Otakon 2017 News Roundup: Days 1 and 2 Otakon 2017: Welcome to the Ballroom Panel Report
by Eric Stimson,
The currently airing anime Welcome to the Ballroom was represented at Otakon 2017 by Naoko Tsukeda, who handles acquisitions and productions for Pony Canyon's Los Angeles office; Shimba Tsuchiya, the voice actor for Tatara; and Tetsuya Kinoshita, the anime's producer. The panel began with a screening of the anime's first episode, and then continued with questions from Tsukeda to Tsuchiya and Kinoshita.
Kinoshita says he chose the Welcome to the Ballroom to adapt due to its passion and emotion and the challenge of producing dance animation. Tsuchiya described Tatara as a cool, attractive character he was drawn to because he never gives up. The audience watched a video of Tsuchiya learning to ballroom dance, much like his character, and was told that he was also learning traditional Japanese dance (he came to the panel in a kimono). Kinoshita said Tsuchiya was chosen because he wanted an actor who developed along with his character and because his voice is an “exact match.”
The panel then opened to questions from the audience. Kinoshita confirmed a fan's observation that Tatara's silhouette and dancing style were changing in different ending animations. When asked whether he was personally interested in dance, Kinoshita answered that it was just a “tool for him to describe this anime” but teased the possibility of learning more about it. He explained that he chose the manga because of its uniqueness: Tatara's dance partners keep changing, there is no rival character or sense of “fighting,” and it is hard to focus on any particular part of the manga. Adapting the artwork to anime was a challenge, but he wanted to “go beyond” what a comic could express. To this end, he used professional dancers' videos and photos as a reference. When asked whether the anime would deviate much from the manga – such as by incorporating more superhuman dance moves – Kinoshita said it wouldn't.
Tsuchiya said that he was “still looking” for a dance partner. When asked how he felt about landing a main character role for the first time, Tsuchiya said that his costar, Toshiyuki Morikawa (Sengoku), was mentoring him. He has thus far mastered the five standard competitive dance moves and is eager to move on to more challenging Latin movements. He also plays badminton with Nobuhiko Okamoto (Kiyoharu). As for his favorite character, Tsuchiya chose his own, Tatara. The panel concluded with a reminder to pick up Welcome to the Ballroom T-shirts and other merchandise at the Pony Canyon booth. The audience participated in a game of Paper-Scissors-Rock for a pair of posters.