Anime Review

Welcome to the Ballroom Episode 22 Review: Leader-Partner

This episode of Welcome to the Ballroom is all about Kugimiya and Tatara being…Tatara? So we take a dive into the backstory of Kugimiya, which might change how people see him a great lot. Let’s also not forget our main issue of leading and following, which is still present in this episode as well. Let’s dive into it!

Japanese Title: リーダーパートナー

Heat 22. Leader-Partner

We take a dip into the backstory of Kugimiya, which is a darker part of this story. How he started dancing, what made him do it and why he is so gloomy. The reason for why everybody thinks it is amazing for him to be back is displayed as well, we get close up details about his accident and inner thoughts. The second half of this episodes then jumps back into the Ballroom and how Tatara and Chi-chan are working out their loose-muscle problems. With great narration by Kiyoharu and occasional thoughts of Mako-chan and Shizuku.


Kugimiya’s Beginning of Dance

That sensei was so creepy! He walks up to this random child in front of his shop, starts stroking him and touching his head because his cat brought him? Kugimiya is not my child and I don’t even have children, however my alarms were shrilling. Why do you touch a random child on the street like that? He is not a stray cat, even if his face might look like it. Aside from that strange beginning of their relationship, I think his sensei was a nice person and had the best intentions. The moment when he cried at Kugimiya’s bed… I really thing it was a touching scene, even though there was too little shown for me to actually cry over it. I just don’t bond very well with Kugimiya in general.

Ballrooms Dark Side of the Moon

So far, we had all these positive characters. There is our never-give-up Tatara, who goes on even when in doubt. There is Sengoku, who seems like he eats a bowl of confidence for breakfast. Gaju can’t be knocked over easily anymore, since he found his love for dance. And even Kiyoharu, who makes an unamused face most of the time starts to bloom when he dances. They are all pretty positive. So I didn’t expect such a dark person as Kugimiya in it. He seemed just very…unsocial. Like he didn’t want too much to do with other people, because who would be worth it. Back when Tatara found him smoking, I did even think he was a bit cute. But here we have this ball of negativity in the middle of this funny, happy – if at times dramatic – anime series. I am a rather optimistic person, I like to think brightly most of the time so this threw me off. Being confronted with his wish and longing for death is not what I expected. It certainly explains some things but it surprised me. It is a good addition to the story, I didn’t even realize how fast this episode went by.

Everybody Has Their Own Hell

I think Marisa meant well and did talk to Kugimiya in a way he could connect to the words? Since he was thinking his life was hell, maybe that’s why it is that everybody ‘has their own hell’ instead of ‘has their own struggles’. It’s so dramatic. But it was true with its essence. We see Tatara struggle so much, we tend to forget that all the other dancers that sit there and judge him or try to help him also went through so much to be where they are. It is a good message and people should not forget this, ever. Kugimiya has enough problems to think about himself, he probably didn’t bother to try and think about other peoples struggle. But they do struggle and he is in no way special. Just that he takes the things a bit darker than everybody else and should find somebody to help him. The only thing that really confuses me is… If dancing is his hell, why not stop? Is it because it’s all he has and his parents don’t appreciate him enough? Will there be more information about his decision to keep dancing in the next episode? I do hope so, even though Kugimiya is not my favorite character. It is what makes Ballroom so nice, to have all these characters with their background stories and how they influence Tatara.

Tatara is Universal

Everybody sees something in Tatara. In the beginning Sengoku saw a potential student with a good intuition for dancing, Kiyoharu saw a rival in him, Gaju saw nobody in the beginning but later regretted it a bit because he realized how much potential was in him for making Mako-chan stand out so much. And now we have Kugimiya, who says he sees himself in Tatara, and within this same episode Kyoharu saw Sengoku in Tatara. Because they both tend to do what other people don’t do. So Tatara is a form changer. He will change to whatever the other person needs him to be, which might seem like he lacks his own character but at the same time, it makes me feel like „Yeah, that’s totally like Tatara!“

He just likes peace and tries to make himself work for everybody. He tries hard not to have fights and problems, that will lead to heartbreak. He does love challenges and getting better and having rivals. But that’s because he has friendly feelings for all of it. Tatara is the bright moon in this series, on whichs back Kugimiya is dancing and becoming the shadow. I don’t think Kugimiya sees things as positive and friendly as Tatara does. The last two episodes promise to be thrilling!


The darkness of Kugimiya really surprised me. He was cute as a child, with big eyes. But later he looked really destroyed and as if he had given up. I think it was shocking but it was made so well. It is just how Kugimiya came to be, and it is great that we get to see it. That creepy smile right before he got hit by the car however… For one, it really creeped me out, and for two I thought about the poor truck driver. He might have ended up being scarred for life as well, because Kugimiya didn’t have the will to move away in time. Well, however it was, Kugimiya ended up not dying and I think that this was good. I hope the story of Kugimiya will not end here, with his desperation and wish to die unsolved. Because it could help many people who are in similar situations. Who want to end their lives and have no hope for the future. If he could find some help from somewhere that is not Marisa simply telling him „everybody has it hard“, then that would be great. Being depressed or suicidal is not as simple as telling someone to look at other people. I am no expert, but I wish the anime would at least set a good message if they already have a person like Kugimiya in it.

Hopes for the upcoming episode.

Did I spy a Sengoku in the preview? I really, really, really want to see him again! If he came back and was not just in the flashbacks, that would be great. I have no hopes of getting over this cup quickly anymore, as there are only two episodes left, but I am fine if we get our Sengoku back. He would probably slap Kiyoharu for me as well.

I also hope the Kugimiya story is not over yet and that we get to see a bit more about how he is dealing with his feelings and how things work out for him. I would also wish that the people who break through his shadow dancers during the competition are the light that somehow brings him back to the sunnier side of life. Tatara, Sengoku, Gaju and Kiyoharu for sure could pull him out of his misery, if he lets them. So we will see where this goes next week!

NEXT HEAT 23. History and Evolution

TV Anime Welcome to the Ballroom

Summer – Fall 2017 | Anime Info Page

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