Vanguard Dream! A Sampling of Bushiroad Media, Part III

Vanguard Dream! A Sampling of Bushiroad Media, Part III

Bandori!TV LIVE-small

In Part I and Part II, we looked into the real-life/anime bands Roselia and RAISE A SUILEN, as well as the franchises with which they are most specifically associated — Cardfight!! Vanguard and BanG Dream! Here we round up a number of other media selections, newer and older and variously related, within the Bushiroad universe.

There are many more things coming from Bushiroad than we’ve examined here, or even mentioned in passing, really — so, definitely lots going on! Even in regards to the two main franchises we’ve focused on, there is plenty more to uncover — including a treasure trove of older theme songs for Cardfight!! Vanguard, for instance… and also the other groups from BanG Dream!, beyond the three actual concert-performing bands.

Well, I’m going to toss at least one of those into the fray here, before we’re done. But first, no look at the ‘Bandori’ universe can claim to be even halfway complete without taking a closer look at the number one main band of the entire series — which of course, is the inimitable Poppin’ Party!

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Poppin’ Party

Poppin’ Party – and much of the story in general, particularly in Season One – is centered around lead Kasumi Toyama. Her efforts to pull the group together and launch them into the spotlight are largely a result of her own energy and enthusiasm, even though they all lack performing experience. She loves seeing the night sky full of stars, so it becomes her motif to zero in on any equivalent of that – both literally and figuratively – down here on the ground. Hence, when she’s inspired by music and wants to create it herself, she says she is after the ‘Star Beat.”

Naturally, she is immediately fascinated when she finds a rather rare star-shaped guitar in a second-hand store — where she also finds the group’s future keyboard player. Eventually, she gets the full lineup of five girls together, and then the struggle is on to polish their output enough that they can play at their favorite live venue, Space. Although it takes a while (basically all three seasons of the anime), Poppin’ Party eventually do prove to have what it takes to be major contenders.

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Poppin’ Party

To the viewing audience, it’s of course a given that the full group will successfully come together — but once they do, they still have to face some challenges. Kasumi in particular has a tendency to get ahead of herself and jump the gun on things, only to face setbacks as a result. However, our plucky heroine is not one to give up easily, and her determination is usually enough to carry her and the others forward, one way or another…!

You can get a look at the various group members introducing themselves in the following video, which will give you a much better sense of who they all are:

Introducing Poppin’Party from BanG Dream! Girls Band Party!

Here is a little animated music video of Poppin’ Party in action that you can check out, while we’re at it…!

Poppin’Party — “Happy Happy Party!” Music Video

As the leading light of this particular ‘2.5D’ franchise, there is plenty of concert media of Poppin’ Party available. There’s also online live video clips, just as there is with the other performing bands… although it’s a bit lighter and poppier in style, less heavy and dramatic-sounding than the other bands we’ve been looking at. See/hear them performing live for yourself:

Poppin’Party — “STAR BEAT!” from 「BanG Dream! Second☆LIVE Starrin’ PARTY 2016!」 Event

Poppin’Party — “Teardrops” from 「BanG Dream! Second☆LIVE Starrin’ PARTY 2016!」 Event

Poppin’ Party is the most ‘self-contained’ of the main BanG Dream! bands, in that they haven’t spilled over into other series with their music — and Cardfight!! Vanguard more specifically (which is why I’ve only mentioned them briefly, until now). However, one of the five starting Bandori groups that has a connection to Vanguard I still haven’t mentioned at all. Although in this case, it might not be so obvious to the casual observer.

There is a ‘spin-off show’ of sorts within the Vanguard universe. And to say it’s only loosely based on the original source material is probably an extreme understatement. But there’s no question that it is treated as an official tie-in, regardless. Basically, the various denizens of planet Cray are divided into a variety of different clans. One of these is the underwater clan Bermuda Triangle — a society of mermaids. So yes, it is indeed a mermaid anime that we’ve got here, this time!!

Cardfight!! Vanguard Trial Deck 08: Schokolade Melody

The full title of the anime is Bermuda Triangle ~Colorful Pastrale~, but despite the confirmed connection it doesn’t actually revolve around characters primarily associated with card decks. Those characters are successful graduates of an undersea academy for pop music idols, and who ‘battle’ using the power of their voices. Although, cards exist for the characters in this show too, if you want to collect them.

It’s obviously the ‘big city mermaids’ who do all the battling, because the scenario here is completely the opposite. It’s very sedate, cute and light-hearted on the whole… but therein lies its real charm, also.

The anime takes place in a small, sleepy underwater town, and begins with the arrival of a young mermaid named Kanon, an aspiring singer whose mother moved away to the big city some years earlier but who seems a bit unhappy with her life there. Shortly after, an undersea storm reveals something that none of the other young mermaids knew existed: an abandoned movie theater, where films are stored as orbs that can be inserted into a playback machine. Kanon and her new friends are fascinated, and become determined to restore the whole place to something resembling its former glory, even though they’ve been warned that it could be difficult and possibly dangerous. And, that’s basically the story that the anime is telling here…

There’s no mention of anything specific to planet Cray (or Vanguard) at all. However, the alien planet/ alternate dimension setting might explain some of the peculiar physics at work – for instance, how they are able to pour liquids when they are already immersed in water!! And likewise, enjoy fluffy cakes and confections that never become water-logged… That’s something they could never do underwater on Earth!

Anyway, check out the anime’s opening sequence and you will not only see the main characters, but you’ll also hear the great opening theme song “Wonderland Girl,” by the BanG Dream! group Pastel✽Palettes:

Bermuda Triangle ~Colorful Pastrale~ OPENING — “Wonderland Girl” by Pastel✽Palettes

Pastel✽Palettes are the most idol-like of all the Bandori groups, and are oriented towards an even lighter and poppier sound than Poppin’ Party. Their lead singer is the pink-haired Aya Maruyama, voiced by real-life idol Ami Maejima, previously a member of the well-known Avex label idol group SUPERGiRLS. (Not surprisingly, any of the higher-pitched anime style vocal lines in SUPERGiRLS songs automatically went to her!)

You can get a look at all five Pastel✽Palettes members in their introduction video:

Introducing Pastel✽Palettes from BanG Dream! Girls Band Party!

If you want a further – albeit somewhat different! – look at them outside of the main anime and game, Pastel✽Palettes also has their own ‘chibi’ style anime mini-series consisting of six three-minute episodes available on YouTube (with English subtitles) called PASTEL LIFE, which is quite amusing too…

They also have a couple of short animated music videos. They are among the remaining original bands from the Girls Band Party! video game that show up in Season Two of the anime, along with the pop-punk-tinged group Afterglow, and the more eccentric and whimsical outfit Hello, Happy World!

You can find the music videos from these other bands — along with the brand-new group to appear recently, a violin-driven band called Morfonica — in the official Bandori YouTube channel, if you want to check them all out!

Pastel✽Palettes — “Shuwarin☆Dori~min” Music Video

Pastel✽Palettes — “Mou Ichi do Luminous” Music Video

Although Pastel✽Palettes is not one of the real-life performing bands from this whole enterprise, you can catch a performance featuring Aya/Ami as backed by THE THIRD(仮) — aka: RAISE A SUILEN — in a live version of the second of those songs linked directly above, right here:

THE THIRD(仮) feat. Ami Maejima — “Mou Ichi do Luminous” from 「THE THIRD(仮) 2nd Live」 Event

The reach of the BanG Dream! title certainly doesn’t end with all that, particularly as there is now a new parallel anime universe opening up, one which is set to start broadcasting immediately after the third season has ended — the ARGONAVIS from BanG Dream! series!! This time around, instead of high school girls playing in bands, the characters are university guys playing music, with Argonavis themselves being the main band in the spotlight. And the similarities don’t end there, as they will also have their own video game and offer live concerts as a real-life performing group. And of course, they have already contributed a couple of songs to Cardfight!! Vanguard, as well…!

Their song “Gift!” – a reference to the Imaginary Gift cards which appear in the game, perhaps? – is the first end theme to the recent Shinemon Arc of the show. As mentioned briefly in Part I, this story is set nearly a decade before the previous seasons and follows Shin Nitta (the uncle of Misaki Tokura, still a little girl at this point) as he struggles to prevent the Card Capital card shop from being taken over by a larger chain brand of Vanguard stores. There’s a lot that he doesn’t understand about the situation though, and the story is played a bit more for laughs than most Vanguard seasons (at least, for its first half).

Cardfight!! Vanguard Shinemon ENDING — “Gift!” by Argonavis

After initial events settle down, the story goes into further detail relating to his Vanguard team partner, friend and mentor Rive Shindou — the father of Chrono Shindou, who is involved in secret research aimed at transporting units from the planet Cray directly to Earth.

This provides a much more developed pre-history to certain events seen in the Cardfight!! Vanguard G series, which were only shown in short flashbacks during those episodes… before jumping a full decade ahead to the actual start of the “G” storyline itself (albeit in a significantly altered version to the original!)

Another song by Argonavis makes an appearance in the franchise, not in the anime this time but in the Cardfight!! Vanguard EX console video game (for the Japanese PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch), which features their track “STARTING OVER”. The game lets you choose one of four playable characters from the show, plus a new one, Izuru Shidou.

Here is a trailer for that game, which also features the song:

Cardfight!! Vanguard EX debut trailer — “STARTING OVER” by Argonavis

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The ARGONAVIS from BanG Dream! anime is slated to start in April 2020, with the new season of Cardfight!! Vanguard due to begin the following month — so it’s still early to delve into many details. Instead, I’ll just let the media do the talking, and you can glean some pointers as to what to expect from the promotional video clips…!


ARGONAVIS from BanG Dream! 2020 Promo

They have a (very!) short music video clip for their song “Goal Line,” which is followed by some other promotional material; so, here is that video — plus one other featuring the same song, while we’re at it:

Argonavis — “Goal Line” (Short Ver.) Music Video + Promo

Argonavis — “Goal Line” Promo Video

As you can see from the above video, Argonavis performs as a real-life concert entity, just like many of the bands from the main BanG Dream! series (something which will also be the case for the brand-new Bandori entry Morfonica, as well).

Here are a couple of clips of them performing live that have already been made available online.

Argonavis — “AAside” from 「BanG Dream! Argonavis 2nd LIVE」 Event

Argonavis — “STARTING OVER” from 「BanG Dream! Argonavis 1.5th LIVE」 Event

If you want even more BanG Dream! in your life, and more battling card game goodness beyond what we’ve mentioned up to this point, then Bushiroad still has you covered…!

More Bandori material appeared during the gap between the first two seasons of the anime, besides the Girls Band Party! rhythm game and the aforementioned PASTEL LIFE six-episode mini-series. The mini-series was followed by another run of twenty-six comical mini-episodes featuring all five of the main starting bands: BanG Dream! Girls Band Party!☆PICO, which is available on YouTube with English subtitles. But it doesn’t end there, either!!

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BanG Dream! Girls Band Party!☆PICO

Of the three most famous Bushiroad card games, there is still one we haven’t mentioned: Future Card Buddyfight. As with the others, it is based on a fifty-card playing deck and released in an ongoing series of booster packs and trial decks. It also has its own anime, comprised of five separate series, the most recent being Future Card Buddyfight Ace. The anime is currently on hiatus, although products are still being released for the latest Buddyfight Ace incarnation of the franchise.

Borrowing a trick from their Weiss Schwarz game line, they’ve introduced a new crossover Ace series in which each set is based on a different anime; and, the spotlight for Volume Two of this particular card series is… none other than BanG Dream! Girls Band Party!☆PICO!!

So yes, even the chibi/super-deformed version of the Bandori girls are now available in a card game…!

Ace Ultimate Booster Cross Vol. 2: BanG Dream! Girls Band Party!☆PICO Promo

Compared to Cardfight!! Vanguard, the anime for Future Card Buddyfight has a much sillier and generally lightweight vibe, but it’s still a fairly engaging and entertaining show once you get going with it, featuring some interesting and sometimes flamboyantly oddball characters, and even some poignant moments along the way… And again, all the episodes are available on YouTube in the official channel for the show.

For a super-quick sample of the anime, I’ll leave you the following clip — an ending theme segment from the Buddyfight 100 (second) season:

Future Card Buddyfight 100 ENDING — “Milky 100 World” by Milky Holmes

The song “Milky 100 World” is by Milky Holmes, a female seiyuu music group originating from another Bushiroad-sponsored anime called Tantei Opera Milky Holmes,  about a group of girl detectives. The group has continued on from its connection with that show to forge a fairly successful music career of their own, sometimes lending songs to other anime projects (as evidenced above) while they’re at it.

You might be starting to see a recurring pattern here in the way these things work… And you might be positing the obvious question: “Has Milky Holmes done theme music for Cardfight!! Vanguard, like every other group we’ve looked at?” Why yes, indeed, they have!

Here is the ending from the 2018 reboot series then, which features Milky Holmes and their song “Everyday Climax”:

Cardfight!! Vanguard 2018 ENDING – “Everyday Climax” by Milky Holmes

The musical foursome are literally showing up there (making a little cameo appearance in their detective hats!), along with some of the more prominent female characters from the story — including Misaki, Asaka from Team Asteroid/ Team Foo Fighter, and the three members of the idol group ULTRARARE (Kourin, Suika and Rekka).

And if you think that the fact Vanguard has its own idols means that they should also have their own music, then you’re thinking correctly…! So I’ll wrap up the selection of card-fighting theme songs with two final items, this time from the world of idols.

First is “Destiny Calls,” the second opening from the rebooted Vanguard series, as performed by its own fictitious idol group ULTRARARE. As with the earlier opening, the ULTRARARE members also appear in the video sequence (and it also features some very nice shots of Misaki too, with shorter hair!) And finally, the second ending from the more recent Shinemon Arc of the series (replacing the Argonavis theme song), “Bokura no Turn” as performed by the real-life idol group Niji no Conquistador… Enjoy!

Cardfight!! Vanguard 2018 OPENING — “Destiny Calls” by ULTRARARE

Cardfight!! Vanguard Shinemon ENDING — “Bokura no Turn” by Niji no Conquistador

{There are still plenty of older Cardfight!! Vanguard theme songs, many of which would be considered among the most classic ones, most definitely; but, I’ll leave you to discover those on your own!}

Bushiroad has a brand-new project in the works; it’s still in the early stages, so many of the details remain unknown at present. It’s called D4DJ — but as you’ll see below, there are already some direct connections to things we’ve been covering…

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D4DJ (short for ‘Dig Delight Direct Drive DJ’) is being promoted as the third big multimedia endeavor from the company. The second one would be the anime, game and musical stage show called Kageki Shoujo Revue Starlight, something else you might want to investigate on your own at some point! And of course, BanG Dream! would be the first one.

Anyway, you could say that D4DJ is the flipside to BanG Dream!, again with various groups of girl characters, but getting involved in club music and DJ projects (in groups of four) as the name would suggest, instead of rock bands. Although, it seems that some of them include rock elements in their sound; so, we can expect some more hybrid-style groups like some others in the Bandori universe, but with more emphasis on the EDM elements in the music.

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There will be an anime for D4DJ, under the direction of Seji Mizushima (Shaman King, Fullmetal Alchemist, Mobile Suit Gundam 00), which will feature some of the same seiyuu voicing characters for BanG Dream! There is also a downloadable mobile video game in development that is out in demo form already. Each of the new groups included will play a combination of original songs and remix/cover versions (of popular anime songs, and perhaps more??), and naturally there will be music released on CD, along with the expected live performance events as well.

Here is a promo video for the D4DJ ‘Groovy Mix’ video game, which should give you a clearer idea of what it’s all about.

D4DJ ‘Groovy Mix‘ Game Promo

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Despite being in a relatively early phase, Bushiroad has already been organizing live promotional events for D4DJ — with a number of helpful appearances by some familiar performers you might recognize. I’ve selected two clips for you, from two composite trios of female musicians, to round things out…

In the first, we have the following three: Sae Otsuka (aka: Tae Hanazono, lead guitarist from Poppin’ Party), DJ ALLISA (mainly known as a hip-hop / R&B DJ), and Raychell (aka: LAYER, lead vocalist/ bassist from RAISE A SUILEN). They are performing a Raychell song that you might remember… Yes, it’s that old chestnut from the Cardfight!! Vanguard G NEXT series, the end theme “Are you ready to FIGHT”:

Sae Otsuka, Raychell, DJ ALLISA — “Are you ready to FIGHT” from 「Bushiroad DJ LIVE vol.2」 Event

In the second clip, we have these three: Kanon Shizaki (aka: Rinko Shirokane, keyboardist from Roselia), Risa Tsumugi (aka: CHU2, the DJ from RAISE A SUILEN), and Haruka Mimura (a member of the D4DJ group named Happy Around!). Here they are performing a Roselia song… their classic number “BLACK SHOUT”:

Kanon Shizaki, Risa Tsumugi, Haruka Mimura — “BLACK SHOUT” from 「Bushiroad DJ LIVE vol.2」 Event

Once again, we are seeing something arise from a swirling mass of cross-connecting elements to take on a new but clearly related form — which illustrates as well as anything the way things work with Bushiroad and its various productions, as they continue to expand ever outward… Of course, they have allied with a number of partner companies to pull it all off, which is perhaps not unusual in itself; however, they are quite noticeably taking it to new levels I’d say, as well as getting into some surprisingly different types of ventures along the way. (For instance, they are a major player in the world of pro wrestling in Japan as well!)

Hopefully, I’ve managed to put across at least some idea of the scope and workings of a couple of their most high-profile entries… but there is plenty more to discover, to be sure. The songs are really the feature focus of what I’m tossing up here, and certainly I would recommend checking out more releases from all of the performers mentioned — especially as they only seem to increase in appeal with repeated listens! And apparently, Bushiroad has plenty more planned for us just around the corner as well…

John MacMaster lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia. His last article for us was Her Master’s Voice: The World of Virtual Idols.

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