scenes, like the autumn trip, get to go wild with the colors of the scenery and backgrounds. But much of it is otherwise spent on characters sitting or standing around rooms we’ve seen plenty of times before, talking or thinking about their feelings. The saving grace is how much all of that actually feels interconnected and interesting this go-around, but given the efforts we’ve seen on some of Sanzigen’s other projects (BanG Dream!-related and otherwise), it’s marginally disappointing they couldn’t find some ways to jazz it all up.
At least the main draw, the musical scenes, still work as well as ever. The opening number features the sole implementation of more overt, music-video-style visuals as an attention-getting introduction, and then the middle and end of the film are marked with big concert scenes. These lack some of those wild visual embellishments, but instead work as very solid animated concert footage accentuating Roselia‘s already-strong music. And for as simple as it might all be at times, it does ultimately end up delivering as a kind of franchise meta-payoff: Roselia‘s journey to Future World Fes has been a massively-hyped destination to the journey of all these contained characters, and to finally see that accomplishment in fully-animated form absolutely lands as a milestone moment. This movie overall is a good one worth watching, but the fully-devoted Roselia fans in particular should be extremely satisfied by that final payoff.
It feels hard to praise Song I am for what it does well without retroactively damning the previous movie with comparisons, and that’s a frustratingly negative model to have to operate on. As its own satisfying little movie, this second Roselia episode absolutely works. It’s primarily for fans who have some preceding context and connection to this content, but it’s also paced out well enough and peppered with plenty of solidly enjoyable moments and character beats that it should entertain newcomers enough, and might even motivate them to go back and check out other media associated with the series. It’s still certainly not the best BanG Dream! entry, but it’s absolutely respectable, and shows that there’s plenty of life left in the series in terms of these kinds of adaptations, so long as they do them right.