Sports anime, but not quite, because this is the ‘girly kind of sports.’ I mean, it’s dancing. Some boys might disagree that it is a sport but let me tell you, the amount of sweating in Episode 1 of Welcome to the Ballroom was no joke. I expect a deep story, with lots of character development and sweaty boys and girls, and even a good message at the end.
Japanese Episode Title: 小笠原ダンススタジオへようこそ
Welcome to the Ballroom Introduction
To make this short, this is a series about a 15-year-old boy who finds his passion and future goal. Through some coincidence he starts to take classes in standard dance and wants to become a professional.
Tatara Fujita is at that time in life when teachers only want to know one thing: What do you want to do with your life? And as if it wasn’t hard enough to decide something at that young age, they also make it harder for him and all the other students that haven’t decided yet by pressuring them even more. What a bummer. Tatara thinks he is off to a bad start, since he doesn’t even have anything he likes to do.
If only there was something I really liked doing.
By following a smart girl from school, who he thought was in a similar situation as him, somehow ends up at a dance studio. There he is saved from bullies by the owner of the studio – Sengoku-san – and gets a free trial lesson. And that’s all it took to decide his fate. Well, this and the DVD of a tournament the lady working at the studio sneaked into Tatara’s bag. He comes back pleading Sengoku to somehow let him take classes, even if he has to clean the studio or pay them back later. And Sengoku takes him in, after he dances all throughout the night, alone, and without taking a break.
It’s a kind of magic
This whole episode was a magical and colorful introduction. You get thrown into this strange world of ballroom gowns and gelled hair, sparkling things everywhere. There weren’t many scenes yet where we are actually in the ballroom, but the short scene we got was what left the biggest impression on me, and probably on Tatara. The moments where we stood with him in his pajama in the middle of a dancing competition were really impressive. I can only say it with Tatara’s own words”
Look at that outfit, I mean, dance…
While I am no expert on anything animation-related (I just don’t really pay attention to things like that. I either like it or don’t, so bear with me), they did try really hard to show how much dancers sweat. Maybe it has something do with the fact that some people might deny that dancing is a sport? For whatever reason, there is a lot of sweat flying around in this anime and I give them props. I felt hot while watching. And I like my sports-men sweaty anyway, so I can only approve. My heart would feel lighter if they would show Tatara drink something once in awhile. Poor guy, don’t let him break down before the series ends. He has to keep this up for two cours!
Was that an opening or what? The magic starts from there: a sequence with great music and great art and everything just got me into it from the first second. I love the song, so 110% of approval from me for the song and video!
Never change a running system
Tatara is your everyday good-hearted, cute guy. A bit naive, a bit clumsy. Always blushing. But he is so adorable and I love how he blushes when the smart girl tries to dance with him or when he is innocently asks if Sengoku will teach him the next step after doing the same step the whole freaking night. Sweating so much, the floor is slippery, having blisters on your feet that can’t be called blisters anymore. Yes, he is our usual dorky main character. But I already love him and he is just perfect the way he is.
Themes & Trivia
Japan and dancing: Japan is not doing too bad in professional dancing competitions, but is nowhere near to be well known. I tried to find a few more things about this, and after some minor research, I’d say Japan is trying their hardest like with any other sports and that’s about it. What we do know is that they have two very good upcoming dancers, as they were mentioned in an article here at MANGA.TOKYO. This could lead to a boom for dance studios. It looks like fun and I was already starting to think of joining a dance school.
Future goals: In this anime, dancing is not just a hobby but something they want to do professionally, which is very ambitious, especially if you start dancing for the first time when you are 15. It’s a very serious theme, as many countries force children to decide on their future around the age of 15. Decide on what your next school will be, decide on which hobbies you want to pursue more earnestly. In Japan, they actually have to write down what they want to be in the future, as we see it in this episode, and I think it really is a hard decision. No matter if you have many hobbies or not, deciding on a job is very hard. You never know where the wind will blow you and let me tell you, where I am now is not where I thought I would be at this point in life either. So I think it is a very good topic for an anime, to help those who don’t have any great dreams or even those who have too many dreams. Bring it on, Japan! Motivation for everybody~
Other social problems: They just threw them in for a second, but we do see a bullying scene when Tatara gets his money taken – if he had any. He is living with a single-parent, and on top of that, it’s his father, not his mother. Only since 2010 Japanese single-fathers can get child-rearing subsidies if their income is too low. That was just 7 years ago. And aside from that, Japan’s support for single-parents in general is not very good. They don’t get much support, if any at all. Tatara’s simple phrase, ‘I can’t burden my father with this’ is evident of their situation. He doesn’t have any money and his family is very poor. It makes me wonder, if this is also the reason he doesn’t have any ambitions for his future since he can’t have many hobbies, as most of them cost money. But we will see!
I am in love with this series. I love the sparkling and the characters. And I think Tatara is one of the most adorable, if stupid, characters ever. Did anybody else think of a drum when they read the name ‘Tatara’? I always think of the sound of a drum roll…
Aside from that, what was with all the sweat? I like anime with details and I know dancing is hot and requires a lot of hard work, but wow, that was an amazing amount of sweat. Another really great detail was Tatara’s posture. Let me be honest, it sucked in the beginning and then, when he started to dance, he kept remembering to stand straight. I hope we will get to see how he slowly starts to have better posture throughout the series. I will keep an eye on you, my dear Tatara!
Last, I wonder if there will be any romance involved. I’m not be a big fan of someone falling in love with their dance partner, but I think Tatara was cute with the smart girl and she seemed to like him as a dance partner as well. I thought that was really sweet and it might go somewhere. I am also looking forward to the differences between normal-Tatara and ballroom-Tatara. With so much gel in his hair and his usual goofy expression, not even a hurricane could whip it around.
Hopes for the upcoming episode
For next episode, I guess we will get introduced to a rival of some sort and Tatara maybe doubting his decisions of dancing? Oh, and I hope the rival is totally helping him over his doubts, since he could see the great potential Tatara holds and that he would be a worthy opponent, if Tatara just put himself behind it! I also hope to see some more magic ballroom scenes. And maybe a tiny bit less sweat from Tatara and more from Sengoku.