When the stage event for Welcome to the Ballroom was announced for this year’s Kyomaf(Kyoto International Manga Anime Fair), as the person in charge of the reviews for this series at MANGA.TOKYO, I had to go and take a look at the voice actors, see what they had to say, and write a report for our dear readers!
This event served as my first ever anime convention in Japan, so I was excited about what to expect and how it would be different from conventions back home. The panels seemed like the core of the whole convention and Ballroom was one of the first stages on Saturday, 16 September 2017 as it started at 11:00 am.
From left to right: Chiaki Matsuzawa, Shimba Tsuchiya and Nobuhiko Okamoto
Guests on stage were the voice of Tatara Fujita, the fairly new Shimba Tsuchiya, and the voice of Kiyoharu Hyodo, the very experienced and well-known Nobuhiko Okamoto. Guiding us through the talk was Chiaki Matsuzawa, who did a nice job by asking the right questions at the right time and followed up with great questions to make things clear for the audience.
I personally know nothing about voice actors, but it was clear even to me when they came on stage: Okamoto is the senpai and has a lot more experience than Tsuchiya. The whole situation got even more obvious because Tsuchiya was talking for most of the time first, and then Okamoto filled the parts that his younger colleague missed, hinted at what he had to say next. In general, Okamoto took care of Tsuchiya a lot. Tsuchiya himself also told the audience how excited he was about working with those more experienced and that he would sometimes so moved that he couldn’t sleep.
A look of deep trust between two co-workers
In the progress of the event, those who didn’t watch the series yet were introduced to the show through the Ballroom-in-5-minutes video which summarizes the story of Welcome to the Ballroom up until Episode 7. This part of the event also made the audience laugh a lot, as there seemed to be technical problems and the video first played without any sound. Okamoto told Tsuchiya he only needed to announce the video in a loud voice to make it play properly. Instead Tsuchiya announced it in a regular voice. Still, the magic happened…with only the voice playing in the background, no video. But only for a second since then the video played as well. Long live the talented and innocent Shimba Tsuchiya!
Shimba laughing in one of the many funny situations
What fans normally want to know during these stage events is probably a bit more of the work behind the scenes and the relationship between the voice actors. The latter one was talked about in depth, because Okamoto kept pointing out what a great voice actor Tsuchiya is, how cute and young he is, and that he has many talents.
The topics they talked about were related to the series. One key-word happened to be ’youth’, since Tatara and his friends are all still in middle school and will enter high school soon. Matsuzawa asked the two guests how their student time was and it was pointed out again how young Tsuchiya is, because he actually still is a student. The two of them also talked about sports they did when they were younger. Tsuchiya talked about how he likes doing soccer and isn’t good at sports that are played with a racket. Okamoto proceeded to say he didn’t like soccer or volleyball because it was scary how hard the balls are and how sometimes people tackle you in soccer. Tsuchiya surprised him and the audience saying that this was exactly why he liked the sports.
Of course, they also showed the new key visual and the new trailer for the next season. Sadly, they weren’t allowed to say much about the new characters. But when the talk came to a point where Matsuzawa asked which of the girls they liked best, Okamoto told us he likes one of the new characters most. Tsuchiya on the other hand said he likes Mako-chan best. To be honest, I got really curious about the new character appearing in the story. The event ended with a comment each from Okamoto and Tsuchiya, in which the latter once again proved how cute he was, saying that he is happy he could meet the fans face-to-face and has been trying to look at all the fans closely throughout the entire event. Matsuzawa, Okamoto and even some male fans from the audience agreed that Tsuchiya was cute at this point and with such a tooth-achingly sweet comment, the event came to an end.
Most of this talk event was really interesting and I am happy I got to see the voice actors in person. Knowing the faces of some people working behind the scenes is giving a whole new dimension to the series. I enjoyed it a lot and I hope to be able to go to more events like these in the future! Lastly, aside from the expected promotion of the upcoming DVD release, and the opening theme and ending theme, Tsuchiya and Okamoto also mentioned a short program on YouTube in which Shimba Tsuchiya and Kentaro Tomita (voice of Gaju) are being taught ballroom dance by professional dancers. We have linked the most recent episode from YouTube below, so if you have time and want to see for yourself how cute Tsuchiya is, please take a look!
Also, don’t forget that Welcome to the Ballroom is part of our weekly reviews this season! You can find my opinion on the latest episode including random trivia, rants and love declarations here: