Alright, Fall 2017 has started and there’s naturally a lot of anime pouring in. But before I overwhelm myself with some premieres, here’s a new Ballroom post now that I’ve caught up again. And let me tell you something: someone clearly pressed the reset button on this story since we have a new arc and a new focus within the narrative. Tatara is now in high school and all of his friends are off doing their own thing. For a while, it seems like Tatara is a solo dancer…that is until he finds out one of his classmates, Chinatsu Hiyama, is secretly an experienced dancer.
It is a slight shame that all of Tatara’s friends are currently in minor roles at the moment but the narrower focus in the story does seem like the right course of action. Tatara got the whole pairing problem resolved so it’d be weird if there was still some drama left. Furthermore, if Tatara is to really advance as a dancer, he probably should have his own partner as opposed to borrowing Shizuku or Mako from Kiyoharu and Gaju. With that in mind, it makes sense for the second arc to focus entirely on Tatara and Chinatsu’s relationship.
I was admittedly a little skeptical of adding a sixth character to address Tatara’s fifth wheel status (especially since I really liked Tatara and Mako as a couple) but I’m growing to like Chinatsu. Her inclusion turned out to be pretty clever; an experienced but reluctant dancer teaming up with a passionate but inexperienced dancer like Tatara. The two characters are such complete opposites that the chemistry between them could lend to some great character development. Yes, a lot of Chinatsu’s hot and cold attitude towards Tatara and dancing is a little baffling and if it got any more extreme, she’d definitely get classified as a tsundere. But there is clearly a story behind why Chinatsu quit dancing and what makes her so hesitant to pursue it again. Plus, I do love how Tatara is just as confused with the girl as the viewer is; his reactions to her demeanor has been priceless.
So here’s something that got me pretty curious. After it became clear that Tatara isn’t leading Chinatsu too well, Sengoku suggests having Chinatsu lead Tatara instead. Not only is it revealed that Chinatsu is really good at leading but she’s so good that she can lead Tatara into steps that he hasn’t actually learned yet. It’s an eye opener for Tatara as he realizes the being a partner is just as difficult as being a leader and it’s a clever way for the show to explore both aspects of dancing after focusing a lot on Tatara as a leader or a frame. Admittedly, this advice probably could’ve helped Tatara a ton when he was paired with Mako (whom he had a lot more instant compatibility with), especially given that his poor leading skills is what put him in last place during the Tenpei Cup. Whatever; slight awkwardness in the narrative is part of Ballroom at this point. I’m far too curious what Tatara will take away from this experience to be that petty.
- Amusingly enough, Gaju attends the same high school with Tatara. Now that he’s partnered with Mako again, he is a lot easier to tolerate now and I do like how he’s developing an unlikely yet plausible friendship with Tatara.
- I do like the acknowledgement Shizuku and Kiyoharu give to Tatara. Challenging him to join the competition is a bit of a tall order but it’s clear that these characters know Tatara could eventually go to toe to toe against them.
- Sengoku’s partner, Chizuru Hongo, is a great addition to the cast. I love how she’s so nice to Tatara and Chinatsu (maybe a little too nice) but she’s also the kind of woman who isn’t afraid to slap Sengoku for being, well, Sengoku.
- This far in the show, I think I’m used to the necks but every once in a while I’m like “Good Lord, THAT NECK!”. It does visually accentuate the elaborate poses and movements dancing requires (ex: Hongo teaching Tatara how to be a dance partner) but it’s still a weird visual choice.
OP 2: “Invisible Sensation” by UNISON SQUARE GARDEN
ED 2: “Swing heart direction” by Mikako Komatsu