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Ballroom e Youkoso
Welcome to the Ballroom got a good deal of fanfare a couple years earlier where I did have interest in wanting to check it out thanks to its rather unique focus on ballroom dancing, until I heard reception eventually got mixed and underwhelming to what it offered up. That still had me interested in seeing what made it a mixed bag among fans considering the ballroom dancing premise had storytelling potential on paper. However as I watched the anime's 24-episode TV run, I started to see the rather glaring flaws that made the hype for it quickly fizzle out.|
Welcome to the Ballroom is in essence a shounen sports anime that features its male lead taking up a sport to find meaning for himself and develop greater self-confidence in his capabilities. In spite of this rather cliched element, the premise could work if the lead's character development comes off as engaging and has likeable characters serving to support or rival him in his efforts. However, Welcome to the Ballroom has a nice number of issues with elements to this storytelling premise. As our male lead, Fujita is rather milquetoast as he is frequently unsure of himself throughout the span of the anime's run and I never got much sense that he was growing as a character as he improved his dancing skills and gained more experience within ballroom competitions. Many of the other characters are not much better as a number of them have rather obnoxious and unlikable personality traits that made relating to them difficult at many points throughout Welcome to the Ballroom.
A prominent issue with the anime is that it doesn't allow for much opportunity to see things from the perspectives of the female characters. Shizuku and Mako, for example, made for some of the more tolerable and likeable characters within the anime who had roles in supporting Fujita's growth during the first half of the anime. However, the anime devoted little time to exploring their characters and motivations, and largely focused on Fujita's training and ballroom dancing. Some have ripped the anime as being sexist for assuming it regards its female cast largely as props and usually sexual objects with some scenes featuring male characters ogling the girls and a few random service shots of female characters. While I could see where this criticism comes into play, the anime gradually breaks from this trend in later episodes. However, it still doesn't devote enough focus on female characters and trying to make the majority of its cast more likeable.
The major issue that I have with Welcome to the Ballroom though is that it doesn't really do a good job of representing what the world of competitive ballroom dancing is like. Sports titles focused on major sports like baseball, basketball, soccer, and racing are accessible to audiences since there is greater awareness of the rules and training for them, thus making them relatable to the audiences that watch the tribulations of the major characters participating in them. Competitive ballroom dancing does not fit into such accessibility, thus creating a learning curve for audiences unfamiliar with the sport to learn about elements to it like types of dancing, rules in competitions, how dance performances are judged, and how dancers train. While there is mention of elements to ballroom dancing, the anime never goes into depth on them as it is more focused on the ongoing developments of its plot and characters. Without being able to properly understand the rules and dancing styles employed for ballroom dancing, this reduces the relatability that the series could have to draw audiences into caring for the developments of its characters, who already have their issues as I highlighted above.
Overall, Welcome to the Ballroom is mostly wasted potential. While having a unique premise on paper, this is largely wasted on a mostly unlikable cast of characters, not enough focus on female characters, and doing a rather poor job of making its sport of focus accessible and relatable to audiences unfamiliar with it. Unless you have a solid understanding on what the world of competitive ballroom dancing is like, I would suggest skipping this title.
Last updated Wednesday, January 16 2019. Created Wednesday, January 16 2019.
Ballroom e Youkoso
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There seems to be a distinct genre in anime in which a teenager (usually male) discovers a new and unusual sport and seeks to become one of the best at it. Here, it's ballroom dancing. I had mixed feelings about this show. I was modestly curious about this activity, and Tatara seemed to have a halfway decent personality. The fact that a girl he likes is another dance student was alluring. On the other hand, it was hard to believe that anybody would instantly fall in love with any sport to such a degree that they would practice until they had blood on their feet. Tatara's personality isn't detailed enough to explain that. He is starting off from such a level of gross ignorance and incompetence that it's hard to believe that it would ever be possible for him to be a champion. The confusing mixed signals we get (he's good/he sucks) about his talent frustrated me. Is he doing this mostly to attract the girl he likes, or does he really have an instantaneous passion and immense innate talent for ballroom dancing? I was tempted to download this show but save it to watch at some indefinite point in the future; but I watched episode three and enjoyed it. The reason the still thoroughly amateur Tatara makes his first appearance in a competition is unlikely but not impossible, and I couldn't help wondering what the deal was with the expert rising star who he must substitute for. I decided that for now I'd continue watching after all. Surely Ballroom would only be twelve episodes long, after all, so I didn't feel that I was risking much.
As unlikely as a newcomer being catapulted into professional ballroom dancing competition is, if I ignore that problem, this show is pretty fun. The story has a pleasing, titillating complexity to it. Who wouldn't be thrilled to be dancing with beautiful women? Yet there is little or no fanservice and the characters are convincing and likeable. The jokes are decent as well. I was somewhat surprised at how well this show held up as it extended into an unexpected second season. Early on, I had been skeptical about whether this show could really entertain me, but I found that I still looked forward to new episodes and enjoyed them. Many shows have already overstayed their welcomes at the end of their first season. I didn't really have much of an idea how it would all end (would Tatara win a major championship?), but it was fun nevertheless. As the show neared the 24-26 episode mark, I didn't detect much of an overarching plot to it. Romance didn't seem to be an option, and the only goal for Tatara seemed to be that he get better at his craft. Maybe it is based on an incomplete manga. It's hard to buy things like Tatara having his muscles wrenched apart somehow makes him a more energetic and better dancer. It didn't dawn on me that episode 24 would be the final one until I noticed it's title. Still, I must admit that I felt a definite sense of pleasure and closure as it wrapped up. It did not try to be groundbreaking, but it did a good job of what it did.
Last updated Thursday, January 17 2019. Created Sunday, July 30 2017.