Tatara saves the day?
We left the previous episode with Tatara marveling at Kiyoharu’s dance moves while holding a pair of newly hemmed pants. It wasn’t much of a cliffhanger, though the action ramps up in the third episode.
Sengoku introduces Tatara to his first amateur competition by declaring the dance floor a battlefield. As he watches the dancers put on makeup, hairspray, and plastered-on smiles, Tatara can’t quite see the competition beyond the glamor. But that is before a rival shoves Kiyoharu down stairs, re-injuring his knee and leaving Shizuku without a partner for the second heat of the competition.
Can you guess who saves the day?
Though Welcome To The Ballroom doesn’t overcome cliche, it does twist the formula
Two episodes removed from never having danced in his life, Tatara finds himself in the middle of the battlefield after Sengoku throws a tux on him and then throws him out on the dance-floor. Events move quickly as this episode rehashes a tired trope of throwing the main character into the fire without practice, hoping that by divine intervention he will impress all the onlookers in the arms of his loved one.
Though Welcome To The Ballroom doesn’t overcome cliche, it does twist the formula. Sengoku begins the episode by declaring his mentee’s completed waltz “terrible,” and by publicly calling Kiyoharu’s rival “a gorilla,” cementing him as Tatara’s brazen and shameless anti-mentor. We also see a hint of remorse on the face of Kiyoharu’s rival as he begins to dance, adding an emotional dimension to what may be a throwaway antagonist. And as Tatara slips onto the floor into Shizuku’s arms, he freezes for what feels like a full minute as the rest of the competitor’s dance circles him and Shizuku.
Whatever flaws the show has had disappears throughout the climactic dance scene. When Tatara unfreezes, he doesn’t overcome his inability or inexperience but rather throws together a trail mix of basic steps, clumsy footwork, and professional moves stolen from Kiyoharu’s routine, both confusing and exciting the spectators with his impromptu performance. The heavenly animation emphasizes Tatara’s passion swinging with Shizuku, and for two minutes the show steps forward from a basic sports drama to a transcendent glittery discovery.
A real incentive to watch this show finally stepping up?
Because everything moves swiftly in this show, the third episode provides the first real cliffhanger. As Sengoku and the rest of the crew from the Ogasawara dance studio greet Tatara and Shizuku after their heat, a limping Kiyoharu emerges from the shadows, grabs Tatara’s lapel, and implores him to “give it back.” “It” could be any of the following: the stolen dance moves, the spotlight, the tuxedo, Shizuku, his dignity; they’re all plausible and pretty critical to establishing Kiyoharu’s still-unclear role in the show. And if the following episodes are anything like this one, there’s finally a real incentive to find out what “it” is.