If there is one thing that annoys me the most, it’s an over hyped series. I realize that all shows have some hype built around them when they first appear so people will pay attention to them and thus provide an audience. Still, there is the fact that some shows are more over hyped them others. Welcome to the Ballroom is one of those. I mean, the first episode even got a special screening at Anime Expo this year. Amazon snatched it up and advertised it as much as they could because it was naturally assumed that Welcome to the Ballroom was going to be a big hit for some reason. I admit that I was one of those people and after the first episode, I was pretty hyped up about the show as well. Then the other episodes starting to appear and huge cracks start forming. Episode six didn’t help any of those. So no, at this point I can’t say that I am enjoying Welcome to the Ballroom as much as I could, because the problems are too huge for me to ignore.
It doesn’t know how to be a shonen
Welcome to the Ballroom is a shonen anime about ballroom dancing? How amazing of a premise is that? I am a huge advocate for saying that a general shonen battle formula can be applied to anything to make it interesting, but Welcome to the Ballroom added another component to this. It needs to be applied well. This anime hasn’t been able to do that? Why? Because there is almost no natural growth in our protagonist Tatara Fujita. He is almost instantly good. All Fujita has to do is watch somebody perform a routine and he’s got it down. It’s like he doesn’t have to learn the basics, which he basically doesn’t. All he needs to do is watch some one dance and he’s got it down. In six episodes, he’s already ready to go into a competition in his own right. Not a completely professional one, but not an amateur one either. That’s so strange to me
Let’s use My Hero Academia as a counter example here. One of the great things about Izuku Midoriya is that his power is still growing. While he was chosen by All Might to gain “One for All”, his body wasn’t chosen as first. Midoriya worked his heart out to gain some muscle and his body eventually became a suitable vessel for it. Even when he started using One for All, his body wasn’t completely ready for it. For a while, some part of his body always broke when he used it because he had no control over it. It took until the latest arc for him to use it, and that’s what? 25 episodes? Even now that he has complete control over it, he’s still a kid. His abilities are nowhere near what All Might’s abilities are. There is always a barrier that Izuku needs to pass, which makes his growth relatable and interesting. If Tatara is working with barriers at all, I don’t see them or they only go up to his knee. It’s rather frustrating.
The show mistreats Female Characters
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like how Welcome to the Ballroom treats its female characters. They are treated more like objects then actual characters. Shizuku is the major bad example here, but this issue is prevalent for every single one of them. Throughout the show’s six episodes so far, Shizuku has been given the shaft so many times. First, she is a fanservice object like when Tatara accidently opened the changing room door on her when she was in her underwear or Sengoku grabbed her dress causing the usual anime nose bleed incident for our main character Tatara. Also, she sidelined all the time. When Tatara was forced into a competition with her, Shizuku was forced into that situation without word. Then there is recent times when Tatara was told to “take care of Shizuku” and the even smaller amount of focus she had when a rival or Tatara came in. It’s rather frustrating because she had so much potential to be something else then an object, she could have been a strong character in her own right. That is not happening and it’s completely frustrating to me. While how attractive she is was commented on, she didn’t even speak in episode six. What the hell?
Like I said, Welcome to the Ballroom does this to every other female characters as well just with to a lesser degree. Mako, who was dropped by her brother/partner for Shizuku, at least gets some development, but the focus isn’t on her either. The focus is always on Tatara because he is supposed to be the lead in the group. It’s rather frustrating. Then there is Tamaki who gets no development what so ever and Karen who doesn’t do anything. Why are female characters getting the shaft here? It’s seems like there is no point for them to be there other than being a partner for male characters.
Welcome to the Ballroom is all about being an Alpha Male
If this anime only focused on building Tatara’s confidence like a lot of other shonen series, but it does more than that. It course corrects even further than that and I partially see why. Ballroom dancing isn’t the manliest thing out there right? It’s not a sport like American Football or Rubgy were characters bang into each other in order to try to get a ball to the other side of a field. It’s just people dancing in a ballroom setting. Welcome to the Ballroom course corrects this making the sport as manly as possible. Tatara’s current mentor made his appearance by riding in on a motor cycle and beating up some thugs. Then you have this guy laying around and bossing people around anyway while barely being checked by Tamaki. Then there is the fact that the current arc started when a thug showed up just to partner with Shizuku while completely dismissing his other partner Mako. (No, I am not going to say his name because I absolutely hate this character). A little course correcting is ok, but Welcome to the Ballroom over did it.
It doesn’t explain Ballroom Dancing Well
Ok, so this is comparatively a minor one compared to everything else. I don’t need to understand a sport or an activity to get hyped by it. There characters and story are usually enough to get me there. Still, the fact that the show is jumping from beginner level to competition level in a short amount of time means that much about this activity is being explained. I may know how the competition works or what styles are being scored on in a competition, but I don’t know what they look like or feel like to make them different. I denote this as a failure of the series and it’s formatting, seeing Tatara learning different styles will add a lot more to the series because it would have more structure to it.
When I walked into Welcome to the Ballroom, I thought I would see a more shonenized version of Yuri on Ice, but that’s not what I got. Welcome to the Ballroom is a big miss that needs a lot of help to get better. Does that mean I am going to drop it right now? Probably not. I am going to give this show a few more episodes to explain itself and hopefully become worthwhile. If it doesn’t, even then I might not drop it. Something needs to be on the bottom on my list right? Might as well be this one. Spending twenty or so minutes to watch it each week doesn’t take up a lot of my time. It might even become amazing. Who knows?