First Look: Welcome to the Ballroom

Alternative title(s): Ballroom e Youkoso
Manga Adaptation by Production IG
Streaming on Anime Strike

Premise

Fujita Tatara is an ordinary middle school student struggling to find purpose in life. After being saved from bullies by the pro dancer Kaname Sengoku, he begins to take an interest in ballroom dancing. Inspired by fellow classmate, Hanaoka Shizuku, Tatara decides to devote himself to dancesport.

Iro’s verdict: Dancing Sure is a Sport

I think it’s harder and harder for sports anime to distinguish themselves these days; they all tend to follow similar formats, and not everything can be as over-the-top as something like Keijo!!!! or its ilk (nor should they be). And as such, with just the first episode to go on, there isn’t really much besides the excellent artwork and niche focus separating Ballroom from other shows of its type. I’d like to see a bit more character beyond typical unstoppable shonen determination, for example. But Production IG’s execution is darn solid and I’ve heard the story does indeed pick up, so I think I’ll stick with this for a while.

Gee’s verdict: First Heat, Full Checks

As a longtime fan of the manga, this was probably the biggest thing I was looking forward to this season. Between its stunning artwork and emotionally cathartic narrative, I absolutely need Production IG to knock this out of the park. It might seem silly for me of all folks to be so excited, but I love any story about passionate individuals devoting themselves to something, and Welcome to the Ballroom has that in spades. Thankfully, the first episode is well put together. There are a couple of minor changes from the manga that seem largely for the sake of pacing, but otherwise it’s been a solid take on the manga’s introduction. Though as a manga fan, I do find it a little funny they’ve seemingly toned down Sengoku’s general abusiveness. Tatara’s usage of self deprecation as a deflection tactic comes off even stronger in the anime, and it has me looking forward to his character development even more now. I don’t have much else to say about the anime itself, much of it is going to come down to Production IG’s ability to bring the story to life and there’s not much to judge at this point. Having Yuki Hayashi on music is a big bonus though. Overall, it’s a strong introduction and I’m looking forward to seeing one of my favorite sports(?) manga on the screen.

Artemis’ verdict: Blood, Sweat and Tears

This is basically a shounen sports anime, only with ballroom dancing instead of soccer, baseball, or basketball. As such, all the hallmarks of most shounen sports anime are here, from the copious drops of youthful, sparkling sweat to the dramatic, swooping camera angles. Sudden discovery of motivation! Hot-blooded determination! Hard work conquers all! Etc. etc. It’s all about as intentionally over-exaggerated as it sounds, especially since ballroom dancing by its very nature is meant to be grand and somewhat theatrical.

I have to say, it’s not really my cup of tea, but it is nice to see more sports anime going outside the box of traditional school material. And while I’m not especially a fan of the character designs here – there are a lot more lines than usual to highlight muscles and posture, and the necks in particular seem awkwardly long, almost giraffe-like in a few shots – I can understand where the emphasis is coming from. I don’t know that I’ll be watching much more of this, but it’s more a matter of personal taste than it is a reflection of the anime itself, which seems pretty competent. I recommend people at least give it a shot.

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3 thoughts on “First Look: Welcome to the Ballroom

  1. I don’t typically watch many sports anime, so maybe I’m more easily fooled, but I really adored this first episode. It’s by far my favorite of the season. Even I recognize it was just hitting the usual, cliche marks of these sorts of stories, but I just thought it was done with tremendous passion and feeling. Hopefully, the first episode won’t prove to be an anomaly!

    • I’m a bit biased as I really love the manga, but the thing I’ll say is that while it’s a classic anime sports story at its core, like the best in the genre, it uses its specific activity as a really effective and unique vehicle for telling its story. There are aspects of its narrative that could only be told because it’s specifically using dance as its catalyst.

  2. Interesting. I’ll keep this up till the third episode and hold or drop then. The movement and animation were quite good. I kind of liked how straight forward the female protag was “Are you here for kicks?”…Boom right off the bat.

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