Around Akiba proudly presents our weekly Welcome to the Ballroom anime review
Choices to be made in “Reality”
At the end of the previous episode, so far the highlight of the season, Tatara and Mako advanced to the Tenpei Cup semi finals and the side bet between Tatara and his new rival Gaju that would put each dancer’s partner back to their original leader continue to hang in the background.
Little from this week’s episode suggests Tatara will win the bet, however. Tatara’s poor conditioning fails him in the semifinals, as he collapses into Sengoku with tears and sweat gushing from his face. He feels he has failed Mako by trying to do everything himself, and he apologizes to both Mako and Sengoku for his selfish behavior. He knows surely they won’t advance to the finals.
And yet, they do! Tenpei’s founder and head judge melts for Tatara’s dedication and smile (obviously the two most important things about dancing) and passes them along to the final round.
Questionable plot development aside, “Reality” presents dilemmas for Mako, Shizuku, and Tatara that don’t line up harmoniously with one another. A Tatara/Mako win in the final may convince Gaju to take his little sister back as a partner, freeing up Shizuku to return to Hyōdō. Though Mako wants to defeat Gaju, a loss means she will stay with Tatara, for whom she has obviously developed feelings. And Shizuku doesn’t know whether she can get Hyōdō back or not; she suspects that he will leave her behind when pursuing his professional career. And what does Tatara want out of all this?
It might not matter. After Tatara collapses, Hyōdō tells him he has no chance of beating Gaju, but can claim victory by showing that Mako dances better than Shizuku. To do this, Hyōdō says, Tatara must become a frame for Mako, highlighting her skills against Shizuku’s. Tatara suspects that Hyōdō just wants Shizuku back, but Shizuku knows better: Hyōdō wants Tatara as a well-rounded rival to rekindle his love of dance.
In funnier news, Sengoku this week becomes the conduit for the show’s meta analysis, asking Tatara and Mako not to turn the dance into a soap opera (too late), and wondering whether Tatara and Mako switching from -san to -chan when talking to each other means anything (it does). On the flip side, we also get a boring confrontation between Gaju and Hyodo in which Gaju reaffirms his one-dimensional antagonism and single-minded goal. Dude is horny.
While “Reality” doesn’t develop much of the show’s plot or reveal new information, it does present the show with difficult choices, leaving the viewer wondering which direction it will take. That Shizuku-Mako-Tatara love triangle that seemed so obvious a few episodes ago hasn’t gained any steam, while Tatara’s establishment as a legitimate dancer leaves the Tatara-Gaju-Hyodo rivalry missing one partner. Perhaps a new character will emerge? Will she be sexy?
Of course, she will. And she’ll complicate the storyline even more, which is exactly what this show needs.