Image source: BanG Dream!（バンドリ!）公式 on Twitter
My favorite band is Queens of the Stone Age, and I’ve always aspired to play the guitar much like frontman Joshua Homme. As much as I love their music, however, I’ve never been able to really take the plunge and start learning how to play, no matter how hard I try. Recently, an episode of BanG Dream! was able to push me the rest of the way.
It came out of nowhere, really. I went back and watched the pilot episode because I wanted it fresh in my mind to write an article that was initially going to be much different than this one. Protagonist Kasumi is dead set on finding the “sparkling” sound she heard as a child while looking up at the stars: the “Star Beat,” more specifically. During her first year of high school while looking for which club she should join, she happens upon a star-shaped guitar at a classmate’s family’s pawn shop. She realizes when she sees it that this could be the end of her search, and starting up a band could help her find the sound she’s sought out all her life.
Except Kasumi knows nothing about playing guitar or anything of the sort, and she barely knows anything about music. That doesn’t stop her from wandering all about town to find a place to play the guitar, and I mean she literally looks around for the first place that looks like she can go to play the guitar that’s actually viable for her to play an instrument at. Of course this means she ends up at a venue that’s meant for bands to actually play at, not for someone who’s never played guitar to go up on stage and faff about.
This doesn’t affect Kasumi, because she’s got this infectious attitude that propels her forward. It doesn’t matter to her or embarrass her that she’s wandering around with a guitar she basically lifted from her classmate and dragged her along, nor does it bother her that she can’t play music. All she knows is she has a dream she’s going to carry out, and she’s going to do it one way or another.
I found this attitude refreshing; it’s much like the way I currently live my life but, for some reason, I was never able to apply it to learning something meaningful to me, like playing guitar. I had gone as far as to purchase one (and a bass guitar) as well as a case, strings, and picks, and the video game Rocksmith 2014 in an attempt to learn, but I couldn’t stick with it. Watching Kasumi jump right in, however, with no prior knowledge, made me want to do it, too. Luckily, I already know how to read music, thanks to high school dabbling with band instruments. Tablature is not something I’m familiar with, but I can learn, as Kasumi does in BanG Dream!.
Seeing a character forge valiantly ahead like this in the series isn’t exactly something I’m not used to. It’s a very common thing, especially when it comes to “cute girls doing X” series but, for some reason, seeing Kasumi doing it really woke something in me. I’m trying to keep up with practice as often as I can now. I’m trying my hand at writing down ideas for songs that perhaps I’ll eventually play if I learn enough. If someone can learn at the drop of a hat like that, even though this is a fictional story, I feel as though I can do it too.
So while BanG Dream! is being written off constantly as another K-On! clone, I’ve got it to thank for changing my outlook on learning something I’ve always wanted to learn. Now if I could just start studying Japanese in earnest…
BanG Dream! is available to stream on Crunchyroll with English subtitles.