「 俺、なんでバレエやってんだ?」 (Ore, Nande Barē Yatten da?)
“Why Am I Doing Ballet?”

At any age, getting knocked down a peg (or ballet barre) or two sometimes is what it takes to re-evaluate yourself. Chizuru’s been telling Junpei ad nauseum to buckle down and learn the ballet mechanics, but he didn’t listen until it Oikawa harshly threw it in his face. I was on edge the whole episode for Luou and Junpei. As Luou can attest to, there’s nothing like a harsh environment to crush pure love and enthusiasm. The harsh environment aside- those dance scenes showed off some beautiful animation!

I was so happy when the pianist took Junpei under her wing. I honestly wanted to hug her-and I’m generally not a hugging person. She pointed out to Junpei in the most sweet, grandmotherly way possible how he needs to dance with precision- to dance for the art rather than a feeling. They explored in such a delicate way how teenagers live in the emotions of the moment when what they need is foresight and perseverance to grit their teeth in the moment for the sake of the future.

Feeling good is a reason to start something, but if that’s the only motivation you’ve got, what happens when it stops feeling good because growing pains are a part of life? A feeling can only get you so far, as Junpei learns the hard way. He sees for himself the results of putting in the effort to practice the things that don’t feel good. Practice sucks, but so does not getting better at what you love. I love how the pianist emphasizes that Junpei’s passion and emotion are a good thing-it’s a talent to be moved by the music-you just need to make sure you move with it. The key is learning to control it, to be guided by the mind and muscles before the music.

Actions have consequences and making Oikawa acknowledge him seems like a pretty tall order, but I would expect nothing less from Junpei. He has a lot of people behind him now-most surprisingly, Hyou. I was not expecting Hyou to come out and say “you got this”. Also interesting was what he said about Oikawa bashing Junpei because she’s scared. She certainly comes across as a tight-lipped defender of rule and order, which are generally the type to quake at the arrival of an innovator. An opposite, in a way, to Chizuru.

Applause for Junpei in taking responsibility, apologizing upon seeing the backlash from his improv ballet. Coming right after swallowing the bitter pill of Oikawa’s dissing, it would have been natural for him to fight the scary dance moms head on. That he doesn’t, showing sensitivity to how his actions effect those around him, shows growth.

Junpei is damn lucky to have someone like Chizuru supporting him. That she claims responsibility for Junpei, keeping him as a student at the expense of losing other students is a huge vote of confidence and a significant financial sacrifice on her part, especially as a new studio. Although, those moms are insult to Chizuru, enrolling their children because of her connection to Oikawa rather than Chizuru’s own reputation. We don’t know the specifics yet about Oikawa and Chizuru’s relationship, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they weren’t exactly best pals given their different perspectives on ballet (more on that later). We’ll find out when she discovers Junpei and Luou went to Oikawa’s class (I’m assuming they went without telling her).

From Junpei’s perspective, Chizuru seems like a strict sensei, but Oikawa’s studio paints her in a new light (for him as well, I hope). As much as she gets on him about technique, she doesn’t unfairly single him out or nitpick excessively. Unlike the Oikawa instructors who had no qualms calling Junpei out in front of everyone for every little thing. Unlike Chizuru’s tough love, these teachers have a survival of the fittest mindset. That gave Luou emotional flashbacks to his traumatizing past and withdraws until Junpei snaps him out of it with some good old competition.

I can sympathize with Junpei on not staying in time to the music. When I used to dance, that was one thing I always struggled with (and why I never got far with dance). When you’re just starting out with something you love, it can be crushing to have every mistake brought to public attention, hence why it’s important for teachers to learn when to correct and when to trust that the student will correct themselves. I think that’s why Chizuru never mentioned staying in time to the music before. She knew too much criticism right off the bat might kill his motivation and trusted that once Junpei buckled down and absorbed the basics, everything else would follow.

I was so happy at the baby steps Luou took in opening up to Junpei! I was almost expecting him to take his MVP loss out on Junpei, but to Luou’s credit, he only had that one outburst, then moved on. It was impressive that he snapped out of his funk at the studio to encourage Junpei, pointing out how the other dancers are as bad as, if not worse, than him. And then at the end, the clear, life-filled expression when Junpei tearfully apologized. I can sense a growing camaraderie between them, which a shared defeat and common foe does wonders for.



    1. It’s not really because he was a hikikomori – it’s because he can’t read kanji. (A scene in the beginning of the episode reminds viewers of this, when he stares at the poster saying “applications closed” without understanding what it says.) Sure, there are signs in English around but there’s only so much those can help if you can’t read kanji and are too timid to ask for help.

      1. English (romaji) has been used in transit to identify locations for at least a couple of decades. Around 2011, I started seeing the button to provide buying instructions on the ticket machines.

      2. As Bakapooru stated, English has been used in transit to identify locations for some time.

        That said, Tokyo’s train transit system is not for the faint of heart when you have little experience with it. Go to Tokyo as a first timer and use the train transit system in a multiple line station. It’s not easy to decipher where to go and which train(s) to take and to connect to, even when there’s English signs and scrolling messages. Add the crowd of people. It can be daunting if you have not much experience with transit systems. For Luou, who is not from Tokyo and is a hikkimori, it is not surprising that he would have difficulty in navigating it.

        1. But the point is, not reading kanji has nothing to do with it – it’s his shut-in situation that’s the issue. Not only is there English on pretty much everything but most of the Japanese signs have furigana. Maybe Luou can’t even read that but I kind of doubt it.

    2. I’d say it’s unsurprising because of how sheltered he has been. With his mom being a celebrity, it would make sense that growing up, he would have travelled in a taxi or chauffeured car rather than using public transport. Not to mention that he was a hikikomori for a long time, so the only travelling he would have done would have been around the perimeter of his room or to the dance studio downstairs.

      Princess Usagi

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