Welcome to the Ballroom is based on the manga series written and illustrated by Tomo Takeuchi. It was adapted to anime by studio Production I.G. (Guilty Crown, Psycho Pass, Eden of the East) and directed by Yoshimi Itazu (Pigtails, Miss Hokusai).
This is Part 1 and comprises episodes 1-12. It is presented here in Collector’s packaging, in Japanese with English subtitles, courtesy of Anime Ltd.
“If there was just one thing. Something I could say that I loved. I feel like I could change.”
Tatara Fujita (Shimba Tsuchiya – Haikyū!!) is a disenchanted teen. He has no direction in life and has still made no choice of college, nor does he have a chosen career path. He feels secretly drawn to fellow student Shizuku Haraoka (Ayane Sakura – Your Lie In April, Charlotte), who also appears to lack a goal.
His world is turned upside down one day when walking home from school. He is set upon by a group of bullies, but is saved by a tall stranger on a motorbike. This is Kaname Sengoku (Toshiyuki Morikawa – Robotics;Notes), a professional dancer who runs the new dance studio they happen to be standing outside.
Refusing to take no for an answer, Sengoku bundles Fujita down the stairs to meet the owner Tamaki Tsuburaya (Mamiko Noto – Penguindrum), who offers him a trial. Much to his surprise, Shizuku is already here, it seems she does have a passion in life after all.
He is very sceptical, but having watched the DVD which Tamaki sneaked into his bag, he finds himself compelled to return and request dance lessons. We follow his journey as he discovers his natural talent and grows into the world of competitive dance.
Welcome to the Ballroom is quite enjoyable watch, although it is very dramatic in places, which would work better if it suited the subject matter. The animation style is strange, the body shapes are at times greatly exaggerated to show off the dance moves.
Perhaps the most disappointing part about this anime is the lack of character development. Everything seems far too easy for Fujita, he can replicate a dance just by watching without learning any of the basics, which really isn’t how it works in the real world. It overcompensates for the perception of ballroom dancing as not being very manly, there is way too much posturing. They also just use the females as props to further the story, not as people in their own right, a missed opportunity there.
All in all, it is still a pretty good watch, it’s just a shame it doesn’t quite live up to its potential.
“We’re all watching you, Tatara-san. Just as much as you watch us, we’re watching you too.”
Welcome to the Ballroom is available to buy now on Collector’s Blu-ray.