Small fish in a big pond?
Previously, Tatara and Chinatsu had entered an A-class competition in Shizuoka, Tatara hoping to face Shizuku, and Chinatsu trying to take direction from her partner. But because both Hyōdō/Shizuku and Gaju/Mako forgo the competition for a bigger one in Germany, Tatara/Chinatsu compete alone in a pool of far more accomplished dancers.
Of course, Tatara/Chinatsu exceed expectations. Chinatsu lets Tatara lead, and Tatara responds by losing himself in their routine, hallucinating two legs growing from his lower torso. He interprets this “four-legged” feeling as an extension of his own body, and without any friends around to tell him how rare and wonderful a feeling it is, Tatara panics and withdraws the couple from the competition after the first heat. But the joke’s on them: they find out a few days later that their scores would have passed them to the next round.
The animators weave in psychedelic sequences during the competition. Tatara’s zen looks like a ghoulish fantasy, with a dark aura surrounding his body and his legs, stretched to beastly proportions. Where the colors and lights made the Tenpei Cup feel like a joyous event, Tatara’s grave face and Chinatsu’s stiff silhouette make this event feel grim. The animation hasn’t shown much excellence since the Tenpei arc, but that the artists took risks two-thirds of the way through the series should give fans hope for a lush final few episodes.
No summer break for the weary.
But we thankfully didn’t need to wait that long to get everyone back together: Gaju/Mako, Hyōdō/Shizuku, Kugimiya/whoever-his-partner-is, and of course Tatara/Chinatsu gather for a weeklong vacation at the Hyōdō country house. Seeing everyone together is a joy, and seeing these usually stiff athletes in slippers and comfy pants relaxes the feel of the show, as well. We now get to see everyone’s home body, which for Gaju means more eating, and for Hyodo more sleeping.
It’s not a summer break for Tatara and Chinatsu, however. Marissa has ordered them to win a Tokyo A-class competition taking place in only two weeks, a competition that will also feature their new rival Kugimiya and Chinatsu’s ex-partner Akira. Marissa believes the approaching urgency will force Tatara to “take the reigns,” and though Chinatsu attempts to fall subservient, she struggles to take Tatara’s instructions. Tatara, similarly, grapples with asserting himself. They’re a match made in heaven if only they just switched positions.
Despite the fast-moving plot, Ballroom hasn’t raised the stakes that much since Tenpei. Hopefully, our hero will engage in some righteous rebellion to spark a dynamic conclusion, but right now his wishy-washy attitude once again reflects the show itself.