New character steps in Tatara’s spotlight
At the end of last week’s episode, Tatara emerges from the Ogasawara dance studio determined to pursue professional ballroom dancing after pulling an all nighter to rehearse a basic box step and earning hesitant admiration from potential love interest Shizuku. With Tarata’s sweat on the floor, Welcome to the Ballroom promises to be a classic tale of hard-work overcoming everything.
Unfortunately for Tatara, a new character with an even bigger drive to dance steps in his spotlight.
As hinted at in the episode title, “Kiyoharu Hyōdō” introduces us to Kiyoharu Hyōdō, a junior ballroom “monster” ranked first in Japan in both the standard and Latin categories. Of course, Kiyoharu trains at the same studio as our main character, and of course, he partners with Tatara’s love interest Shizuku. The two competing sides seem to set up nicely.
We don’t have enough information to classify Kiyoharu
Except Kiyoharu may not be Tatara’s rival, after all. His red hair and elite dancing status suggest a level that Tatara aims to reach. But, his disinterest towards Tatara and Shizuku may reflect a less typical antagonist. He doesn’t seem to care that Tatara steals his footwork while learning a basic waltz, nor does he care when Sengoku jokes that Tatara might take Shizuku from him after impressing onlookers with his waltz routine. But even that disinterest might not reveal his true identity since he spends the entirety of the episode recovering from a high fever, slogging through his daily routine like a person who would rather be asleep. The truth is, we don’t have enough information to classify Kiyoharu.
What we do learn, however, is that while Tatara lacks natural talent, he displays an uncanny ability to sight-learn, copying Kiyoharu’s world-class moves step-by-step two meters behind his potential rival. The mimicking dancers formed the episode’s most elegant scene as they stepped and turned in time to the show’s lush score, and the possibilities for this mirror effect in the future will provide more intimacy than already displayed. We see the sweat flying off Kiyoharu’s forehead, and the blood vessels jut out of Sengoku’s neck, but nothing felt as real as watching Tatara find the courage to follow in Kiyoharu’s footsteps.
In the middle of the episode, Kiyoharu lends Tatara his old pair of pants, which sag like a wet potato sack on Tatara’s legs. Although Sengoku’s assistants tell Tatara he will grow into them, these pants are eventually tailored to fit Tatara’s size. Perhaps this foreshadows Tatara’s growth as a dancer. Rather than filling in Kiyoharu’s pants, Tatara may adjust his style to fit his abilities. Or maybe Kiyoharu merely likes doing favors for amateurs before crushing them in competitions. It’s hard to tell right now.
“Kiyoharu Hyōdō”: B
Be sure to check out the Ep.1 review of Welcome to the Ballroom!