Oh necks, how I miss you so…
It has been about three weeks since my First Impressions post for Ballroom e Youkoso and since two episodes aired together on July 30th, I need to watch four episodes. There isn’t really a rhyme or reason as to why I fall behind on certain shows over others. In the case of Ballroom, it was just a combination of being too busy and also trying to find time to watch it with my younger brother since he was also interested in the show. That being said, I have definitely come out of Ballroom e Youkoso Episodes 2-5 feeling more confident in the show. I’m a little doubtful it’ll beat Made in Abyss and Princess Principal for me (both are huge seasonal favorites for me) but I now look forward to the show every week. And yes, this is looking to be an anime I’ll blog about from here on out.
There is still something about the aesthetic that bothers me and you guessed it! It’s the stinking necks! In general, I think the art in Ballroom is pretty great. It’s smoothly drawn and very detailed, especially during the dance sequences. But man, do those elongated necks really distract me. Now to the staff’s credit, the necks do accentuate head movement and posing a lot more than if the necks were normal length. But for the most part, those necks vary between uncanny and unintentional hilarity for me. At one point, Tatara thought some extra’s neck was too long and I was like, “Yeah, you’re one to talk”.
But the story has gotten a lot more compelling and that naturally matters to me more than realistic neck proportions. I’d be lying if I said I don’t see anything archetypal with the story and the characters. The modest and timid protagonist who has a hidden talent for the featured sport has been done in past sport series and the rest of the cast do fall under other archetypes. Even the story follows the traditional sports beat to other sports anime with the lead finding his calling, experiencing his first loss, but nevertheless becoming even more motivated to train his darnedest. There’s even some exaggerated visual flairs that you see in other sports anime that are used to up the intensity and drama of the scene. But honestly, I think Ballroom works because it is following a familiar template. It’s just cool to see these archetypes and tropes in the subject of ballroom dancing. It helps that Tatara is an extremely likable protagonist and his arc becomes more interesting as time goes on. Things begin to ramp up in Tatara is forced to cover for Hyodo and dance with Shizuku at a competition and later partner up with Mako.
One thing I did not expect with Ballroom is just how complicated the relationship chart gets. It’s first noticeable when Hyodo sees Tatara copy some of his moves and dances with Shizuku at the competition. Naturally, that makes Hyodo extremely livid (him and Shizuku are practically a couple). But as a result, he becomes filled with more passion than he usually does (Hyodo’s more of a technical kind of dancer) and deliver a standout performance. Later, Hyodo even entrusts Tatara with the task of keeping an eye on Shizuku while he’s recovering from his injuries. I find this moment interesting since Hyodo must’ve realized that Tatara has feelings for Shizuku. Maybe he just doesn’t see Tatara as a threat or his own feelings for Shizuku are strictly platonic. Regardless, I like seeing Hyodo visit Tatara to show they’re still on good terms.
Things pretty much get even more complicated when Gaju and Mako enter the picture with Gaju making Shizuku his dance partner (Shizuku complies since she’s fed up with Hyodo) and ditching poor Mako. Mako decides to prove to her brother that she’s a worthier partner by partnering up with Tatara. I feel bad for Tatara for being dragged into all of these shenanigans but Mako’s offer to team up at least plays into Tatara’s need to look after Shizuku for Hyodo. More importantly, it’s clear that Tatara has much stronger chemistry with Mako than Shizuku. They’re both timid and modest individuals and that allows Tatara to read Mako’s thoughts more easily and therefore dance together more effectively. If I’m being honest, I wouldn’t mind if the story ends with those two as a couple (they are pretty cute together) but I’ve learned that being on board with a shipping can lead to huge disappointment. I can still wish though…
One last thing: I can’t help but wonder if Sengoku is an antagonist of sorts. He is clearly curious about Tatara’s abilities but man is he a massive jackass about it. He first has other teachers teach Tatara in his stead and then he forces the poor boy to dance with Shizuku to protect Hyodo. And the worst part is that he got the result! The only thing he did not anticipate was angering Shizuku since she was uninformed about the plan until Tatara came onstage. It takes a whacking from Tamaki to make Sengoku teach the boy himself. And we see Sengoku use Tatara again by supporting Mako’s plan since the plan will allow him to pair Shizuku back with Hyodo. If I’m being honest, I think Tamaki needs to whack Sengoku in the head again. One whacking in Episode 5 just isn’t enough for this guy.
But that’s more or less what I have to say about Ballroom for now. I think the show is getting better with each new episode and I hope it continues this trajectory for as long as it can.