Welcome to the Ballroom/ Ballroom e Youkoso
Manga: 9 volumes (currently ongoing)
Anime series: 3 episodes (currently ongoing)
Genre: Comedy, Sports, Drama, Romance, School, Shounen (Personal opinion: Coming of age and slice of life)
Streaming Service: Anime Strike on Amazon
From the moment we become old enough to think for ourselves, we were always taught, or told, to have a plan for our life. In kindergarten, you’re asked what do you want to be when you grow up. Either you come up with an idea on your own or your teacher prods you into a reasonable direction. For some, planning out their life isn’t so easy. Sometimes we just don’t know and that could be for various reasons. Maybe you have no confidence in yourself or maybe your heart isn’t beating for something. Whatever the case may be, something will hit you one day. It could be a movie, a lecture from a passionate professor, a prop maker on Twitch, or even a cooking show. For Tatara Fujita, it was a Latin ballroom dance competition on DVD.
Welcome to the Ballroom is series that seems to fall into the category of coming of age along with the usual genres such as comedy, romance, and sports. It follows a middle schooler named Tatara Fujita and him learning he has a passion for dance. Just like every middle schooler in any slice of life or coming of age anime, high school is just around the corner and every adult is hounding them down; wanting to know if they put any thought into their future. The series starts with Fujita getting a stern talking to from either his homeroom teacher or school counselor in regards to which high school he wants to go to and what his plans are for his long-term future. As most kids his age, Fujita has no idea what he wants to do with his life. As he wonders what his life would be if he loved something, he finds himself outside of a dance studio after he follows his classmate and possible crush Shizuku Hanaoka. After narrowly avoiding a random shake down, he is led down to the dance studio by a dirty blonde haired man, who is the dance instructor and a pro dancer, named Kaname Sengoku and you can say this is the beginning of his new life.
This anime is still wet behind the ears with only 3 episodes currently out (as of me writing this) and 9 manga volumes out so far, but it has made an impact on me. One of the first things that caught my attention was the art style, especially with the form and perspective when the characters are dancing. In comparison to Yuri!!! on Ice, the dancing isn’t as fluid and natural as the ice skating but it’s striking in its own right. To me, when the characters are dancing they seem stiff. Their necks seem longer than usual; their bodies are twisted or stretched in ways that doesn’t seem believable or natural. It didn’t dawn on me until later, but in a way that’s how dancers are. Dancers aren’t stiff; they are well trained and have perfect posture to show off the human form. They can bend and move in ways normal people can’t because they are highly in tune with their bodies. They know their limits and strengths better than anyone so they can do things like stand on their toes or stretch their legs across the floor and make it look effortless. One doesn’t learn how to stand en pointe or hold your posture while doing the basic box steps to the Waltz overnight. Your body has to be conditioned to retain a certain form while maintaining elegance, whether you’re in pain or not. By giving emphasis on well poised backs, sharp pointing of toes before snapping back in step with the music, and gently yet powerful turns of heads the art style of this series highlights the dedication and passion dancers have to their craft.
When it comes to my personal preference to genres of anime and manga, I’m very fond of slice of life and coming of age genres. These genres tend to dive deep into human emotions and show you characters that are relatable. The emphasis in these kinds of genres is to show you growth in your characters and gain a lesson from it and Welcome to the Ballroom is a refreshing anime in that regard. Yes, the series is about dancing, but it’s more focused on what dancing gives to each of the characters. For Fujita, it gives him something to be in love with. Before he found the dance studio, he was just coasting in life; he didn’t have something or someone he was passionate about. When he saw the DVD of Kaname Sengoku dancing, it awakens something in him that he didn’t even know he had in him; it gave him love. At first, you might think it gives him a way to get closer to his possible love interest Hanaoka. That could very well be true, but that’s not the focus. Fujita found something that gives him meaning or purpose. It brings him out of his comfort zone and dares him to dig deeper than what he was doing before. He found something that he could very well be good at and it drives him. That’s what our life is about in a way, finding where we belong and what we’re good at doing; something for us and not for anyone else.
In our world, our society, we’re always pushed to find our place and sometimes we’re pushed in a direction we don’t necessarily want to go in. What you can take away from the first 3 episodes of Welcome to the Ballroom is this; whatever you’re made for won’t always hit you right away. Some people know what they want to be or do right off the back and that’s fine, but others don’t and that’s fine too. The point is, finding whatever it is you’re good at or what you’re meant to be/do isn’t always easy. It’s a leap of faith. It’s stepping outside of your comfort zone. It’s falling on your face a few times or thinking you’re not cut out for it. But, it’s feeling like there is nowhere else you would rather be. If you have to go back to school, change your job, or in Fujita’s case borrow old dancing shoes and training pants, do it. If you found where you feel you’re supposed to be, whatever you’re meant to do, go for it. Find your calling, fall on your face, breakdown and cry when it gets too hard, but remember to smile because in the end you found the path you were meant to take on your own.
3.8 black mens Latin shoes out of 5