Image source: TVアニメ「ボールルームへようこそ」 on Twitter

Welcome to the Ballroom has focused a lot on the male rivalries. But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any heated rivalries between the female characters. And we got our first real look into one in the latest two episodes.

Tatara Fujita and his partner Chinatsu Hiyama have entered the Tokyo Metropolitan Sports Dance Competition. But, if they lose they have to end their partnership. Everything looks good until Chinatsu’s old dance partner show up and their rivalry begins to flare up. However, buried deep in Chinatsu’s rivalry lays adoration and respect.

Since Chinatsu’s introduction in the twelfth episode a rivalry between her and her old friend and dance partner, Akira Komoto, has been alluded to. However, what we’ve seen between the two characters is consistently fighting and trying to show the other one up, not pushing each other to better themselves. This mainly comes from Akira and her attitude towards Chinatsu. The thing is, we don’t have a good bearing on what made these two characters have a falling out other than it’s dance related—well, at least that’s all we knew up until the latest two episodes of the series.

Image source: TVアニメ「ボールルームへようこそ」 on Twitter

What we’ve see in the nineteenth and twentieth episode of the series is what prompted Chinatsu and Akira to go their separate ways. And it’s far more complicated than they dislike each other or ballroom dance had a hand in it. In actuality, it has more to do with how Akria feels about Chinatsu as we see in a nice flashback sequence.

The flashback begins with Akira being bullied by her classmates when she’s in the first grade. However, Chinatsu comes in a saves her from the boys. This one act alone gives us the basis for what their relationship is: it’s based on Akira’s admiration of Chinatsu. Consider, what we see of in Akira in the flashback, is she is a withdrawn child and often picked on by her male peers. But, Chinatsu is the one of the only student who stopped the bullying by roughing up the boys. Thus, to a young Akira, Chinatsu is a savior. This idealistic perception of Chinatsu by Akira allows them to become friends and make it easier for Akira to join a dance club with Chinatsu.

It’s here where things between the two characters become complex and sets off their rivalry. Both Chinatsu and Akira enjoy dancing, but it’s ballroom dance competitions that create a rift between them. This is sparked by how Chinatsu is an exceptional lead and the lack of boys in their dance class makes her popular with the other girls. However, from Akira’s perspective, it’s as if her idol and only friend is being taken away from her. It’s a very worrying experience for Akira because, from her perspective, she wants Chinatsu to only look at her. Of course, some of this is mitigated by the other girls leaving the dance class, leaving Chinatsu all to Akira. But, the seeds of jealousy have already been sown.

Image source: TVアニメ「ボールルームへようこそ」 on Twitter

What drives a wedge between Chinatsu and Akira, though, is their promise to go to a large dance sport competition together. The only issue is, at their young age, they fail to realize female-only couples are frowned upon in older age brackets. Thus, while their dream sounds nice, in actuality it’s a burden on Chinatsu because she wants to partner with Akira at the dance competition. Hence, learning about the coupling rules is a determent to her. It’s why she begins to be emotionally cold towards Akira.

Here’s the thing, though—while Akira is happy she has Chinatsu all to herself, because of Chinatsu’s treatment, Akira throws those cold emotions right back at her. We even see Akira claim Chinatsu is a loser for giving up ballroom dance all because she can’t lead.

Yet, Akira can’t get over the fact she still admires Chinatsu. Thus, when we’re taken back out of the flashback we see a disconnect between Akira’s actions and her true intentions. For instance, when we’re introduced to their relationship in the fourteenth episode, Akira looks down on Chinatsu for quitting ballroom dance and the fact that she’s on her way to the competition they promised to enter together. It’s very arrogant, but there’s a rhyme and reason to it, which we see in the latest episodes. Akira wants to uphold that promise no matter what from it takes. If that means playing the villain, than so be it. And it works really well. The only issue now is Chinatsu is looking at Tatara and not her. So, Akira ends up keeping her cold exterior.

Image source: TVアニメ「ボールルームへようこそ」 on Twitter

Yet, we see Chinatsu still cares for Akira. It’s not overt and she still uses harsh words towards Akira. But, that’s Chinatsu way of trying to better Akira. We even see this in the twentieth episode during the Metropolitan Sports Dance Competition. It’s a short bit, but it’s clear when it happens. Chinatsu and Tatara cheer Akira on during the heat she’s in. It’s a beautiful moment since we see Chinatsu and Akira still share the same dream. It’s just they had to find their own way to get there. Even better, though, is that one action softens Akira’s attitude towards Chinatsu again. It’s as if Akira was waiting for Chinatsu to look at her again. So, when Akira gets that acknowledgement she returns to her old self and sees Chinatsu as her idol and friend once again.

Chinatsu and Akira may have patched up their relationship, but they’re still rivals. It’s just now they don’t have a barrier between them. So, what was a coarse and tenuous relationship and rivalry has now become one of pushing the others potential to greater heights so they can achieve their dream.

Welcome to the Ballroom is streaming on Amazon Anime Strike.

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