Posted on 31 August 2017 with categories: Ballroom e Youkoso, Finished Series: Sports

Here are a few reasons why Hyodo Kiyoharu was the MVP of this week’s episode: he noticed Tatara’s fatigue and flat-footedness before the kid’s own coach. He kept his cool while everyone else was busy flinging petty insults or embroiling themselves in love pentagons, and provided his rival with both straight talk and sound advice. He watched his mom flirt unashamedly with a guy nearly twice her age, and somehow managed to retain his dignity. He managed to motivate someone as talented as Shizuku to dance her best with his mere presence. And he looked fly as hell with his sweater robe and crutch, even amidst a sea of tailcoats and bowties. If I were a judge at the Tenpei Cup, I’d call off the competition and just award Hyodo the trophy.

Unfortunately, I’m not qualified to evaluate ballroom dancing (or men’s fashion) – only to talk about Japanese cartoons. So despite Hyodo’s greatness, there’s one scene I really want to focus on this week, and that’s the moment when Sengoku instructs Tatara not to do the special Quickstep variation they’d been practicing for weeks. Even without seeing his pupil gasp for breath in the corner of the room just moments beforehand, Sengoku knows that Hyodo is right about his exhaustion. Tatara is already on the floor by the time he can speak with him, though, so Sengoku is forced to shout across the hall not to use their trump card (which would likely result in his collapse). What follows is dead silence, and eventually a shot of Tatara, who looks exhausted and embarrassed, but more than that, he looks crushed. He’s upset that his coach doesn’t believe in him, even though he’s shaking and sweating and barely maintaining his hold on his partner. This is a boy with prior self-image issues being told to alter his routine to account for his lack of experience and stamina; it’s no wonder he sobs and collapses in Sengoku’s arms after his neutered performance.

I’m glad that Ballroom continues to expose this side of Tatara, even if the results are sometimes hard to watch, because it makes him more human even as the shounen clichés pile around him. The Destined Rivals bit that he and Hyodo have going on is farfetched, though the show played it well this week by making Kiyoharu the voice of reason during an emotional scene. “Reality” is the title of this episode, and Tatara’s reality, as explained by his rival, is that he can’t possibly beat Gaju given his current lack of talent and conditioning. The solution is to allow Mako to outperform Shizuku, and that’s a plan I couldn’t be happier with, especially after two months of hearing that the man leads and the woman follows, the pair’s score is largely determined by the leader, etc. I don’t doubt the truth of those statements, since ballroom dancing is quite traditional, but when Mako asks Tatara to “make me bloom” at the episode’s end, it feels great to know that she’s allowing herself to command some attention for a change. That final line also carries with it a hint of romance, given the sensual connotation that blooming holds. Sengoku teased the two kids about a potential relationship midway through the proceedings this week, so I expect that their partnership may become a bit more complicated in the future.

Love is in the air for several other characters, as well, but Shizuku’s crush is the most interesting. She looked stunned after seeing Hyodo at the Tenpei Cup, perhaps for the first time since his hospitalization, which is a total reversal from her invulnerable attitude just hours earlier. Tatara tries to explain away Hyodo’s strategy as a plan to separate her from Gaju, but she still feels him slipping away, as she did back in episode two. Her resolve now is to impress her former partner, which is an okay development in my book. This is an unsanctioned event with nothing on the line for a seasoned pro like Shizuku, so what’s the harm in a little showmanship for the sake of the boy she likes? Besides, her desire to impress Kiyoharu is tied to her need to reach his skill level, and prove to upstarts like Tatara that you can’t waltz into this scene and start winning trophies left and right – pun very much intended.

Posted on 22 August 2017 with categories: Ballroom e Youkoso, Finished Series: Sports

I spent the majority of the previous review breaking down a single scene, so let’s play catch-up for a bit. This episode features the Tenpei Cup, an annual event held by some rich dance enthusiast. Despite not being an official competition, the stakes are high: if the fledgling pair of Tatara and Mako can outplace Gaju and Shizuku (who are favored to win), Gaju will be forced to take back his sister as his partner. Thankfully, Sengoku has given his full support to his new student, having supplied him with a new tailcoat and a strategy to impress the head judge during the Quickstep round. It’s a relief that Sengoku has quit trying to embarrass and discourage the impressionable Tatara, who needs all the support he can get, given his lack of self-confidence.

Regarding that timid streak, this episode didn’t bring it across as well as the last one. During his previous phone call with Mako, we got a clear picture of how unworthy Tatara felt, both as a dancer and as a young man. This time, he was a simple scaredy-cat, begging his coach not to put him back on the floor after nearly every round, then finding his groove again once the dancing started. I get that the major story of Ballroom is Tatara’s journey to find himself, but we don’t need a miniature version of that arc every six minutes. The show even commented on this practice through Sengoku, who quickly became fed up with what he described as a “rollercoaster mentality.” It’s good that the writers aren’t totally clueless, I guess, but the show’s awareness of the problem doesn’t make it any less boring to watch.

Thankfully, the episode really picked up during its second half, especially after a dance floor collision between Tatara and Gaju. We never got a definitive answer on whether Tatara purposely engineered the crash, but after he watched Gaju and Shizuku steal the show during the second round, I’m choosing to believe that he made a conscious decision to level the playing field by drawing attention to himself. The waiting room confrontation that ensued was highly dramatic, with all the yelling, punching, and crying that you expect from shounen anime. I liked almost everything about it, though. Gaju is a very believable villain, whose insensitivity and tendency to belittle others read like those of a real high schooler. When Mako hits him and runs off crying, it’s at the perfect point in the conversation. My favorite part of the scene, though, came immediately afterward.

When Shizuku sees her teary-eyed competitor flee the scene and asks what all the fuss is about, it comes out that Tatara thinks there’s a chance that Mako will surpass her. At this point, I fully expected the older girl to berate Gaju for mistreating his totemo kawaii imouto~ and run off to make sure Mako was okay, at which point we’d get a scene where the girls talk about how boys are stupid. Instead, Shizuku walks right up to Tatara, gives him an icy stare, says, “Don’t underestimate me,” snaps his bowtie, and walks away. I think I’m in love. After receiving precisely zero speaking lines in last week’s script, Shizuku was due for her moment in the spotlight, and she certainly got it here. Part of me hopes that she still checked on Mako after she was through being a badass, but the version of the argument that we got was the best possible way the scene could have played out.

The story wraps with the introduction of Marisa Hyodo, mother of Tatara’s destined rival. Before she was revealed as a guest judge for the semifinals of the Tenpei Cup, we got a car scene between Marisa and Kiyoharu, who don’t seem to be the closest of parent-child duos. As we might expect from a superstar of the dance world, she works constantly and doesn’t see much of her son, but what’s worse is that she rationalizes her absence by declaring him the type who “likes being alone.” Ballroom is full of parents and authority figures who are less supportive than they ought to be, although I suppose it wouldn’t be anime if it weren’t. When the Hyodos appear at the very end of the episode, Sengoku looks like a kid who’s been caught with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar – does he have an agreement with Marisa not to train anyone except her son, or is there some history between them that we don’t know about? Guess we’ll find out next week.

Posted on 14 August 2017 with categories: Ballroom e Youkoso, Finished Series: Sports

Several weeks ago, I wrote about my desire for the show to continually check in with Shizuku’s character – not just to put her on screen, but to show us how she’s thinking and feeling, now that her previous partner is sidelined and her new one clearly wants to be partners in more than one sense. In the fourteen days since the last episode, I developed the expectation that I wouldn’t be wild about this new installment unless Shizuku was a major part of it. And while she did make an appearance, both in the present day and in a flashback, she didn’t have a single line of dialogue, plus she was subjected to some heavy objectification on Gaju’s end. Why, then, was I so happy with Ballroom this week? I’m going to assume that if you’re reading this review, you’ve already seen the episode, so we’re skipping any sort of plot summary and moving straight to my favorite scene, which came near the end of our 22 minutes.

When Tatara comes home from a grueling practice session with Mako, he’s greeted by two things: popped blisters on his feet, and the sound of his father’s drunken phone conversation. The lights are off, and as he passes by his dad, Tatara hears him say, “He’s such a hopeless kid.” Let’s stop right there for a second and consider how dark this scene is. The blisters are, to Tatara, a symbol of his inadequacy, since he thinks to himself that experienced dancers would never have such a problem. So, he’s entering his home with the thought in his head that he’s not good enough, and on the way to his room he hears the only parent in his life confirm his self-diagnosis – talk about mental damage. Until this episode, Tatara’s home life had been portrayed as a happy one, featuring bright mealtime scenes and his dad functioning as a concerned, but understanding, parent. Here we see the exact opposite, and to make things even worse (or so it seems), the person on the other end of the call is Mako.

It turns out she’s been dealing with blisters, too, and her first instinct is to apologize for her lousy dancing. Like Tatara, she lacks confidence, and they take turns apologizing and deflecting until he decides to share that his parents are divorced. The show uses this fact to explain his commitment to restoring the Hyodo/Shizuku and Gaju/Mako dance partnerships, but Mako sees that resolve as a part of his character, and starts to gush about how thoughtful he is. This was the make-or-break moment for the scene, because anime often falls into the trap of praising their heroes for being sooo thoughtful and sooo nice, as opposed to creating stories that allow them to demonstrate those qualities in an authentic way. But Ballroom leapt over this pitfall by contrasting Mako’s opinion of her new partner with his own self-perception. As she assures him that everyone at Ogasawara is watching and admiring his progress, Tatara wonders to himself whether he’s worthy of their gaze. He feels thankful that anyone notices him at all, and considers it a miracle that any girl would want to dance with him.

This is real shit. These are the naked thoughts of a kid from a divorced family, who doesn’t like school, considers himself to be untalented, and comes home to a father who self-medicates with alcohol. As Mako expresses her wish that he’ll keep dancing, we get a shot of Tatara’s feet – they’re the only place he can bear to look, given how foreign and inappropriate her praise must seem. But although his voice is small when he manages to find it again, he says thank you. He’s accepted guidance from coaches and challenges from rivals in the past, but now he accepts the kindness of someone who really respects him, and maybe likes him a little bit. Both kids are blushing by the end of the conversation, and it’s worth noting that Mako must have asked somebody at the dance studio for his phone number in order to make the call, so rumors about the pair may already be buzzing. I’m not totally on board the Tatara/Mako ship just yet, but I couldn’t be happier about the way they serve as anchors for each other in the harsh world of competitive dance.

There was more to the new episode than just this scene, but I’ve written enough as it is. Next week’s Ballroom will feature the Tenpei Cup, with our main couples going head-to-head, so I’ll try to integrate some of the stuff I didn’t cover this time into that post. Feels good to be back on the Ballroom bandwagon (at least for now).

Posted on 3 August 2017 with categories: Ballroom e Youkoso, Finished Series: Sports

Ballroom aired a double feature last week, so this review is either a few days late or a few days early, depending on how you look at it. Either way, there won’t be a new episode this coming Saturday, with the next one scheduled to appear on August 12th. Personally, I welcome the break as an opportunity to reset my expectations for the show, which seem to have been too high. This series isn’t a mold-breaker of any kind, but rather a traditional shounen anime with non-traditional subject material. “Partner” was likewise a straightforward episode, but it did manage to properly introduce two very different characters, and adjust the motivations driving several of our main players. Not a bad way to wrap things up before a two-week break, all things considered.

With Hyodo occupying the role of brooding genius, the show was missing a more hot-blooded rival character – that is, until now. Enter Gaju Akagi, whose brash personality and loud mouth are perfectly complimented by his ginger mullet. It’s a bit ironic that he insults Tatara’s bedhead just minutes after barreling into the episode, given his own disastrous hairdo. Maybe he lets it grow so long in the back because he’s ashamed of his giraffe neck? Jokes aside, though, Gaju’s dancing is nothing to laugh at, and he supports his claim to become Shizuku’s new partner with some fancy Latin footwork. The last of those three cuts looked rotoscoped to my eyes, but it was also super smooth and a little sexy, which is a tone that has eluded the series until now. I wouldn’t mind if I.G. fell back on this method from time to time in the future.

Gaju’s younger sister Mako can only watch from the sidelines as her partner tries to leave her behind, which is more than a little sad. She’s the meek, sensitive type, which is also a template that Ballroom hadn’t busted out until this week. Tatara is charmed by her shyness the same way he was by Shizuku’s strength, but is unable to sync with her during their first dance (if you could even call it that). Mako’s willingness to be led pays off later in the episode, though, when Tatara activates Prodigy Mode and instinctively guides her where she wants to go, providing some confidence in their future teamwork. Mako will have to exhibit much more improvement if she wants to reach her new goal, though: surpassing Shizuku and convincing Gaju to rejoin her as one of Japan’s best amateur Latin duos.

Also on board with this plan are Tatara and Sengoku, the latter of whom sets up the second meeting between the two shy kids. This might be the first time that Sengoku is actually cooperating with his new student, rather than manipulating or making fun of him, and it’s only made possible by their mutual dislike of Gaju. At the root of that dislike is the shared belief that Gaju is “stealing” Shizuku from Hyodo, but the reality is that Shizuku chose to switch partners of her own will. She claims not to care about Hyodo anymore, but regardless of whether that declaration holds any water, he’s banned from JDSF competitions for six months, so why not let the girl find a new lead? Even if her decision is meant to anger Sengoku, who she rightly calls out for being untrusting, she ought to be allowed to compete for the next half year, rather than being punished for other people’s mistakes. The episode closes on a shot of Shizuku looking pensively into the wall-length mirror at Ogasawara, perhaps wondering whether she’s made the right decision, so the show had better follow up with her character soon – the further she gets from being considered a prize to be won, the better.

Posted on 30 July 2017 with categories: Ballroom e Youkoso, Finished Series: Sports

If you’d asked me a month ago for my top picks of the season, Ballroom e Youkoso would have been one of them. If you’d asked me two weeks ago to rank the new summer series, this show would have been right beneath Made in Abyss at the top of the heap. If you’d asked me seven days ago whether Ballroom was going to bounce back from its first subpar episode, I’d have wagered it would… but it didn’t. We’re only four weeks into a planned 24-episode run, so this level of pessimism must seem premature to many of you. Part of me knows that it is. The other, much larger part of me is too disappointed to care, so I’m going full nitpick mode for the next 500 words, with the promise that I’ll resume standard coverage next time.

Let’s start with how annoying Sengoku was in this episode, and more broadly, the depths of stupidity to which anime character writing can descend. Hyodo, Sengoku’s star pupil, has been concealing a knee injury that his teacher fears will worsen without rest. His solution is to take advantage of Hyodo’s absence and use Tatara as a substitute, which will disqualify Hyodo, thus preventing him from dancing and compounding his injury. (Let us overlook the fact that he could have simply convinced Shizuku to withdraw, as a later manga chapter will point out.) He then proceeds to blame Tatara, who he roped into this ridiculous plan, for lighting a fire under Hyodo’s ass, claiming that it will be his fault if his rival should bust his leg on the floor. The show hangs a lampshade on how dumb this is by having the background characters accuse Sengoku of being unreasonable, but the show forgets their objections as quickly as it raised them. The kicker is that Mr. Coach of the Year thinks to himself, “I guess it was worth butting in,” when he sees Hyodo dance the tango like a man possessed, and later laughs about the length of his ban from competitive DanceSport.

You might claim that Sengoku is just a dick, but think about the fact that the author delayed the disqualification just long enough for Hyodo to land himself in the hospital, or that Tatara continues to blame himself for Hyodo’s injury and DQ, even though it’s obvious to anyone with an ounce of brain power that neither of those things are his fault. This series is pushing square-shaped story beats through circular holes, and whenever the peanut gallery shows up to remind you that what’s happening doesn’t make a lot of sense, they get swept under the rug. Some of the same problems are present in the manga, but seeing them presented at a static pace and with no adjustments is a real disadvantage for viewers of the TV version.

Where the anime ought to excel is in the dancing scenes, but they’re just not cutting it for me. Ballroom is pulling the classic trick of cutting from panning stills to amazed reaction shots, and hoping that its real-life audience will feel the same sense of wonder as the faces on screen. I’m starting to see a lot of painted backgrounds that are meant to imply movement, as well – they’re not as cheap as speed lines, but they serve the same purpose. The standing ovation that Hyodo’s tango received near the middle of the episode felt utterly phony, given that more than half of it looked like posing rather than dancing, and that sucked the life from everything that happened afterward. Iwakuma’s brief appearance came off as immaterial, and what could have been a real heart-to-heart between Tatara and Hyodo ultimately felt like a convenient way to move the former boy one step closer to his goal. It now falls to the Akagi siblings (the two characters introduced just before the ED) to breathe new life into this once-charming show, or else the next five months of blogging are going to be tinged with regret.

NOTE: This week, I started referring to the show’s protagonist (Fujita Tatara) by his given name, which should become a regular practice going forward.

Posted on 23 July 2017 with categories: Ballroom e Youkoso, Finished Series: Sports

Well, there’s no going back now. Ballroom just went full sports anime, and it cut the brake lines for good measure. After the relative nuance of last week’s character introduction, the newest episode treated us to more fanservice, more contrivance, and more shounen formula than the last two combined. Sports series have really stepped up their game over the last few years, with Yuri on Ice and especially Ping Pong busting genre conventions every time they hit the airwaves, but I wasn’t expecting Ballroom to reach those heights – just equaling its sister series Haikyuu would be a fine achievement. The going is still early, but since I’m reviewing the show episodically, I don’t have a lot of praise to dole out this time.

Before we get too negative, though, let’s talk about Fujita’s family life for a bit. There’s a sweet mealtime scene between our young hero, his father, and his grandmother, who we met for the first time this week. Fujita does his best impression of a color commentator as a sumo match plays on TV, allowing his nearsighted grandma to follow along. This heartwarming scene further establishes him as a good kid, but he’s still not disclosing his new hobby to his dad, so I have to wonder when Fujita’s sneaking around will come back to bite him in the butt. Ballroom isn’t one of those series that makes its paternal figures into antagonists, but we already know that he’s concerned about his son’s upcoming high school entrance exams. When he inevitably learns that ballroom dancing is coming before Fujita’s studies, we can expect a B-plot’s worth of material from the resulting conflict.

Notably absent from the dinner table is Fujita’s mother. I’ve been on the lookout for a shrine somewhere in their home, but it appears she’s just living apart from her family. I have to wonder whether Fujita would be more comfortable revealing his passion for dance to a mother figure, but it’s hard to speculate, since all the women in this cast are already part of that world. Tamaki-san is the encouraging type, at least, which is a wonderful trait for a young novice to have in an instructor. Speaking of female characters, I took issue with the way that half of the cast was treated in this episode. This is a shounen property, so I was prepared for a certain level of sexual objectification, but at this point Banba’s role in the story is 80% boob jiggle. The more offensive instance by far, though, came when Sengoku grabbed a handful of Shizuku’s dress during a pep talk and inadvertently bared her breasts. Then they threw in a gushing nosebleed and a camera flash for good measure… I was able to get past the changing scene from last week without much trouble, but if this shit becomes a staple in Ballroom’s playbook, it’s going to put a sizeable damper on my enjoyment of the series.

Excessive fanservice isn’t the only bone I had to pick with this episode, either. The “overheard from a bathroom stall” trope was executed with about as much grace as Fujita after just one dance lesson, and it didn’t teach us anything that we couldn’t infer from the studio above his home and his rigorous practice routine. The show’s attempt to frame another competitor for Hyodo’s fall didn’t even qualify as half-hearted, plus we’ve already seen him fall down a flight of stairs at Ogasawara. And the fall itself was a complete contrivance, not only because it allowed Fujita to hit the floor way ahead of schedule, but also because it will prevent Hyodo from claiming his title. This kind of plotting reminds me of sports anime from the mid-90’s: clumsy and lacking any kind of dramatic tension. Sengoku refers to dance competitions as “battlefields” midway through the episode, but the show handled this one as though it were a mere reenactment.

Thankfully, Hyodo’s character remains fascinating, even when the events unfolding around him are not. After seeing Fujita’s excited expression on the dance floor, Hyodo angrily demands that he “give it back,” a clear reference to the passion that he himself has lost. It’s tempting to think that the two trash-talkers from the bathroom got under his skin, but it seems to me that he’s been approaching this breaking point for a while. His enthusiasm for the sport is at a low point, given his lack of challengers and disinterest in training overseas; he may not even want to compete at all, feeling only the need to live up to his reputation or please his parents. Hyodo’s expressions on the floor are often intense, but never are they happy, and that’s where Fujita has him beat. The continued strength of their rivalry will be one of the biggest measures of Ballroom’s success as it goes on – hopefully the rest of the show catches up soon.

Posted on 17 July 2017 with categories: Ballroom e Youkoso, Finished Series: Sports

After a strong start to its two cour season, Ballroom e Youkoso has managed to waltz its way past all potential stumbling blocks and deliver an even better second episode. There was a lot to love here, including a carefully introduced rival and love triangle, great voicework from Shinba Tsuchiya, and some promising animation during a late solo dance sequence. Ballroom isn’t above including anime tropes like the always-classy ‘interrupted changing scene,’ and lead character Fujita’s latent genius is a bit too evident after just two installments, but the team at Production I.G. is doing a lot more things right than wrong. Let’s break them down step by step.

The episode is named after Kiyoharu Hyodo, the biggest of the three characters it introduces (the other two being Banba and Jinbo, Fujita’s friendly but underqualified dance instructors). Sengoku describes Hyodo as a “monster” who stands in complete dominance of Japan’s amateur DanceSport scene. He’s full of intensity on the floor, but totally aloof when he’s away from it, demonstrating his nonchalance throughout the episode via several cavernous yawns. Even if you think these are intentional, Hyodo is quite agreeable for a rival character in anime, especially given his young age and outrageous skill. He demonstrates a basic waltz step for his new studio-mate with only a slight protest, and keeps his cool when Fujita later interrupts his solo practice. The hitch is that Hyodo is involved in a nine-year dance partnership with Shizuku, on whom our hero has a massive crush.

When Sengoku teases that Fujita might try to steal his partner, Hyodo claims not to care. Shizuku, however, appears to care very much, blushing and pouting at his level-headed response. Thus the love triangle falls into place, with the only question mark being where Hyodo’s affections lie. Attractive and talented as Shizuku is, it’s hard to imagine that he wouldn’t be interested, but he doesn’t seem to be; even when presented with the opportunity to train overseas with her, he’s content to stay in Japan. This is clearly discouraging to Shizuku, who thinks Hyodo is “on another level” and considers herself “lucky he’s my partner.” The hero worship here made me a little wary of potential Sakura Syndrome, where a major female character acts only as a bystander or cheerleader, but the groundwork has been laid for Shizuku to undergo her own arc. Natsu from Baby Steps is a good model for how I hope her character is handled over the course of the series – always improving and competing against rivals of her own, even as she functions as a love interest for two different guys.

On the production side of things, the stills and CG dancers returned for another episode, but all was forgiven during one of the final scenes this week. During a solo practice session of Hyodo’s, the art became more sketch-like and the animation more fluid, giving a powerful, dynamic feel to his movements. Even if it only lasted for a few seconds, this willingness to break model and use a rougher style to capture a different energy is a confidence booster. I especially liked this choice given that Fujita was observing him, and needed to be inspired by what he saw to push the story forward. Speaking of Fujita, Shinba Tsuchiya is a breath of fresh air as his voice actor, imbuing the character with a nice blend of self-consciousness and enthusiasm. Tsuchiya is a newcomer to the seiyuu world, but he’s already drawing comparisons to Daiki Yamashita, who voices Deku on Boku no Hero Academia, so his future looks bright. Hopefully Ballroom’s future remains just as promising as the show starts covering multiple manga chapters per episode.

Posted on 8 July 2017 with categories: Ballroom e Youkoso, Finished Series: Sports

Much of the conversation leading up to the premiere of Ballroom e Youkoso has focused on its English distribution. Amazon, who continue to wade deeper into the anime marketplace, snapped up the series to headline their Anime Strike channel, and plenty of digital ink has been spilled about how its double paywall spells doom for the future of legal streaming. The first episode of Ballroom also had its worldwide debut on Twitch, where a live audience of thousands welcomed its delayed subtitles with KappaPride emotes, copypasta, and an obsession with the size of the characters’ necks. But let’s put all this aside for a moment and ask ourselves: did Production I.G. succeed in preserving the appeal of the manga in its journey from page to screen?

For me, the answer is “pretty much.” Ballroom is a plucky, well-paced series in manga form, and I.G. kept things rolling during the first episode, as well. They had to cut a few corners to get there, however, and one of them cost me some attachment to Fujita, our middle school protagonist. The manga presents him as a willing participant in his first group lesson, having been inspired by a professional dancer named Sengoku, who rescues him from a trio of bullies. The animated version of the story keeps Sengoku’s role the same, but omits the group lesson, and skips straight to a coerced partnership with Shizuku, his schoolmate and newfound crush. As a result, it was much harder for me to swallow the idea that Fujita wanted to go pro by the end of the episode, or that he’d lose track of time and practice the box step for what must have been twelve hours straight.

Luckily, the rest of Ballroom’s characters more than pull their weight. Sengoku initially appears to be a good-natured role model, but after witnessing Fujita’s sudden insistence on becoming a professional dancer, he seamlessly transforms into a drill sergeant with a chip on his shoulder. Similarly, Shizuku is suspicious of her temporary partner’s motives, and asks him directly whether he’s just a pervert looking for kicks. It’s only after he demonstrates some proficiency at a beginning technique that she gives him the time of day. This prickly behavior lets us know that ballroom dancing is no walk in the park, and that experienced dancers won’t take kindly to upstarts who haven’t put in the hours. Hopefully, the series will permit Fujita to struggle for as long as possible, and give us a glimpse at the mental fortitude necessary to compete even at the amateur level.

Perhaps the most worrisome thing about this premiere was the lack of any one expressive dance scene. Production I.G. has done some great work on Haikyuu!!, and given the visual similarities between that series and Ballroom, I assume that it’s being handled by the same team. My expectations were high coming into the episode, but even during the scene where Fujita gawked at a dance competition on DVD, there were low-detail models, panning stills, and even what looked like CG dancers in a couple spots. On the plus side, the character designs are strong, even if they’re not identical to the manga, and they’re expressive enough to cover for the holes in the animation department. Still, the first major burst of painstakingly-drawn dance choreography should be a treat to behold.

All in all, this was a good start to an adaptation of a manga that certainly deserved one. I’m already looking forward to the next episode, and to covering the series from week to week.

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Anonymous2140150
Does everyone here don't like shonen anime?
Amagi
Really, if there is one piece of information (aside from otome maybe) that makes me ignore a series forever it's a LN about a LN author or illustrator. The selfinert wish fulfillment couldn't be more obvious.
Amagi
Another LN greenlit for an anime production and the synopsis starts with "* is a light novel illustrator and..".
Amagi
@KTravlos: I don't know why modern anime hate curly- and/or wild hair so much. The old hair style gave Reinhard a more royal look, whereas he looks like a normal highschool boy now. Not that I am complaining about the anime as a whole. Also, I like some of the new designs.
KTravlos
and a part of me things it is indeed the hair. It comes to low, giving Reinhard a slovenly, lazy feel. When Yang feels more energetic you know there was a mistake.
KTravlos
and yes, this Reinhard fares poorly in comparison to the OVA one. He is dull. I need more Yang :p
KTravlos
ai vay vay. The Castrop Rebellion remains waste of time. And this time it was worse. The older depiction was tacky but at least it showed Kircheis ability in a logical manner. This time I had no idea what the hell happened. It felt cheap.

The rest of the episode was ok. Not completely sold on all the renditions of imp. admirals though I still love the uniforms.
Kaiser-Eoghan
*those
Kaiser-Eoghan
Hearing these , I find myself much more tolerant of anime voice acting even if the dub might only be okay.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Its actually less of a sync issue, as I'm talking about 60s dubs , alot of people think the voices in old anime English dubs from the 90s are dated, but the old sixties kungfu and western dubs are shocking, far worse.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I don't mind sometimes satirical dubbing like on tiger lily , dialectics break bricks and kung pow however.
Kaiser-Eoghan
And those can be difficult to acquire sometimes in Italian or Chinese.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Live action films, this is especially annoying sometimes because I love Spaghetti westerns and Chinese martial arts films and old Italian cop thrillers.
Anonymous2137430
@Kaiser-Eoghan Are you referring to foreign animated films of foreign live action films because dubbing live action is a different beast as I'm sure you're aware. The idiosyncratic nature of watching moves and facial expressions not properly match voices really pulls the viewer out of the experience
SuperWooper
LoGH is airing a special next week because of scheduling delays, so that's one less thing to do.
AidanAK47
Well to those whom it might concern, expect my posts to be later than usual this week. Work is hell at the moment.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I have to say, this is probably a bit hypocritical, but while I enjoy dubs of anime I really really can't stand dubs of foreign films.
Lenlo
Simo Hayha would make a pretty crazy Archer.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I imagine a fate strange fake adaptation will materialize eventually.
Kaiser-Eoghan
But everyone seems to want that Finnish sniper as a Fate servant .
Kaiser-Eoghan
Still no Mao, still mad.
Kaiser-Eoghan
....I have lost track of the historical characters in the fate lineup.
AidanAK47
@Lenlo, to expand on that point the following historical figures are now female: Nero Claudius, Leonardo da Vinci, Frankenstein's Monster, Xuanzang, Jing Ke, Quetzalcoatl, Minamoto no Yoshitsune, Miyamoto Musashi, Okita Souji and many more to come.
AidanAK47
@Anon, I find it's an enjoyable watch though flawed. If you can get past some odd fanservice around the first ten episodes then I say it's worth watching.
Anonymous2133468
So i was thinking if i start watching, darling in the franxx, is worth it? or is just another 6/10 anime?
Lenlo
God damnit. Why Nasu. Just why.
AidanAK47
@Kaiser, that ain't even Lewd.
Kaiser-Eoghan
In all seriousness its ridiculous, the Japanese will make a cute/moe girl out of anything.
AidanAK47
....Should I also mention that Francis Drake is a big boobed pirate queen?
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: Posting lewd images on a respectable chatbox.
AidanAK47
@Lenlo, But none of these characters are in the anime adaptions. Well besides Jack and Saber.
Lenlo
Aidan, all this conversation did was prove that my decision to only ever watch the Ufotable adaptions was the correct decision.
AidanAK47
@Lenlo, you can blame Extella for the Attlia the Hun thing. I wasn't too fond of it myself. Also should mention Attila is female as well.
https://pm1.narvii.com/6414/528599445b739909c02993cfdbfc9f277d088cf2_hq.jpg
AidanAK47
Also Masky I will be the first to admit to the ridiculous aspects of the Fate Franchise but do take note that you are commenting on something you know literally nothing about. Which is the very definition of ignorance and is quite annoying. Fate/Zero nails the themes it's going for. So go watch Fate/Zero, come back and apologize.
AidanAK47
@Masky, Give it time. Genghis is getting in there eventually with Grand Order. We just had Anastasia and Salieri introduced after all. And it's not as if this story introduces Servants willy nilly, they need actual story purpose. Genghis Khan wouldn't have fit the Narrative that Fate/Zero was going for.
Lenlo
Wait Attila is an Alien and Edison is a Lion? God damnit Fate. Why are you doing this to me. I was already annoyed at your treatment of Musashi
Masky
(aliens existing in the show is good example of that missing on themes part xP)
Masky
*most successful conqueror
Masky
Honestly was just amused most conqueror of all time not being featured in the show :D But wait, whats this about aliens?
AidanAK47
Anyway the important thing to take into account is that in the Fate universe, King Arthur is a woman, Attila the Hun is an Alien, Thomas Edison is a lion and Jack the Ripper is a little girl in a dominatrix outfit. Any questions?
AidanAK47
And while you don't need to watch something to be given divine right to comment on ideas or themes, it does leave you ignorant of how that show handles those ideas and themes.
AidanAK47
As for the Historical Alexander, he wasn't given the title of King of Couquerors. Fate/Zeros interpretation of him was. As generally accurate Fates interpretation of Servents history can be, they can make changes to suit the narrative.
AidanAK47
In that Regard Alexander was doing the conquest thing before Ghengus did. Ghengus likely has some other title. Hell he may only have the title because public consciousness was is more familiar with Alexander than Ghengus.
AidanAK47
Yeah, looking it up seems the King Title lost quite a lot of meaning in the Nasuverse. Though the King Title is rather flimsy. I mean Arthur is the King of Knights cause of the Knights of the round table. Gil is king of heroes because his tale was the first Heroic myth.
Lenlo
I think Alexander was just the first one they thought of, and they couldnt retroactively give it to someone else.

That said, Broskander deserves it <3
Masky
(And no, you don't need to watch something to be given divine right to comment on ideas or themes of it.)
Masky
(just to note in case I need to note, I do tend to do at least cursory research when I make comments on stuff I don't watch)
Masky
That first part is semantics as Fate gives title "King" to historical figures who weren't kings already :D Also, you can make that argument about historical Alexander the Great? Since that seriously sounds like kind of weak reason.
AidanAK47
Also sees Rider as deserving of title of "King of Conquerors" because that which he strives to conquer most is not lands or material wealth, but the hearts of people, the toughest conquest that can be undertaken by anyone.
AidanAK47
@Masky, Ghengis Khan wasn't a king. He was a Khan.
Lenlo
Ghengis is always a Rider in my mind.
Kaiser-Eoghan
But in all seriousness, Ghengis would be an appropriate beserker servant.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Masky: I know, it feels so wrong I'm still mad I can't summon Karl Marx or Stalin.
Masky
So wait, Fate series is about historical figures with super powers, but "King of Conquerors" title isn't given to Ghengis Khan? :D Seriously? Thats just so wrong
Kaiser-Eoghan
I don't feel any point in finishing it, it feels like something that I'd just randomly drop , not because its a bad show, but because I got my fill of it.
AidanAK47
I am actually going to drop blogging it.
AidanAK47
@Sash, indeed. I have been watching it but not blogging it for the last few episodes because it just hasn't givne me anything to say. I don't think it's a bad show but I have pointed out the flaws and strengths of it already so there is truly nothing more to say on it.
Sash
I think wotakoi is starting to feel repetitive..
Kaiser-Eoghan
You are now aware Shana and Batman Ninja Harelequinn are both voiced by Rie kugimiya.
Lenlo
I did. It was... It was a thing.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Lenlo: Did you end up watching Batman ninja by the way?
Lenlo
Music is great, yeah. When the music is on point, everything goes up. Everytime the sync the fight/punches to the music I just get hyped. Like the rotating shot with Aragaki or the first fight in episode 1.
Lenlo
Ill do my best to be clearer in the future on that front. Yeah, I dont mind twists like this. Makes the inevitable Mikio fight, narratively, even better.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I feel the music does alot of the lifting.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Oh, so that was it.
Lenlo
Sorry if I never made that clear.
Lenlo
I would rather have fewer, amazing, fights than a lot of low-quality fights. This is a one cour show, the more meaning/impact they can give each fight the better.

Like Aragaki, narratively, was great. Loved it. Its just in animation/choreography that it falls flat.
Lenlo
Im disappointed with the animation of the fights. Narratively, I think they are quite good.
Kaiser-Eoghan
*disappointed with the fights in past episodes
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Lenlo: Pretty much what I said I thought of the episode. Although I was surprised how took the episodes ending, I expected you to see it as a slap in the face after being disappointed with the fights.
Lenlo
Also, @Kaiser, I thought Megalo Box did something unique this episode. I wasn't expecting Joe to *not* fight. And the Mikio/Yukiko proxy war is an interesting character motivation. Im betting Yukiko will get Joe a full citizenship, effectively getting her on his side.
Lenlo
I wish I was physically capable of watching Megalo Box without thinking of Hajime no Ippo. I really do. But everytime I watch it, it makes me want to watch Ippo again to.
Anonymous2120908
I watched some more of the Chimera family chinese anime. (Wasn't aware it was monthly released). And geez, I like the concept, the background art is very pretty and contrasts with settings that have become tired in other anime. Yet sadly the animation and script are WEAK. I haven't grasped the quality of what's expected of these types of production but I want to believe, they're trying.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Not much in the way of action in megalobox this week, but I did like the focus on Yukkiko getting a small character moment and then the big moment at episodes end .
AidanAK47
@Anon, That's some lazy ass trolling buddy. Should have stopped before the hashtags.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I'm even sort of looking forward to supposedly less respectable stuff like Goblin slayer and happy sugar life.
Vonter
Also E3 is almost here. And I can't wait. I think Nintendo will have a good show considering they're revealing the new Smash with a tournament. There's rumors of the new game by Retro Studios (Metroid Prime and Donkey Kong) and maybe they'll reveal something about how Pokemon will be on the Switch.
Vonter
Also there's always the chance of something new being discovered. Not everything needs expectations behind. Sometimes great things come out of nowhere.
Kaiser-Eoghan
So yes, there are some at least decent shows coming out.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Muh Baki, Muh Bananna fish, muh made in abyss season 2, muh Vinland.
Anonymous2119906
The rest of this year looks like shit for anime and 2019 doesn't look great either #fuckmoe #makeanimegreatagain
Anonymous2119214
@Kaiser yeah it happened in half the amount of eps this time around for steins gate 0; which i expected considering there's a lot of ground to cover
Anonymous2119106
@Supermario Something like Fate or the LOTR films are a different case. I get where you're coming from about your preference, but I'm arguing that if a large story is going to be split into 3 films, it helps that the 3 films feel cleanly cut. Infinity war, even though we know there's a second part to the story, feels like it has that cohesive narrative structure with a beginning, middle, and end
Anonymous2119106
@Super Mario yea but the marvel movies are a different situation so i don't think the comparison is as appropriate. Marvel movies are "episodic" in nature rather than a continuous narrative. The films are largely isolated stories that are happening in a similar universe that only happen to "congeal" narratively because of a few overarching details shared between films.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Lenlo: I remember when the original series suddenly shifted and got going and it was a really depressing episode.
Lenlo
Oh baby. The storm has finally come in Steins;Gate. Let the true suffering commence
SuperMario
@anon2118276: that's why I don't like LoTR trilogy. It's still a whole body chopped up in 3 parts, despite how clean the cut is. Whereas for me it works better if it was like a branch in a tree. The Marvel movies (despite my disinterest on those) are a good example of this.
Kaiser-Eoghan
While I did feel some of this weeks steins gate felt fillery, I do like see these characters interact and given the episodes conclusion, this episode acted as a calm before the storm.
Lenlo
Ill agree with you on King Kong. As for the Ralph Bakshi LotR, I have. I am still to this day impressed by the overlay of 2D art onto real/overexposed footage. It makes for shockingly fluid animation in places and has its own distinct style
Anonymous2118208
@Lenlo - Have you watched the old Ralph Bakshi adaptation of the first two books? It's uneven, but it's interesting comparing and contrasting certain decisions. As good as Peter Jackson is, I feel he makes very longwinded films, I like his version of King Kong a lot, but it is too long.
Anonymous2118276
@supermario i disagree; the point is that even though the LOTH films have cliffhanger endings, they still feel like fils. they have a defined first second and third act with well paced tension and release throughout them. They follow a storytelling macrostructure necessary for films to feel like cohesive narratives even if they are to end on a cliffhanger
Lenlo
I quite liked the individual LOTR movie just fyi
Vonter
Marvel surprisingly has kept their movies simple enough, that while you might miss details nowadays, you can tell what's happening.
Vonter
Another bad case is like with Assassin's Creed, which like Lost, just tried to tease a lot of things, then it grew tired of trying to piece them together and let the last games work more standalone, with little hints of a larger lore.
Vonter
Metroid does both, it has a standalone story and a hint to what a sequel might bring. Though that hint rarely matters by the time the new game is released.
Vonter
@SuperMario - Some videogames trilogies also do that. Gears of War and God of War had good standalone beginnings but by the second game they put cliffhanging endings. Kingdom Hearts does that and I expect 3 to also do it. Megaman Legends and Half Life had incomplete stories, which might be the worse case in regards to trying to make a continuous story.
SuperMario
It ruins the appetite
SuperMario
I actually think Lord of the Rings' trilogy is a bad example to follow. These films are meant to be viewed as a whole, so each film doesn't hold much as an individual story. I just can't digest films that have "to be continued" sign at the end. Imagine having a first course meal and then have to wait for few days for second course
Kaiser-Eoghan
On the current topic, I would be well for the production of a long running, ambitious ova series.
Anonymous2116425
then again, i don't take too much issue with these films feeling like movie-sized eps...the wait just sucks is all
Anonymous2116425
clearly the films need each other to tell the whole story, yet they can be taken for what they are in isolation as well
Anonymous2116425
I don't mind the trilogy trend at all; like Aidan said, when everything is said and done, all the films will be available to watch. I just think a stronger attempt should be made to make them feel like complete films. Something like the lord of the rings trilogy is a great example of how to do this
Kaiser-Eoghan
I am in full confidence that neither I nor Miura will survive to the end of berserk.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Of course maybe they won't have a future , think about it that way, then they'd never see it, life has that weird way of being unpredictable like that =P
Kaiser-Eoghan
You can always rewatch them just before watching the one after.
AidanAK47
Of course not. But that's the thing. The wait is only a temporary problem. Anyone in the future will have all movies ready to view.
SuperMario
So it's best to wait for another 2 years to watch Heaven's Feel? Hell NOT
AidanAK47
When all the movies come out though you can basically barrel through it like a TV series.
SuperMario
Dangit, it's me Mario
Anonymous2115918
I still don't know if I like this trilogy trend. We've had a fair bun h of those in recent years (Berserk Golden Age, Madoka, even Kizumonogatari). I guess doing it that way, they'd make much more profits, and we have higher production values, but the wait is way too long and I don't think it works as movie-format
Kaiser-Eoghan
One of the very rare times where self-awareness works.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I can be nice and say of course Ryan Reynolds+ violence, comic was funnier.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: But I'm sure if you think it over, the first deadpool was trapped in origin story mode, as an advantage, the sequel, is probably free of that.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: Deadpool 2 had John Wicks director, which at the least means something in terms of action direction.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: There was a whole run of deadpool issues called Cable and deadpool, which I suppose that pairing together gets the best out of the character.
AidanAK47
Seen Deadpool 2 tonight and I have difficultly deciding if it's better or worse than Deadpool 1. Still it's quite fun and I enjoyed it.
AidanAK47
@Anon, I feel somewhat similar in regards to Franxx. When this series finishes I won't be singing high praises for it. Yet I do feel that it's worth watching.
AidanAK47
@Lenlo, Now I get ya. Yeah I understand that. I might even feel the same if I didn't already know the story from the VN.
AidanAK47
@Amagi, The second film seems to be in cinema this year but we won't get it until it hits blu-ray.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Travlos: As I expected, I am disappointed that they have held back . And you might just be right about Castrollop/Caligula/Nero, when I originally attempted to watch the show years ago, that was the episode I stopped on.
KTravlos
Yang really is stealing the show this time. But I wanted the "Alcohol is mankind's oldest friend" rant. I need it.
KTravlos
my expectation is that they will take this to the Battle of Armistar, and then the films will cover the dual civil wars etc.
KTravlos
...CASTROP REBELLION! Why the hell sacrifice an episode to the most useless and bad part of the original! I hated that episode. Well let us see if they can give it a better twist this time around.
KTravlos
The Iserlohn arc at LGOGH:NT was ok. I liked how they presented the preparations. I like the new Murai face. The music was quite good. But they did tone the violence. I expected Walter to stab the imperial officer in the neck. They have toned down the violence a lot. And I missed Seeckts "Long live the Empire" death. That said it was not bad, and I think in general it was good adaption. But....
Anonymous2115268
for example, I think Darling in the franxx is pretty average, but that's not because i think it doesn't have cool shit in it or things that make it appealing; I just find that what the show tries to achieve is not that stupendous or worth lauding with praise. As a result, the flaws stick out that much more to me
Anonymous2115268
@Lenlo and that's pretty much how i felt. Everything is subject to criticism; hell i criticize my most favorite things in the world because i know they're not perfect. I evaluate art and media on whether what it achieves overshadows the flaws and to what degree. Which i think is the best way to approach criticism
Lenlo
I want to repeat though, Heavens Feel wasn't bad. I know some people take any criticism to mean I hated it, but I actually quite enjoyed it. I just think ill appreciate/enjoy it more once the other 2 movies are also out.
Lenlo
@Anon, you nailed it. I couldnt describe it, but what you said /feels/ right.

And Aidan, I loved Lindsay Ellis's videos on the whole Hobbit debacle. A shame, cause the original Lord of the Rings is a landmark in film for me.
Amagi
@Aidan: Do we know if the next HF movie will be finished this year?
Amagi
I love how and how often they say "Fujimi no Sugimoto" in Golden Kamuy. It's pretty hype for some reason, especially when it's said by his enemies.
Anonymous2114206
yea. heaven's feel is nothing like the situation with peter jackson's hobbit; this story needs this many movies and that large runtime. The thing with these heavens feel films that is probably bothering lenlo is that they feel like very long episodes and that particularly the first film felt like a giant prologue rather than a film with a beginning, middle, and end
AidanAK47
And just to make it clear, Heavens Feel needs at least three movies to cover the entire story. It's too big for one movie.
AidanAK47
@Lenlo, I ain't unhappy about it though. Sucks that I need to wait so long for each movie but there is higher production values as a result. Though in regards to the Hobbit I recommend watching Lindseys Eillis videos on it. As it not only talks about how it screwed the Hobbit but also how the movies screwed New Zealand.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I could never immerse myself in Tolkienistic world building.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Man, the hobbit, lord of the rings and that shit king kong film, he sold out so much , this was the man who gave me Heavenly creatures , Braindead and Feebles.
Lenlo
It is very beautiful indeed. And Aidan, that Hobbit metaphor made me weep for you. I hated what happened to the Hobbit
Anonymous2112805
other than that; HF is a very beautiful looking film; ufotable has improved with their digital compositions...holy crap
Anonymous2112805
heaven's feel seems to be embracing its more horrific elements. Aside from that, watching this film made me realize how much i prefer rin over the rest of the girls; kinda wish we got to spend a bit more time understanding Sakura's psyche in the film
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: This was part of some film fest thing, ended up missing big fish Begonia though, that Chinese animated thing =<
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: they'd invited him to introduce the flick.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Had this really unexpected run in, in my nearest arthouse cinema, seeing some film about the Soviet space program , I bump into this eastern European guy, assume he's an audience member, awkwardly say something in Russian to him, turns out he's the Russian federation ambassador to Ireland.
AidanAK47
It's sort of the hobbit situation where they chopped one book into three. Expect here we aren't getting extra fluff to pad things out. Well there are extra scenes but they are actually relevant.
Point is that in it's orignal form there are no stopping points here were you need to wait a year to continue. It was a straight story from start to finish.
AidanAK47
Well Fate is essentially the tutorial section that introduces most of the concepts and whatnot. But even then some of the things here are explained later in Heaven's Feel. Cause yeah, not only is the Fate/Stay Night VN not supposed to be split up into three seperate things, the routes aren't supposed to be split into movies either.
Lenlo
Im only familiar with the UBW route, cause Ufotable
Lenlo
I see.
AidanAK47
@Lenlo, In a way there is. Heaven's Feel was originally meant to be experience after the Fate and UBW routes of the VN. That the thing Fate/Stay Night has struggled with. It's not meant to be split up into three like this. It's originally supposed to be three parts of a whole. Each route complementing another.
Nayrael
And so am I
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Lenlo: Its like....sometimes I actually want to be able to like something I end up not liking, knowing I am the problem and not the show.
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