Welcome to the Ballroom
Episode 6

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 6 of
Welcome to the Ballroom ?

Where is Shizuku in all of this? Obviously she's onscreen this week, but after the slight agency she displayed previously by agreeing to dance with Gaju, she's totally silent while the men debate around her about where she belongs. Now that Tatara and Mako have semi-officially become a pair, Tatara (goaded by Sengoku) has decided to challenge Gaju/Shizuku at an unofficial competition—over Gaju's right to dance with Shizuku. I know that Hyodo asked him to “take care of” Shizuku while he was gone, but this feels less like “taking care” and more like "walking all over". Shizuku voluntarily decided to dance with Gaju, after all. Was it a terrible thing to do to Mako? Yes, absolutely. But Mako and Gaju's partnership was hardly perfect, and when we see Gaju dancing with someone closer to his own height this week, even Mako realizes that she may not be a great fit for her brother as a dance partner.

In fact, they don't even like the same kind of dances – Gaju's a Latin dancer and Mako tells Tatara this week that she actually prefers Standard. (We know she's insecure about her figure, and a Standard dress covers a whole lot more than a Latin one.) Put all of this together, and it feels like the guys are just bulldozing along without the girls' consideration, and that's not good in more ways than one. (I don't think Shizuku had any lines this week at all, or at least nothing major. Given that she's the subject of this debate, that's a problem.) Essentially, Welcome to the Ballroom could give you the idea that most ballroom dancing men are jerks, which isn't a fair portrayal. Sure, there are evil leads out there – my sister had a few bad experiences – but this show really seems to be piling them on.

All of that aside, this week's story is a nice combination of dance and character development for Tatara, with the latter coming during his phone call with Mako when he explains why he's so invested in maintaining partnerships. Clearly, Sengoku's marriage analogy triggered his own trauma as the child of divorced parents, so he thinks he's defending Shizuku's relationship with Hyodo rather than running roughshod over her feelings. This confession does seem to make Mako understand him more, and she tells him to think about himself rather than other people all the time. We'll see whether he's able to take her advice; that feels like it will be a major piece of his growth as a character and possibly Mako's, as she comes to understand what drives him on the dance floor.

Speaking of dance, probably the most excitement this week comes from Sengoku actually teaching his students. Whether this means he's been doing so all along and we just haven't seen it or that he finally views Tatara as worthwhile isn't clear, but it does mark a turning point for Tatara's dancing. More than just steps, he needs to learn how to read the floor and to be aware of his surroundings, and that's something that Sengoku focuses on even as he teaches fairly tricky quickstep moves. Putting the quickstep in the spotlight means terrific music if you like jazzy songs and early Mel Tormé-style vocals, which I obviously do, and it's definitely a nice change of pace from the stately waltz. There's a lot of still images again, but the scenes of dancers chasse-ing across the floor as if they're floating are wonderful, which is how it feels if you do it right. The major visual oddity this week is that all of the women look like they're wearing Gibson Girl style corsets. Having worn one, I sincerely hope they are not. There's also something odd about Mako's bangs, which at times look like large extra eyebrows.

Welcome to the Ballroom is speeding through its source material, so it will be interesting to see how many episodes the Tenpei Cup gets. It looks like we're going to meet Sengoku's partner in the near future, which is certainly something to look forward to.

Rating: B

Welcome to the Ballroom is currently streaming on Amazon's Anime Strike.

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