I caught this delightful entry at AX 17, where we were the first to see it, which also spurred me to eschew a couple of other offerings to take advantage of actual ballroom dancing classes at the Pony Canyon booth. Even if you know nothing about competitive ballroom dancing, this series, “Bōrurūmu e Yōkoso”(“Welcome to the Ballroom”) will introduce you to it. Yes, the story is as old hat as it gets, but it is executed with a great deal of heart and vigor.
We enter the life of third-year high school student Tatara Fujita. Yeah, we’re talking about YOU up there. It is that time of year, when you meet your homeroom teacher and are given the paper upon which you will decide what you want to do with your life upon graduation. Thump! Thump! Is this mic on? Did you hear what I said? That’s the problem: he has no plans for his future or dreams as to how he sees himself, but tries to find something he can pursue with his whole life. Well, Starbucks is hiring and you could get a job at Bath and Body Works. Thump! Thump! Is this mic on? Did you hear what I said?
One day, on his way home, he gets bullied and extorted, but is saved from those delinquents by a man named Kaname Sengoku, a motorcycle-riding dance instructor. Tatara is entered into the Ogasawara Dance Studio, where he is shown the ropes for the world of Competitive Ballroom Dancing.
OK, the show is a little creaky in getting started, as Kaname is one of those ‘tough-love’ types and he thinks you can learn via osmosis. And we ALL know that Tatara is going to join in….except for Tatara. Thump! Thump! Is this mic on? Did you hear what I said? We see all the false starts and the uncertainty for commitment and the rather unsettling feeling that guys who do CBD might be gay. But we also see a determination in Tatara to see this through.
The ballroom sequences are exquisite, as everyone is dressed to the nines, as seen above. What Tatara lacks in experience and technique, he makes up for it with zeal and innovation. He just has to figure out a way to put it all together.
This show, however, does have two problems. The first is that it is a CLAMP endeavor, which means the people are freakishly disproportioned. I would swear that the distance from the base of your neck to the base of the jaw is easily a foot. Check out the gal up there. You tell me, huh? The ladies bend in almost India Rubber Man contortions. Everyone has to be at least eight feet tall, five feet of that being legs alone.
And these people sweat. I don’t mean that single sweat drop you see on the cheek. I am talking buckets of the stuff, raining down in a torrent, flung off like a sprinkler. It’s a wonder the competitors don’t wear wet suits. It just got really annoying, as rivers of sweat pour off of everyone and they gurgle down water like a camel.
And the people themselves are the standard mix of arrogant buttheads. I mean, they have the chops to back up what they say they can do, but they still come off as self-absorbed pricks. We do see a ton of fights between the partners as well. The arguments are less about what went wrong and more about who is the lead; a real power struggle.
The series is 24 episodes, with a rather predictable mid-course correction at Episode 14, when Tatara had to decide how he wishes to proceed in CBD and how to get a new partner. Again, it is one of those instances where we deny that which is in front of us, as we endlessly worry as to how others will think of us. Thump! Thump! Is this mic on? Did you hear what I said?
See this show. I had a marvelous time with it. Yes, there is a ton of dancing, but it doesn’t detract from things. I know if there is too much emphasis on the actual performance, you get kind of bored and restless and there is an over-usage of the same clips to promote a particular point (as if we didn’t get it the first time around), but I kept coming back.
For something completely different from the world of anime, this is a superb show for that. Now, some folks will wonder why I classified this as ‘sports’. The amount of physical effort expended to dance at this level makes it a sport. If bowling can be thought of as a sport, then CBD easily falls within those parameters.
Binge this. All the relationships play off much better, as do the competitions with all the problems and emotions that come to the surface it all of this. You just might tire, however, as to how strange everyone really REALLY looks, as you are caught in the endless sea of consecutive viewings. But I’m here for the plot.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 7 (Everyone is pretty, everyone is ill-proportioned)
Plot 8 (Done before, but done well here)
Pacing 8 (Keep you on your toes)
Effectiveness 7 (Too many recalling scenes)
Conclusion 5 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 2 (A similar show would be “Okamisan”)
Bingeability 8 (Developments play out better)
Overall 8 (Good story, even with a predictable ending)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. You practiced all night?