A while back, I talked about Bang Dream, the new rhythm game app I had fallen in love with. Though the natural sands of time wore my devotion to the game down to the point where I wasn’t quite playing it daily anymore, the recent release of the official English server of the game has reignited my passion for this game.
In response to the new release, me and a few friends from our Discord server started enthusiastically discussing the new game, as the English translation helped us fall in love with the same characters we had (or didn’t have) experience with in the Japanese version.
So we decided to all come together and collaborate on a blog post where we gushed about our Top 10 favorite characters from the game. Come along with me, Madison, and Nona as we discuss just why these girls have stolen our hearts… and our free time.
10. Uehara Himari
This last spot came down to Himari or Ran. There are a lot of other girls I love too, it was hard to narrow it down past the initial favorites I knew had to be on here. Ran has grown on me a ton over time. She’s kinder than I expected her to be and she’s also kind of hardcore and I like that. I love her voice as well.
But Himari has also been a favorite for a long time. I absolutely love her design. Her color scheme, her pigtails, her outfits. She’s also just so energetic and fun to listen to, her voice is adorable. She works very hard to be a good member of Afterglow and helps keep them all together. She also is sometimes referred to as the leader, despite Ran being lead singer.
She’s really more of the bands coordinator, booking their studios and doing promotional work. She’s very hard working but also very emotional and fun to watch. So despite my love for Ran and a lot of the others, Himari pulled through and is still a favorite after all this time.
9. Shirasagi Chisato
When I was making my list I had a few girls that I was deciding between for the last couple spots. I decided on Chisato because she was the one I had the most to say about, but the more I think about it the more it feels right to have her here.
Initially I thought Chisato was cute and I liked her voice. I liked her quite a bit but then when reading the PasuPare band story I was surprised by her actions. She’s actually very cold and only cares about herself and her career. It definitely threw me off, but after the initial shock and a little bit of feeling hurt at the way she treated the members, I realized that I really love her character.
PasuPare’s story tries to show some of the dark sides of the music industry and that’s part of why they’re my favorite band. Their story is emotional and in-depth and Chisato is a big part of that. I’ve come to really love her character and her cold personality, I was just initially shocked at the difference between what I expected and the reality. Chisato also gets great development in the story as she comes to realize that she enjoys the band and the people in it, and becoming a huge supporter.
Her acting background is also interesting and ties into her facade of being the cool type and pretending to like the band at first. Her friendship with Kaoru and Kanon also help show off different sides of her. She’s a great character and I wouldn’t be surprised if she keeps growing on me even more. Even just writing this I’m realizing how much of a Chisato fan I really am.
8. Matsubara Kanon
Hello, Happy World is a great band and Kanon is my favorite member. She plays a good role of being one of the two “normal” ones and being the reason Misaki even stays at all.
I love that Kanon likes being part of the band even though she was sort of dragged into it. The band is good for her confidence and she makes good friends, and it helps her regain her desire to play drums. Her friendship with Chisato is also very sweet, she’s one of the few people who Chisato is so warm and kind to. Kanon keeping on with the band despite her nerves is very nice to see, and gives her some nice development through the story.
She’s also just adorable with her design, her love of cafes, and her sweet personality. She also has a love for jellyfish which is very cute. Also one of her traits is that she gets lost very easily. Me too.
7. Yamabuki Saya
Saya really appealed to me at first because I love the big sister type characters. She’s so good to her little siblings and her friends and she’s just so warm in personality.
Her design is gorgeous too of course. PoPiPa’s designs have more muted, neutral hair colors with bright clear eyes. It’s a nice aesthetic for the main band to have, since they’re kind of the everyman band with the least experience. Saya’s blue eyes are particularly pretty though.
Saya first shows up in the anime as a girl that Kasumi just happens to meet at school and they quickly become close friends. I think their friendship is very sweet. Saya seems to understand Kasumi the most of all the girls. Really, Saya is the most understanding of all the band members. She’s very kind and loves all the members a lot.
She’s also hardworking and helps out at her family’s bakery. She has a big family and is a great sister to her younger siblings, often mentioning doing things for them. She often does things for her siblings at the expense of something she wants for herself and it really shows her selfless and kind nature.
6. Ichigaya Arisa
Arisa is a pretty big favorite at this point and it’s incredible how far she’s come for me. Initially I assumed she was a pretty basic tsundere but (as is the theme with all the girls I guess) the more I learned the more I loved her.
What finally got me was when I was translating all the girls’ summer dialogue and Arisa complained about the heat, how she hates exercise, and how she wished she could stay in her room on the internet all day that I realize how much I love Arisa. She also used to skip school all the time. She’s like kind of lame… and I love that? Me too.
Also she has a love of Bonsai trees and that’s a really nice balance to her personality since it’s a hobby that requires a lot of care and patience. She’s a great girl and a well realized character and I love her.
5. Maruyama Aya
I loved Aya initially of course because she is pink and cute. And in her initial 3* she does finger guns so I relate to her on a spiritual level. Also her design is adorable and I love that she has 2 main hairstyles. I like her hair a lot when it’s down. And I still love her for those reasons but also for her personality!
She really wants to be an idol but struggles with a lot of self-doubt and stage fright. She was inspired by an idol she loved when she was young making her feel like she could do anything and that she was worthwhile, and she wants to give her fans the same feeling. The first PasuPare story also got to me emotionally when Aya met that idol.
I love her a lot and like Tsugumi I think she is doing much better than she thinks! She’s very strong and a great leader for PasuPare. It’s a lot of fun to see her growth through the band story and events.
4. Wakamiya Eve
Eve stood out to me at first by design alone, plus her voice is adorable. Then it turned out she was a total nerd and I love her even more. She’s obsessed with Bushido, the Samurai code. She’s half Finnish and only recently moved to Japan so she has an obsession with Japanese culture, but most of that is informed by her love of period dramas.
In addition to the sword training part of her dedication to Bushido, she also follows codes of honestly and dedication to her work. She’s also a professional model and shows hidden depths when it comes to fashion knowledge and being in front of a camera. (Also she’s noticeably taller than her band mates despite being the youngest and that’s adorable.)
These traits combined with her kindness towards her friends and her vulnerability during the PasuPare story make her more human than just a silly one-note Bushido obsessed character.
3. Hazawa Tsugumi
Tsugumi is often described as “the most normal in [Afterglow]” and that’s true. I have a soft spot for realistic/characters designs, I guess. But there are a lot of wonderful qualities to being “the most normal.”
She doesn’t believe in herself very much but incredibly hardworking and reliable. She’s quiet but not extremely shy. She’s a very kind friend despite not having as close a relationship as Moca/Ran or Himari/Tomoe. She’s also a part of the student council and has a tendency to overwork herself helping others and the band. I love her determined and hardworking nature.
It doesn’t really tie in to the rest of the traits she has but there’s a loading screen comic that shows Afterglow looking for the first star they can find when the sun goes down, and it says it’s Tsugu’s special talent. It’s a really cute comic and I love Afterglow’s friendship. She’s an easy to overlook yet essential part of Afterglow and that’s what I love so much about her. And her attitude is very admirable! Everyone should strive to be a little more Tsugurific. (Also she’s just adorable look at her.)
2. Imai Lisa
Lisa was my best girl for a very long time and it’s hard to admit she’s second now. But second is still great! I love Lisa a lot. Her name and the fact that she was a Virgo endeared her to me immediately, as well as her design. And for a couple days that was all I knew about her. But she just kept getting better.
She’s a very kind, selfless friend to Yukina and understands her like no one else. She’s into fashion and is very girly, but the game doesn’t present that negatively at all, and I appreciate that. She has a very motherly attitude towards the younger band members, Ako and Rinko, and it’s very sweet. I love her relationship with her friend/co-worker Moca too. They bond over their best friends’ similarities.
She’s said to have a gift with people and that’s shown through all of her friendships. At one point she starts to doubt herself as part of the band, but at the end of the story Yukina reassures her that she is a very necessary part of Roselia. She’s the heart of the band and it wouldn’t be the same (and would probably have trouble staying together) without her.
1. Yamato Maya
When I first saw Maya she charmed me based on her contrast with the rest of Pastel*Palettes. Amidst the rest of the girls pastel theme and anime hair colors she definitely stood out. And her expression wasn’t quite a happy idol smile. She looked kind of awkward.
So reading the limited character info we had in English at the JP version release I found that she was a musical equipment geek. Not something I particularly understand but I thought she was cute. I figured her character was just that and she didn’t seem like she’d be in the running for my favorite.
But the more I played the more she grew on me. What really sold me on Maya though was her role in the first PasuPare event story. She becomes a kind of counselor to Aya and shows a lot of emotional maturity and kindness. In a later event story, the one that accompanied her first 4* card, we get to see Maya showing off her smarts as PasuPare participates in an island survival activity. She figures out every activity the staff throws at them and helps her scared bandmates through each challenge. All of her band members tell her how cool and helpful she was and it makes me happy to see Maya getting the praise she deserves. She’s a quiet and reliable member of the band and deserves to stand out and be loved.
10. Yamato Maya
Thanks to Madi I saw the beauty in Maya! I heard she was underrated but I wouldn’t have thought so if I didn’t look into the threads. I think she’s super cute and the fact that everyone loved her so much that they wanted to keep her in the band is adorable!
9. Mitake Ran
She was my first ~rare~ card and the first 3* I ever pulled! I love how shes a wee rebel who don’t want no flower arranging. I don’t know much about the voices yet but she has an amazing voice. Hey Day (?) was the first song i really got into with Bang Dream and I’m pretty sure its Afterglow so yeah!
8. Uehara Himari
Her casual outfit is exactly what i want my aesthetic to be, its beautiful and i wish i could find a skirt/dress like that! Pink hair is something I really like and her lil pigtails are super cute, definitely one of my favorite designs!
7. Hikawa Sayo
Inferiority complexes hit home real hard with me, so seeing her relationship with her sister made me sad. She’s one relatable gal.
6. Imai Lisa
Haha just kidding. I was drawn to her more chilled mature style and the fact that she seems to get through to Yukina easily. Mom friends are a huge hit with me too. She loves fashion and that is great.
5. Wakamiya Eve
Her!!!! Design!!! Is beautiful!!!!! Also her cards are so good. So. Good. Also I always love characters who are half a nationality other than Japanese like Eli and Mari from Love Live, it’s interesting!!
4. Okusawa Misaki
Super duper chill and just goes with the flow. I appreciate her a lot. I love her “whatever” face she makes in the game its great. She also looks like me too hahah.
3. Seta Kaoru
Her personality is a huge hit with me, and reminds me of Tamaki Suoh from Ouran High School Host Club a little!! She’s such a nerd and it’s entertaining to watch her try and be poetic when she hardly knows what she’s talking about. 100% my type ❤
2. Yamabuki Saya
Apparently I love the level-headed best friend characters in these kinds of animes. Her design reminded me of Love Live’s You Watanabe’s too (My bESTGIRL). And, I’m always drawn to characters with blue eyes like mine! A very pretty design.
1. Hanazono Tae
The first girl I was interested in solely because she had 20 bunnies. Anyone who knows me knows that bunnies have always been a big thing with me!!! I also love her kinda ditzyness. I relate with that a lot and she also looks like me. I don’t know, I think a lot of my appreciation comes from identifying with her.
10. Udagawa Tomoe
One of the best parts of playing the English version of the game thus far has been the chance it’s given me to really connect to certain characters I did not initially in the Japanese version. For some characters, this has been conscious, but for others, like Tomoe, it’s been a lot more subtle.
I used an online character sorter to figure out the exact order of this list and was shocked when Tomoe appeared in my top 10. Well, for a moment. And then I gave her character some real thought.
First of all, I think my love for Tomoe comes in part because of disappointment over another character. Hello Happy World is my absolute favorite band in Bang Dream, and I had high hopes for most of its members. Most of them either lived up to or exceeded these expectations… except for Kaoru. I expected her to be a distinguished older sister type with a penchant for a bit of flirting but she turned out to be a much goofier, dumber character. And that’s good in some aspects, but I missed the Kaoru I had imagined in my head.
Enter Tomoe, that exact cool big sister-type character from the band that’s easily secured second place in my heart, Afterglow. Tomoe is just such a sweetheart. You’d think she’d be super tough, and she is, but she’s also incredibly caring for her bandmates. She’s a real tough-love sort of character, and I admire how she’s simultaneously able to joke around with them and also take care of them. What a sweetheart. I suspect she’ll climb even higher in my favorites list as I play the game more.
9. Uehara Himari
Speaking of Afterglow, fun fact: every single member of Afterglow appears somewhere on my Top 10 list. That means half of this list is Afterglow. What a solid band! I guess I just love the rockers.
Himari is a character I was intrigued by in the Japanese version, but never really learned much about. She just has a beautiful design. The light pink, loose pigtails contrasted with the black and white of her default outfit – I’ve always thought she looked so cool and modern. I feel like if I saw a girl who looked like Himari in real life I would want fashion tips from her.
Having gotten to know her in English, though, I love how emotional she is. She’s kind of naive but does everything with the best of intentions. That emotional and naive part of her leads her to be the locus of some humorous moments in Afterglow’s story, but she also gets to play a role in some of the most emotional scenes. Her scene with Tomoe in Chapter 8 of their band’s story is maybe one of if not the best scenes I’ve read so far in this game.
On that note, I also want to mention how much I love her friendship with Tomoe. Tomoe definitely teases her a lot, since she’s a lot more cool, but it’s pretty obvious how much they care for each other. It’s an unusual friendship they have, and is fast becoming one of my favorite relationships in the game.
8. Hazawa Tsugumi
In every idol game, there’s always one character who represents a kind of “normalcy” in design and personality. Think Hanayo from Love Live, or in Bang Dream, Tsugumi.
Here’s the thing – I always love these characters. Just like Hanayo before her, Tsugumi has stolen my heart. At first glance she’d probably be the least noticeable of Afterglow. She’s not particularly quirkly like Moca, she doesn’t have the pretty design of Himari, and she doesn’t evoke the rocker aesthetic like Ran and Tomoe do.
But once you get to see how Tsugumi interacts with the other members of her band, you come to appreciate just how vital she is to how they all interact. She’s the glue of the band. She’s a hard worker to a fault, and works for her school’s student council alongside her band responsibilities. She seems to always be the first with an encouraging word for her bandmates, or a new idea, or a boost of confidence for everyone.
And it’s touching how much the rest of her band rallies around her. She may not have the natural leadership abilities or charisma of their actual band leader, Ran, but she seems nonetheless the center of so much of what inspires Afterglow to keep on playing music that makes them happy. That makes Tsugumi an excellent character, and one to really root for.
7. Minato Yukina
Hey see? I like girls from other bands too. The beautiful and somewhat mysterious Yukina, leader of Roselia…
I’ll be honest here when I say that sometimes I disagree with the beliefs Yukina stands for. She’s an extreme perfectionist, with the belief that music isn’t worth anything if it isn’t being made with the upmost skill and precision. She strives for absolute pitch-perfect quality in everything she does… and also in everything her fellow bandmates do.
Yes, Yukina can be cruel. And there’s no secret that she abandoned Lisa in the early days of Roselia. But it’s also true that Yukina has a lot of personal issues. It’s clear that she has a problem with self-isolation, and blames herself for more than she has any control over. That’s something I can really understand – it’s something I deal with myself – so watching Yukina struggle with these faults and eventually overcome them is really inspiring.
And when she’s not being critical, it’s clear Yukina really does care about her fellow bandmates. Despite their conflicts, her relationship with Lisa is actually really sweet. Plus, in later stories, she really seems like a mentor to Ako, Rinko, and even Sayo.
6. Aoba Moca
I’ve been kind of serious thus far in this list, but I think I’m finally gonna have to drop that serious analysis hat for Moca. Moca is another character who I was surprised to say really earned her spot in my Top 10. It seems in-character though for such a sneaky goofball.
Moca is one of the most hilarious characters in this game. She’s got this dry wit and seems to approach most situations with a sort of sleepy apathy. She’s mischievous and dare I say even a little flirty (especially with Ran). She’s really just such a joy. Every time she shows up in a story I’m always sure she’s gonna say something deeply entertaining.
On top of all that, though, I think she’s got a great design. Her sleepy eyes and penchant for hoodies connects so well with her character. I can’t ignore how rock n’ roll she is, even without the edgy design elements of Ran or Tomoe. Moca embodies the kind of chill, devil-may-care attitude that’s just as easily associated with rock as the edgier variant.
And I love her and Ran. I really do. Ran is so intense and serious compared to her, and they work as excellent foils to each other. Plus, as silly as their interactions can be, I really am convinced that they love each other… in an odd, silly sort of way.
5. Imai Lisa
Yet another character who stole my heart in the English version… even though she had already stolen my heart in the Japanese version. Not fair, Lisa!
Truly the rose of Roselia, I’ve always loved the motherly role Lisa plays for her fellow bandmates. She bakes them cookies, she cares for them all, and on top of that she learns the bass for them. What I didn’t realize until the English version was the journey she took to get to that point.
Lisa is childhood friends with Yukina, and when Yukina went on her quest to form the most perfect band, was more or less left in the dust. She once played bass but dropped it because she wasn’t particularly passionate about it. But then, once she saw the difficulty Yukina was having in finding a bass player, she immediately picked it up again and practiced to the point that her perfectly manicured nails were chipped and her fingers were bleeding.
It’s that sort of thing that really makes me admire Lisa. She’s not a perfectionist by any means. She cares a lot about her appearance, and loves to bake, and loves her friends, but she isn’t a musician. But because she cares so much about her friends, she’s willing to sacrifice time, energy, and even her own passions to devote herself to the band her friends are devoted to. She’s really such an admirable person, and I’m excited to see her grow further into her role as the story in the game continues.
4. Mitake Ran
And now for the last member of Afterglow, the leader, Ran. Talking as much as I have about Afterglow, I’ve done a lot of thinking about what it is about this band that has made every member one of my favorites… and I really think a lot of the great things about this band can also be said about its leader.
Ran is an interesting character because she’s incredibly passionate about her music. But she butts heads with a fellow perfectionist like Yukina because of her approach to that music. Unlike Yukina, Ran doesn’t really care about the technique or the skill displayed in her music. All she cares about is the emotion and freedom her music gives her.
That ties into her backstory too. Ran’s father is a flower arranger, and expects Ran to pursue the family business. As on-the-nose as that may be for a character motivation, it does make sense why Ran would approach her music as she does. Compared to the quiet, beautiful skill flower arranging requires, Ran does everything loud, chaotic, emotional, and doesn’t care at all about the technique.
And that is so rock n’ roll. Ran is essentially a characterization of the very genre of music she plays. She’s serious about what she’s doing, of course, but she longs for freedom and passion that can’t be found by being careful about the minute details. That’s why I love Ran. She’s such an incredible representation of the theme of her band, and is such a strong leader for them. Just by being their leader, she unifies them under this common theme.
3. Tsurumaki Kokoro
At this point, you may be thinking to yourself “Didn’t Gillian say her favorite band isn’t Afterglow? Why does she keep talking about Afterglow?” Well, worry not, because my top 3 are all members of my actual favorite band, Hello Happy World.
Hello Happy World (henceforth referred to as HHW) initially interested me because of their band aesthetics. First of all, their default performance attire are marching band-esque uniforms, with shakos and everything. As a former marching band member, I was intrigued by the concept of a marching band-style regular band. And though that’s not… exactly what HHW is, it was enough to draw me into the appeal of their wacky, dumb shenanigans.
HHW is… stupid. Compared to the stories of the other band, the story of HHW is mired in just plain sitcom stupidity. And you know what? I love it. Absolutely central to the concept of this humorous band is the grand master of shenanigans herself, Kokoro. She’s almost inhuman in how much wild stuff she causes, and even more inhuman in her reactions to this wild stuff. She’s filthy stinking rich and has an entourage of back-suited, sunglasses-wearing helpers willing and able to carry out just about anything she wants them to.
And you know what’s the best thing about Kokoro? With all that crazy stuff going on in her background, with all the slapstick comedy she inspires, at her core, her intentions are pure. She truly does just want to make everyone around her smile. And in that vein, her actions make sense. Of course a person whose singular goal is to bring a smile to everyone’s face would be a goofball of epic proportions. She uses all her resources and all of her weird wildness to make others laugh, and that’s why I love this sparkling ray of sunlight.
2. Matsubara Kanon
I went on and on about the comedy of HHW in my bit about Kokoro, but the next two HHW girls I’ll be talking about are actually more or less the “straight men” for the rest of the group. (Though neither of them are men, nor particularly straight, if you ask me.)
First up is the shy, sweet Kanon. Kanon is another character that really had to grow on me. I thought she was cute right off the bat, of course. As far as pure cuteness goes, Kanon has it in spades, from her soft blue hair with the little ponytail, her wide purple eyes, and her general air of nervousness. Adding onto her cuteness is her love of tea and jellyfish. But beyond that, to me, Kanon seemed to be your standard shy, cutesy idol girl. I liked her, but I wouldn’t have considered her a favorite.
And then I started reading her role in the story in the English version. Suddenly her character just… clicked. Sure, Kanon is shy and very into her specific interests, of course. But Kanon is also very often the mediator between her wilder bandmates and Misaki (whom I will be talking about in a moment). It’s Kanon who convinced Misaki to join and stay in HHW, and it’s often a joke that they’re the only two sane ones in the band, so they take a lot of time hanging out with each other.
It’s that connection to Misaki that really sold me on Kanon’s character totally. Kanon is a shy girl who overcame her shyness to make others smile and… more or less, so is Misaki. Not to take away from what I’m about to say about Misaki, but both of them provide an alternate to the chaotic happiness proposed by the other three members of the band. Instead of making others smile just by being wild and crazy, both Kanon and Misaki make others smile through personal sacrifice on their part, and hard work overcoming personal struggles. I gotta love that.
1. Okusawa Misaki
And finally we’ve come to my favorite character in all of Bang Dream… Misaki. If you’ve seen promotional material for the game before, you may have missed Misaki in the group. That’s because in most of the promotional materials, Misaki is not Misaki, she’s Michelle, the giant bear suit she wears whenever she’s DJing for HHW.
The story of how Misaki became Michelle for HHW is long, convoluted, and rather silly, but tl;dr, Misaki is a cynical high schooler who Kokoro, Hagumi, and Kaoru are convinced is the manager of a giant, benevolent bear DJ, when really she’s just a girl in a costume. Misaki’s cynicism is probably her biggest trait, and it sure gets used a lot when compared to the goofy shenanigans the rest of her band gets up to. In some ways, that’s part of the reason I love her so much… she has great quotes, great reactions, and is just all around relatable and hilarious.
But on a deeper level, I love Misaki because despite her cynicism, she still dons that stupid bear costume and goes out to perform with the rest of her bandmates. Misaki is not a performer herself – she only initially acquired the bear costume for a part-time job she didn’t even know would require it – and in the early days of the band she repeatedly expresses her disdain for it and her wish to quit. Yet, something in Kokoro’s quest for world happiness convinces her to stay. (Well, that, and the fact that she wants to protect Kanon from their craziness).
That’s why I love Misaki so. Through all her cynical quips, her eye rolls, and her crossed arms, there’s a real passion to make others happy. I mean, why else would such a cynic dress up as a huge pink bear? Though she might claim she doesn’t care about the band, it’s obvious she does. Just like I mentioned with Kanon, Misaki sacrifices for the happiness of others. Her dignity is one of those things, but also it’s implied that she wouldn’t be able to perform without the costume, making it seem as though she’s pretty self-conscious too. Anyway, I love this little hipster, and what a unique role she plays.
…I just wish they would give us a performance costume where she isn’t wearing the bear costume. #FreeMisaki2k18