Welcome to the Ballroom remains watchable
Last week’s cliffhanger not only presented the first real tension between Tatara and Hyōdō but also promised a role for the show’s most mysterious redhead. After Tatara had taken the injured Hyōdō’s place in the Mikasa Cup, Hyōdō grabbed him by the shirt, imploring Tatara to “give it back.” So what was “it?”
It’s hard to say.
After his confrontation with Tatara, Hyōdō dances the tango of his life with Shizuku in the second heat, only to collapse after receiving a standing ovation and reaggravating his leg injury. To add further insult, Sengoku forcing Tatara to dance in Hyōdō’s place earns Hyōdō a six-month competitive ban, guilting Tatara into a tear-filled apology to his rival (or friend? mentor?). Not only does Hyōdō accept the apology, he asks Tatara to take care of Shizuku, effectively handing him the hemmed pants we saw in episode two as he rehabilitates his knee.
And then Hyōdō disappears, because who needs character development when you can just introduce new characters?
Enter Gaju and Mako
The fresh blood, in this case, is Gaju and Mako: Gaju a Sengoku-light hotshot alpha dancer, and Mako, the dandere partner that introduces herself by falling from the stairs head-first into Tatara. Gaju stages a coup to partner with Shizuku after a Hyōdō-sized vacuum emerges in her life, leaving a Mako-sized vacuum that Tatara fills with his awkward but well-meaning feet. Mako compliments Tatara’s instincts and footwork, and she falls head-over-heels for Tatara’s chivalry because, well, of course, she does.
The emotional range we see from Hyōdō remains the show’s strongest mystery, and his potential re-emergence may serve as a lifeboat if the story falls into complacency. The potential Tatara-Mako-Shizuku love triangle hasn’t even started, and it already seems uninspiring, not to mention that the agitator Gaju doubles-down on the annoying qualities we already get from Sengoku. Shizuku finally grows a backbone, and then forgets it for some reason agreeing to pair off with Gaju, declaring that she has no feeling left for Hyōdō after he, you know, danced the best he ever danced with a debilitating knee injury. Must he try to fix everything?
Tatara and Mako’s first dance in the sunset whirls beautiful colors and motions together, giving the animators another feather in their sequined fedoras. The concept of dancing partners glued together like married couples also might serve well in the future, though considering how quickly Shizuku and Gaju cut ties with their so-called spouses, it might take some more convincing. Welcome to the Ballroom remains watchable, but without Hyōdō, everything slows down considerably.
Episode 4 and 5 Grade: C+