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Ballroom e Youkoso – 02 »

Ballroom e Youkoso – 01

OP Sequence

OP: 「10% roll, 10% romance」 by (UNISON SQUARE GARDEN)

「小笠原ダンススタジオへようこそ」 (Ogasawara Dansu Sutajio e Youkoso)
“Welcome to Ogasawara Dance Studio”

I was lucky enough to see the world premiere of Ballroom e Youkoso at Anime Expo last week, but of course one’s reactions watching it on television should be a little different than in a giant expo hall surrounded by 3500 screaming partisans. To be honest, my initial take on it (as I said at the time) was “Dance Haikyuu with Necks”. And funnily enough, a week later I find my feelings about it haven’t changed much at all. If anything, the initial impression has solidified. And that’s (mostly) a good thing.

I come at Welcome to the Ballroom as someone who’s scratched the surface of the manga, but for the most part is unspoiled. I know that manga is extremely popular; I know this anime is arguably the most highly-anticipated of the season. For me at least it shared that honor with Shoukoku no Altair, and my assessment of both premieres is roughly the same – highly competent and entertaining work by rock-solid staff from a prestige studio that didn’t quite blow me away (as Made in Abyss did, for example), but didn’t leave my let down in any way. We’ll see how each series develops over time – both have the luxury of two cours to play with.

If indeed one gets a Haikyuu!! vibe from Ballroom, it shouldn’t entirely be a surprise, as both shows come from Production I.G.. Haikyuu!! animation director Chiba Takahiro (who was at A/X along with director Itazu Yoshimi) performed that role on Haikyuu!! and brought much of his team with him to “Ballroom”. Haikyuu!! may be the most beautifully animated sports anime ever, so that’s all good. But for me the connection runs deeper than that – the personality and mood of the series (in the case of the volleyball show I felt it was “a floppy-eared beagle driving a sports car”) are very similar. Ballroom e Youkoso is intense, flashy, goofy and wholly adolescent in a positive way.

The hero in this case is Fujita Tatara (Tsuchiya Shimba), a third-year middle schooler adrift without anything he feels passionate about. One day he spots a beautiful girl from his grade walking into an underground dance studio, and one thing (a run-in with bullies) leaders to another (the owner putting Tatara into a headlock and dragging him downstairs). That owner is Sengoku Kaname (Morikawa Toshiyuki) who seems to co-own the place with Tamaki-san (Noto Mamiko). The aforementioned girl is Hanaoka Shizuku (Ayane Sakura), an accomplished dancer who’s immediately assigned to put the newbie through his first steps, but asks the questions a girl in her position might reasonably think to ask.

Now, I know even less about ballroom dancing (competitive “Dancesport” or otherwise) than I do about volleyball – and I’m even worse at it. But lack of knowledge shouldn’t be a barrier with a sports anime (and that is what this series is) if it’s well-written and well-produced enough. Haikyuu!! was (and is), and Ballroom e Youkoso seems to be as well. Sports anime are generally personal stories about growing up more than sports stories, and I think that’s the case here. Tatara is a likably awkward kid, and he doesn’t let his awkwardness and completely normal pubescent shyness turn him into a wallflower. I quite like the casting here as well, especially the choice of a fresh-voiced newcomer like Tsuchiya-san as Tatara. He can bring a lot of authenticity to Tatara’s moments of bewilderment and wonder at this new world opening up in front of him.

So what’s with that whole neck thing? Well, I’ll be honest – for me at least, the characters designs for this series have extremely long necks – it’s like Kishida Takahiro (another Haikyuu!! connection) is a big Kiseijuu fan. Posture is a very important theme in this story (as Sengoku points out), and presenting ballroom dance through hand-drawn animation is replete with challenges, so I suspect the neck thing is intentional. I’m sure in time I’ll stop noticing it so much, but truthfully it does stand out for me at the moment – it just looks very unnatural. It strikes me as an odd choice in an otherwise immaculately-produced series, but it’s hardly a deal-breaker – and maybe in the end it’ll win me over. If that’s the biggest complaint you can lodge against a show, it’s in pretty damn good shape…

 

ED Sequence

ED: 「Maybe the next waltz」 by (Mikako Komatsu)

Preview

July 8, 2017 at 11:18 pm
21 comments »
  • July 8, 2017 at 11:29 pmAnon

    Jezus, the things they do to their necks makes my spine cry.

    On the other hand, I’m surprised to say I will be watching a Ballroom dance anime this season; the characters and direction seem great!

    • July 10, 2017 at 8:33 amstarss

      Not to mention what they do with their arms! Those things would snap immediately!

  • July 9, 2017 at 12:36 amshensu3

    The neck is sometimes as long as the whole face or longer. Try freezing an image to check.

    This is anatomically off so badly, our brains can see it immediately. You don’t need to be an artist to say that’s a crappy design. I don’t see why they made the decision to run with it. It serves absolutely no purpose. Are subtle neck movements harder for the viewers to catch ? No.

  • July 9, 2017 at 1:02 amOne Pinch Man

    Except the necks, their body proportions are quite nice.

    • July 9, 2017 at 1:41 amWorldwidedepp

      Yes, thats true

  • July 9, 2017 at 4:30 amJeffers

    Well i thought i will be seeing something like sluts on stilleto, i mean yaoi on ice errr… I mean yuri because of its animation. But after watching the whole episode, well it definitely show some promise. Episode 3 will dictate if this show, for me is a must watch

  • July 9, 2017 at 4:46 amThe suffocated

    This episode is very much a shounen version of the 1996 Japanese film “Shall We Dance?”. It’s a good episode, but I wish to see something new in the forthcoming ones.

  • July 9, 2017 at 5:14 amdilutedwater

    the manga does the neck thing too maybe the staff are just being faithful to source material style

    • July 9, 2017 at 9:04 amGuardian Enzo

      The manga characters have distinctly swan-like necks too, but they don’t seem nearly as out of proportion to my eye. Nor do the characters in Haikyuu!! (the anime). I suspect it’s something that will matter less and less as the series progresses.

  • July 9, 2017 at 9:15 amWorldwidedepp

  • July 9, 2017 at 11:30 amChoya

    The necks are crazy, but I enjoyed the episode enough that I can overlook the awkward neck length. In a way, it kinda fits the graceful dancing motif with how much they resemble swan necks.

  • July 9, 2017 at 4:28 pmjhpace1

    http://randomc.net/image/Ballroom%20e%20Youkoso/Ballroom%20e%20Youkoso%20-%2001%20-%2026.jpg
    So this is what Reiner Braun is doing while waiting for Season 3 of Shingeki no Kyojin…

  • July 9, 2017 at 4:45 pmharmonee

    I just came here to say that I’ve never seen such beautiful eyelashes in anime such as this one…

  • July 9, 2017 at 5:06 pmLyfe

    To me this looks like a series that would be appreciated more if you watch more than one episode at a time. Some shows just work better when you’re absorbed by the story to watch the next one right away, instead of waiting a week.

  • July 9, 2017 at 10:38 pmStephen Tutton

    Love t,
    Reminds me of dancing classes.
    Though it took me a lot longer to learn the steps.

    Also doing it for social dancing not competitive.
    The object is to hold a lady.
    Not win a competition’

    All part of the mating game.
    They are using long necks to make them look graceful and elegant.
    Look at fashion artwork.

    So far so good.

    • July 10, 2017 at 8:36 amstarss

      The Box is basically the dancers’ “bouncing ball”. It is the most basic type of dance there is, which is why Fujita’s enthusiasm for it is so weird and hysterical. Even when he’s doing the Box in the end credits, it looks both funny and exciting! I learned The Box when I attended children’s theater a long time ago, and it really does get you wanting to learn more moves when you perfect it.

  • July 10, 2017 at 5:23 amMakuMaku

    It is funny one dance lesson session only lasts 25 minutes. That is nearly not enough to learn a new choreography of one dance. And ballroom dancing would be much better promoted if they show you how much fun it is just to dance.

    • July 10, 2017 at 8:37 amstarss

      If you glance at the sheet, you see that 25 minutes isn’t the only class they have. They have 3 other types of courses that last longer.

  • July 10, 2017 at 8:32 amstarss

    Great first episode that shows the crew has a great sense of editing, pacing, and story. I just hate how the main character is a carbon copy of any other nervous underdog you find in shonen/sports anime, and his archetype is getting very monotonous. I hope he takes control of the plot soon, because so far this story has been driven by all the other characters. I will be following this!

  • July 11, 2017 at 2:17 pmGlutton

    I’d like to have full body shots of the dance scenes for future episodes.

  • July 11, 2017 at 7:06 pmlunascha

    Pretty drawing and the story isn’t too bad at all. This might be one of my fav this season but will need to watch a couple more episodes to determine that. It was a bit surprising for me that he was so quick to join the dance lesson but I guess it was in him the whole time and he just didn’t realize how much he loved it until now.

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