It’s been a rather long journey we took with Welcome to the Ballroom. The new season, Winter 2018, is already past its start and we were able to get enough distance from the previous season to be able to take a look at it and its series and judge if we liked it or not. So let’s take a look at Welcome to the Ballroom! Read my spoiler-free review about the good, the bad and the ugly, the things worth it and the let downs.
Fujita Tatara is in middle school and has to decide which high school he wants to go to. This step equals deciding what to do with your future, since there are better and worse high schools. Poor Tatara however doesn’t know what he wants to do and slowly his teachers get angry with him. One day after school, he follows one of his classmates to a dancing studio. She seemed to have the same problem as him, but there he sees her and others dance and shortly after ends up joining the dance studio as well. Ballroom dance helps him find himself, gives him a dream and friends. Soon he even enters tournaments and has to go and find his own dancing partner.
The series is based on a manga. It follows the manga closely, or at least that’s what I have heard, and even surpasses the story with the last few episodes. For this, the original author told the production team what is planned for the future chapters and they were able to put it into the anime. However it is not guaranteed to play this way in the manga as well, as the manga author said that things could change while the chapters were being made and to keep following the story to find out what will happen in the series.
What makes this series really enjoyable for me are the characters. While this is a sports anime and I love them, it is not a classic sports anime, I would say. There is a lot more character development and a lot more background story than in any of the other sports series I usually watch. And the characters are so extremely loveable.
Tatara is the cutest sweetie pie ever, with his hair sticking out from his head and his eagerness to do well, only to realize how much he sucks, because he is a bloody beginner. On one hand he is the great genius, but on the other he always makes mistakes and has so much to learn and find out. Just that nobody ever points his finger at him and says that he is bad. Because all of them know he is a beginner and for that, he is doing really well. Also, his family story is very touching. He lives alone with his dad and the scenes we get to see with his family are heartwarming and cute, and I wouldn’t want to miss them for anything. It’s what made this anime so much more realistic and gave it more dimensions.
Tatara’s rivals are all created very well, too. They have different motifs to dance, differnt problems and none of them are just black or evil. What I liked most is, that none of them are exceptionally vicious either. They work hard but play fair. My personal favorit is Kugimiya, because he has such depth and while I love him, he also creeps me out. Gaju is my least favorit, because he is the one that somehow ends up being Tatara’s close friend and Kiyoharu probably is a mix between friend and future rival, if we ever get to see a second season for this series. They are all very lovable and we see their background stories, that will make you fall in love with them even more.
The girls – or ‘partner’, as they are referred to in the series – are also very lovely and I think I could have loved them a lot more, if they were given a bit more depth. They are plainly there for the guys to have a partner to dance with. Only the man can lead and only the man is supposed to tell the partner what to do, if the girl leads it shines a bad light on the male partner, because he ‘lets the girl do all the work’. They tried to save the thema multiple times in the later part of the series, but it really was sad to see how little importance the female part in the dance has, according to this series. Chi-chan was trying so hard to mix things up and it was really interesting, but at some point just annoying. I ranted about it enough in my review, so let’s just say I didn’t quite enjoy the balance between sexes here.
The Story, Heats and In-Betweens
For the first 6 episodes of this series, it couldn’t have been any better. The story was great, we fell into the world of ballroom dance together with Tatara and I genuinely enjoyed all the ups and downs. The same goes for the first few episodes of the second half of the story. The times when Tatara was not participating in a major tournament. But as soon as the tournament started, the episodes just dragged, because they kept dancing and dancing when all you wanted was the result. Of course we get to see a lot of background story for each character in the episodes, but I just wished they showed more cups and the results and told the character’s stories through more than one tournament. This was sports anime all over again. Captain Tsubasa running 5km from one goal to the other, without stopping for a whole episode. Son Goku fighting a 10 minutes fight for fifteen episodes, because we have so much insight. It was good, but at the end I felt exhausted by the amount of episodes one tournament took.
The stories before the tournament and the moments when we went back to the past of a character on the other hand were what made me excited, which made me look forward to the next episode and fall in love with all the characters. So looking back I mostly remember the good scenes, the ones I had fun with and were telling me details about characters. All in all, the story left a positive impression, though the overall series felt like it dragged at points.
Pros and Cons
- great characters one could fall in love with right away
- beautiful animation (detailed, even sweat was everywhere and sometimes creepy, adding to the atmosphere)
- fan service in some episodes for male and female viewers, but never too much
- realistic setting
- on spot voice acting and voice cast
- dragging tournaments that make us wait for results
- dance music in the beginning lacked
We can see, in general the pros are overweighing. Because the series was a good one, and even though I had to complain a lot at times, it left me longing for more. I want to see how Tatara gets better and better and would love to see what all the other people, who stepped into his life through ballroom dance, will do in the future. If anything, I might skip some of the tournament scenes in the future to just get the flashbacks of characters, but that still would’t break my love for them. The story really got me and if you didn’t try it yet, please go and do. It is something for everybody who likes sports anime, those who enjoy a good character development and maybe those who enjoy some realistic aspects in a series. There is no family disappearing or not caring about the athletes, there is no black and white coloring of the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ guys and even the romance seems rather realistic to me. So if this sounds good to you, please give it a try!
Those who have already watched it, what do you think? Did you overall like it as much as I did? Tell me in the comments!