Welcome to the Ball Room – Anime Preview
Synopsis: “Dance is a passion!” Tatara is an average middle school student with no particular dreams until an unexpected incident draws him into the fascinating world of ballroom dancing. “If I can just find one thing to be passionate about…”He dives into the world of dance, believing it’s his opportunity to change. (Official Anime Strike Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Welcome to the Ballroom is one of the visual oddities this season. Like Love and Lies it takes proportions of the human physique and reimagines them with artistic flare. I’m talking about the crazy long necks, which are hard to miss like in the above screenshot. They can sometimes be distracting, but don’t let the questionable artistic choice fool you, otherwise Welcome to the Ballroom looks great in motion. Sure there’s some stills used here or there to save on budget, but when animation is in play it looks astounding and just as impressive as Yuri on Ice’s first episode.
Linny: It’s true that the elongated necks are definitely a sight to behold, and understandable as a reason to be distracted or turned away by the show but yes, the otherwise pleasant-to-look-at art saves the day for a more forgiving viewer. When it comes to the story itself, Welcome to the Ballroom’s main theme is yet another predictable tale of a lost kid discovering a new passion and having to put in the hard work to excel. Even the studio he joins is a start up, thus it is likely to be an underdog in the world of formal ballroom competitions. And of course, the ballroom is apparently run by someone who is shown to have superior dancing skills….all tropes any sports anime veteran has seen a million times. Sure, the story will likely be padded out with new characters and their own dramas but at the end of the day, besides the matter of ballroom dancing, there might be viewers who sigh at the presentation of a tale told a million times over, just with a different sport.
Tom: Linny is absolutely right. Welcome to the Ballroom is painfully by the books. You know how this episode plays out before it even begins and outside of the focus on ballroom dancing instead of swimming, diving, soccer, football, basketball, what have you, the progression of Fujita’s story is the same as any other. I might even say the only thing really keeping Ballroom from feeling outright stale and overdone is its animation.
Linny: In most sports anime, the protagonist is either a very talented guy who has to learn a lesson in humility or a seemingly average guy who’s hiding or about to discover and develop amazing skills. In this particular case, our protagonist, Fujita falls in the latter category. However, when the episode tries to portray him as so devoted to mastering a single dance step that he doesn’t even realize that he spent an entire night on his feet dancing alone, it does come off a bit far-fetched. But for those of you who are tired of being grilled and taunted about not having a concrete aim or passion in life, Fujita’s own struggles with picking a career path and future will most likely make him a relatable character.
Tom: I’ll be fair. In Sports anime you really only have two options for your protagonist. They’re either a secret genius at their chosen sport or a dedicated newcomer who makes up for lack of innate talent with incredible determination. There really isn’t much of a middle ground and without pulling it one way over the other you might not end up with a truly captivating series. As the two options for leads go, Fujita at least falls into the camp I’m more understanding of: A young man brimming with dedication rather than raw talent. It makes him feel more down to earth and someone the audience can aspire to. Moving away from Fujita, only one other character stood out as worth mentioning: Sengoku. Sengoku is the instructor of the series, but unlike other role models and mentors Sengoku is actively against Fujita’s efforts and struggles to accept him. It’s a fun twist, though doesn’t really add all that much, at least not yet.
Linny: Is Welcome to the Ballroom an innovative tale? Not really, but it does tell its tale with decent animation and personality to make it feel entertaining, instead of a tired and trope ridden replay of similar shows. Yes, the elongated necks are hideous but it should only remain a deterring factor for the most finicky of viewers. If you are a fan of underdog sports or competition themed stores, and have some appreciation for or interest in ballroom dancing, you’re more likely going to have a lovely time with Welcome to the Ballroom.
Tom: Welcome to the Ballroom retreads a lot of familiar ground, but makes up for it with incredible visual style. The long necks are distracting, but the rest has enough on point flare to keep your eyes glued to the screen. If it can start sending its characters in new directions, and better enthrall us with the world of Ballroom dancing then this could be a solid contender for the season.
Welcome to the Ballroom is available for streaming via Amazon’s Anime Strike Channel.