I did not expect two episodes of Welcome to the Ballroom to be aired on the same day, so it took me another day to write this review. But I am very happy we didn’t have to wait a full week to meet our precious Mako and her stupid brother! This time, we get some progress.
Japanese Episode Title: パートナー
Heat 5. Partner
Kiyoharu asked Tatara to ‘take care of Shizuku’, so he is looking forward to dancing with her. But when Gaju storms into the dancing studio and declares he would take her as his partner from now on, Tatara wonders if Kiyoharu actually meant for him to save Shizuku from pairing with somebody else. But as he is still pretty new to everything, he doesn’t get a say in anything, and only gets to practice dancing with Mako-chan, Gaju’s younger sister and dancing partner. He doesn’t do too well and ends up worrying even more, wondering how he will be able to ever practice if he couldn’t even take this first chance. In the meantime, Shizuku feels very betrayed by Kiyoharu and Sengoku, who seem to not take her seriously and also don’t care about her feelings or opinions. She now has to decide who she wants to dance with. And while Tatara is worrying over what to do about a dance partner, Sengoku comes in full-teacher mode to save the day.
Hello to Gaju and Mako – and a Partner!
We got to see the brother-sister dance pair Gaju and Mako in the last episode for a bit, but this was a proper introduction. Gaju already managed to get on my wrong foot. For one, he is not treating Tatara very well and Mako-chan even worse. When Sengoku revealed what he said to his sister, I knew I might end up not liking him much longer. Also, his dancing seems totally different from Kiyoharu’s or Tatara’s. So far they were all really stiff and elegant. Kiyoharu was even stiff during the tango, but here is Gaju, swinging his hips like crazy while right next to him is Shizuku with her usual grace and stiffness. I want to see where this goes.
Return of Tensai-Tatara and Enter Manly Tatara
Aaaand there he is. Didn’t take long. Sengoku made him dance with Mako again, after he failed miserably during their first time. He also says that Tatara is even more tensai than we thought he is! ‘…beyond just having sharp eyes’. He can’t only remember the dance moves, he also has amazing intuition. And that’s the story of how Sengoku got him to write ‘Gaju crap your pants’ into the sand of a playground. Well played, Sengoku, well played! I really enjoy his character, because he is the right amount of smart-sass and stupid-jokes.
But all jokes aside, can I say that I felt like Tatara grew a lot during this episode, and that I felt like he was amazingly manly? First he saves Mako from hitting the floor hard, which already made my heart skip a beat and think how nice Tatara was. And then he starts having this amazing boost of self-confidence while dancing with Mako for the second time, just because Sengoku said something that showed he had faith in him. The way he looked so cool and led her through the dancing/writing, how he looked in general but also at Mako… That scene was amazing. No sparkly ballroom dance scenes this time, but this scene made totally up for it. It was a sparkly dance in the sunset. It was manly, genius Tatara, and it was great. I approve. Beautiful.
Themes & Trivia
Words on T-Shirts: The first thing I noticed about Gaju was the random writing on his shirt. If you have ever been in Japan, you might notice a lot of different writings on shirts, some worse than others, but hardly any are really good. I have seen girls run around with ‘I am dumb’ or ‘I am a slut’ written on their shirts, some shirts just have bad English and others don’t make sense at all. I bet the internet will supply you with many pictures of bad examples. When I saw that Gaju had random kanji written on his shirt, I was intrigued and surprised. What was written there and why was it not in English? A few questions to my Japanese friends showed me, that having a random kanji word on your shirt is not considered ‘normal’. Especially in Gaju’s case, because it reads Tenka Musou, which means something like ‘the strongest person ever to be in this world’. And if that’s not cocky, then I don’t know what is.
Girls as Instruments: So far, I had the feeling the girls were just in this series so that the guys can have a partner, because dancing alone would be boring and hard. Shizuku could not take the lead, Kiyoharu was in some sense giving her to Tatara without asking her, because he wouldn’t be able to dance with her anymore and even though she is really great, everybody at the venue cheered for ‘Hyodo’ instead of the pair as a whole. And in this episode, it was finally an issue. I do not think that leading is something only men do. It is something that is important in the balance of a couple. Just like my mother would never be able to lead when she is dancing with my father, she very well was able to lead when she danced with her cousin. Because he was the type to follow. So far, the girls had no say in anything. Mako is being thrown away just like Shizuku didn’t get to decide who to dance with. But she finally took it into her own hands and decided on Gaju. Not that anybody would take her seriously, because Sengoku is already saying she is only throwing a fit, but still, I can see some hope. While I am happy that Tatara is all manly and leading Mako, I think for their couple it’s just the right thing. While I think it wouldn’t be bad if Shizuku took the lead sometimes with Tatara, because she can.
The episode focused a lot on Tatara getting a partner that pushes him to a new level. His character developed, and even though we can’t see yet if this new found self-confidence will stay, at least he learned something concerning dance and he also gained a dancing partner. Now the real fun can begin! We are also entering a new dance, so we left the waltz behind us for this episode. I am sure it will come back, but I am (still) looking forward to new dances! And can I just say one more time how cute Mako-chan is and that Gaju better take care of her?
And on the topic of Gaju… How come he and his sister are a famous pair on the same level as Kiyoharu, but then she is soooo bad she ends up getting paired with our bloody beginner (but nonetheless tensai!) Tatara? And she is happy with that? I am just not sure what this episode was telling us about her and her dance level, as there were two different impressions given. But we will see next week.
Hopes for the upcoming episode
Oh, so Tatara gave up Shizuku just like that. And he also ended up partnering with Mako. No Kiyoharu in this episode, and that makes me wonder when he will pop up again (because with still 20 episodes to go, I am pretty sure at some point he will come back). Tatara did not show any jealousy at all, he only was concerned about Kiyoharu’s request to take care of Shizuku. So what can I want for the next episode?
I want to see Tatara and Mako dance and give their best. There has to bee a scene where we see Gaju dance with Shizuku, and I hope it will look horrible. Gaju should get someone to open his eyes that he and Shizuku do not go well together. But I think Mako and Tatara do go well together, so I would love to see how Gaju realizes that his dancing partner might get stolen from him and he will end up with nobody in the end, because he does not work with Shizuku as well as he might have imagined. That would be nice. We will see in two weeks, because next week will be skipped for some reason (and that’s also why two episodes were aired this week). So read you again in two weeks!
If you liked this review, maybe you also will like some of our other Summer 2017 reviews! And if you want to talk more about Welcome to the Ballroom, maybe we can welcome you to the MANGA.TOKYO forum, where we talk about the whole world of anime and manga.