A Sports Anime Like No Other From Seasoned Creators
- Episodes : 24
- Genre : Sports, Drama, Comedy
- Airing Date : July 9th, 2017 - unknown
- Studios : Production I.G.
While at Anime Expo 2017, we had the chance to attend the screening of the first two episodes of Welcome to the Ballroom. We also got to speak with the production team beforehand, so if you haven’t checked that out, look at the bottom of this article for a link to the press conference coverage!
Welcome to the Ballroom (Ballroom e Youkoso) Introduction and Story
Based on the blockbuster manga by Tomo Takeuchi, Ballroom e Youkoso will be produced by Production I.G., who have plenty of experience with sports anime like Haikyuu! And Kuroko no Basket. Welcome to the Ballroom will also be one of the first anime to be released on Amazon Prime Video, so there’s no excuse for you to miss out on it.
Tatara Fujita is an average middle school student with no particular dreams or aspirations until an unexpected incident draws him into the fascinating world of ballroom dancing. “If I can just find one thing to be passionate about…” Tatara dives into the world of dance, believing it’s his opportunity to change. Tatara’s journey is portrayed with explosive energy in the ultimate coming-of-age dance anime!
In episodes 1 and 2, we see Tatara’s struggle with finding what to do with his life. He’s not an honor student, he’s not an athlete, and he tends to get pushed around. During one of these incidents, he is assisted by a good samaritan who misunderstands Tatara’s presence in front of his ballroom dancing studio.
His savior is Kaname Sengoku and he’s a professional ballroom dancer in charge of the studio and there just happen to be tryouts that day. Tatara ends up unwittingly trying out for the school and notices Shizuku Hanaoka, his beautiful and intelligent classmate, who also turns out to be an excellent ballroom dancer. She doubts Tatara’s reasons for being at the studio and doesn’t really seem to believe he’s passionate about it.
Tatara then receives a DVD from Tamaki Tsuburaya, who also works at the studio. Tamaki asks him to watch the video because it will change his life. As he’s preparing to watch the video, Tatara also notices a sign-up sheet with lesson prices, which makes him realize he can’t afford it anyway. Though a bit disappointed, he still pops in the DVD and watches a professional ballroom dance competition which Sengoku participated in and won. Sengoku and the rest of the dancer seem to be calling out to Tatara to watch them and for a few minutes, he is enthralled by the beauty of the dancers’ movements.
When Tatara comes back to the studio to return the disc and decided to decline the classes, he instead blurts out ‘I want to be like Sengoku-san!’, surprising even himself. He also breaks the news that he can’t pay for the classes and so Sengoku decides to allow him to take some free lessons. Sengoku models the box step and Tatara spends all night practicing.
When Shizuku shows up the next morning, she notices Tarara moves just like Sengoku and is impressed by the fact that Tatara spent all night practicing the box step and even praises his efforts. Tatara seems happy for the first time so far.
In episode two, Sengoku is also impressed and enlists the help of two students so they can teach Tatara the basics, but it’s not working out. Tatara ends up moving worse than before and his teachers keep pushing him more and more. In order to give him some inspiration, Sengoku takes Tatara to a ballroom dance competition that Shizuku is participating in. Her partner is stoic and incredibly talented. His name is Kiyoharu Hyoudou and he is a dancing genius who’s won several competitions, including the Japanese Grand Prix.
The next day outside the studio, Tatara happens to run into Kiyoharu who’s battling a cold and falls down the stairs. Once in the studio, Tatara replicates a move of Kiyoharu’s and Sengoku realizes that Tatara’s way of learning is by watching. Sengoku then tells Kiyoharu to model for Tatara and Tatara quickly follows in his footsteps -pun definitely intended- and nails them. Sengoku then tells Kiyoharu to watch out or tatara will steal Shizuku as his partner, to which Kiyoharu answers ‘I don’t care’. Shizuku seems a bit upset by that and it seems to bug Tatara too.
Later, while on the train with Shizuku, Tatara learns that Kiyoharu has been dancing since he wa a small child and he’s been Shizuku’s partner ever since. Shizuku admires him and feels as though she can never be as good as Kiyoharu, and she plans on studying dance abroad with him because he already seems to be bored with the competitions in Japan.
Tatara feels angered at Kiyoharu’s selfishness, not seeming to care about Shizuku’s feelings. Tatara and Shizuku go to Kiyoharu’s studio to pick up some hand-me-down dance gear for the broke student, Tatara is decided to give Kiyoharu a piece of his mind. As he’s getting ready to open the door and yell at the pro dancer, he notices how focused he is and how passionately he dances. At the same time, he sees Shizuku in Kiyoharu’s arms! Shizuku is aware of this and tells Tatara that Sengoku has said he sees her ghost when Kiyoharu practices and that no dancer cares about their partner as much as Kiyoharu cares about Shizuku.
Tatara is impressed and possibly even a bit jealous, but he understands that he didn’t really know the full story behind Kiyoharu’s dancing and his relationship with Shizuku. After learnign all this, Tatara goes back to rehearse in the studio and imitates what Kiyoharu was doing, and as Sengoku watches him, he sees… Shizuku’s ghost in Tatara’s arms!
What We Liked About Welcome to the Ballroom (Ballroom e Youkoso)
While it might seem odd to categorize a ballroom dancing anime in the sports genre, when we get to know the ins and outs of Tatara’s teachers and senpais’ approach to dancing, as well as the passion and energy required to succeed in it, it’s clear that it resembles a sport more than the leisurely social activity we’d imagine. This alone is incredibly refreshing, since we get the struggles, victories and rivalries of a sports anime, but with the beauty and aesthetics that come with something like ballroom dancing.
On top of all this, the art is completely hand-drawn! So every scene, and every frame is detailed and delicate, and the dancing sequences are fluid and elegant. Not to mention the Count of Montecristo-like patterns and coloring of the ballroom dancers’ dresses.
The characters are well developed from the very beginning, the comedy is perfectly timed, and the story draws you in immediately.
Discussion Time ?
A mediocre middle schooler who doesn’t know what to do with himself who then finds his passion in an extracurricular activity. While this sounds familiar, there are also some new twists to this season’s anticipated sports anime, including the fact that it shows ballroom dancing as intense and life-changing. It’s a wonderful story adapted into anime by an amazing production company. Should you check it out? Read on to find out!
1. Produced by a hit-making machine
Considering the production team is almost the same as Attack on Titan, we can only expect great things from this anime. Producer Tetsuya Kinoshita himself expressed his attraction to Welcome to the Ballroom because of the passion within the character. And the director and artistic director have worked on hits like Haikyuu! And Psycho-Pass.
2. Old-school art style
Nowadays there is more and more CG in anime, and that’s all well and good. But we can’t deny that beautifully done hand-drawn graphics have a way of capturing our eyes and hearts. This almost-forgotten beauty is especially noticeable in the ballroom dancing competition sequences and it is remarkably unforgettable.
3. A new twist on things
If you loved the passion for ice skating in Your on ICE! But didn’t quite love the BL side, or if you liked the personal grown stories in All Out!! but rugby was just too aggressive, then you’ll love Welcome to the Ballroom! It puts the beauty and delicacy of dancing into the same passionate and hot-blooded stage as rugby, putting the viewer in the middle of a passionate but elegant story of growth and finding oneself. It’s a sports anime that doesn’t feel like a sports anime, so those who aren’t into the genre normally should definitely give it a try.
1. You don’t like coming-of-age stories
As the creators themselves have stated, the main focus of Welcome to the Ballroom is not the dancing in itself, but the coming-of-age story of a middle-schooler who is struggling to find his passion in life. If you don’t like drama about kids figuring themselves out through an activity and friendship, then this is not the show for you.
Quite frankly, we can’t think of any other reason not to watch Welcome to the Ballroom, at least not after watching the first two episodes!
Though Welcome to the Ballroom approaches topics that have been touched on before by countless anime, it still manages to stay fresh and it gives us a new perspective on what a sports anime can be. Welcome to the Ballroom proves that ballroom dancing can be way more intense than one would think; and, as producer Kinoshita mentioned, this is really more like an action anime when it comes to the dance sequences, and dancing only happens to be the way that Tatara manages to find himself. So it’s important to keep in mind that, while ballroom dancing is the main activity and the dance animations are gorgeous, the main focus is Tatara’s growth and perspective on life.
Did you get to see the special AX screening of Ballroom e Youkoso? Are you pumped to watch it? Have you read the manga? Let us know in the comments below!