「結成」 (Kessei)

There are definitely times when Welcome to the Ballroom strikes me as “more Haikyuu! than Haikyuu!“. There’s just something about the overall tone of the series – it has a feckless exuberance that’s hard to miss. But one huge difference between the two series is that Ballroom has a definite thread of sexual politics running through it, which is basically a non-factor in Haikyuu!. That would seem to be something fundamental to the nature of the sport in question, though for a while it looked as if Ballroom e Youkoso was largely going to treat it as the elephant in the room. Now, however, it’s being tackled more or less head-on.

As we start out this week, Tatara is still on his level 1 quest to find himself a dance partner. For the moment he’s participating in group lessons to at least have the chance to dance with someone, and he’s only taken on an arubaito as way to pay for his lessons (while it’s never expressly stated, Tatara’s dad seems to be a man of modest means). He takes his job at a local cafe very seriously (which is perfectly in character) which is a source of great bemusement to the daughter of the owner, Koumoto Akira (Always great to have Aoi Yuuki join the party).

Convenience being plot’s best friend, Akira is not only a competitive dancer herself (she spots something familiar in Tatara’s posture), but also not just an acquaintance but the former partner of Chinatsu (a common occurrence among younger girls given the inevitable gender imbalance, but something that isn’t allowed in official competitions – in Japan at least – above the junior level). Akira is a big personality to say the least, and when Chinatsu stops by to drop off her old gear as a hand-me-down for Akira’s sister, the two ex-partners engage in a strutting match of epic proportions. During their partnership Chinatsu was the leader and Akira the partner – because Akira is “smaller and more feminine” (her words).

Rivalry certainly drives a lot of what happens in Ballroom e Youkoso, as indeed it does in most sports shounen, and it’s her simmering rivalry with Akira that prompts Chinatsu to declare she’ll partner with Tatara-kun after all so they can kick Akira’s ass in the Mikasa Cup. There’s a huge hill to climb before then, though – she and Tatara would have to enter a competition as novices and work their way up through Grand Prix first (apparently ballroom has a class system similar to karuta or shogi). And needless to say, that isn’t going to be an easy thing.

The question of leading and following is a difficult one here, because in theory it’s overtly sexist that the boy should always be the leader and indeed, that competitive couples must be mixed-gender. But in practice, Chinatsu is a pretty obnoxious person if we’re honest, and Tatara an earnest kid just trying to do his best. A boy not good at leading (though I’m not sure the evidence bears that out, actually) and a girl who can’t follow is a bad combination, even for the novice level. At their first competition together they survive a disastrous first round where Chinatsu-chan changes their routine from practice, and only manage to perform decently (perhaps well enough to finish second and move up to Class D) in the finals because Tatara engineers a sort of “no-leader” hybrid style on the fly.

It really seems that Tatara can’t catch a break – no matter what he does he never gets any credit, only criticism (even from Kiyoharu’s mom). But truthfully I don’t think he’s the problem here. Fundamentally competitive dance seems to be a sports that draws in showy athletes with big egos – as you would expect. But Tatara is the opposite of that – he’s more about adapting to his partner than imposing his will on the partnership. Personally I don’t think he was “letting the girl do all the work” here at all – in fact, I think he was saving the day by improvising and using his instincts (which is damn hard work). Maybe, in his way, Tatara is forging his own style of ballroom dance here – leading while adapting to show off his partner’s strongest qualities. Perhaps someday he’ll get some credit for that – though given the previous 14 episodes, I wouldn’t bet it will be anytime soon.




  1. Tatara is half the problem. The other half is Chinatsu.

    He really is not doing any leading. He just fades. That’s the reason why he is being called out. Sengoku didn’t teach him anything about it.

    Rather than him making decisions on his own merit, he’s just reading what his partner’s movement is and then just goes with it. He’s being too meek and reliant on his partner. There’s no self-confidence there.

    Marisa saying that he’s letting the girl do all the work means that he actually is just thinking of what the girl wants to do and him just adjusting to it. That’s not balance. Especially on that dance because in the end it was just Chinatsu actually leading while Tatara is just making it look like it was him.

    Both of them are at fault. Which is why they are the best partners for each other. They are complete opposites that want what each other have but are just too confused on what to do right now.

  2. It doesn’t matter if what Tatara is doing is “genius level hard work.”

    It’s still fundamentally crappy leading in dance. Tatara is not a leader and never has been this entire series so far. He’s a prodigy at FOLLOWING. All he does is follow the girl around. The girl does all the work, and he just shadows her. He did it with both his previous partners. And that simply doesn’t work in ballroom.

    I think your modern feminist egalitarian ideals are prejudicing your analysis of Tatara here. In the USA, we live in a culture that kind of idealizes guys who talk about gender equality and simply get out of the way so the female characters can shine. A lot of US sitcoms take the idea of men subserviently butt-kissing the female characters to ridiculous levels. So maybe it’s harder for an modern American to really understand that Tatara, while a nice guy with a lot of heart (that makes him totally worthy of being rooted for), is still a gutless leader who is dumping the entire responsibility on the girl. A real problem in a sport where gender inequality is hardwired into the whole system.

    Americans who have had it ideologically drilled into their minds that nothing less than complete and utter gender sameness and interchangeability is satisfactory – will balk at the world of ballroom, which not only acknowledges the inequality of the sexes, but relishes in it and celebrates it. Within that world, Tatara simply is not doing his job. Over-and-out.

  3. Throwing aside the (probably inflammatory) rhetoric about American feminist butt-kissing however…

    Let’s just look at the physics of ballroom dance.

    The female is not physically in a position to lead. It just doesn’t make any athletic sense for the female to lead, given the positions she is in and how her body is moving.

    Look at the arched neck and back. The girl is often pretty much in a falling position. If the guy weren’t there, she’d be falling to the floor and injuring herself. She is not in a good body position to lead. It simply doesn’t work. That’s why the guy HAS to lead. And if he doesn’t, it isn’t just a matter of the girl feeling like he’s unreliable emotionally. It’s a real risk of getting a head concussion.

    The guy has to be stable, and he has to send clear physical directions to the woman – otherwise it’s just not safe for her and she can’t really move the way she’s supposed to in the sport.

    And by the way – the woman isn’t looking where she’s going either. That’s the guy’s job.

  4. Show Spoiler ▼

      1. What he said about Chinatsu is a lie. A pretty disgusting one I might add.

        Show Spoiler ▼

      2. Yup, in the anime it was explained that there where to less Boys, so they fill in the gaps with female leader, in other word she was playing the Boy/Leader role

        So his speculation is false

  5. @it’s overtly sexist that the boy should always be the leader and indeed, that competitive couples must be mixed-gender

    Agree, I’d be fine with same sex dance couples competing in real life. For something skilful I don’t think same sex couples would have an unfair advantage either. If every competitor in a competition is great at what they do, it shouldn’t matter if its two guys, two women, guy/women competing.

  6. Ep 15:

    I approve of Tatara’s drive. it can work for him. But for the “gist” of the Anime, do not make him to novice. In the end there is a bit Anime Magic, not real World. I know, we need the right Balance. Not in how good he dance or learn quick.. no i am talking about the other “balance”. Balance of being an OAV or an TV Anime… Time Slots is the unshaken truth here

    So, please think carefully in how fast they learn the “Basics”. We (well more me) want to watch an competition between these Pairs, and as a side effect the Grand Prix tournament..

    a bit Service to the fans, but with anchors of the real life.. Yup it is not easy

    i do hope Tatara-san and her partner, will not risk the anger of their Sensei.. She could get upset and trow them out…

    Balance.. Balance of so many corners… Gambatane

    1. What real Dance Class is the Girl? B or C rank?

      And Tatara? D-Rank? Then let him do his “Sasuke” (quick learn) magic and “Naruto” effort (practice and Spirit “i become Hokage someday!”) to catch up, and then surpass both Levels for the Show and “competition”

      mm perhaps i bend to much over my “window”, if i surpass my borders. Gomene

      But i try to speak my mind, even if it have thorns

      1. also yes, Dancers have mastering the “Happy Fake Smile”. it is some kind of acting. And everyone knows it

        What was the source of Dancing anyway? Love? impression? to honor the Gods? Both should at last Trust each other while Dancing


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