• 07/19/2017
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Welcome To The Ballroom Episode 1: He Spent HOW LONG Doing the Waltz Box?

Cover of volume 1 of the manga.
Cover of volume 1 of the manga.

For anyone who watches anime, you’ve probably already heard of Ballroom e Youkoso (Welcome to the Ballroom) getting an anime adaptation. That’s a fairly niche audience, however, even counting those who grew up in the Pokemon heyday of the 90s.

And what is “anime”, for those outside that niche audience? Anime is Japanese animated shows or movies. Movies such as Akira or My Neighbor Totoro are anime, as are television shows like Sailor Moon, Gundam, or yes, even Pokemon. Anime isn’t a genre, but a medium, so it means many different kinds of stories can be told—including Welcome to the Ballroom, which we’ll be covering.

So what, exactly, is this blog post about in layman’s terms?

There is going to be an anime series about ballroom dancing airing this summer. In this series of blog posts, we’ll be running reviews of it, covering everything from storyline, characters, and, of course, exactly how accurate a Japanese cartoon can be about ballroom dancing.

 

The first episode opens with a boy named Fujita Tatara who seems set to drift aimlessly through life. He doesn’t think much of himself, he has no plans for his future, and he gets bullied—until a mysterious, confident man on a motorcycle chases off his bullies. And, in true anime narrative fashion, he literally drags our young hero straight into the plot.

In this case, that means a ballroom dance studio. (For a free first class, no less!)

The series appears to be setting up a storyline of growth and self-realization. Already in episode one, we can see how excited Tatara is about this new world he has found himself in, and how eager he is to not only improve himself and his self-confidence, but to delve into the world of competitive ballroom dancing.

Sengoku dipping Tamaki as a demonstration.
Sengoku dipping Tamaki as a demonstration.

The mentor character (confident motorcycle man, of course; Sengoku Kaname) is specifically mentioned to be a Latin and Ten Dance champion. We get to see the glitz and glamor of a competition and see professionals in motion. (There was a fantastic line from Sengoku about the main character not understanding how much work it takes to be good at dancing, too.)

But there are also the little nuances, too, that ring true for ballroom dancing. The hard work involved, the confidence that dancing can bring, and of course, little gags such as losing track of time practicing, the bid for attention on a dance floor, a follower having to prop up a tired leader, and yes, even how boring it can feel to practice the box over and over and over again. (But Tatara gets good at them for all that practice, keep in mind. And he isn’t the one to complain, for how excited he is to get to learn at all.)

The dance moves in the show are, so far, quite accurate. They break down a few of the movements—such as likening the swing of someone’s hips to the swing of a pendulum—and they treat ballroom dancing as something both fun and as a commitment to bettering one’s self.

It’s a first episode to set up a future arc, but it’s a solid step, and we’re very interested in seeing what’s to come.

Continue with the next episode here!

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