Welcome to the Ballroom (Ballroom e Youkoso) was among this season’s most hotly anticipated anime. Based on a hit manga, the series takes anime fans to a place rarely seen: a dance hall.
That alone is enough to spark some early interest since there aren’t many dancing anime. It also helps that Welcome to the Ballroom has one of the better first episodes. Let’s meet the principle cast before moving on!
Tatara Fujita is our timid protagonist. He has a low self-esteem and is constantly fumbling around, but he decides to take up ballroom dancing after being inspired by Kaname Sengoku. It’s hinted that Fujita has great observation skills, which will help him pick up new dance moves.
Sengoku is a confident pro-dancer who opened a dance studio and is looking for new students. His passion for dancing can lead him to make harsh judgments, like assuming Fujita just wants to get close to girls or that he is underestimating how tough dancing is.
Shizuku Hanaoka is Fujita’s classmate. She doesn’t talk much at school, but it’s revealed that she is insanely smart. Hanaoka is also a good dancer for a beginner – she can already beat some professional dancers.
Tamaki Tsuburaya helps Sengoku run the dance studio. She’s a friendly person and is also a professional dancer.
The episode hints that Fujita and Sengoku will have a rocky student-teacher relationship. The timid student Fujita is on the dense side and his naive views on dancing irritate the world class pro Sengoku. This leads Sengoku to discourage Fujita from taking up dance. Sengoku’s realistic concern that teaching a stubborn student might be a waste of his time is refreshing in comparison to other shounen where the master has all the time in the world to help a frustrating student.
Stylistically, the animation looks pretty good. While there was more close up shots than modern sports anime like Yuri!!! on Ice, we did get to see some fluid dance scenes. Most of the dance scenes centered around Sengoku, and you can see his combination of fluid and powerful moves clearly. Each segment was punctuated with a JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure styled pose. The exaggerated contortions and bloom lighting added visual punch.
The anime also sports character designs from Takahiro Kishida, who is known for working on Haikyuu!! Their elongated style sparked jokes about casts’ long necks, but I think Kishida’s style helps emphasize the dance moves and poses.
Overall, Welcome to the Ballroom had a very watchable first episode. It laid down the foundation and set the stage for the opening arc.