Welcome to the Ballroom – Eps. 10 & 11

Finally back to Welcome to the Ballroom after falling behind on it for the third time. I do apologize for putting this coverage on hiatus (that and my Lightning Round posts). College and work has kept me busy and I felt that prioritizing on all the series blogs that were ending in September was the best use of my spare time. But now, I’m left with Ballroom so before Fall 2017 overwhelms me with premieres, I think now is the best time to catch up a bit. And yes, I’m aware Eps. 12 and 13 have aired but I’m grouping Ep. 10 and 11 together in one post since this is the end of the Tenpei Cup.

At five episodes, it sure took a while to finally get to the end of this arc. Slow pacing is admittedly a common trait shared among sports anime and it does allow for some solid buildup and payoff. But I still sat through this arc thinking it could’ve been shortened by one or two episodes especially since things got a bit repetitive. We see Tatara struggling to keep his stamina up, Gaju and Shizuku getting fired up by their opponents’ passion, and both teams accidentally bumping into each other at the dance floor. That’s all stuff that we’ve seen at the beginning of this arc and considering that this is after Tatara framed Mako as a flower, it all feels a bit pedestrian. I suppose it was a little interesting that Gaju briefly loses his lead with Shizuku after seeing Mako shine but that was resolved pretty quickly.

Still, I really can’t deny that there is something charming and earnest about this show. Tatara is still a really likable lead who perseveres against serious odds and his partnership with Mako is just adorable (I still love how modest they are towards each other). I still admit that the animation isn’t as impressive as it ought to be and it occasionally needs to rely a lot on dialogue to get some points across. But the staff gets the job done where it counts the most and I like the use of close-ups and medium shots to accentuate the emotions these characters are using and the flourishes they are implementing into their programs.

In perfect sports narrative fashion, everybody wins and loses at the same time. I do think it is super harsh to put Tatara at last place (were the offscreen pairs really that good?) but I did expect Gaju and Shiziku to win. Those two are simply far more experienced and skilled at dancing that it was a tall order for Tatara to try and close the gap. At the same time, Tatara pulls quite the miracle since Mako earns the Queen of the Ballroom award instead of Shizuku. It does kind of boggle the mind that no one told Tatara that this award exists. There were hints but did no one seriously make a direct mention? Oh well, it’s a nice acknowledgement to Tatara’s efforts to make Mako shine and it’s certainly a nice middle finger to Gaju’s belief that Mako is a terrible dance partner.

So by technicality, Tatara and Mako win the bet and Gaju has to stick to his word and partner with Mako again (even Shizuku insists on honoring the bet). As someone who got super into Tatara and Mako’s chemistry, I will admit that I am a little sad that the two have to split from here on out. They really did work so well together that it’s almost a shame that the arrangement was temporary. At the very least, Tatara doesn’t seem terribly bummed out about everything. He more or less accomplished his goal and he seems to at least be content that he actually danced at a competition and even made it to the finals. Tatara still has a long way to go but his love for dancing has yet to die.

Other Thoughts:

  • Honestly, the flashback with Gaju was a bit out of place for me. I figured he didn’t dislike his sister as much as we’re led to believe but this arc spent so much time making Gaju seem like a cocky jackass that it would make sense to redeem him in the next arc. Still, I do admit that it’s admirable that Gaju stuck with dancing despite the terrible preconception that it’s only for girls.
  • I found Shizuku’s reaction to her loss interesting. To her credit, she acts polite and congratulates Mako but her private outburst really suggests that she did not expect to encounter a flower who could shine more than her. I’m curious how this will affect her competitive outlook.
  • There is something amusing about how Tatara is considered an amateur and yet him dancing so passionately makes the pros push themselves as well. It must make Tatara’s life harder since he has to push himself even more in response to his opponents’ response.

Thanks for reading!

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