Is it worth? Who knows! I’ll let you decide, but first, you’ll need to give it a watch 🙂
Watching Ballroom e Youkoso (Welcome to the Ballroom) feels like taking a journey down memory lane. I’m talking about the type of memory lane where you were once a kid and wanted to prove everyone you had talent in something. Academics, sports, art, acting, singing. Just anything in general that make your friend go “wow, I didn’t know you could do that!” As such, this anime is one that I found remarkably realistic and relatable. The first few episodes doesn’t take long to establish the principle cast along with its intention.
I’ll be honest here. Tatara is a character that won’t be very easy to accept for most people at first glance. He has a meek personality and seems to overestimate himself on certain circumstances. This is shown in the beginning when Tatara expresses to professional dancer Sengoku that he wants to be a pro rather than just to dance. His initial attitude makes him look like a fool as dancing isn’t just something that can perfected like a click of a switch. My impression of Tatara made me realize that while he sets high expectations for himself, he does have potential but needs the right people and time to unlock it. Luckily, Tatara gets the opportunity at the Ogawara Dance Studio where other talented dancers gather to perfect their work. From the studio, Tatara also meets the very talented and beautiful Shizuku. She becomes a source of inspiration for Tatara as he strives to improve and become a pro. Throughout this show, Tatara embraces the art of ballroom dancing and becomes very determined to prove himself. From an amateur to an inspiring ballroom dancer, his character can really grow to people as we see his progress.
The storytelling builds on many fronts although most of it still follows Tatara and his journey. He deals with personal issues, social problems, and also establishes rivalries with certain characters he meets. At the same time, an important part of this show involve him building important relationships with others. Two particular characters stands out the most: Mako Akagi and Chinatsu Hiyama. As dancing partners, Tatara’s relationship with both of these girls vary in attitude. Mako and Tatara has a friendly relationship that is based on trust, respect, and strong spirit.
On the other hand, Tatara and Chinatsu’s relationship is more borderline towards competitiveness. Not to mention, Chinatsu already has a dancing background and doesn’t tolerate a weak partner. Throughout the anime, we see how Chinatsu begins to accept him more with their growing trust. In respect, Tatara also develops as a person as he crafts his own dancing style so that it’s not just his partner carrying their dances. Whether he realizes it or not, Tatara even has influence on others. This includes making Mako realize how skilled she really is, restoring Chinatsu’s love for dancing, and even influencing Shizuku to improve herself to be better. In retrospect, this anime steps over the line to make Tatara a more likeable character as time goes on.
Unfortunately, I can’t really say all the main cast gets decent screen time and development. While Shizuku is Tatara’s initial inspiration, she doesn’t get much highlight later on in this show. Don’t expect this anime to focus much on Tatara’s love life either. While it’s obvious that Tatara crushes over Shizuku from the beginning, the show makes it clear that she prefers dancing rather than finding a boyfriend. This also applies to Tatara’s other dancing partners so if romance is something on your mind, then look elsewhere. Also, be aware that this anime focuses a lot on dancing. By a lot, I mean a LOT with all types of dances, music, and style. If you’re not a fan of dancing, it may take some time to enjoy this show. Ballroom dancing is portrayed as a fierce competition on the dance floor with some episodes dedicating their entire time to it. Luckily, this anime is quite a faithful adaptation for what it had to work with. With only some minor differences, it’s an anime that really made me glad it got adapted. However, there are times that I wish the anime picked up the pace with its extensive background storytelling, especially in later episodes.
Adapted by Production I.G., this was really the number one choice. They are known for making other anime that involve competition come to life. (ex. Haikyu, All Out!, Kuroko no Basket) For this particular anime, they leave a memorable impression with the art style and character designs. The biggest selling point is the smooth camera angles and timings. When the competition gets fierce, it really draws out the talents of the dancers with their body movements. Each movement is precisely timed to show their potential with colorful aesthetics. It further amplifies them through clever facial expressions. The dancing outfits in this anime are also memorable for their coloring and hair style, in particular for the female characters. It’s not to be interpreted as fan service but rather a work of art. On the other hand, there are some body parts in this anime that can be distracting. The one most worth mentioning is the overly extensive necks that can make viewers point fingers at.
At the core of its technical feature is the music. It’s what makes the ballroom dancing come to life along with its vivid choreography. The anime mixes in a variety that includes jazz, latin, classic, and among others. Director Yoshimi Itazu really made an impression through his work by allowing the music to do the storytelling on many occasions. Without words, many of the dancing segments feels like a dream and as if time itself stopped to showcase the characters’ talents. The music supplements that with its directing. Voice character mannerism is also well performed with characters like Chinatsu, Hyoudou, and the Akagi siblings. Both the OP and ED theme songs are also worth listening to for their rhythm.