Welcome to the Ballroom isn’t that great

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

Tatara

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

shizuku underwear
Why do I have this photo on my hard drive? 


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

Sengoku.jpg

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

ballroom.png

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?

15 Comments Add yours

  1. Karandi says:

    This is a great explanation of your thoughts on the show so far. Unfortunately I can’t watch the show so I don’t have any particular opinion about it, other than I was disappointed I couldn’t watch it because it seemed like it could be fun. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the show after a few more episodes.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Scott says:

      Thank you. I hope it goes somewhere better.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Jon Spencer says:

    Like Karandi, I can’t watch the show either but I’d like to offer up some thoughts. First, you note that Welcome to the Ballroom adds an additional component to the shonen formula, and forgive me if I missed it, but what exactly is it? You didn’t really tell me so I was confused about that part.

    As to your first point, I can see why the main character picking things up quickly could be off-putting but as someone with ballroom experience, I can say that it is a lot easier than you’d think to just pick stuff up from watching. Of course, this sounds like it is exaggerated for the sake of pushing the plot but I thought you might like to know that this is something that people in the dance community regularly do.

    Your point about the women makes the show sound really bad. That’s a shame. The follows, or female characters, are integral in the success of the leads, their male counterparts. Welcome to the Ballroom made a mistake here, the relationship should be shown as more balanced or have the female characters building up the males.

    The third point about “being an alpha male” makes sense. I mean, it is a harder sell to get a general demographic into a more nontraditional sport like ballroom dancing. I think your first description, while a totally “anime” example, isn’t a bad one. The problem seems to be coming from it constantly reminding the audience how cool and manly everything is. Really dumb if you ask me.

    Ok, onto your last point about the show not really explaining how ballroom dancing works. I know you said this was a small complaint, but I would note that Yuri!! on Ice also had this problem. It seems that this sort of thing gets set aside for more character moments or performance pieces, which doesn’t make a ton of sense unless you are working with a small number of episodes. I can’t speak to how bad things are in Ballroom but that’s my two-cents based on what you said here.

    I’m disappointed that Ballroom is getting such mixed reviews. I recently wrote about why I wish I could watch the show, as I am an active member of my local dance community (we do ballroom and tons of other styles, including competitions with pros and everything). I’d like to be able to see for myself how well the show does from an “insider” perspective, but at the same time, there have been a few articles like yours that have me worried.

    Whew, sorry for such a long comment! Thanks for the review 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Scott says:

      Other people have written similar posts? I haven’t seen any, I’ve just seen mostly positive stuff on my end. Maybe something like Remy’s post that talked about female characters, but not much else.

      I didn’t know about the watch and dance thing, because that’s not a community thing that I’m apart of. It still doesn’t feel natural to me though. And by shonen formula, I mean that a main character that has talent in what they want to do, but has to work hard to get to where everyone else is. Maybe that’s not a formula, but a lot of shonen shows do that.

      And I like reading long comments. That’s for reading and being involved.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Jon Spencer says:

        Yeah I saw Remy’s post too. I’ve seen a lot more hype for the show than not, but I have seen a few other pieces similar to yours and Remy’s which has had me a bit worried about the show.

        I get ya now. I was just confused by what you meant. Totally makes sense. It wouldn’t be natural for a total beginner to just watch and pick stuff up (which is what the show sounds like) but anybody with at least a semi-competent skill set can watch and learn pretty easily. So I’d have to see the show for myself to say how realistic it is, just wanted to convey that it was possible due to my experience at least.

        No problem, enjoyed the article 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Remy Fool says:

        Gentlemen, Andrealinia had written a post about how female characters are treated in Ballroom before I did and said post was linked in my article. Another blogger, The Josei Next Door, had some less than flattering things to say about the show before ultimately dropping it.

        But yes, it seems like most people are praising Ballroom. Even I’m trying to put a positive spin on things after my post. Be that as it may, I agree with basically all of your points, Scott, and I wish that the show would improve. Maybe it’s an unpopular opinion, but it’s one I hold nonetheless. Hopefully it’ll get better…?

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Scott says:

        I need to read all those posts then, thank you. I’m glad that I am not completely alone on this.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Jon Spencer says:

        Thanks for providing the others. I have been really busy today so didn’t have a chance to look up the ones I had seen.

        I hope it gets better. I still want to watch it and I’d like for it to be good :p

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Rocco B says:

    This is just baseless assumption, but MAPPA seem to be riding the wave with YOI and did something different again?. I haven’t seen it, and it doesn’t interest me at all. Just check out that guff called strictly come dancing on the BBC. Seen like one epi, was enough for me. Good post Scott!!.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Scott says:

      Oh no, this is Production IG’s haikyu team or something.

      Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great thoughts and analysis, thanks for sharing! What a bummer! I had pretty high hopes for this anime!

    Like

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